Sexual assault in Canada: some statistics and grim facts

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That works out to just 1,380 convictions per year, with 458,620 assailants walking. Shocking, innit?

And for how that fits into the experiences of women in the criminal justice system as a whole, here’s StatsCan’s most recent data.

Dear Emma Teitel and Maclean’s: Don’t tell me how to feminist, and I won’t tell you how to journalist.

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You tell ‘em, kitty.

Every so often, I get to wondering why I haven’t picked up a copy of Maclean’s in years. And then I do, and I’m instantly, disgustingly reminded: Oh yeah, Barbara Amiel is still writing for them. Booooooring. And so are her little clones. Like, for instance, one Emma Teitel, who thinks it’s time we big bad meanie feminists stopped picking on pickup artists, just because she felt sorry for some poor little pizza-faced kid who once accosted her at the Eaton Centre:

About a year ago I was walking through the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto when a teenage boy approached me and asked me very meekly if he could have a few minutes of my time. I said sure, assuming that he was working for a charity and hadn’t had much luck attracting donors during rush hour in the dead of winter. (I did a similar, soul-crushing job in college.) I waited for his pitch about poverty, child soldiers or land mines, but it never came. Instead, he told me how “cool” my glasses were and asked me if I had a boyfriend. It became instantly clear that he didn’t want a donation; he wanted a date. I told him I was a lesbian in a hurry (my go-to exit strategy with street preachers) and I was soon on my way—confused about why a teenage boy would so boldly pursue a four-eyed woman in a ski jacket 10 years his senior, but flattered nonetheless.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized my age and attire were irrelevant to the equation, because my adolescent suitor didn’t have eyes for me; he had eyes for literally any woman with a pulse. According to multiple news outlets, Toronto’s biggest downtown shopping mall had recently become ground zero for so-called pickup artists (PUAs as they are known online), a loosely connected international community of guys who share seduction tips with each other on the Internet and take to the streets to “woo” as many unsuspecting women as humanly possible. Their techniques range from corny (showering women with compliments) to cruel: “Negging,” a PUA technique popularized by American pickup artist and journalist Neil Strauss in his 2005 book, The Game, consists of showering women with low-grade insults. According to Urban Dictionary, “negs” are “meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” (An example, used frequently by my own grandmother: “Wow, you have beautiful eyes. It’s a shame I can barely see them behind your bangs.”)

The Eaton Centre, obviously displeased with the fact that some of its female shoppers were being subjected to this bizarre breed of socially awkward male interference, issued a statement on Twitter alerting customers about the PUA presence on its premises. “Rest assured security is briefed and your health and safety are our top priority,” mall staff tweeted before Christmas last year.

The pickup artist who tried and failed to woo me on account of my cool glasses was, as far as I could tell, a threat to nobody’s health and safety. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the guy. Spending one’s free time trying to engage strangers romantically in a shopping mall doesn’t merely reveal an absence of social grace, but quite possibly, an absence of friends.

Gawd, it sure is windy out there in beautiful downtown Toronto today, eh? But wait, here comes something that looks like a nut graf…finally:

But it is no longer socially acceptable to pity the PUAs, because they are apparently—in these socially divisive, Ghomeshi-saturated times—a viable threat to the feminist cause. That cause has been active against the PUA culture, and has borne fruit. For example, Julien Blanc, the 25-year-old pickup artist of the PUA organization Real Social Dynamics—and author of such promotional gems as: “Develop panty-dropping masculinity with this rock-solid structure to self-generate the powerful emotions girls crave”—was banned from Australia this month on the grounds that his dating seminars (for which he charges more than $1,000) incite violence against women. Several petitions asking the Canadian government to bar Blanc from entering Canada are in the works here too; the outcry against him has been so strong on Twitter that Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander issued a statement on the social media platform last week condemning the pickup artist’s teachings, and ensuring the public that his office is “looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”

Er. What’s with the “apparently” there, Emma? And what’s with all the sneery commentaries on “these times”? This isn’t some new thing. This is the same old shit that has always been with us. Why are you undermining efforts to stop it?

If a guy walks down the street randomly grabbing women by the throat and shoving their faces into his smelly crotch, do you not see that he’s committing blatant, overt violence against women? Because that is what we feminists oppose, among other manifestations of sexism and the patriarchy.

And if a guy makes it his mission to preach this same violence like it’s some kind of gospel, and make big money at it like Jimmy Fucking Swaggart, do you not see a problem there, one worthy of feminist efforts to expose and eradicate?

Nope, apparently she doesn’t:

Blanc, by comparison, is a sophomoric ass so blatantly trolling the feminist community with idiotic rape jokes and a following that is insignificant in comparison to the number of people speaking out against him. He has 8,200 Twitter followers; the petition to have him barred from entering the U.K. just reached 150,000. In other words, he isn’t Hitler. He’s Stifler. Which makes the current media blitz he’s enjoying all the more annoying. The most ironic thing about Blanc’s notorious hashtag is that the vast majority of people who appear to be using it are feminists. (I searched the hashtag and scrolled down the results for roughly 25 minutes trying to find one tweet that championed the sentiment rather than derided it. I failed.) Were it not for the scores of women using it in their posts to denounce Blanc, it would likely cease to exist.

Huh. I see she bought his “only joking” defence. Poor dear, she doesn’t realize it, but she’s the one being trolled.

Emma, I’m with your grandma. You really do need to pin back your bangs. An unobstructed view of reality is so much better than looking cute but being unable to see past your own cutesiness. When even the stuffy old Torygraph says nobody’s buying that “apology”, doesn’t that tell you anything? Here, let me brush that wool out of your eyes:

Before he locked down his Twitter account (probably because he realized, belatedly, that no one was actually finding his rape “jokes” funny), Julien Blanc was promoting the Duluth Power and Control Wheel as a “checklist” on how to “Make Her Stay With You”.

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Does this sound “funny” to you, Emma? Because it’s actually a teaching tool which feminists helped to develop, and which is used by counsellors of abused persons to help them recognize common strategies of control used by abusers. And there is nothing “sophomoric” about that. On the contrary, it speaks to just how controlling, abusive and downright cynical Julien Blanc really is.

But hey! Let’s throw a few bones to the feminists before we throw them to the dogs, eh Emma?

It appears that out of a laudable and deeply felt outrage at a potential injury to women, some in the feminist movement have amplified exactly the misogynistic messages they’d like to snuff out. They’ve effectively become Julien Blanc’s spokeswomen, his PR firm. Kirsty Mac, a feminist and stand-up comic whose activism was instrumental in the decision to ban Blanc from Australia, disagrees with this idea wholeheartedly. “Australia said no to violence against women and the world followed,” Mac wrote to me in an email. “Social media might very well be the beginning of the end of the misogyny in pop culture.”

Drawing attention to a problem in an effort to eradicate it is not the same thing as promoting it, Emma. And knock off that divide-and-conquer shit about “some in the feminist movement”. This is something we can all get behind, and should. As the AIDS activists used to say, Silence = Death. You might want to remember that before you start prattling about nuance.

Oops, too late. She’s prattling about nuance, now…

It is certainly the beginning of the end of nuance. Feminist causes have exploded on Twitter in the last year, from #YesAllWomen (the viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of misogynist murderer Elliot Rodger’s violent rampage in May) to #BeenRaped­NeverReported, the infinitely powerful and informative viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi in October. The social media movement against “street harassment” (a.k.a. cat calling) is just as lively. So too, whether we like or not, is the backlash against the Rosetta mission scientist Matt Taylor who wore a tasteless shirt on TV during the live broadcast of the comet landing, emblazoned with hundreds of miniature pictures of semi-nude ladies; a problematic message, many argued, in an industry that employs so few women.

These conversations are overdue. Yet the downside to their playing out on social media is the lightning speed at which online feminism has amalgamated sexist offenses of wildly varying severity—pickup artistry, cat-calling, date rape—into one melting pot of equivalency. The result is that the difference between what’s idiotic, what’s lecherous, and what’s criminal is lost.

This is the hapless kind of false equivalency that has infected so many worthy social movements and reduced their stature, with moral persuasion replaced by ideological bullying. The greatest heresy is for anyone, male or female, to suggest that there might be another side to the story—like, for instance, Brandon Thomas, an 18-year-old self-styled pickup artist who lives in Tulsa, Okla., who told me he was virtually friendless before he got involved with the PUA community two years ago. “I had no idea how awkward I was . . . Parents and friends tell you what you want to hear,” he said. “A dating coach tells you what you need to hear.” (He claims that every PUA technique he uses is imbued with respect for women.)

Not all pickup artists are equal; and very few of them are the spawn of the devil. (Most, I suspect, are merely virgins.)

Yes, Emma, and I was a virgin too, once upon a long time ago. But it never turned me into a serial harasser of strangers in shopping malls.

In fact, I was still technically one on the night this one very slick operator, who I thought was my friend, first “rescued” me from his, er, over-enthusiastic roomie, then took me out of their basement apartment, and later, after a few beers, brought me back to my place, ostensibly safe and sound. On my parents’ own living-room floor he made out with me for a couple of minutes. That was fine; he was a buff, good-looking guy, and I kind of fancied him. But then, without warning, he undid his pants, clambered up over me until he was straddling my neck, and popped his half-masted cock into my mouth.

I was so confused that I didn’t know what to do, other than docilely lie there and let him, so as not to risk offending him and maybe getting myself hurt. (Nice Girl Training, goddamn.)

Perhaps he sensed that there was something ironic and not quite kosher about what he was doing, because after a few half-hearted ins and outs, he stopped, put himself away, and zipped up. He left shortly thereafter. I locked the door behind him.

Then I silently slunk upstairs to bed, bewildered and still a little tipsy, and feeling — not violated or traumatized exactly, but still somehow betrayed. Because he had just a few hours ago saved me from getting raped, and I honestly expected him to know better than to do it himself. He could have asked, and I might have said yes.

But he didn’t. And I didn’t. He never gave me that chance.

I never reported this as a sexual assault, because what would have been the use? I can’t say I was injured, because I wasn’t. My technicalities were still intact, and he hadn’t used any overt force. (Overt is the operative word here. And maybe it’s kind of a moot question when someone’s in a position to crush your windpipe merely by sitting his ass down.) Worse, I knew how it would look if I told the cops, my parents, and maybe even a judge and jury everything that happened: “Well, first we made out on the floor…” Who would believe me if I told them that I did not want him to do that, I did not ask him to do that, and I most certainly did not give him permission to do that?

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Not saying “no” does not equal “yes”. But pickup artists don’t teach you that, they teach you the opposite. “Make the ho say no” is just one of their many rapey mottoes. In fact, there is even such a thing in pickup artistry as “rape game”, and yes, that is exactly what you think it is. (Google it. And be sure to take your ulcer meds first.) The entire thing, in fact, is nothing BUT rape, because honesty is not a pickup artist’s strong suit, and especially not when you’re trying to up your notch count by any means possible.

Yes, Emma, nuance is a very important thing. And nowhere more so than in your black-and-white world of “rape rape” versus mere “pickup artistry”, eh?

It is profoundly important for both its relevancy and survival that feminism retain the ability to distinguish between the handsy jerk who pushes his luck on the dance floor, and a man who allegedly assaults women in the presence of a stuffed bear.

And then, to judge them accordingly.

Uh, Emma? In case you forget, Jian Ghomeshi did both. He was, by all accounts, both a pickup artist AND a violator of the law. There is no rule saying you can’t be both. In fact, there is no rule that you can’t smoothly segue from the one to the other. Feminists have long understood that. It’s time you did the same.

And Maclean’s? Yeah, you suck too for publishing this rag-load of hog snot. But I won’t be holding my breath for you to improve. You’ve been full of crap-ass suckitude for the longest time. Nearly ten years ago, as I recall, you published a fluffy, uncritical feature on PUAs, portraying them merely as a titillating, mildly goofy bunch of totally awesome he-men. That article nauseated me then, and still does now. Seems you haven’t yet twigged to the fact that they are, in reality, all scungy-ass woman-haters. Particularly one of your profilees, the PUA who called himself Gunwitch — who turns out to be not only a would-be “ladykiller”, but a bona fide aspiring lady-killer, too.

PUA coaches are worse than the slimiest snake oil salesman. They are not a source of hope for the socially awkward; quite the opposite, actually. Their methods don’t work, except to lure unwary males. And among those poor saps there is many a ticking time bomb. Who can forget the “sexual frustration” of that poor ignored virgin, Elliot Rodger? When he failed to pick up anyone, he churned out a misogynous “manifesto”, then went on a murderous, suicidal rampage.

No, PUAs are not funny. Nor are they harmless. And they are most certainly not a separate entity from violent, even murderous abusers. On the contrary, they are all on the same continuum. It is a question of degree, not kind.

And since Maclean’s has abdicated its social responsibility to make that connection, I guess it’s little wonder that I haven’t read them in years…and don’t feel like I’ve missed out in the least. They’ve sold out information in favor of titillation, and thrown women under the bus. None of them has any business telling Canadian women how to do feminism, because none of them know how the hell to do journalism.

Badvertising: Ur doin it rite. Apology: Ur doin it rong.

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Via.

Dear Corktown Printing Co.:

This is NOT how you advertise your services in a tasteful, timely, topical manner:

The Toronto reader says she received the mailer at work today. “When I called them this morning they didn’t so much as offer an apology,” she writes, “or tell me they would look into it. They simply said, ‘okay.'”

An employee who picked up the phone at Corktown printing confirmed that the mailer was real.

“It’s a little satire,” she told us. “If you looked at it you can see that. There’s no intention for it to be offensive.”

What disingenuous horseshit. Of course there’s an intention for it to be offensive (nice use of the passive, BTW). How else to catch the fickle eye of the potential customer? (Or better said, in your case: Lose business right and left.)

Also:

Dear Agency Next Door,

This is not how you apologize for your mistake, either:

Agency Next Door does not and never will condone or tolerate the abuse of women.

The “Quote Worthy.” campaign in question was meant to expose the ridiculousness of the original defence as posted on Facebook by a local broadcast celebrity. Our intent was to make fun of the celebrity in question’s own unbelievable explanation for his actions.

We are surprised and sorry that someone has interpreted our mailer to include the victims in this particular case. We support their voices and rights 100%.

Did no one ever tell you that “I’m sorry if you were offended” is NOT an apology, either? (Hint: use of the conditional, etc.) Take some fucking responsibility for your shit, fergawdsakes.

And if your intent really was to make fun of Jian Ghomeshi’s disingenuousness, the best way to do that is to stick in a “Just Kidding” somewhere, lest you be guilty of the same rhetorical sins as he is.

A real apology to Jian Ghomeshi’s accusers would also be nice. They have yet to get one from HIM, but you at least have an opportunity to be the better party here. I strongly suggest you take advantage of it (and not in THAT way, duh.)

Love and kisses (just kidding, ha ha!),

Me.

Pick-up shut-down: Canada and Germany fighting back against RSD

Julien Blanc’s infamous “choking girls” video, in which the PUA “coach”, of the firm RSD, gives racist “advice” on how to pick up women in Japan: Literally grab them by the throat and scare/embarrass the hell out of them, and they’ll supposedly do anything you want. Does it work? Only if your goal is to get arrested…or make an ass of yourself in public, and maybe get your ass kicked out of country, too. Already he’s gotten the boot in Australia; now, two other countries are taking note and locals are formulating plans against him and his ilk. One is my ancestral country; the other, my home and native land. Here’s what’s going on in Germany, according to the Berlin Daily Newspaper (the TAZ):

The video is no longer available. It was taken down by the owner. But when it was still up, it showed a bearded young man in front of an audience of other young men, bragging that he had penetrated a woman who didn’t want him to. They had had sex the night before; the next morning, he wanted to do it again, but she didn’t. But that didn’t matter to him, he says, proudly.

A little belatedly, the US firm, Real Social Dynamics (RSD), for which the young man worked, found out, that someone had confessed to rape on video. Many had seen it already — and RSD, which offers “seminars” for men on how to pick up women, is suddenly a concept. Under the Twitter hashtags, #TakeDownRSD and #TakeDownJulienBlanc, an outraged protest is gathering. “The goal is to shut them down entirely,” the protest’s initiator, Jennifer Li of Washington, told the BBC. And on Change.org, there’s a petition to stop RSD’s seminars.

Who is behind RSD? It’s people like Julien Blanc, whose videos are still to be found on the net. “In Tokyo, if you’re a white male, you can do what you want,” he tells his audience, “I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick.” Yes, really. Then there’s a few scenes in a disco, in which he demonstrates the recommended procedures. The women really do giggle. But probably just because he’s acting like an idiot.

Who goes for such racist, sexist baloney? A lot of people. The company offers seminars in 70 countries around the world. RSD claims to be the biggest “dating advice” company in the world. You can book an audio course, an e-course, buy a DVD set, or even attend a multi-day “boot camp”.

Next weekend, one of the “boot camps” is slated to take place in Berlin. Not Julien Blanc, but another trainer is set to lead it: “Ozzie”. He’s written a book about “The Physical Game”. Subtitle: “A Pickup Coach’s Complete Guide to Approach, Physically Lead and Bed Women.”

The seminar is already sold out, according to RSD’s website. It costs $2000 US, and runs for two days, including practice runs in the wild. “Every woman they talk to is attracted instantly, because they understand the subcommunication that women respond to”, says a testimonial by one Joseph G. in Minneapolis on RSD’s homepage. “It’s the kind of thing that’s applicable to any person who takes the program.”

Because this is supposed to be made possible through the grossest harassment of women, and some individual “coaches” speak openly in favor of sexual coercion, a fast-growing community of critics is coming together. Hotels are being asked to cancel the room reservations for the seminars. In Australia, the plan has already borne fruit: Several Australian hotels cancelled the seminars. In the end, even Australia’s ministry of the interior reacted: Last Thursday, it placed Blanc on the list of personae non gratae, and withdrew his visa. He had to leave the country.

In Germany, the women’s rights organization Terre des Femmes reacted as follows: “As far as we can see, in these conferences they’re calling for sexual violence against women,” says Birte Rohles, a spokeswoman for the organization. “That is not covered by freedom of speech [legislation].”

Politicians are also taking notice: “Not only Julien Blanc is intolerable. Hotel owners should think twice about whether they want to rent rooms to these coaches of violence and sexism,” says Left Party delegate Cornelia Möhring. Ulle Schauws, of the Greens, says: “This marketing angle is unsurpassed for open sexism. And towards men as well as women.”

Now RSD is reacting. It’s shut down videos and its co-founder, Owen Cook, who calls himself “Tyler Durden”, after the protagonist of the film Fight Club, has released a statement regarding Blanc’s video: “I think Julien’s video was absolutely stupid”, he wrote, after a report by the Washington Post. “It was totally out of context and he posted it to get shock, not realizing the full outcome. I’m sorry about the video. I would have taken it down if I’d seen it, but don’t monitor all social media postings”, he says. But if you look for that statement on his homepage, you end up in a password-protected area.

It’s doubtful that this will suffice to calm down the protests. Canada is also thinking about barring entry to Blanc and company. And the hotels, in which the events are to take place, are being kept secret by the company. TAZ inquiries to RSD didn’t go through yesterday; the server was down.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Meanwhile, in Canada, this is happening:

A petition to prevent a man promoting misogynistic approaches to dating from entering Canada may have worked.

Julien Blanc, a 25-year-old man who is often accused of instigating violence against women has already been barred from entering Australia

Blanc offers seminars to men around the world, vowing to make them “pimps” with women and promising to help them get scores of women to sleep with them.

So far the petition to bar his entry, posted at change.org, has received more than 7,000 signatures.

[…]

The petition notes that Blanc is set to tour Canada and asks Federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to bar his entry. It points to a video posted online that shows Blanc instructing a group of men about how to get Japanese women to have sex.

Here’s a screenshot of Chris Alexander’s response to a tweeter bringing the matter to his attention:

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And if you’re looking to help out, the petition is here. Please be sure to stick your John Hancock on it.

BTW, if you’re in the mood for a good bellylaugh at the expense of some seriously shitty dudes, by all means, check out RSD’s website. Fair warning: You won’t learn a blessed thing about how to talk to women or get sex out of them, but you’ll see a lot of them (in badly drawn cartoon format) on the site, and you’ll also see “testimonials” from a choice selection of the sad sacks that this company is peddling its crap to.

And yes, the video testimonials attest that these guys really are as pathetic and as yucky as you’d expect. They even dress like over-the-hill low-level mafia douchebags. The reek of cheap cologne practically wafts off the page! So go on, enjoy…and don’t forget your nose plug.

PS: Here’s a German petition on Avaaz to help keep RSD out of Germany. Sign and share!

PPS: Korea has taken note of what RSD did in Japan, and is now barring entry to Julien Blanc (and hopefully his colleagues) as well. Eat your kimchi, fellas.

PPPS: Brazil has just refused entry to Julien Blanc as well. On Wednesday night, the Ministry of Exterior Relations issued a statement saying that “should a visa request be received by any embassy or consulate in the exterior, there exist sufficient elements to recommend a denial.” The move comes in response to another Avaaz petition against Blanc and RSD.

The sexual “wisdom” of Jian Ghomeshi

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I know I probably shouldn’t pay any more attention to this wanker until he gets perpwalked or something, but Jian Ghomeshi really is the shitshow that keeps on showing. Today, the Toronto Star published a collection of his bons mots regarding life, love and le sexe, and…well, let’s just say the man reveals more about himself that way than he probably intended at the time.

First up, a snippet from his memoir, 1982:

Kim Inglewood and I had stripped naked at her house (in Grade 8), and I had pursued a forensic fascination with her chest. I stared at her breasts with a mixture of excitement and curiosity and then tried to caress them in a seductive way that would turn her on. I had no idea what I was doing. I remember looking up to see a befuddled expression on Kim Inglewood’s face as she stared at me staring at her naked breasts. I had done my best with my caresses. I’m not sure she really enjoyed it.

Poor Kim. I guess having your boobs gawked at and ineptly manipulated by a dorky 13-year-old would be rather confusing, eh?

But hey! Here’s the wisdom that Jian drew from that little bit of early sexual failure:

Without porn, how were we supposed to learn how sex was done? Of course, pornography was often sexist, exploitative, patriarchal, and full of the wrong messages about human relationships and intimacy. But even so, it could have served as a handy tool for seeing how this foreplay and intercourse thing happened.

Sadly, no, it couldn’t. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about studio-made porn (and homemade porn that mimics it, too) is how very much the opposite of erotic it is, never mind instructive. What passes for “foreplay” in it is some truly pathetic dialogue along the general lines of “Hey, wanna fuck?” And what passes for intercourse in it would be at best mechanical and unsatisfying, and at worst, life-threatening and extremely painful. But hey! At least Jian is upfront about the faults of the thing. Just a pity he can’t tie that into the understanding that no, you really can’t learn how to have sex from it.

Of course, if he’d looked hard enough, he’d probably have found something of the porny persuasion anyhow. Was he really that naïve and incurious? It’s not as though Thornhill was the boonies; that would be where I grew up. And even here, it was not hard to get your hands on a stolen Playboy. Or in my case, Cosmopolitan, which was pretty damned explicit in 1982. There was actually a pull-out sex guide in an issue from that year, and yes, I pored over it and learned from it. A LOT. Well in advance of my ever needing it, in fact. But I have a good memory, and let’s just say that when I finally did need that advice, my memory served me very well indeed. Granted, I didn’t fool around at 13, which may have helped some; I was over 20 by the time I finally put that advice to use, and I don’t regret having waited. I was a lot better at reading other people at 23 than at 13. And that, not the mechanics of sex, is really the key to the whole thing. A point which Jian seems to have sadly missed here.

Onwards. Here are some amusing little notes from Jian’s boner to Marlo magazine, in 2003:

1. Good communication. When a woman is gregarious and talking with other men, celebrating her attractiveness to others, but still sending subtle signals that she’s with me … that’s sexy.

2. Taking initiative. Saying, ‘Oh whatever,’ when we’re planning what to do, where to go or what to eat is not attractive.

3. Doesn’t get too dressed up, unless the event is explicitly formal. But I always prefer someone who cares about her appearance and looks great but hasn’t spent three hours pulling it together.

4. Never get too drunk. And yet consuming is good. I like someone who eats and drinks and doesn’t just order a salad.

5. Oh, at the top of the list should actually be, to be honest and real. It’s a cliché, but it’s true and it’s a turn-on.

Every one of these is a study in irony and walking contradictions. Let’s parse this, shall we?

Point #1. From what we now know of Jian’s so-called “consensual” activities, it turns out that he’s not a good communicator of his own intentions. His idea of “obtaining consent”, it seems, was to tell someone he “tend[ed] to get aggressive”. This would be followed up by a nonconsensual, unpredictable punch upside the head, or something equally awful. So to claim he’s attracted to women who communicate well is…well, you know.

Point #2. Again ironic, considering that this dude is a noted control freak and probably wouldn’t care what the woman wanted. All he really cares about is what HE wants. Her initiative would probably be quite an irritant to him.

Point #3. Does Jian have any idea how much time and effort it takes to look pulled-together, but not like one spent a lot of, well, time and effort on it? No, he doesn’t. He’s never apparently been with anyone long enough to have the slightest clue as to what’s entailed here. I reiterate: Dude should have read Cosmo when he was a teenager. If he did, he would know that.

Point #4. Again, very ironic, considering that he’s known for dating women who look like twigs, and unless they’re all blessed with the metabolism of hummingbirds, they are not going to be consuming a whole lot of anything. Even the woman “doesn’t just order a salad” when she’s on a date is bound to be compensating for that, and hard, when she’s not around him. Again, as in #3, he has no clue as to what’s really going on there.

Point #5. Perhaps the most ironic of all, considering how honest and real Jian himself has NOT been for at least two and a half decades now, and maybe ever. And how turned-off we all are now that we know.

And here’s Jian talking about ethnicity to the Toronto Star, in 1998:

(I feel) different around them (Iranian women); I don’t know the protocol and am deathly afraid that I’ll make a mistake.

Uh, dude? You’re Iranian. You could always just have asked your parents, if you were really that concerned about ethnic protocols. Would it have killed you to ask? (One gets the sneaking feeling that Jian really doesn’t know how to carry on a normal conversation with anyone, doesn’t one?)

And finally, here’s Jian, being a “good” feminist guy on Q:

The term most often used to describe that complex of attitudes and behaviour is rape culture. The term has become common in feminist discourse and popular media, but not everyone agrees it is helpful or accurate. The notion of rape culture has been criticized in the pages of national newspapers and even by some advocates for victims of sexual assault. So we’ve decided to convene a Q debate. Do we really live in a so-called rape culture? Is that term accurate or is it alarmist?

Seriously, Jian? You took Women’s Studies at university, and you think that’s a matter of question, and up for debate? Even I, who only majored in English (and, briefly, Life Sciences) know that rape culture is a real thing…but then again, that’s because I was a woman student. I got most of my education in feminism the hard way. I was at Queen’s when male students postered their dorm windows with lovely messages like “No Means Yes”, “No Means More Beer”, “No Means Kick Her in the Teeth”, and so forth. I was also there when the Montréal Massacre went down; I volunteered at the Queen’s Women’s Centre, and spent much of my last semester’s shifts wondering if anyone was going to bust in there and gun me down, too. And yep, I got hit on in some mighty gross ways during those four years, by men who were invariably older and definitely skeevy. Not to mention scared shitless by talk of prowlers in the bushes in Sir John A. Macdonald Park (alias Pervert Park), and paroled rapists from Kingston Pen driving cabs around the city. And outraged by the blatantly sexist, rapey nature of Frosh Week activities. Even before I arrived on campus (where I promptly refused to let guys do pushups over me at Tindall Field), there were lurid signs all over the student ghetto, welcoming me with messages like “Shave yer dotter’s box” [sic] and “Kiss your virginity goodbye”. We got warnings coming and going, all about how not to get raped. Typical advice: Watch what you drink, and don’t dress like a slut.

And all this was after Queen’s had kicked out the fraternities in an effort to clean up its “party school” image. You tell me if that’s just me being “alarmist”.   

Oh, but of course. How could I forget? This is the guy who thinks nonconsensual choking actually qualifies as BDSM. And he was well known for being a “bad date”, and handsy even with other men, during his long stint at York.

He might just be tipping his hand a wee bit there.

Is this Canada’s first anti-Muslim law?

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If I didn’t know better, I’d say it sounded like the Harper Government™ is on some kind of a feminist roll. Yesterday, Bill C-36, which bans the buying of sexual services, passed the Senate. And today, there’s this:

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander introduced legislation Wednesday afternoon to ban people in polygamous and early and forced marriages from immigrating to Canada.

Alexander said the practices, including female genital mutilation and honour-based violence, are “incompatible with Canadian values.”

Alexander and Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Dr. Kellie Leitch announced the federal government bill at a news conference Wednesday morning at Rexdale Women’s Centre.

[…]

The 2013 Throne Speech promised action to stop early and forced marriages, polygamy, female genital mutilation and so-called honour-based killings.

All are issues of concern to the Harper government in light of the multiple murders in 2009 of female members of Montreal’s Shafia family, Alexander said. An Afghan-Canadian man, his second wife and their son, were convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of his three teenaged daughters and his first wife — killed because he felt the girls’ dating and dress brought dishonour to his family.

No word in there as to whether they plan on stopping the US-based cult of fundie-Mormon polygamists who’ve taken up residence in BC, and barring any members of that sect from crisscrossing our border. Those most certainly qualify as immigrants, and practitioners of early and forced polygamous marriages, if not genital mutilation. I have a sneaking suspicion that our gummint simply doesn’t want to know that they exist, and focus instead on all those sinister-looking (to them, anyway) brown and black people from overseas.

I did say “if I didn’t know better”, eh? This is what “knowing better” entails:

Knowing that there’s something deeply, grossly wrong about singling out members of one particular religion for specific anti-immigrant sanctions. As it is, our immigration system has already become dangerously restrictive, and is shutting refugees out. And yes, that adversely affects those who are refugees from institutional sexism in their countries of origin: refugees facing genital mutilation, forced and early marriages, and polygamy!

Knowing that “honor killing” is not a Muslim thing, it’s a cross-cultural thing. Only, when non-Muslims (usually white, Christian Canadians) do it, it’s simply classified as plain old homicide, or even “domestic violence”. Our statistics are rife with husbands killing estranged wives, men killing mistresses who no longer want to be “kept”, and jilted boyfriends stalking and murdering their ex-girlfriends, but none dare call THAT “honor crime”, even when it is easily classifiable as an affront to some man’s pride. Talk about a whitewash!

Knowing that polygamy is by no means limited to Muslims, either.

Knowing that everything Those People have done, “our” people have also done, one way or another, at one time in history or another. Remember medieval tortures and witch persecutions? They involved all kinds of persecutions of outcast women. White Christian people did those things. And they did them relatively recently right here in the Americas, too.

But-but-but, we say, we’re past barbarism nowadays. And just look how bold and saintly we are, trying to yoink Those People out of the Dark Ages as well! Yeah, let’s just forget that while Christian Europe was in its Dark Ages, burning “witches” and cats over the plague (and thus, unintentionally, making matters worse by eliminating trained herbalists and rat-killers), the Muslim world was making great advances in the enlightened arts of science, medicine and mathematics, to say nothing of arts and culture. No, Those People need our rescuing, and they need it NOW!

Never mind, either, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not polygamous, and that the Koran is very specific about the circumstances under which such marriages can occur. If a man is capable of treating them all equally, he may have up to (but no more than) four wives. If not, he must content himself with just one. Most can’t afford more than one. Most also can’t divide their time, affection and worldly goods between more than one. The vast majority of Muslims are thus de facto monogamists. And, adding that to the fact that most have already voluntarily adapted to the secular laws of the lands where they find themselves, it means that most Canadian Muslims…are also de facto monogamists! Exactly how many people are we talking about “protecting” by forcing them to stay out of our country, anyway? And why aren’t we taking in Muslimas who are trying to escape polygamy, if we’re so concerned about this “barbaric practice”?

Never mind, also, that the Shafia case was in fact egregious from the viewpoint even of Muslim polygamy, since the patriarch of that family made a grotesque point of NOT treating his two wives equally. He maltreated the first, who was infertile, and favored the second, who was younger, and who gave him all his seven children — three of whom he killed. He could have divorced his first wife, freeing her to pursue a better marriage with someone else, but he did not; instead, he kept her on as an unpaid domestic. There is no “honor” in that, and Muslim Canadians themselves have said as much.

And never mind, above all, that female genital mutilation isn’t a Muslim thing, but a tribal thing, and mainly African. Which means that non-Muslim Africans also sometimes do it. Never mind, either, that white men sometimes also mutilate the genitals of women whom they perceive as having pissed on their masculine “honor”. No, let’s just fixate on the Muslims and accuse them, and only them, of barbarism!

No, there is nothing feminist about this latest Harpocratic legal project. It doesn’t even pass the most basic of sniff tests. Unfortunately, that probably won’t stop it from passing the House of Commons…and the Senate. And it probably won’t make it unpopular with the gullible morons who voted for those goons, either.

Music for a Sunday: There will not be drinking of tea

A little late for Halloween, but whatever.

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off »

“The Game” is up for Jian Ghomeshi

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Could this book (or another cheesy, overpriced volume just like it) be on Jian Ghomeshi’s shelf, right next to the now-infamous “Big Ears” teddy bear? I don’t know for sure…yet. But if this National Post report holds true, it looks an awful lot like the recently fired CBC radio host has been taking leaves from just such books. They may look harmless, but they are NOT. They are practically manuals for the physical and mental abuse of women. And the behaviors they endorse make ideal cover for a sadistic sociopath, as well as giving him fast-track access to more victims.

Take, for instance, this description of how Jian allegedly trolled for dates:

The woman, now 35, also said she observed some unusual dating strategies by Mr. Ghomeshi. He would search for messages about him posted on Twitter or Facebook by women who appeared attractive, then contacted them directly, she said.

“He did this every single night,” the former producer said. “He was soliciting non stop. It was his playground.”

“Soliciting non stop”? That, right there, is something pickup artists do all the time. It’s a numbers game to them. Whenever they see an attractive single woman, they try to move in on her. That flashy, handsy guy at the club, the one who keeps oozing around from one woman to the next, always getting too close for comfort but never within striking distance of a good hard No? Probably one of them. Jian has been described in similar terms.

And he’s far from alone.

The point of “The Game”, insofar as there is one, is to “seduce” any woman who’s not nailed down. The strategies vary, but the basic objective is the same: Chat up as many ladies as you can, try to get their phone numbers…and whatever else you can out of them. Uncomfortable escalations of physical contact are common in “The Game”, and are meant to lead to only one thing…and it is not real intimacy. To a PUA, sex isn’t something you do (with a willing and happy partner), it’s something you “get”, by hook or by crook, from a person who is (understandably) reluctant to “give it up”. And the implication of that, if you’ve read any of their sleazy writings, is that the man gains, and the woman loses. Fun, wow.

PUAs are ubiquitous sex pests. And they’ve existed, in some form, throughout history; Casanova was the prototype of the modern PUA, and Don Juan is the archetype. I’m so old (ha, just two months younger than Jian!) that I can remember sleazeballs who spouted corny pick-up lines at women being the butt of many a silly movie or TV sitcom. (The punchline invariably came when their targets shot them down.)

But with the advent of the Internet, they’ve become much more organized. They also have a greater volume of women to pick on, and thanks to social media they can do it at high speed. The danger they pose has grown exponentially, but — thankfully — so have the means of organizing a resistance. Last December, the Eaton Centre in Toronto was slated to be the scene of a PUA “training” session, in which hordes of harassers tried to put the teachings of their “seduction guru” into practice by hanging out in front of stores known to be frequented by teenage girls and women in their early twenties, and throwing their hastily rehearsed spiels at anyone unlucky enough to be in their path. They were foiled by an alert group of Torontonians on Reddit, who in turn alerted the mall’s security staff. The PUAs had move their harassment — oh sorry, “day game” — operations elsewhere.

Sometimes, PUAs use “seduction” strategies only as preliminaries to an actual relationship — the idea being to get lots of dates, and hope that something eventually sticks. Many of them drop out once they find a steady girlfriend, and some come to regret their gloopy phases. But even when they’re involved, some others are still playing games. The idea there, it seems, is to control women by keeping them guessing, presumably so that they don’t lose interest and wander off with someone better. Or so that they become subservient, cowed, afraid of losing the loser who’s got his hooks in them. Or to string them along as one of several, playing each off against the other(s). And here, again, we see shades of that last “game” in Jian Ghomeshi’s skeevy behavior at CBC:

At work, the former Q employee said the host would usher her into his office and talk about personal matters, leading her to think she was a friend and not just his colleague. But he would also play her off against another young, female producer, she said, treating one nicely and the other very unkindly one week, switching roles the next.

She said she and the other employee would take turns crying in the privacy of a nearby disabled washroom.

Nice, eh? Classic PUA abuser strategy, right there. Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry. Well “played”, Jian.

By the way, this is the same young woman who also says she endured Jian’s butt-groping and “hate-fucking” remarks on the job. And it sounds like he did a bit of gaslighting on the side, too:

Then during a script “read-through” meeting when she kept yawning, Mr. Ghomeshi said quietly, “I want to hate f— you to wake you up.” Later he talked of wanting to “grudge f—” her.

Two years later in 2009, he reached out and groped her bottom as she passed his desk, saying “I couldn’t help myself.”

That, of course, is straight-up bullshit. Did his hand just suddenly develop a mind of its own, à la Dr. Strangelove? No. He was on the other end of it, in control at all times. And since we now all know what a control freak he is, the excuse that he just suddenly lost control at the sight of a woman’s pretty little derrière won’t wash. This is another classic abuse-and-control strategy: Say “I couldn’t help myself” after doing something you know perfectly well to be abusive and unacceptable in the workplace, so that the victim feels guilty and to blame, and sorry for you, too. Make her second-guess herself constantly. That way, she’s less likely to complain to management and get your ass fired.

And that’s just one news story. There are others. Apparently, half of young Toronto has gotten creeped on by Jian at some point or other…or knows somebody who has. Word gets around. Women — and men, too — have been warning vulnerable young ladies away from him for friggin’ YEARS. Jeebus, this dude even majored in Women’s Studies; talk about your perfect places to learn all the right “politically correct” pickup lines!

And now he’s on the verge of becoming a very lonely man indeed. Since Lucy DeCoutere and Reva Seth have come out publicly to denounce him, the tide has shifted against him, just as I predicted yesterday. Lights has dumped him as her manager, and Amanda Palmer won’t be letting him tag along on her book tour, either. His promoter and “crisis management” firm have both deserted him. CBC just now revealed that it even has ironclad video evidence against him. (Oops, so much for that $55 million “defamation” suit, eh Jian? Ha, ha.) Rumor has it he’s currently scurrying around in Los Angeles, where fewer people know him…or his grungy history. (Heads up, LA ladies!)

The problem with making “The Game” your lifestyle, fellas, is that it inevitably backfires. Karma’s a bitch, and she’s got your number; lord knows you gave it away often enough!

And in Jian’s case, that bitch just bit him right on the ass. Non-consensually, as Karma is so often wont to do.

Jian Ghomeshi: Kinky, or hinky?

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“Hey, ladies. Want a piece of this? Better lawyer up, because I am gonna FUCK YOU UP.”

No, Jian Ghomeshi didn’t actually say that to anyone, as far as I know. But that, in effect, is what he said this week, when he announced that he was suing the CBC for $55 million, following a sudden dismissal after 14 seemingly very successful years. And when he posted a 1,586-word Facebook status (yes, I counted) claiming he was just a poor innocent kinkster, being let go by a bunch of sex-negative fuddy-duddies who were afraid of, in his words, a “jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer” wreaking havoc on their family-friendly brand.

On the surface of things, it was a masterstroke in terms of PR and pre-emptive strikes. However much Ghomeshi paid that “reputation recovery” firm for their services, it would appear to have paid off handsomely. The women in question (four of them, initially) were more afraid than ever to go public with their stories, much less press criminal charges. If it were a simple matter of “he said, she said”, then what he said carried the day. Even though there was way more than one she. Even though he’s officially out of the CBC, Jian Ghomeshi is by no means out of power and control.

And of course, right away, his fans only amplified the big noise he made. Reactions ranged from purblind defences of male privilege and sexual-satisfaction-at-any-cost, to an unbelievable amount of very ironic slut-shaming aimed at the women (eight of them now) who have accused him of assault, harassment and stalking. There’s even a Change.org petition (which I will neither link to nor endorse here) to sign for his reinstatement, and it’s racked up thousands of signatures in just a couple of days. Remember the Fukushima tsunami? This was, easily, the media equivalent. The sheer magnitude of his chutzpah, the unheard-of damages he’s seeking in this far-from-litigious land, the avalanche of slut-shaming, victim-blaming and fan outcry combined — well, who wouldn’t be intimidated by all that? And who wouldn’t be cowed into silence and submission?

If one reads between the lines, however, a very different picture emerges. And it is one that bears talking about, and criticizing, rather nicely. It may even spell a turning of the very tide he has tried to steer in his own favor.

For starters, it seems highly unlikely that the CBC would turn their most profitable radio cash cow out to pasture over a little thing like a naughty-naughty kinkster image. Ghomeshi’s radio show, Q, is not only popular north of the 49th Parallel, but also syndicated to some 180 US public-radio stations. At a time of deepening government cutbacks, CBC is keen to keep the cash flowing from wherever they can get it. Letting him go, lawsuit or no, is already costing them money, and that’s not something they’d countenance unless they had a compelling reason to fire him in the first place.

And private matters like a consensual BDSM lifestyle don’t, generally speaking, count as such. Q is, after all, a pop-culture show by and for mature adults. It’s not aimed at small children. The discussions featured on it are not “family” fare. Not everything that CBC does is strictly family-oriented, nor do Canadians expect it to be. We’re a liberal country, and CBC is a liberal network. So the idea that an overt-but-consensual kinkster would be fatal for CBC’s wholesome “family” image simply doesn’t wash.

Also, it’s hardly the first time a CBC radio host has had a brush with sexual controversy. In 2006, Sook-Yin Lee (of Definitely Not the Opera) appeared in the indie film Shortbus (whose focus, significantly, is open sexual experimentation), not only fully nude but masturbating. To an actual, unsimulated orgasm, yet. And while it drew a lot of outrage from the usual pearl-clutchy places, she was not let go. DNTO is still alive and well. After all, Sook-Yin’s erotic movie role had no bearing on her CBC radio antics, which were already pretty irreverent. And, more to the point, she also didn’t go around hitting and choking people, grabbing people’s asses, forcing them to supply sex, and making lewd propositions to unwilling ears.

All of which Jian Ghomeshi stands accused of doing, in and out of CBC’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre. The accusations against him are not about sex, but about violence.

Granted, no charges have been filed…yet. And there is no police investigation…yet. Nobody has even filed civil suit against him…yet.

And yet, and yet.

I’ve perused an eye-glazing number of comments on various websites breaking news of the story. And while the commenters are anonymous, a startling number of them are saying the same basic things: Jian Ghomeshi is arrogant as hell; as he’s grown older (he’s 47), he’s hit on on progressively younger women, the most recent ones a good 20 years his junior; he routinely oversteps the boundaries of propriety too; and yes, physical violence is a prominent part of that. And no, it’s NOT consensual.

A damning pattern, to be sure. And one easily dismissed as just hearsay, not legally actionable, and so forth. But it constitutes a groundswell of sorts, and one that he’ll be absolutely unable to control if it continues to grow, as indeed it has.

But anonymous scuttlebutt commenters aren’t the only ones with the power to undermine his carefully-wrought PR campaign. Sex educators — and specifically, ones specializing in kink issues — are also calling him out. And they’re pointing out the flaws in his argument with the meticulous communicative skills that are vital to their practices. After all, in kink, you have to use your words, safe and otherwise. People can get hurt badly if you don’t. Accidental deaths due to kinky activities are rare, but they have been known to happen. And, all too predictably, the kink community has also seen a number of straight-up abusers hiding behind the kink shield, and thus endangering real kinksters, especially women, in ways that go far beyond just a battering of the community’s reputation. This sort of thing is just what they don’t want, or need, to raise their profile. So whenever a well-known and reputable kinkster says “hell no, Jian’s not one of us, what he’s doing isn’t safe, sane, OR consensual”, you can be sure I’ll chalk up one more point against him on my mental scoreboard. (And yes, I’m keeping one.)

If it ever comes down to a civil lawsuit, or a criminal prosecution in this case, kink educators and writers should be called as expert witnesses. They are undoubtedly the best ones qualified to poke holes in Jian Ghomeshi’s assertions that his troublesome behavior was just a “lite” version of Fifty Shades of Grey. (And for the record, that god-awful trilogy isn’t about BDSM, it’s about physical and mental abuse. Actual kinksters have said as much. Which makes that reference just one more creepy little red flag among many.)

Legal experts like Brenda Cossman, too, are weighing in on where “consensual kinky sex” ends and actual, sexualized violence begins. And what they’re saying points, again, not to sex but to violence. Because in Canadian law, the more extreme forms of BDSM are not treated the same as the lighter stuff. If it can cause serious injury or death, it doesn’t matter if you gave consent beforehand; you have to be able to withdraw it at any time. And this, too, is important; in matters of life and limb, there’s no such thing as no-holds-barred. Some holds are legally barred for safety’s sake. It’s one thing to be open-minded about sexual experimentation; quite another to let one’s brains fall out. And when it comes to the risk of severe brain damage (or psychological harm equivalent thereto), the law errs on the side of barring that hold.

Our law also errs on the side of refusals being non-negotiable safewords, incidentally. No means no; you cannot legally negotiate no, don’t, and stop into meaning “no, don’t stop!” Because there is always a chance that a sub may accidentally forget to say “pomegranate”, “brambleberry”, “palomino”, or whatever. No is a perfectly good safeword to fall back on when you can’t remember anything else.

And if the word NO isn’t respected in kink, where negotiation is key to all interaction and even a weak demurral should spell an immediate halt, then that sets a bad precedent for the non-kinky world as well. Rape culture, which Jian Ghomeshi earlier this year reprehensibly characterized as a mere “debate”, is already so pervasive everywhere. There is no “debate” about it; it is a constant, horrid fact of women’s lives. Do we really need to have a former pop singer turned radio host blurring those lines out of all recognition with a whiny, windy, possibly scripted but definitely douchey manifesto, full of “nutty and slutty” dog-whistles?

Yeah, NO. Because that’s not kinky. That’s hinky.

And that creepy screed, like the rape culture that spawned it, is just downright stinky.

UPDATES:

Looks like Jian is strangely silent now that the first of his named accusers has bravely come forward to tell on him. He issued a terse tweet, but no new manifestos about “jilted girlfriends”. Meanwhile, the big long whine on his Facebook page is losing support by the hour. Cheese with that, Jian?

Also, there is a petition to show love and support for all the women in question. Several leading Canadian musicians have added their names to it; please consider doing so as well. There’s also this one, to Change.org, asking them to take the other ones supporting Jian Ghomeshi down.