After the Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal exploded over the weekend, the predictable deluge of think pieces flooded the Internet. For the most part, they hovered around the notion of “consent,” which seems fairly black and white to us—no 1,000 word essay required—but websites need their pageviews and Ghomeshi is a hot topic right now. Someone who felt compelled to speak out about Ghomeshi without the ulterior motive of racking up clicks is Owen Pallett, the Canadian musician and Arcade Fire collaborator who last year was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the score to Spike Jonze’s Her.
Pallett, who is a friend of Ghomeshi’s and has appeared on his show twice (that’s the two of them up there), took to his Facebook page to write a searing and blunt repudiation of Ghomeshi’s claims that his acts were consensual. Pallett does not even begin to question who the victim is. “Three women were beaten by Jian Ghomeshi,” he says several times. Pallett then goes on to say that consensual BSDM relationships, which is Ghomeshi’s side of the story, are “about repurposing acts of violence into creating a power dynamic of fucking EQUALITY.” Pallett admits that he’s heard rumors Ghomeshi was “a bad date,” and that he exhibited “shadiness and strange behaviour.” But still, they were friends. Pallett ends his letter by questioning if hey can be ever again. Read it below.
I was challenged by a friend to say something about the recent allegations against Jian Ghomeshi.
Jian is my friend. I have appeared twice on Q. But there is no grey area here. Three women have been beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.
I have sat with Jian over drinks and discussed our respective anxiety disorders. We have been photographed hugging on camera.
Just ten days ago, I helped him find musicians for his father’s funeral. Three women have said that Jian beat them without their consent.
“We will never really know what happened.” Yes we do. Jian beat, at the very least, three women. Three women said so. “They were jilted exes.” Maybe so. They were beaten by Jian.
“They were freelance writers looking to get ahead.” Three women were beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.
At no point here will I ever give my friend Jian’s version of the truth more creedence than the version of the truth offered up by three women. Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist.
“They were engaged in BDSM role-play.” This: this is something I need to talk about.
The beauty of BDSM relationships is that the power is always in the hands of the sub. BDSM and choke play is a subversion of male violence.
To hear that anybody has been abusing the BDSM power relationship for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual violence-against-women is horrifying.
That is not the point of BDSM. BDSM is in fact about the exact opposite thing. It is about repurposing acts of violence into creating a power dynamic of fucking EQUALITY.
As for the rest. I have seen my Facebook feed littered with comments about how “for years we’ve known Jian to be a shady character.”
I too have heard endless rumours that he’s been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behaviour.
I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends. But I have never heard, until today, that Jian Ghomeshi beats women.
I am skeptical of arts reporting. I am skeptical of Canadian journalism. I am sensitive toward shaming of people who are so-called sexual deviants.
But let’s be clear. Whether the court decides that predatory men are punished or exonerated does not silence the voices of the victims. It does not make victims liars.
Whether our culture continues to celebrate the works of predatory men is another issue. It does not silence the voices of the victims.
Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.