The news hasn't stopped. Jian Ghomeshi, a famed Canadian radio personality likes his sex rough. He likes it rough and he chooses partners who like it rough too, per him. Those are his words, not mine. (Not his exact words but you get the gist of it).
Jian Ghomeshi is a practiser/practitioner of BDSM. I am not sure how you say that properly so forgive me any "practisers" that read this. BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. Ghomeshi told the world he practised this in a Facebook status update last week. In this statement he mentions always having consensual partners. He said that issues arose forcing him to disclose his personal preferences because of a scorned ex girlfriend. And finally, he states that he was asked for evidence of consent by his employer, the CBC (the "Canadian Broadcasting Company"). Apparently another news company had information about several women complaining that there was no consent in their violent interactions, some of which were violent sexual interactions, with Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi made his statement on Facebook to the world immediately prior to an announcement by the CBC that Ghomeshi was terminated. Mr. Ghomeshi then filed a 50 million dollar breach of trust suit against the CBC. CBC countered with a statement of their facts for termination. Since all that back and forth, which streamed for days on everyone's TV and computer, 9 women have come forward to claim that they had violent non-consensual interactions with Ghomeshi. To reiterate, they claim there was NO consent.
From what I can gather BDSM is very much about power. One party wants it, one party gives it up. They consent to what they will do role playing out these power positions. The two parties agree in advance to what they will do, what they will NOT do, and a safety word to end the power play altogether. And sexual gratification plays a very big part in this. I say that it plays a part in it, because in many cases, there is no sex. Sometimes it's about BDSM alone, not the sexual activity that can sometimes go with it. In some cases it is about violent activities such as whipping, hitting, choking for example, and there is no sex involved.
As I said earlier, 9 women have come forward, in the news, to say they were harmed by Ghomeshi and they did not consent to being harmed. Many people are asking why these women didn't come forward at the time, and to the police for that matter. Every day women are harmed by their partners and they do nothing about it. I am sure there isn't one person who will read this that doesn't "know a girl who knows a girl", who stayed in an abusive relationship long past the first hit. In many cases these women feel they somehow deserved it, that they did something to provoke it, and they are embarrassed it happened to them. They find themselves asking, "How could it have happened to me? How did I become "that" woman? Maybe if I just go along with this it will stop?" Then factor in that Ghomeshi was somewhat famous and the women become even more scared and intimidated, embarrassed, and unsure. Maybe they somehow led him on? Would the police even listen to them? What would they have to reveal about themselves to win something like this against a man with fame and money? We've all seen CSI and Law and Order. It's not easy being the victim and without even being one we know that already.
When this first came out I thought Ghomeshi was the victim. I thought the big bad corporation had wronged him. I started to write about that. I pulled it from my blog and Facebook because I stopped, just for one second, and thought about the supposed "scorned ex girlfriend" and wondered if she had been physically harmed. If that was the case then was I ever gonna feel like shit siding with Ghomeshi as the victim of this wrongful dismissal. Don't get me wrong, I don't think an employer has the right to fire you for your personal life....unless that personal life is criminal and thus harmful to their brand. And the brand better be contingent to the corporate success as is the case with a broadcasting company. Public opinion not only matters, it's tantamount to their success. Further an employer has a legal obligation to ALL it's employees to keep them from harm. If they are aware of a potential harmful situation they must do something immediately to negate that risk or potentially face litigation from all the other employees. In this case I believe CBC did the best they could. They took the information they had, balanced the risk to liability, and made their decision. Should they have suspended their employee versus termination while the facts came out? Who knows. We likely don't have the information they have, nor do we have their full employee guidelines and practises, their union handbook etc. They made a decision that no one has to agree with. That we can agree on.
Let's review the facts shall we?
BDSM is a personal choice.
BDSM harms no one if both parties have consented to partake in the activities.
Consent means full, true, and plain disclosure of all the facts and an agreement to all facts.
Not having consent means the other party has been given full disclosure of all the facts and has said no or they simply don't have all the facts to say no to.
Not having consent but acting as if you do, removes a person's rights. Their freedom of choice. And will cause harm at a minimum just by the removal of their rights.
With all that information in hand I decided that I had nothing to say just yet. At that stage we had Ghomeshi's word, CBCs word, and the "apparent" word of an anonymous woman labeled by Ghomeshi as a jilted ex girlfriend. I would wait to hear more about the developing story. I read, and I read some more. I looked at the legal side to Ghomeshi's case against his employer. I even read some legal jargon pertaining to whether as a unionized employee could he even sue at all. FYI, they cannot until they have gone through arbitration with their union representative and their employer. In most circumstances, if their case goes to a judge, into a courtroom, the judge will defer back to the arbitration agreement because they do not wish to step into union business. That's a whole other ballgame.
As of today, two women have come forth publicly, to the press and admitted to being alone with Ghomeshi and his causing them physical and/or sexual harm without their consent. They are claiming they knew nothing of the BDSM rules. They did not have full disclosure of the facts. Therefore they couldn't consent to what they didn't know. In addition to these 2 women who've come forth publicly, 7 more have come forth anonymously. They all claim to being harmed by Ghomeshi without consent. None of these women have gone to the police. Until today, doing a little light reading (aka research), I wasn't aware you could even go to the police after two years had passed. In these cases, there is no time limitation for filing charges.
The question seems to remain, why these supposed victims have gone to the press and not the police? I can only assume it is much easier to skewer a person in social media than it is in court. If these women file assault charges against Ghomeshi they have the burden of proof to prove he is guilty. He is presumed innocent of the charges. In turn then, are they not assumed guilty of lying basically? Seriously! Think about it. He is presumed innocent which means the person saying otherwise is lying. Therefore the liar must be proven innocent while the innocent proven guilty. The victim's lives will be ripped apart to prove they are telling the truth. Would you file? Or would you let the people on social media decide his fate?
Did you know roughly 90% of sexual assaults in Canada go unreported.
Of the 10% reported, 1/3 of those are decided unfounded. There is not enough evidence to lay charges.
Charges are laid in about 16% of the 10% reported.
(statistics from a Globe and Mail article, October 2013 "How Canada's Sexual Assault Laws Violate Rape Victims)
I ask you again, would you go to the police?
I was raped in 1989. I did not go to the police.
This is the only time I have spoken of it publicly. Close friends know. My husband knows. My therapist knows. And of course the doctors and nurses at the clinic I recently stayed at know. It's a huge part of treatment for any woman who finds themselves staying in a Mental Health Facility. As per the professionals at the clinic, it is something that has sadly happened to "most women" who end up there. You'd be amazed how many women in the clinic had been raped. It was frightening and sad how many of us there were, most of whom, didn't report it. I didn't go to the police because I was drunk. I was out of control drunk. I should not have been. I should never have been that out of control that I couldn't say yes or no. That laid partial blame in my corner in my mind. With that fact alone I knew better than to go to the police. If I did, I would have to prove it, and I wouldn't be able to. The burden of proof would be in my court. So I put it away, and I went on with life.
9 women have come forward.
They say that Jian Ghomeshi hurt them and they didn't consent to being hurt. From what I have read, none of them are part of the BDSM community at large. BDSM is not their preference or current practise.
1 man has come forward.
He says he did it, yes. He choked these women. He hit these women. He put himself in a physically dominate power position over these women. But he did so with consent. He gave these women full, true, and plain disclosure of all the facts beforehand and they all said yes to all the facts.
9 to 1 odds. I'd take that bet. Would you?
For the record, considering what MIGHT be at stake here, the non-consensual harm of 9 women, these t-shirts are fucking shameful. Facebook and it's Advertising department alongside this tee shirt company should be really ashamed of themselves.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
A Muslim, sometimes spelled Moslem, is a follower of the religion of Islam.
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.
A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God. Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.
The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers as well as their respective followers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage.
With about 1.6 billion followers, almost a quarter of earth's population, Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.
There is nothing that I can find regarding this religious, this freedom of religion, choice that says “hate”, “kill”, or “destroy” people of other faiths. Muslims represent the world’s second largest populous of humans on this earth. We see random acts of terrorism all over the world and we condemn this religion as a whole. This is not fair, not true, and is in fact racist. Something we Canadians do not do.
Every day, white people, black people, Asian people, Christians, Catholics, Baptists, and Atheists cause this world harm. They kill, rape, steal, and cause mass harm. See Oklahoma City bombing. See Columbine. See Virginia Tech. See Sandy Hook. Have you ever seen the news address these killer’s religious beliefs? We are condemning the entire Muslim population, an entire religion, for the acts of some.
These violent people are, and must be called, extremists, radicals, and/or terrorists. They have chosen to use their religion as an excuse for extreme and radical violence and hate. They have taken a religion and manipulated it to fit their dark and hateful beliefs. Using it to condone their hate. This is not the belief of the general Muslim population.
ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) are terrorists that believe they should have control over the entire Muslim population of the world and once they have that, they will take control over the rest of the free world. They will gain this control through violence if necessary. Obviously they believe this is necessary. Muslims are not members of ISIS/ISIL by default because of their religion. ISIS/ISIL members are members. They have chosen to be terrorists. That is not by definition, "religion".
I am not a religious person. I do not follow any religion. In fact, I find religion to be, in many cases, used by people as an excuse for bad behaviour. If the non-existent (in my opinion) God can forgive you, than you have done no wrong? That is typically after you have already done wrong and need forgiveness. How about we do no wrong? How about we rely on a moral compass to determine what’s right or wrong? But those are my beliefs and mine alone. I do not begrudge anyone their faith or beliefs. Whatever gives you comfort and peace, grab a hold. Spirituality is what you make of it.
What happened in Ottawa, Canada on October 22, 2014 had nothing to do with religion. It had all to do with extremist beliefs to cause harm to others. Those that wish to cause harm, those that follow groups that wish to cause harm, must be stopped. Let’s not assign blame to an entire population of people who wish to believe in religion. We gave them that right when we welcomed them into our free country. They are Canadians who have a religion we may not follow or understand. What we do not understand we shall not judge. We are a free country which prides itself on its rights and freedoms. It’s what Canada stands in large part for. Take pride in THAT today. Take pride in those people that put their lives on the line to honor these rights and freedoms. Love this country of ours and all those that love it alongside you.
RIP Corporal Nathan Frank Cirillo
Our home and native land.
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The true north strong and free.
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada we stand on guard for thee.
Monday, October 6, 2014
This morning in the grocery store I found myself telling someone, "it could be worse, it could be Ebola". I wanted to slap myself for saying, as always, what popped into my head. And yet at the same time, a truer sentence was never said. It could have been worse and worse would be Ebola, as a front page news example. I said this to the cashier at the checkout. Thankfully she is aware of my sick humour (or not so funny comments you might say) and she just shook her head in disbelief. I am sure she wanted sympathy for her announcement of a cough but I wasn't in the mood to provide sympathy. It was a, "here's Nicolle's reality" kind of day. The fact is, her cough could have been worse, couldn't it?
I just recently spent 60 days in a Mental Health Facility. I have struggled my entire life off and on with mental illness. Because of this struggle I have been on many medications one of which recently led me down the vicious path of suicidal thinking. It was a very dark place, with very dark thoughts. I was more than ready to spend some time in hospital having my medications rebalanced and doing some intensive therapy and self-care. It was time, this was obvious. Why am I seemingly so far off the Ebola topic? Because I found myself constantly looking around the hospital thinking, "Shit, things could be worse, look on the bright side". The bright side being, things could be worse. It was everywhere around me. People suffering from more severe mental illness than I. I was pretty lucky. Even though I was in such a dark place this year, things could have been worse. I just had to see that. With this being Mental Health Week in Canada I wanted to post some reality. A way for the those suffering to see some light because it's not as easy, "think positive thoughts", as it sounds.
Remember, things could be worse. It's called the bright side for a reason, it's brighter over there. Reality is, things are sometimes bad. I think we need to feel the bad to be able to see the good. I am saying that things in this moment may not be so bad if you take a good hard look at how it could be worse and say to yourself, "I guess it's not so bad after all". Trust me, I am not Miss Positive Pants so it should come as no surprise that I found myself asking the doctors while I was in hospital; "How can I be positive when I live inside a chemically imbalanced brain that induces depression?" The response was unanimous. Positive thinking does not negate the bad things in life. They will happen, and you need to learn how to deal with them as best you can. Life will not always be positive just because you think positive. There needs to be some preparedness for stress, for anxiety, for pain, for heartbreak, and for all the things that can sometimes happen in life. You need to learn how to live with the bad, sit in those moments, feel them, and then do your best to move on. Looking at how things could be worse can be that stepping stone to moving on.
Let's be honest, if you try saying to a room full of people suffering from depression or depressive states due to other mental illness, "be positive, always"..... it's a pretty good way to get yourself a beating. But if you say to them, "things could be worse", they can usually see how. Almost everyone can see how their bucket of crap could be deeper, bigger, a "head under", bucket. They just don't always, in that moment, see how they can climb on out of it. Telling them to "just do it" is not always the best first step.
I always recommend humour so try reminding those you love that are struggling that things could always be worse....with a giant pimple on the tip of your nose.
Really, that is worse.
I always recommend humour so try reminding those you love that are struggling that things could always be worse....with a giant pimple on the tip of your nose.
Really, that is worse.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I’m struggling as of late to make sense of mental illness in this world. I thought I would take on an easy topic to think about and ponder. *rolls her eyes* “I couldn’t just think about puppies and kittens”, she says to herself. If you’ve been watching the news at all then you might have heard about the two stories directly relating to mental illness I am going to talk about here.
On one side there was a man so ill that he lit himself on fire, literally burned himself to death, and on the far other side of the spectrum, a man charged with the most horrific murder I’ve heard of since, well, a long time. My struggle will become clearer as I write, I think. I can’t be sure of that as I am still struggling with my thoughts.
We cannot fathom what kind of things were going through 31 year old Cole Hunter’s mind to make him think lighting himself on fire rational way to end pain. There is nothing rational about the action he took. I mean it’s not rational in the first place to want to die. That’s not a rational thought, that’s a mental illness thought. Then to take an action that causes nothing but agonizing physical pain. If you think about it, logically, without emotion, there are many other ways to die, a lot less painful ways. Perhaps he was trying to kill those things in his mind, only he could see and hear. Apparently this man suffered from schizophrenia. He often found himself battling with voices and images that no one else saw (see his funeral notice). Imagine not just battling with someone human, standing there in front of you, perhaps someone you can have an intelligent argument with, but with someone your mind has made up. There is no winning, no rationalizing with that. That’s just a broken mind torturing a soul. I can only assume that, like many of us, when we argue with ourselves, we rarely win. He lived this way full time, all the time. Poor soul.Cole Hunter
I think we can all find pity with this man. In so much pain he chose that way out.
Now think of Luka Magnotta. This 32 year old man, apparently planned a murder. He then acted on that plan murdering a young man. He dismembered the body of his victim performing sexual acts on the body parts. He fed parts of the body to his dog, and apparently killed his dog. He then cleaned up, and disposed of the body parts. Some of the body parts he mailed across Canada to various people. He planned and made his escape to Europe. He was caught and brought back to trial in Canada. It's surreal to just type all that.
Cole, who lit himself on fire was a poor lost soul. Luka is a horrible monster don’t you think? Luka killed another human being, not himself. He did things that no one can comprehend doing. He should be put down like a rabid animal don’t you think? I have thought so, I do think so. And then....
What’s the same here, between two human beings, is the improper functioning of their brains? Neither one functioned right. The guy who lit himself on fire to die was surely not sane. I pity him. There is no other way to look at it. But how is the guy who murdered someone, dismembered the body, saved the body parts, had sex with the body parts, sane? I don’t pity him. I want him punished. Could this man be sane and do those things? Or does he deserve pity for being that sick? That’s what I am struggling with. I have no pity for him, none. The other day I said to my husband, “I don’t care if he is mentally ill, this is sick sh*t, he deserves the death penalty”.
If we can’t even remotely fathom doing the things he did then doesn’t that make him the sickest of us all?
Then we bring ourselves to the question of what to do with someone like Luka Magnotta. He has admitted to all he has been charged with. All of it. At the same time he is claiming he is not guilty of all the charges because of his mental illness. Does that mean because he is insane he should not be held accountable for his actions. I am? I am held accountable aren’t I? Even morally, I hold myself accountable to my own actions. If I suddenly, if all people who suffer with mental illness suddenly started thinking we could do anything at any time because of our illness…*shudder*. I can’t even begin to think how the world would change.
I don’t believe for one second that Luka Magnotta should be released. He is dangerous, end of story. Should he be sent to a mental institution for life? I just left one of those places and I have to say that I would not want to be on the same floor as him, let alone the same institution. How would that be fair to non-dangerous people who are sick? I go in for medication changes and some intensive therapy and I end up rooming next to someone who can dismember another human being? Wouldn’t that be a violation of my rights for a reasonable expectation of safe care and treatment?
Should he be sent to prison? He did commit a crime. Can he get treatment inside of prison? Do we do that inside of prison? If you go into prison with flu, I am pretty sure you can get treatment for the flu. If you go into prison with a mental illness, can you get treatment for that illness? I am not sure this happens. Not effectively. Please do not get me wrong. I do not believe that this man deserves treatment and then a release back into the world. As I said already, he did things, no one can even imagine doing. I am just saying it’s painfully obvious he was/is, sick. You’d have to be wouldn’t you? To do this? I would hope so otherwise what does this say about the human race?
So where do we draw this line? How do we draw this line? Make sure the sick are getting treatment yet fairly and justly punished for their crimes. If someone goes into a school and mass murders young children is this person not insane? No sane person could do that right? I cannot bring myself to think of them as sane as sane people do NOT do those things. So what do we do with these people? They are sick. But what they have done is unforgiveable. Then what? It would make it so much easier if they just took their own lives instead of hurting others wouldn’t it? Had Luka Magnotta taken his own life instead of doing all this to another human being we would be saying “poor lost soul” wouldn't we? But he didn’t. He committed grossly inhumane acts instead. It sure would be easier if every person who hurt another at least then hurt themselves as punishment for their own bad behaviour. When the headlines read “murdered then used the last bullet on themselves” we sigh relief. We will not have to judge.
When I was in the hospital there were people suffering with schizophrenia in there. Please note I am trying not to use the defining term of “schizophrenic”. They are people too. Like my being beyond just white skinned, blond hair, with green eyes. I have many other traits. Having Bi Polar is just one of many. In their case, they suffer with schizophrenia. I was scared of these people at first. I won’t lie. From my observations, they typically, while their medications are being rebalanced, have little to no interpersonal skills. Almost always they pace the hallways. I think because of the voices they cannot stop moving, they need to keep active to try to distract themselves. I came to learn that most people suffering with schizophrenia are harmless, with no intent to harm. Many times they harm people only because they become paranoid about being harmed themselves and act out defensively. I find it hard to believe Luka Magnotta’s actions were in defense of himself? Or these mass murderers in the schools were defending themselves? But it is factual that in most cases people with schizophrenia strike out, lash out, in perceived defense of themselves.
I became somewhat friendly with two people suffering with schizophrenia in the hospital. One a pretty young woman who also suffered with multiple personalities disorder. And another, a young man. When I say friendly I mean saying “hello” and the occasional short conversations in passing. Both of these people were very sick when I arrived in hospital. The young woman, let’s name her “Jane”, had outbursts where she would yell at no one sometimes. But she didn’t seem like she was going to hurt anyone. She was fighting with someone, or something, we couldn’t see. When I first arrived I actually called my husband and said, “there’s a woman here talking to herself as if she was on the phone having a lively conversation, but there is no phone”. I was making light of her illness because I was scared of her, of it, the illness and her behaviour due to it. We often make light of which we don’t understand, which in most cases means we are scared.
The young man, “John” we will call him, was not socially interactive whatsoever until near the end of my stay. By the time I left he knew my name and we would always stop and check in with each other about how our days were going. I once walked out of my room only to find him lying on the floor, just outside my door, arms linked behind his head casually looking at the ceiling. I asked, “Whatcha doin’?” “Thinking“, he replied innocently as if lying on a hospital floor and gazing at the tiled ceiling as if it were the sky was perfectly reasonable. Another day I was telling a story about going to see a gospel choir and as I can do, I was being loud and boisterous in my telling of the story yelling out “Hallelujah, praise be, Amen”. John walked into the room and said, “I needed those words today, Hallelujah sister”. From then on, we passed each other in the hallways and said “Hallelujah brother” (and “sister”) to each other. Others looked on strangely and we went our way as if this was completely natural. It was, for us.
Jane was a different story. I tried to make a point of saying “Hi” to Jane as often as possible. Sometimes she saw me and heard me, sometimes I wasn’t there and her voices were in charge. Sometimes I think her personality at the time was not Jane, but in fact someone entirely different, someone else. One day I came to be walking directly behind Jane on our way back to the hospital. We walked for a good five minutes and in that time she spoke entirely in the third party, as if Jane wasn’t actually her. The things she said to herself, that happened to Jane, that people did to Jane, why Jane was sick, ripped me in two. If any one of the things she said were true, I can see entirely why she needed to create alternate personalities to deal with her pain. On that day I became Jane’s biggest supporter. After that, a day didn’t go by without my making eye contact and saying hello. There were many days that Jane would dress up, put in hair extensions, wear makeup, and look very different than the day before. Instead of saying “Hi Jane” on these days, not wanting to trigger her personality change, I would simply tell her how pretty she was. In a very childlike voice more often than not, she would thank me and wander off.
One evening as I was sitting in the lounge two patients broke into song. They are both professional singers by trade so they were harmonizing with each other for fun. Another patient was strumming the guitar. It was all very civilized and not as random as it sounds. I must say, I did find it interesting that “performers” were suffering with mental illness. Those that look for outside affirmations through attention and praise for their performances. Performances they put on solely to entertain others, to make others happy. Makes sense they’d struggle with their identity doesn’t it?
But I have steered off course. The beautiful singing caught Jane’s ear and she came into the lounge with the biggest smile on her face. She made eye contact with me so I removed my knitting from the chair next to me and she sat down. This is basically the conversation that followed. (I use the word “hurt” here as substitution for another word which is too harsh a word in reality to use).
Jane: It’s beautiful isn’t it? He said you wouldn’t make eye contact with me so you wouldn’t have to talk to me.
Me: Who said Jane?
Jane: My husband. My husband said.
Me: Is he here?
Jane: He’s right there, next to your husband (no one was actually there).
Jane: They aren’t being very nice. *laughs* They cheat you know. On both of us.
Me: My husband cheats, are you sure Jane?
Jane: They both do, it’s what men do. They don’t mean to hurt us, it’s just their way, it’s because they are sick.
Me: I am sorry your husband cheated Jane, I don’t think mine does though.
Jane: He does, you will see one day. Just remember when he wants to hurt you it’s so he can transfer his pain to you. He doesn’t mean to hurt you.
Me: Jane, I am sorry your husband hurt you.
Jane: It’s okay. It’s why I am sick you know. He was sick then he gave it to me. He hurt me for 8 years until all his illness was inside me. Now I am in here and he’s out there free. I haven’t seen him since the last time he hurt me. He doesn’t talk to me, see me, see our son *laughs*, he just left. Funny huh?
Me: Oh Jane honey, I am so sorry you’ve been hurt.
Jane: Okay, I am gonna go now. (Suddenly her voice was very childlike and she almost skipped out of the room).
My breath caught in my throat as I watched her transform from a woman to child before my eyes. My heart broke for her.
Upon reading about the Luka Magnotta trial I found myself wondering what I would think if I found out that either Jane or John hurt somebody? Would I be surprised? Would I pity them as I saw their illness first hand? Would I want them punished, or cared for? I guess it all depends on the heinousness of the crime and how much we know someone doesn’t it? It’s all relative to us, what we think, our judgements of the situation and the person(s) involved, I guess?
What’s the difference between a weed and a plant? Only the judgement we place upon it…
….(and if it’s invaded our personal space uninvited I suppose).