Upon turning on my computer to start work today, I was greeted by multiple social media posts regarding the Jian Ghomeshi trial. A friend of mine used his Facebook feed to say he was glad that a man he looked up to and trusted was being validated by a confusing trial plagued by memory errors. And while it pleased him, it really saddened me.
There is no doubt the Ghomeshi case is nuanced and complex, as most sexual assault cases are. But what saddens me is the same thing I think displeases most women watching the case unfold – what appears to be a systematic lack of trust in women. That has been the main argument used by Ghomeshi’s defense team.
This isn’t the only case that highlights society’s lack of faith in my gender. Earlier this week, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) released a report suggesting that women of childbearing age should refrain from drinking alcohol completely for fear of harming their future unborn child. While I understand the risks that alcohol does pose to pregnancy, the tone of the report suggested that women weren’t educated enough to make the choice for themselves and that we are regarded as merely baby incubators. And that offends me.
I wrote an opinion piece about the topic for a publication in Vancouver, and when discussing the subject with a friend in the city, he told me I should stop being so sensitive. I told him I would when men stopped telling me what to do with my body.
As a woman, I have my obvious biases about news stories and women’s issues, and am pretty passionate in discussions surrounding the subject. Women’s safety directly ties to my safety and it is frustrating to see cases where women are blatantly mistrusted. A lack of trust in women jeopardizes their safety, as how will they feel comfortable in a society where they are often mistrusted.
In the case of Ghomeshi, it’d be rather difficult to remember specific details from over a decade ago. I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last week. As sports writer Stacey May Fowles said in defense of Lucy DeCoutere, who is the only woman publicly testifying against Ghomeshi, she tried to recall details from 2003: what was in her closet, what her hair looked like, and what she wrote in emails and she couldn’t. However, she said she can recall every detail of the day she was sexually assaulted in the 1990s. She remembers exactly what she had for breakfast the following day.
Women’s safety is a subject I will always speak passionately on. Therefore I also found it disturbing to hear from friends around Fernie that a random man has been driving around offering them rides home from the bar. While it does have the guise of a nice gesture, one only found in a small and friendly town, there are so many dangers attached to it that I find it scary. And I can’t be blamed if I don’t trust the random person’s intentions, at least not until trust is equally distributed.