SARcasm











So I want to say up front that I have never been a particular Jian Ghomeshi fan. I enjoyed Moxy Fruvous, and would listen to “Q” (his well-known show on CBC Radio 1) if he had a particularly interesting guest or topic, but I was no loyalist. So when about a year ago I read this piece on XOJane by Carla Ciccone, detailing (and I understate things) an arrogant and far-too-persistent ‘bad date’ with boundary and personal space issues, and understood through comments thereafter that this was a thinly veiled story about Ghomeshi, it didn’t particularly fizz on me one way or the other. Creeper, I thought, glad I don’t know him, but doesn’t quite sound criminal, and he’s OK at what he does, and hey, aren’t we all fans of some problematic people or other? It didn’t really change my opinion of him one way or the other. Entitled minor celebrity, I thought, and pursued my previous stance of ‘I wasn’t a big fan of his anyway, but this isn’t worthy of a boycott, I’ll listen depending on the topic or guest at hand.’

That said, I never forgot that read, or that I got the sense through scuttlebutt that this wasn’t exactly out of line with Ghomeshi’s off-air reputation. So when I heard this past Sunday that he’d been fired by the CBC, I wondered dimly if it was related to an issue, or issues, like this. Ghomeshi’s Facebook statement followed within hours, suggesting (and I summarize very briefly, it was a long note) he was fired for enjoying rough sex but that it was always consensual, and to suggest otherwise was a smear campaign against him by a jilted ex-girlfriend and a few co-consipirators, and of course, the internet began taking sides. I very carefully made a point of not doing so. On the one hand it is a personal policy of mine, as a feminist, not to doubt claims of assault or sexual abuse. After all, the media, public, and – worst of all – courts and law enforcement do a good enough job of that, making it difficult for victims everywhere to come forward (indeed, according to the Toronto Star, who ultimately came forward with the story in light of the firing, the reason the women didn’t press charges, and wished to remain anonymous, was fear or reprisal or revenge). On the other, while the tone of Ghomeshi’s open letter bothered me on a number of levels, I was impressed with him getting out ahead of the story when it might seem simpler to just bite one’s tongue, and I have a natural instinct (applied to both sides, in my defense) to give the benefit of the doubt and want to information-gather before any witch hunt.

Especially in this case, where there is so much at stake in being wrong. What feminist in their right mind wants to unwittingly defend a rapist, or accuse an assault victim of lying? On the other hand, if there was even a bit of truth in Ghomeshi’s claims, who wants to see a man’s career ruined because he’s a bit of a creep around girls and has some ‘deviant’ tastes in the bedroom? What if it was a misunderstanding where neither side was lying, the women genuinely thought they were consenting to one thing while Ghomeshi took it as license for another? I want to be clear – I never for an instant believed the women involved were lying. There was too much smoke for there to be fire. But “how bad was it”? Was Ghomeshi a monster, pure and simple, or clueless, entitled, in need of education on how to deal with his fetishes in a safe and responsible manner? Or heck with it – at that point, is there even a difference?

Bottom line, in the immediate aftermath and firestorm, when it was a LOT of he-said she-said, while I had my guesses in my heart of hearts in terms of what was up, I had no interest in getting involved. I figured, it will all come out in the wash and all will have their day in court … and media … and whatever other arena these issues get batted around. Because trust me, there are some big issues to discuss here, from rape culture and the difficulty to come forward in cases of assault – especially when the perpetrator is famous, powerful, and probably a serious gatekeeper in an industry you have an interest in if you run in the same circles as him – to BDSM and the importance of being safe and clear if engaging in it, to how ‘innocent until proven guilty’ comes into play in hiring and firing situations and beyond.But all that said – four days have passed now. More women have come forward anonymously, and one – Canadian actress Lucy Decoutere – has done so publicly. Ghomeshi has done precious little to convince me – or anyone – that these stories are false. And apparently, that ‘anyone’ now includes his PR firm, who dropped him today.

So – for this writer anyway, in my small bubble – the time for ‘having an opinion but keeping it to myself’ is over. In trying to be fair-minded, I in fact took too long in putting out there what my gut was telling me from the first this story broke. And while I understand Ghomeshi is still ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in a legal sense, he has lost whatever benefit of the doubt I was prepared to give him. Not only is he an abuser of women, he apparently has been one for a very long time. And while I still have no desire to lead any witch-hunts, or deny him his day in court, I think it’s time we all recognize that ‘innocent until proven guilty’, as my friend Anne over at The Belle Jar has pointed out several times through this story, doesn’t just extend to suspects of crimes, but their victims too. And all too often, that benefit of the doubt is denied to rape victims, perpetuating a vicious circle where they are uncomfortable coming forward “the right way” (un-anonymously, to the police), and thereby doubted even further because, well, if it was true, why wouldn’t you report it?

And while I am a little late to this party (whether via a noble attempt to be fair to all sides, or perhaps on some selfish level wanting to be sure I was ‘right’ before speaking out), I would like to encourage everyone now to take this story beyond Jian Ghomeshi, beyond the CBC, and to the crux of this issue everywhere – the fact that a man was allowed to abuse women uninhibited and consequence-free for decades, despite everyone “Knowing About Jian”. Even his closest friends have expressed a hindsight awareness of his behaviour, yet he continued to hold a cushy job, millions of fans, and lots of women willing to go on dates with him having no idea what the consequences would be. This is rape culture at its worst, and we as a society need to explore carefully how this happens. Because until and unless we look at this topic head-on, there will always be another Jian Ghomeshi, and there will always be decades worth of anonymous victims afraid to come forward except in the most hush-hush, whispered innuendo of terms.

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{August 11, 2014}   RIP Robin Williams

Today, the world lost a great comedian and actor in Robin Williams, as he committed suicide after a very difficult battle with depression. His wife and children lost a husband and father. He will be missed very deeply. In a lot of ways, I share his wife’s desire that as time goes by, we can remember the joy he brought to so many, the laughs he shared, as opposed to his sad end.

But I also hope that a part of us remembers how he died, also … remembers that depression is a disease with a high mortality rate, and it is every bit as real as cancer, as real as heart disease or any other illness. We owe it to ourselves, and to everyone else, to recognize the suffering of mental illness, and to live with compassion for it.

For those suffering as Mr. Williams did, and as so many of us have, please: you are valued, you are loved, and you deserve the world, as the world deserves you. Make a phonecall, send an email or text, please … it might not feel like it, but so many people out there want to help, if you’ll trust us. And for those who know someone suffering from depression … please don’t wait for them to fight through their illness and come to you. Please be there for them, love them, and let them know that with every fibre of your being. You just might save someone’s life.

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS LINE (CANADA): 1-866-996-0991



{April 4, 2013}   The Balcony is Closed
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Roger Ebert, who passed away today at the age of 70, along with longtime partner in film criticism Gene Siskel.

Today the world of movie criticism lost arguably one of its brightest lights as Roger Ebert passed away after a long fight with cancer. Throughout, despite losing part of his jaw and his ability to eat, he remained visible, graceful, and lived fully, interacting via his website, blog, Twitter, etc., producing the ‘At the Movies’ show he loved so dearly, giving his trademark thumbs up at awards shows even days after painful surgery. I remember very vividly a blog he wrote in which, rather than lamenting the fact he could no longer enjoy the food he so loved upon losing his ability to eat, he was grateful and appreciative for having had the ability to eat in the past, and the ability to remember the joy of eating. His last year as a critic was one of his most prolific, and, he argued, one of the best movie years he’d seen in a very long time, if ever. Perhaps a high note to go out on, after all.

But to suggest Roger Ebert was ‘just’ a film critic – even perhaps the most famous and successful one of all time – is to do this renaissance man an injustice. He dabbled in movie making, book-writing, was an adopter of all things tech (an early investor in Google, an avid Tweeter, and a prodigious blogger). He was up-to-date on everything from New York Times caption contests to the latest in politics, to movies and everything else. You could find an ‘in’ with Ebert on just about anything if you looked hard enough. Erudite, well-written, and appreciative of high art without being pretentious – accessible yet intellectual  all at the same time.

This Pulitzer Prize winner – the first amongst film critics – will be missed. Rest in Peace, Roger. Reserve us all an aisle seat.



I have to admit I’m about to break my own rule a bit here. I’m a huge advocate that women in general, and moms in particular, need to be nicer to each other than we often are. We are human parents, with human children, just doing our best. And as long as we keep our claws out, sharpened, and directed at each other, we’re not focusing on the things that really matter.

But one of the things that *I* personally thing really matters, is the emotional wellbeing of our children … and I do have to admit to becoming a bit dubious when issues, regrets, unresolved grownup emotions end up impacting our relationships with them. To wit – Nicole Kidman.

Now I want to start out by saying that Ms. Kidman is a phenomenal actress and I am a fan of her work. I also completely sympathize/empathize with her on so many levels – I can relate to her struggles with infertility, her journey to becoming a parent via adoption, and even her desire, after that experience, to still experience pregnancy and childbirth. While I haven’t experienced anything like being married to, divorced from, or co-parenting with Tom Cruise (thank God), I can assume it must be crazy-making, and I have sympathy with that too. She’s been handed, in many ways, a highly imperfect life, despite her many blessings, and I want to admire the lemonade she’s made out of her lemons – having adopted two beautiful children, having two biological children, a successful career and now a happy marriage … and I admit there’s much I don’t know, not being ‘inside’ her world. I’m sure she’s a great mom, and would never intentionally hurt her children, and what I’m about to quibble about is semantics … it’s words. But. since we all know ‘Words Matter’, I feel kind of compelled to get this of my chest. So I apologize in advance for breaking my own cardinal rule of non-judgement on my fellow women and moms, and appreciate in advance everyone’s forgiveness for a bit of a venting session.

I worry for Kidman’s older kids, Connor and Isabella, who she adopted with Tom Cruise, and her relationship with them when, now that she has also become a biological mother, she says things like, “Having my baby has been a healing experience. It took me so long to have a child. I feel enormous gratitude. [My baby] Sunday has healed an enormous amount in me. It’s a very private thing, but she just has.”. Bearing in mind that this “taking so long to have a child” bit, comes as her two adopted children are almost grown up. “So long” indeed.

And this isn’t the first time she has raised up her biological children, and the experience of ‘having children of her own’ over the years, as she is also responsible for such quotables on parenting, pregnancy and adoption as … “[Pregnancy is] why I’m glad I’m a woman. Men will never have a life inside of them – it’s why I’d never choose to be a man!” … and “now my priority is my family – my baby, my husband – and that’s non-negotiable,” with no mention of her two older children.

Now look. Let me backtrack here a bit and say I don’t necessarily expect her to be an adoption advocate. I will speak to my own experiences, but I don’t, myself, necessarily advocate. We had an overwhelmingly positive experience, but that’s not everyone’s story, and it isn’t ideal for everybody. Just like pregnancy, or fertility treatments, it needs to be entered into with care. I guess I’m just thinking, it’s something that is already so stigmatized in some ways, and ignored in others … could she at least maybe then approach it quietly, in a matter-of-fact way? When this famous, respected woman makes no secret that she values her connection to her biological children more highly than the one she shares with her adopted children, it is unhealthy both for her kids, and for the profile of adoption generally. She doesn’t need to help it and advocate for it – but when it’s already so ghettoized, could she perhaps at least ‘Do No Harm’?

Especially when, frankly, given how controlling and scary Scientology generally and Tom Cruise in particular can seem to be at times, I suspect there are probably much stronger reasons she feels disconnected from Connor and Bella than DNA, or a lack thereof. And I could even see, admittedly from the outside looking in, a great deal of sympathy for this young woman who had her children taken away from her by a horrible situation, person, organization. I in fact tend to assume the best of her when discussing her and Tom’s situation, using terms such as  ‘parental alienation’, and I know there are so many other issues at play here,I just wish she understood that too. I’m not inclined to judge simply because she’s a non-custodial parent – and in fact, if that’s the right decision for your family, then good for you! – or even her feelings about her children, whether they result from adoption/genetic issues, or other – we can’t help those. And again, as I said, I don’t even doubt, in private, that she loves all of her children and is a fantastic mom. I guess, considering her public profile, I’d just think she would then choose her words wisely and speak with a bit more care towards them, or not at all – especially as she speaks of valuing privacy. For such a ‘private’ individual, I just find myself wondering if in her grief, her oversharing might be hurting her children, and contributing to the negative perception some might have towards adoption. Just my two cents from over here in the peanut gallery.



et cetera