So, okay, I can’t help it. I am absolutely drawn to this salacious story. Jian Ghomeshi is an attractive man and, until Sunday, was an interesting and successful interviewer on a show he co-created, the Q on CBC. They fired him and now people are taking sides.
I find it fascinating from a cultural perspective. As a society, I believe we should be – and are – in a constant effort to move forward, toward enlightenment, toward equality, toward kindness. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It is for this reason I’m so appalled when I read about Islamic law and how it negatively impacts various stages of a Muslim woman’s life: female circumcision, head coverings, submission, lack of education, rights to inheritance, and then there’s the numerous rules about marriage – it goes on and on. It’s barbaric.
But let’s return to our western way of life. When men and women are drawn toward one another and they discover that their sexual appetites are, well, let’s say, alternative – BDSM (I keep having to check it, to get the letters in the right order, but it means bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism) – how do we feel about that? If they are consenting adults?
I guess we must be down with it because just look at the success of that godawful trilogy Fifty Shades by E L James. You needn’t take my word for the clunky prose and liberal use of cliché because Sir Salmon Rushdie said, “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace.” It sold over 100 million copies worldwide. It’s been translated into 52 languages. It set the record for the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
We totally got behind a poorly written series about BDSM. Why? Because it was so titillating in nature that we could overlook the quality? Are there that many people who would like to engage in such behaviour, or do we just like to entertain the idea of it? Ah. Perhaps that’s the allure. Plato said, “The idea is more real than the reality.”
I personally find both the desire to entertain the idea of BDSM and the desire to practice BDSM confusing.
It’s the promotion of physical and mental abuse. We want our children not to bully one another. When they get older, we want our daughters to pursue healthy relationships and we want our sons, the gender usually blessed with greater strength, to show respect for the opposite sex.
Ghomeshi feels, “Sexual preferences are a human right.” Yes they are, but where do we draw the line? Because we know certain “sexual preferences” are illegal. He also says, “I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom.” He feels we should condone it because it was (allegedly) consensual. When we hurt people, physically and/or mentally, consensual or not, are we actually okay with that? Ghomeshi is also pissed for being fired “because of what I do in my private life”.
Howard Levitt, Financial Post, countered yesterday, “In an age of social media – tools that Ghomeshi uses skilfully – there is no such thing as private time versus work time. He had to know that.”
You can decide for yourself, but I’m curious. As a culture, what message do we want to send our children? Do we want to descend into the darkest of greys? Is it being prudish, or is it being sensible and kind to prefer to walk toward the lighter shades?