As Anne Thériault suggests in Vice, Ghomeshi will most likely recover from this scandal. “Men in his position very rarely suffer any real and lasting consequences for these types of allegations — look at Roman Polanski, or Woody Allen, or Chris Brown,” she writes. “Even when there is plenty of solid evidence and a conviction has taken place, men who abuse and rape manage to come out on top.” Indeed — and incredibly — #TeamJian was trending on Twitter earlier this week. Why were some so quick to jump to his defense?
We live in a world where calling out sexism makes you more vulnerable than perpetuating it. That’s why people like George Will, a rape apologist who has called survivors of sexual assault “privileged,” can go on to earn $48,000 to speak at a college, while feminist activist Anita Sarkeesian is forced to cancel her speech after the school received a warning from someone threatening a mass shooting in retaliation. Even when men are accused of rape, they aren’t met with the same amount of vitriol. That twisted logic explains why girls like Rehtaeh Parsons or Audrie Pott were cyberbullied to death after being raped, while their attackers’ reputations have remained largely unscathed. It also explains why the Steubenville rape victim was violently threatened online, while her rapists weren’t targeted at all.
In many cases, it’s easier to have a public life as a rapist than as a rape victim.
Although he is being accused of assault, Ghomeshi has had no shortage of support. Besides the #TeamJian hashtag, two petitions, one asking the CBC to apologize and another defending Ghomeshi’s “privacy,” have already garnered thousands of signatures. Most troubling of all, Ghomeshi’s fan page has more than tripled in likes since the allegations against him were made public, suggesting that support for him — or at least, his fame — has increased. Since when does being accused of sexual assault make you more popular? Even if these allegations turn out not to be true, the fact that he has garnered more followers as a result of being accused of assault speaks volumes about the way rape culture works.
Despite all our talk of equality and our work toward gender parity, the fact remains that today, the pitchforks don’t come out for men who hurt women, but for the women who have the courage to speak their truths. This isn’t just ignorance, it’s the blatant perpetuation of a cultural ideology that will continue to keep women in state of fear at retribution for being a victim.