Bro busters

diversity treeThe push for diversity in media is picking up speed. It’s part of an overdue movement toward building a world in which more of us have more access to our share of the glory.

It’s important because what we see as children is what we are trained to accept in adulthood. After all, to become a doctor you must first be able to imagine yourself as a doctor, right?

There are lots of threads to this movement; caucasians being cast in asian roles, african american women being stereotyped, gay men being muted – but the one that is (after some hard work) hitting social media lately is the lack of screen time and quality of roles for women.

The push back against the call for more women in meaningful roles is frightening.

Imperator-Furiosa_612x380Take the Mad Max reboot for example. Now, Mad Max was never my thing, but I saw the original and I saw the new one. I can’t say I cared about either. I also can’t say that the addition of the Furiosa character made a difference to how I felt about the second. That’s the point. She’s just a character. The actor’s skills, the writing, the directing, the script – these all matter. Her gender didn’t.

ghostbustersnewI’ve just endured the same rage filled hue and cry about the ruining of the ‘classic’ Ghostbusters brought one by remaking the film with *gasp* women. And AGAIN; sure Ghostbusters amused me as a young teen, but watching it now I can’t say I would have used the word ‘classic’ to describe it. I caught the new Ghostbusters with a friend then I sat down and rewatched the original. My takeaway? 1. Could Bill Murray have been more flat in his Ghostbuster’s reboot cameo? Meh.

black bondSadly this ridiculous outrage is not limited to women black hermiomein film. The internet also lost it’s shit when there was a possibility of a black Bond and when London’s West End got a black Hermione.

There is no quantifiable, objective reason that white male is our default poster child for
everything done in the public sphere. It’s a social construct that we need to socially
destruct and rebuild.

janeway

That’s it. No amount of angry little boy outbursts are going to stop the world from changing.

Next up, my review of the outrage over Oceans Eight…

Oceans8

 

 

A little pre-apocalypse entertainment

political-theater

Man! What a time to be alive for fans of pre-apocalyptic political theatre.

The GOP has fallen into the oldest political trap in existence. The Grand Old Party has fallen victim to pandering.

Pandering

There is a huuuge difference between letting the loons have their soapbox on the corner and letting them have the podium.

No society will ever eliminate its fringe element. In fact no society should try to eliminate it; it keeps us on our toes. However, all societies should keep the fringe on a long leash. Long enough to give the loons some freedom, but short enough that the person at the handle end of the leash is the one choosing the direction.

The Republicans have been letting the dog walk the master for a while now, and it has come back to bite them in the ass. As it always will.

To be fair, this a universally problematic political temptation and not one unique to the Republican Party. It isn’t only Americans who need to maintain proper perspective on the lunatic fringe. For instance:

In the spring I was working a contract with an Alberta government ministry I won’t name. On April 1st, commonly know as APRIL FOOLS DAY, the government put out a joke news release – as many governments and businesses do. Staff in the office I worked in freaked out. I think their concern was that it would make some people angry. And it did. It make the same bunch of lunatics angry that got angry when the Premier wished us all Happy Chinese New Year. The over reaction of my fellow staff members revealed them as firmly in fear of the lunatic fringe. The government, however, wisely just kept on going on and continued to politely ignore the screaming of the  loons. This was the right thing to do.

Zeppelin2

To survive, governments and political parties have to know how to politely ignore some constituents. They must consciously choose not to woo or expect support from their less stable fringe elements.

crazy-trump

The Republican party’s looming disaster comes only because it chose to pander to this fringe element and it’s ripping them apart at the seams. Now all the loons are driving the party toward the abyss of irrational banjo accompanied anger and frenzied orgies of socially conservative outrage.

trump fight

At this point I think there may be no real way out for the party aside from full retreat. The mainstream republicans – the non-loons – need to run away and wait until the Trump zombies eat each other. That’s gonna be a while so I suggest they find a nice pub to hide out in. Forget this election. In fact, pray that this election goes to the Democrats because recovering as an ideologically driven political movement will be easier under a stable Democratic President than during the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

shawn of the dead

Planned Pedanthood Planning

I seem to hit great stretches of time when I can’t finish writing.

typewriterAs a professional gadabout, my life simply involves too many things that compete for my attention. Theatre. My dog. My amateur art attempts. My husband. Reading. My sons. And in summer, the lure of my garden.

Until I get a better speech to text program this means the writing stops when the other things begin, because I can’t take my writing with me.

But as my friends can attest to, I do find time to go on long winded soap box soliloquys on Facebook. These  don’t have embedded links to back up my assertions like I try to  have in a good blog. Still, they allow me to play with words. I love words.

I’ve decided they are appropriately categorized as miniature versions of  my pedant wordplay, and as such belong here.

So consider this warning. Mini blogs full of wordy goodness are coming. Great wordplay, less citing… right after I get through the Folk Fest Weekend.

 

For or against

No article attached. My two cents in 5 minutes…

160719005412-melania-trump-michelle-obama-composite-large-169Google Melania Trump and you’ll find a dozen articles about her speech in Cleveland. It’s the issue of the day: plagarism. But the real issue is what has happened to the Republican party.

The GOP has fallen into the oldest political trap in existence.

Every good leader knows that to fight a good fight and win the day they must give their people something to fight FOR.

All the GOP has is against. Against immigrants. Against radical Islam. Against planned parenthood. Against gay marriage and trans people peeing. Against federal stewardship of public lands. Against gun laws. Against Obamacare. AND against ‘crooked’ Hillary.

This is why they will lose, and lose this big. Because they are only ever acting against the democrats and for no other reason.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses her new book, 'Hard Choices: A Memoir,' at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University June 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Clinton is on a nationwide tour to promote the new memoir with media interviews and book signings but has said she would not decide whether to run in the 2016 presidential race before the end of the year. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

So, in a twisted way, Hillary is to blame for Melania’s speech because, by default she is leading them.

Hillary is to Darcy, as history is to …

Here’s a story I have been telling people for 30 years: my mother named me Darcy so that when I applied for jobs no one would know I was a girl and for that reason not interview me. It’s an important story.

suffragists

Darcy is a name without gender. It is the symbol of the world she handed me. She was confined by her gender. I was less so. I am my mother’s daughter, she is her mother’s daughter. That is how we move forward in time.

How far forward we have come is evident in what we are mourning at the same time as what we are celebrating things like gender parity in government, and a woman Premier in Alberta. Our society is only now mourning the last of a generation of women born before women were given the vote.

Before you freak out: not the generation, a generation.

We all know about intersectionality (now), but progress is is inherently imperfect. Imperfection does not invalidate the improvement, it simply makes the next necessary step all the more obvious. My mother was not perfect. I am not perfect. Being Darcy didn’t eradicate sexism, but the story of my name is a good story looking back at it.

 

This US election cycle is laying bare our mistaken tenancy to judge people’s pasts while looking forward. Improvements are very seldom self evident, frequently they are milestones only in context. And yes, I am talking about Hillary Clinton.

hillary smart girlHillary Clinton is my mother’s generation. I don’t get to vote for her, but I do have to respect the struggles she and my mother’s generation overcame for me. She is not the past, she cannot be compared to the future, but she is the foundation we are standing on today. Her nomination is absolutely and without question a milestone for women. You know, a feminist milestone. Not the last one I ever hope to see, but definitely a stop on the march to progress we should celebrate.

It is easy to see Hillary Clinton as a white, wealthy, christian member of the establishment and say that being a woman is not what has defined her journey. The ‘establishment’ Bernie rails against is male – very male and very white. It’s not every male, but it is male. hillary and billIt’s made up of the people who have been pulling the strings. Being married or born into the establishment as a woman is not the same as being the establishment. For women, it has historically meant a seat next to the a man who is establishment. Your daddy or husband.

Hillary’s full membership in the establishment is a result of hard work and perseverance. The group of people who have access to the strings has broadened, and she has been part of that broadening. But she had to work to gain entry, and she has worked to give others entry – in neither case by opening the door to let them in, but by standing outside the door refusing to go away until they let others in. Not to disparage Bernie Sanders’ excellent record on civil rights, but he was opening the door from inside.

Hillary’s accomplishments and ideas were FOR THEIR TIME very significant. Her journey has been to clear the path for the next generation of women. By today’s standards she possibly pales only if you choose to judge from the place you stand without admitting you stand in a place she helped build. Scan a history book. She has weathered more scathing criticism based on her gender than I would ever want to have to endure. Don’t reduce her to what was not done when she was working doubly hard for her place at the establishment table, credit her for what she got done by using what influence she did have.

Is she perfect right now exactly as is? No. Should you not challenge her to reevaluate, to grow, to move forward? No. Of course not. But if you think you’re ahead of her you are ignoring how much longer she has been in this race than you have.

HIllary speechAre women’s rights human rights? If you say yes it is because she said that loudly in 1995. Over 20 years ago she had to formally announce what we can now assume. That was her doing what was not popular, and that pushed progressive discourse forward.

I admire Bernie Sander’s advocacy and his support of civil rights, but I resent them being used against Hillary Clinton. I admire what he did that aligns with my world view, I like many of his current messages, but I resent that he uses Hillary’s ‘lapses’ against her but pretends his own away. She has been  walking a different path, a path assigned to her by her gender. He went to bat for a disadvantaged group he was not a member of, and therefore went to bat from a place of privilege. She went to bat for a disadvantaged group she was member of, and therefore went to bat from a position of disadvantage.

She is not going to be your saviour. She will lead a group effort. She won’t do it without you, your input is necessary. Which means you should be part of the progress she makes and can help her maintain the momentum. It isn’t a revolution. It is the continued march of progress.

She will be a female president who is the reason a female president is possible in exactly the same way that Obama was a black president who is the reason a black president was possible.

Hillary’s nomination is a milestone exactly because it does matter is how high a woman can rise within an oppressive power structure. It is insulting to diminish that achievement because she isn’t more oppressed.

first ladies

We must acknowledge that people are good in context, and allow them opportunity to improve in new context. Otherwise we can never admire anyone because, no one is ever intersectional enough. Effort matters, growth matters, ability to reevaluate matters. And they all matter more than getting it perfect the first time. She worked hard for what she accomplished, and she is still working and learning and growing.

hillary for barakHillary will be a good tool for further change. She has always had to be a tool for change: imperfect change, halting and meandering and sometime mistaken attempts at change, but change nonetheless.

I don’t support her because she is a woman. I would never have voted for Margaret Thatcher, I would never vote Sarah Palin, and I didn’t vote for Rona Ambrose in my riding. I support her because she a woman who has been working a long time on making the world a better place in support of a party whose ideology lines up with my world view.

Many of Bernie Sander’s ideas also align with my world view. Had Sanders been ahead I would not have proposed he didn’t deserve the nomination because he was not a woman. I would judge him in context. He wouldn’t get credit for taking as many punches for being a woman in a man’s world, but obviously that’s because he isn’t and has never been a woman in a man’s world.

woman cardBut the fact still remains that the fact that she is a woman means something to me, she gets credit for being a woman while in politics. She gets to play the woman card because it has been dealt to her over, and over, and over. And because of her some young woman somewhere is not being dealt the woman card. Some women still are, as I said, progress is imperfect.

Hillary deserves to be President. She deserves to be her imperfect, conflicted, battle scarred self. She is the woman card, and she is playing it yet again to spare you having to have it dealt to you.

Hillary is to Darcy, as history is to progress.

 

Oh, everybodys got a beef now…

I am so tired of going from burst of outrage to burst of outrage in Alberta.

Ok. I can get through this…

earls sourceA local restaurant chain, Earl’s, announced that they were pleased to be the first chain in North America to serve certified humane beef as part of their commitment to conscious sourcing. Apparently Earl’s could not find a source of enough Canadian beef that was certified to meet their expectations, so they are getting their beef from a Kansas producer.

It is so weird to see that so many Albertans conflate a local industry with a purchasing obligation for local consumers.

Yes, Earls started in Edmonton. Yes, Earl’s headquarters is in Vancouver. Yes, both of those are in Canada. But what isn’t in Canada is a process to certify that beef is produced in a humane way. That’s the problem.

It’s also distressing to see Albertans acting as if this is an out of the blue attack on Alberta beef producers.

It’s not out of the blue. Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably seen this ad by A&W about using beef raised with out any added hormones or steroids. Or this story about McDonald’s switching to cage free eggs. The precedent is there. There is growing consumer concern about animal welfare.  Earls, and A&W, and McDonalds are not creating this issue, they are responding to it.

It was not an attack, it was a business decision. What this move by Earl’s makes them is an innovator and an industry leader, not a saboteur. It’s not an attempt to do anything more than respond to market trends. That’s what resilient, strong companies do.

Also worth noting: the point is only marginally whether the beef is raised humanely. The point is the certification the producer provides. The point is a standardization and definition of the minimum acceptable treatment of animals raised for food.

This is not a targeted snub of Alberta beef producers. It could be an accidental rebuke of Alberta’s cattle industry for not staying ahead of the curve though. Another company, an American company, beat them to the punch and were earlier to respond to a growing market demand. It’s a pretty poor business model where producers get angry at consumers for choosing what product they want and going to the business that gives it to them.

I guess Earl’s didn’t consult the Alberta industry when they made their decision. I didn’t consult Safeway when I switched to buying my cheese and pasta at Italian Centre, or my smoked meats at that market in Holes Greenhouse, and I won’t consult them when I start buying my produce at Farmer’s Markets this summer. I’m not clear why consultation was an expectation.

This is not restaurants telling consumers that Alberta beef is not good enough. Earl’s, and MacDonald’s, and A&W are reacting to the shift in consumer perception about the the way animals are treated in all the meat producing sectors – not just beef. They are taking their cues from consumers, not dictating them.

This is not a battle for social license. Social licence is the level of acceptance or approval CONTINUALLY granted to a producer by their consumer. Social license changes over time. Companies have to constantly earn and re-earn social license. Companies need to conduct constant environmental scans and maintain an awareness of shifts in their market.

Alberta beef producers could have Earl’s as a customer if they want Earl’s as a customer. Earl’s is no longer their customer because that is what happens in a free market when you don’t/can’t give the customer what it wants. Earl’s want a certification. If the Alberta beef industry is already doing all these things then this is an easy fix for them. All they have to do is finish development of the certification program. If they can’t then they need to address gaps in industry standards, because this is where the future of the industry lies – in open, transparent and humane standards for the production of animal products.

It’s happening in the fashion industry, it is happening with diamonds, it is happening with laundry detergent, it’s why companies are boycotting North Carolina. Ethical consumerism is a growing global movement. No amount of complaining will make that less of a reality for any industry.

alberta beefMy message to Alberta beef producers is simple. Get together, draw up some parameters and a good plan for enforcing and regulating the standards you choose, and you’re golden. Earl’s has indicated it would consider using Alberta beef if this happened.

Adapt or die. You can do this. It can be done.

When one door closes: Ghomeshi

It’s been two weeks.

The trial and verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial has come and gone. I find the reaction more subdued than the internet predicted it would be, and I feel more subdued than I thought I would be. That being said, the trial has changed the way I see Canada’s justice system. And it changed the way I pay attention to how our society treats sex, sexuality and women.

Two weeks ago I was keeping an eye on twitter as the verdict was read. A co-worker was not and asked me to tell her as soon as the verdict was known. I sent her a quick email, and seconds later heard her holler “He said that?” So I walked around the corner to her office, feeling quite sad, looked at her equally sad face and she said “I have a daughter.”

scales

Given how the trial rolled out I did not expect a guilty verdict. Given the current state of our laws a guilty verdict was not possible. Not because Jian Ghomeshi isn’t guilty, not because the woman are liars, not because what happened didn’t deserve a different outcome – because our laws are not written to give us the better outcome.

Our culture builds a case against the women before they even have a chance to make their case. That was confirmed when, at the end of his verdict, the judge said: “…need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful.” His equating trusting half of the human race to be experts on their own bodily integrity to the danger posed by rapists sent a chill down my spine.

innocent or guilty presumption of innocence until proven guilt as charged in a fair trial for crime suspect

We vociferously, adamantly and unwaveringly defend the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Rightly so.

And yet, in the case of this completely unique crime, we do not with equal conviction defend the idea that a woman is honest unless proven otherwise.

That alone proves the system is biased against female victims of sexual assault, because we start from the assumption that women could lie, that trusting the woman is a threat to all men, and so we interpret normal human behaviors as reasonable doubt.

I read a Facebook story by a male ally in which he likened this to a wallet being stolen. It was a good analogy but I amend that narrative this way:

…I have an invisible wallet. It holds something I value. You can’t see it, but you can touch it, and you can damage it, and you can take it from me. Because it is invisible I can’t prove when you have done any of these things. I will rarely have evidence to support my accusation. It will often be my word against another’s. The damage done to me will be invisible to most people…

Why do we need to start from the premise that we believe women? Because with sexual assault it is all about believing that a woman has the right, and ability, and credibility as a human being to her own sexuality. No one else owns it. It isn’t a matter of property. It is a matter of controlling what happens to her own body, and having redress under the law when that inalienable right is infringed upon. It isn’t about cuts or bruises. It is about one human being violently usurping another human being’s right to self. The nature of the harm done by crime may be invisible to the eye, but the human toll of the crime must never be.   

lady justice6We need to re-examine our laws, and make some sounder judgments about what we have put on the scales of justice. We need to make some sound judgments about the weight of things that are difficult to quantify.

One in four women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. One in four men will not commit that offense, and one in four men do not being accused of that offense. Crimes like this are perpetrated by a very, very small pool of men who re-offend as they get continue to away with their behavior. The risk to one in four women is significant. The risk to the many men is significant. For most men, the risk of being tarred with the same brush, being lumped in with those few men, is real.

By doing a better job of punishing the few criminals we are not only protecting women, we are protecting men from the criminals that hide among them and use them as a human shield for their behavior.

This is not making sex more complicated or risky, for the vast majority of men this will make sex easier and better. Same goes for women. Because when we stop confusing violence with healthy human sexuality, we all win.

This door has closed. But we must open a new door to discussion about how we can do better as a culture, and how our justice system can be made to better serve the best interests of all Canadians.

[read this, it’s interesting]

This civilization accepts change only

when-the-winds-of-change-blowAs many of my pedantic tales do, this one begins on social media.

In response to a thread about Ted Cruz and his demagoguery, a Facebook friend asserted that he was a liberal, to which I replied:
“Of course you’re liberal, … Most of the civilized world is liberal (progressive, we call them progressives here). Being liberal is a requisite to being civilized.”

Later someone challenged me on this, and after thinking it over, I continue to believe I was correct. Look:

civilize: bring (a place or people) to a stage of social, cultural, and moral development considered to be more advanced.
civilization: the stage of human social development and organization that is considered most advanced.
liberal: open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.

Civilization is not a place. It is not a location in time. The march towards civilization is not linear (which of course may also be true of time, but let’s not go there). Once we recognize civilization, it ceases to be the most advanced point because our recognition of the advancement is an advancement in and unto itself. Conversely, recognizing that a something is not civilized we are progressing. Get it? Civilization is a continuous process. Civilization is a progression of moments in which we move toward bettering ourselves and our societies. It is advancement.

mirrorA person who is civilized is individually at a stage of individual peak advancement, because of the same circular proof I outlined above.

Ergo, being civilized is to be in the process of change. You can’t advance without moving, you can’t move without changing position, you can’t change position if you’re not open to the possibility that your position can change.

HuxleyThis is the question I answered at the start; how can you be civilized if you are not open to change? Being open to change and the state of being resistant to change are mutually exclusive, which leaves only liberality compatible with civilization. In the long run, being open to new behavior or opinions (the definition of liberal) is the only of those two states compatible with civilization. Being liberal not only has a civilizing effect, it is in fact required for the civilizing to take place at all.

I will agree that what we consider to be a civilization is relative. But regardless how subjective the judgement call that ‘civilized society’ is, change is necessary to advancement. It is the willingness to consider change, not the adoption of new ideas, that makes the liberal mindset requisite to civilization.

I’m going to rest my case right here… what do you think?

quote-the-true-law-of-the-race-is-progress-and-development-whenever-civilization-pauses-in-the-march-of-william-gilmore-simms-171220

Waiting for #Ghomeshi

It has become clear to me that I am far more concerned about the Ghomeshi trial than most of the people I know. I can partly explain that by admitting my (thwarted) childhood ambition was to be a lawyer. I have always been fascinated by rules and by how people follow, or don’t follow, those rules.

I have also always been a woman. Which leads me to consider what being a woman means.

The difference between the way my grandmother had to live her life, the way my mother coped, the way I am living, and the way that young women today conduct themselves is striking. Some things have progressed, but some still lag. The reason for the lag is that so many of us are behaving the way we were raised to behave in the past, yet we’re all living together in this same moment in time. How  my grandmother, my mother, myself, and my niece would react to a scenario like what is alleged to have taken place between Jian Ghomeshi and his accusers could be very different.

We say women have all the right to say yes or no to sex, to make their own sexual choices. On paper they do. Off paper much of the current understanding and attitudes that come with those rights were not the understandings and attitudes in place when many of us were growing up. They’re not the rights and attitudes that inform our behavior subconsciously. How a woman copes and how she tries to make sense of being assaulted varies widely depending on her generation and her subconscious understanding of her rights.

As a culture as we’ve raised successive generations of women in progressive environments. These women will have less internal conflict when it comes to sexual assault. They’ll be confident that it was assault because they will have always been raised that they are their own master. They will be less likely to try and smooth things over afterwards and quicker to go to the police. They will have been raised to know since the man committed the crime, that they don’t have to fix anything and the law has an obligation to address the crime.

A huge part of our progress lies with men. The world is changing for them so rapidly.

Never before in human history have men been held so accountable for their behavior. Never before have men been expected to be as aware and as fair about sex as they are now. Sex is no longer only for and about men. The sexual ground has shifted beneath men’s feet in two generations.

For many, many men this shift makes little to no difference because they never felt like sex was something they were entitled to. For other men, there are some bad lessons to be unlearned.

Our culture needs several things.

We need women who feel completely comfortable with their sexuality, with having sex or not, with saying no and saying yes. We need men who step up their game and are completely comfortable with not putting their personal sexual urges on a pedestal, with owning their desire and being completely willing and respectful of the needs of their partners.

We need to stop seeing sex as a transaction between agressive male and passive female. We need to stop thinking women will lie because sexual arousal is not their natural state, and men will be tricked because men are in a constant state of sexual arousal. When women aren’t emberassed (read: shamed) by the details of their sexual behaviors, there will no longer be any reason for them to obscure what happend and not only will that make real life relationships happier, it will make these sort of trials much easier to sort out.

We need to see sex in the moment, and not as one domino in a long line of behaviors. Nothing leads up to sex for certain, and the outcome of sex is not predetermined. We have to take ownership and responsibility for what we are doing as we do it. Men must, and women must be allowed to do so.

No matter the outcome of the Jian Ghomeshi trial, there is no going back. A conversation has been started. Our culture is shifting. Our laws are adapting. As horrifying as this whole trial has been, I believe this is a very good time and place to be a woman because we are progressing.

ghomeshi

#Ghomeshi week 1

#Ghomeshi week 1

the accused jodi fosterWhat I’ve found interesting in this past week of testimony at the Ghomeshi trial is his lawyer’s use of the ‘classic defence strategy’; eroding witness credibility, poking holes in testimony and making a witness contradict herself.

When I read that definition I see two things that are part of our ‘justice’ system that are unacceptable. Gaslighting and the rampant use of logical fallacies – which law students are taught to recognize – as part of cross-examination.

For those of you not familiar with the term gaslighting, it is emotional and mental abuse in which information is turned back on a person by making careful omissions or by presenting false information in a way that favours the abuser and makes a victim doubt her own sanity.

If we believe (and I certainly do) that the purpose of going to court is to find out some truth, then gaslighting does not compatible supporting that goal. We actually end up farther from the truth by allowing the ‘classic defense’ to distract us from evidence and facts.

Putting a person in a court room under cross-examination under enough stress that her higher functions begin to shut down does not mean she cannot function reliably in normal conditions situations. Drawing the conclusion that testimony is unreliable when we have allowed gaslighting to alter the witness’s ability to represent herself legitimizes the use of acknowledged logical fallacies. For instance:

Logical-Fallacies-loaded-question-620x384Loaded question: a question with a presumption built into it that can’t be answered without the appearance of guilt. Like the question: “I think you would agree with me that you weren’t doing particularly well, you weren’t making a lot of money?” Saying yes to that is like saying ‘guilty as charged’. Saying no sounds like a lie because the disparity in income levels automatically creates a ‘good’ income and a ‘not good’ income. Good and bad get attached to their relative incomes and success in life, and stick to the individual people as well.

beggingthequestionBegging the question: a circular argument that contains the conclusion in the premise. Like the question: “Are you prepared to admit you have lied under oath?”. The phrase ‘prepared to admit’ makes the lie a foregone conclusion. There is no way to answer without guilt. ‘No I am not prepared to admit’ is just as damning as ‘yes I am prepared to admit’ because the lie has been established in the question.

the fallacyThe fallacy fallacy: because a claim has been poorly articulated or an error made, the claim itself must be wrong. Like saying that because one part of a story was left out that then the rest of the story cannot be trusted. Women are conditioned to be coy and even to outright cover up their sexual histories. If she told the story but left out the part that she found the most difficult to articulate that doesn’t mean what she did manage to say was false.

geneticGenetic: the source of information determines whether the information is good or bad. If by using gaslighting we create the perception that the witness is emotional as opposed to rational, that taints how the information is perceieved. It shouldn’t. Facts do not become less factual when they are presented by someone who struggles to articulate a proof. When I say climate change is real it isn’t less true because I’m not a climate scientist. We should judge facts and information on their inherent value and not dismiss them based on our judgement of the messenger. ‘Good’ woman or ‘bad’ woman does not correlate to the fact of consent.

burdenBurden of proof: requiring disproof verus proof. This case rests completely on consent. The only person who actually knows whether there was consent is the person who would be giving that consent. A woman shouldn’t have to prove she didn’t consent beyond stating that as fact. Ghomeshi admits hitting women and defends himself by claiming that is was consentual ‘kink’. We cannot allow his defense to outweigh their right to be the expert witness on their own mind.

Some other common ‘classic defence’ techniques that are logically fallacious are:

Ambiguity: using double meaning to misrepresent.
Personal incredulity: because something is hard to believe it must be untrue.
Tu quoque: answer criticism with criticism.
Composition/division: assume that one part of something has to be applied to all parts of something; that the whole must apply to its parts.
Ad hominem: attack opponent’s character or traits in order to undermine their authority.
Slippery slope: if we let ‘A’ happen then ‘Z’ will happen, therefore ‘A’ should not happen. This the premise of the hideous expression “it is better for 100 guilty men to go free than 1 innocent man to be punished” I don’t feel one bit comforted that 100 guilty rapists walk the streets to allow one innocent man walk free, and I cannot see the connection between not convicting the guilty and convicting innocent. That isn’t an appeal to reasonable doubt, that’s letting technicalities substitute for good reasoning.
False cause: a real or presumed relationship between two things means one caused other. Because these women at one moment maybe did want to have sex with a man, that this was the reason he at another moment had sex with her – without taking into account whether the wish to have sex was current to that moment.
Straw man: exaggerating, misrepresenting an argument so it’s easier to frame your argument as rational.

I think we should work toward a court system that functions on higher levels on the hierarchy of argument. The ‘classic defence’ relies on ad hominem and responding to tone, the absolute lowest forms of argument. We can create structure to make the ‘classic defense’ history.

And finally, how about reconizing gaslighting that occurs even before we hit the court room? We constantly second guess and scrutinize the victim, but why not stop and recognize that they are being subjected to gaslighting?

Why keep in contact? Why reconnect? We need to admit how women are socialized and how it leaves them suseptible to gaslighting. Women are taught to doubt their own instincts. Witness stand gaslighting is simply reinforcing existing destructive cultural conditioning. It reinforces the subtle narrative that the woman did something or should have done something, and that women should look to themselves to find answers to what happens to them. Furthermore, while this is particularly strong in socialization for women, it is by no means unique to women. Even pop culture shows us victims who go back time and time again to abusive situations. Maintaining or reconnecting is an attempt to go back to the point where power was lost to change the dynamic going forward, and people do it because they have been convinced that they have the responsibility to make it right.

The letter written  by Lucy De Couture that said ‘You kicked my ass….’ and similar communications with Ghomeshi by the other victims demonstrate a desire to return to the scene of a crime and find meaning or a create a new narrative. It says ‘you took away my power and I want a do over with a chance to control what happened’. It says they are second guessing their right to have exercised their own will, but it doesn’t give us the right to second guess that right.

If the justice system makes testifying against a man who assaults her this stressful and this undermining to a woman’s self-esteem and faith in herself as a human being, then it is clearly not a justice system for women. This tells the victim that they are ultimately responsible for making what went wrong right, and that is exactly why women reconnect with abusers, and exactly why the bullied try appease their bully, and exactly why there is no justice.

We should not be questioning the choices of these women. We should be questioning the choices Jian Ghomeshi made, and the system that portrays his choices as a legitimate challenge these women’s right to be the last and only word on their own consent.

We can fix this.