Author: hannah grover | arts and culture editor
The following article requires a trigger warning for reference to sexual assault
To all of the men who believe that you need ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to convict a rapist of their crimes, know that you are siding with the rapist”
he recent verdict on the Jian Ghomeshi case brought forward four women, who already had to endure reliving their sexual trauma, when they bravely decided to testify against their abuser (Note: you are brave if you are a survivor of sexual assault, regardless if it is reported or not). Forgive me for being so radical in saying this, but shouldn’t the voices of four women be held in higher esteem than the word of the man who was being charged for the crimes against the women? The jury didn’t seem to think so.
I am so tired of seeing men sit there and defend powerful male celebrities when they stand trial for sexual assault, as if the survivor’s only goal is to destroy that man’s career.
Victim blaming permeates modern media, and it’s high time that the law protects sexual assault victims instead of mocking them and defaming their characters for being raped. It’s disgusting, it’s wrong, and it definitely shows why we still and will always need feminism and belief in sexual assault survivors.
On March 24, my Facebook newsfeed was full of amazing support from Students for Mental Wellness and strong messages of anger, solidarity, and hurt from other sexual assault survivors whose wounds were reopened by the verdict. It moved me so much to see and it was an inspiring and important discussion. However, alongside that crawls from beneath the surface, men who think it’s acceptable to bombard these supporters’ posts with statements like, “Well, I don’t think it’s fair that we attack Jian for the verdict. The jury must’ve sided with him for a reason. They’re not stupid. They’re educated people and there was simply not enough evidence.” Excuse me, but it is a rarity that sexual assault is ever caught on tape or witnessed, unless you’re Lisbeth Salander. Why should there be any need for physical evidence when a literal line-up of victims with testimonies were pouring their hearts out to the jury, begging them to convict Jian for his crimes?
I’m sick of this. It happens time and time again, especially to women. They are silenced and told that their trauma doesn’t matter and they should learn that when they express their abuse and expect restitution that they are daring to ruin a man’s life, because apparently that’s the worst thing a woman could ever do. The rapist ruined their lives with his disgusting violation of their personhood! It is maddening to see men telling survivors of sexual assault and their supporters to be quiet and take this verdict as the only plausible outcome of this case. This is victim blaming and perpetuation of rape culture. Please, please, always stand with the survivors and believe them. They are reliving their trauma by having to disclose the emotional and physical violation of sexual assault to a room of biased jury members who rarely, if ever, respect their word.