Things are changing in the Jian Ghomeshi story with great velocity, even as we speak. The Toronto police have asked anyone with information to come forward to add to their knowledge of the case.
Two women, Lucy DeCoutere and Reva Seth have told their stories, allowing their names to come forward in coverage by the Toronto Star. (Note to those not from Canada, The Toronto Star is a real newspaper with experienced reporters doing actual investigative reporting and that pesky little standard of having more than one corroborating source)
You can look at the surface of things as reported, and draw your own conclusions, but before you do, look at what is being talked about: Morality, Sexuality and Legality, three subjects that don’t get along well with each other and work at cross-purposes in the best of circumstances.
In the interests of full disclosure, here are the lenses we use:
Morality: At least when it comes to sex, morality is so fraught with colourations that it makes a Jackson Pollock painting look like a three-step grey scale. Everyone has a sexual morality and here’s ours:
- Participants must be of legal voting age
- Participants must actively consent
- Show some class and be discreet
The rest of it is not our business and we don’t necessarily want to know about it.
Sexuality: The spectrum of expression for human sexual response is wide, deep and diverse: What floats your boat might not be what floats our boat. As long as the Morality functions above apply, if your method of sexual gratification involves a welding mask, seamed black stocking and a toaster over, have a nice time.
We tend to avoid terms like porn, fetish or kink as those are pejorative terms loaded with undertones of morality. What is erotic to one is utter degenerate filth to others: Stroking your partner with a feather could be described as sensual; using the whole goose could be described as not necessarily mainstream.
We try to be inclusive with our language and leave the judgments out of the discussion, but might use some terms as a form of shorthand if only so we can get the damn post done without turning ourselves inside out with linguistic gymnastics.
Legality: Our lens of sexual legality is No Means No. No does not mean, buy me another drink, talk me into it, or I’m just saying no, but I really want to. No, means: Cease and desist immediately as your advances are unwelcome, unwarranted and unwanted. Open your mouth again to do anything but apologize profusely and you will be charged with sexual assault after I slap you into next Thursday.
Now, how does Morality, Sexuality and Legality work at cross-purposes?
We might be a bit explicit here, but it won’t be anything you can’t handle.
There is a subset of sexual expression that likes to give and/or receive aggression, verbal, physical or a combination of both. Problem: Define aggressive sexuality without passing a personal judgment. You can’t.
Take this sentence: “Come over here and fuck me now!” For some it is offensively aggressive, crude and demeaning. For some it is out of the ordinary, not unwelcome and rather saucy. For others that was last Tuesday night, more than once.
Wearing our Legality goggles, that might be coercion, with the implicit threat of sanction if the other party does not immediately comply. If that was said in the workplace, then there are all kinds of fresh hell opened up: The context truly matters.
Wearing the Morality goggles, if you do turn off the hockey game (Leafs 4 – Jackets 1) come over and provide said behavior, that is an act of active consent to engage in sauciness. As long as you are of voting age, actively consent to it and are discreet about it, then it’s not our business.
(The Legality lens would also suggest a written agreement of consent, duly signed and witnessed, itemizing all the actions implied with “fuck me now!” including a signature after, of satisfactory compliance. We would call that Sucking All The Fun Out Of Life. Or, What Lawyers Do)
Now, lets add a ‘celebrity’ to the mix. Does that skew our lenses? Oh crap.
That is the summation and the difficulty of the Jian Ghomeshi story. We can’t comment upon it without passing judgment through our own lenses of intensely personal morality, sexuality and legality. We’re giving you our perspective with this post by defining how we see things: Our own personal context that you can use to judge our commentary through your own perspective.
We also have to remind ourselves that Ghomeshi has not been charged officially with anything as of the time we posted this.
As for demonstrating good judgment, interpersonal sensitivity and compliance with commonly accepted guidelines of behavior in private and the workplace, based on our lenses of Morality, Sexuality and Legality, in our consideration, he’s an asshat.