Jian Ghomeshi Has Sent Me Into Creep Ennui
I have creep ennui. Right now it’s Jian Ghomeshi. Over the last few weeks it’s been Stephen Collins, Ray Rice (and the whole NFL), and the Alt Lit crowd — Tao Lin, Janey Smith, Stephen Tully Dierks, Ed Champion. Matt Taibbi apparently harassed a staffer at First Look Media. Dr. Luke abused Ke$ha. Would-be feminist icon Charles Clymer just keeps sticking his foot in his mouth whenever people press him about his questionable behavior and opinions. People are coming around to the Bill-Cosby-Is-A-Rapist revelation that I had years ago, after which I stopped watching anything Cosby-related. A bunch of guys I know probably know what Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs look like, now, and that’s creepy, too. Woody Allen’s a creep. Bill O’Reilly’s a creep. Sean Penn’s a creep. Mel Gibson’s a creep. Chris Brown’s a creep. Bill Clinton. Anthony Weiner. John Edwards. Creeps.
So I don’t know what to say. A writer named Melissa Martin has written a blog post about the fact that apparently everyone knew about Jian Ghomeshi — what exactly they knew isn’t stated, but the impression is that he has had boundary issues with women for a long time. It was well-known in the Canadian media. No one ever spoke up publicly, because why? What could you do? Jian Ghomeshi couldn’t even be held to the basic standard of polite behavior with women — not touching them inappropriately, not using what his friend, Owen Pallett, called “ridiculous pick-up lines.” Jian Ghomeshi couldn’t even be held to just be a fucking chill guy and not be weird with women because he’d react to it by trying to implicate other people — that’s what everyone assumed he’d do, and, tah-dah, that’s exactly what he did when people did start speaking up. He gaslighted and he pointed his finger at everyone but himself. Jian Ghomeshi had a lot of influence; he could brush off one individual woman and say she was crazy, she was upset over a breakup, there was no hard evidence, and in the course of a few minutes ruin her career. Same goes for all of these men: They had authority, and they leveraged it so that they could prey on women without facing any real consequences.
You know that there are more. There are tons more. We don’t know about them yet, but they’re out there right now, doing creepy things. In the next few weeks, another creep will pop up, and next year there’ll be a whole crop, and the year after that and the year after that, on and on until either global warming kills us all or, barring that, the sun expands and swallows the Earth whole, or, if humanity gets its ass moving on space travel and colonizing other planets, basically until the end of time. Or, anyway, that’s what it feels like. In the meantime, there are creeps lurking around Hollywood, around the music industry, around journalism, around politics who are using their authority to keep the women they’re using silent. Today. Maybe right now. Maybe right while you’re reading this.
Or: Right now, right now while women are pouring their hearts out on Twitter about why they never reported their rapes. There’s this sphere of humanity that remains blissfully ignorant to the fact that there are creeps everywhere doing creepy things — mostly men, and mostly men who haven’t done creepy things themselves, and some women who haven’t had creepy things done to them, and then a whole bunch of people who do creepy things but think it’s their right, or that the things they do aren’t creepy. And then there’s this other sphere of humanity that lives with the reality of creeps all the time — women who have been hurt by creeps, women who have seen it happen, men who have had it happen to them, men who have seen it happen, and men and women who believe their friends and partners when they tell them what it’s like. It’s populated mostly by women. The blissfully ignorant sphere will tell the other that there’s no evidence (the creeps made sure there was no evidence), that their claims are based on their subjective experience, and that’s not good enough, as if believing that the creeps aren’t really out there, that it isn’t really a problem, isn’t based on the subjective experience of never having had to deal with it.
Creeps are a rote part of my life. What am I supposed to do about it? I tried reporting one of my rapes and got slut-shamed and gaslighted by the detective. There wasn’t enough evidence. Fine. The guy got the social punishment he deserved, that’s something. I’ll live in the constant fear that someone or something will drag my abusive ex back into my life, that I’ll get an e-mail or a call one day, or he’ll track me down and show up at my door. I’ll know that the first guy who raped me is a drug addict and a DJ who’s probably continued to do shit to women in the last 10-11 years, who I’ve seen at coffee shops (and said and did nothing). I’ll walk around my neighborhood and when creeps try to talk to or touch me I’ll give them a piece of my mind, take pictures of them and post them on Instagram, and carry a knife around, just in case. I’ll write about the creeps in Hollywood, DC, journalism, media, and sports as it keeps coming out that they hurt women. I will spend the rest of my life being extremely aware of the creeps, and I’ll spend the rest of my life hearing from other people that they’re not really there, that it’s a figment of my imagination.
I hate that I have creep ennui, because it feels like giving up. I keep writing about the creeps and about creepy things, poring through thinkpieces looking for effective strategies for eradicating creepiness in American and global society. And I keep turning up nothing but “We need to teach boys not to be creeps.” It’s not good enough for me: That might or might not solve the problem for future potential victims of creeps. It solves nothing for the women who are being hurt today, right now, while you’re reading this.
The only solution I can think of is this, the simplest one: Listen. We can’t eradicate creepiness. We can only ask the people who have been granted the good fortune not to have had to deal with creeps to practice empathy, to believe us without feeling obligated to implicate someone legally. It costs nothing but time. Please, just listen.
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