As of this writing, it's been 11 days since the CBC terminated Jian Ghomeshi's employment, eight days since #beenrapedneverreported hit twitter, and six days (on average) since a woman in this country was killed by her intimate partner. About 15 seconds have passed since the last time a woman was beaten.
That's approximately how long it took you to read the above few lines. What can we possibly do with this information? If current social media trends are any indication, we can get really seriously pissed off. We can argue passionately about phrases like "the court of public opinion" and "innocent until proven guilty." We can have our days occupied by a back and forth with someone we haven't seen since high school who is so clearly wrong about everything. We can educate ourselves in the law. We can, some of us, decide that maybe it's time to be open and honest about something that happened in our past. We can vent and lean on each other and say again and again that this is the start of an important conversation and then another six days have passed and we've lost someone else.
There's something about Jian Ghomeshi's alleged crimes that's done something really nasty to all of us, and I think it has to do with the fact that when we close our eyes and concentrate we can still hear him saying "happy Monday." We don't like that we trusted him or thought he was cool or had a crush on him or listened to the Bargainville tape on repeat. We don't, in short, like that we let the monster into our homes. And it's made us talk. From the recent outpouring of videos, blogs, articles, Twitter blasts, and Facebook discussions with the comment section reaching double and treble digits, it has become clear that we've a lot to say about what it means to be a woman.
That's good. Discussion is good. Refining and challenging opinions is good. Searching for solutions is good. Even anger can be good, but, as my shrink is so fond of saying, it's also fundamentally motivational. If your anger isn't making you do anything, it's a waste of energy. Try sadness instead, he says. Try to search for wisdom. Let in all the hatred and the injustice and the broken political system and the disappointment and look around for whatever kind of weak-kneed wisdom that's brave enough to raise its hand amid the clamor and give it a listen.
So here's my worry: what are we doing? Is the outrage that bubbles over aimed towards a solution, or is it just burning recklessly through our precious daily allotment of good humour in order to get to that sickly satisfying vitriol underneath? As a man, do I have a responsibility to be a part of the discussion that's begun, or should I butt out? Are we satisfied that the people who agree with us agree with us and the people who don't unsubscribe? Is there something wrong with that? I'm not sure.
We tend in social media, and I'm generalizing, to see the opinions we like and avoid the ones we don't. I honestly don't know if I'm friends with anyone who still supports Jian Ghomeshi, but if I am I can guarantee they've buttoned the lip for fear of caps-locked reprisals; it seems now that we all (excluding the regular cast of incendiary conservative pundits) pretty much agree. So why are we all still so damned upset? Well, possibly because this is no longer about Jian Ghomeshi. Possibly, this is about feminism; and feminism is still something we very much need to talk about.
I'm a feminist. I'm also a man. Some people have more of a problem with this than others and suggest that being a feminist is not my prerogative. To them I generally answer that it is, in my opinion, the prerogative of everyone to be a feminist. The discussions that follow can, occasionally, become a little heated, and it's not my intention to start one now.
Suffice it to say, I'm not even remotely tired of seeing the posts and the discussions and I'm not even remotely tired of the coverage, if it's leading somewhere. I AM tired of #ghomeshigate because the whole "-gate" thing is inexplicably overused, but my eyes aren't glazing over. Far from it. I want to be involved, and I get the sense that listening is perhaps the best way to engage. But is this a watershed moment? In my opinion, no.
In my experience there's never a whole lot of good that comes out of blind fury, and that's mainly what I'm seeing. I'm not for a second suggesting that the fury isn't warranted, but I am saying that after throwing open the window and screaming at the sky we, all of us, need to get back to working on this whole equality thing as unremittingly and as hard as we possibly can.
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