*When I was in my early twenties I performed unfavourable acts in Jian Ghomeshi’s home. These acts included but were not limited to:
- Folding laundry
- Washing his deck
- Cleaning his bathroom
- Ensuring fresh cut flowers and soy milk were in place
- Travelling two hours to IKEA to purchase a set of white candles
- Organizing his CD’s
- Making a scrapbook of him for him (he had collected the newspaper and magazine articles about himself, but I was instructed to purchase the scrapbook and assemble the homage)
These tasks were performed under the auspices of an internship with a three month unpaid probation period. Everything was done with my consent, free will, and the bright-eyed complicity characteristic of interns. When that three months was near complete Jian avoided my request to formalize a compensation structure and projected hours per week which resulted in my resignation. It was all very awkward.
My first week as an intern included getting a key to his apartment and my duties never went beyond housekeeping or running personal errands. I spent a lot of time in his home, either with others, by myself, or just with him. I never stepped foot in the CBC. My biggest task was probably purchasing his hair wax.
Being alone in the home of a man I barely knew could have resulted in an experience anywhere on the spectrum between Seinfeld’s “Kramerica” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. But it ended up being similar to the majority of unpaid internships; a colossal waste of time.
My final interaction with him occurred when he was surprised I was leaving his apartment to go to a paying job. “What kind of future does catering give you?” followed by, “Is that all you care about, money?” Did he think helping him pack a suitcase was a bigger priority for me than eating? In my experience Jian was cordial and nice but entitled.
I returned his key and never saw him again.
I now have full-time employment as a special needs teacher and the confidence to know my work is important, challenging, rewarding, and a means to support myself.
Jian is one of the rare people in the world granted a media platform and because of this he was able to convince a young woman that picking up his dry cleaning for free was an opportunity. Which says as much about my naivety as it does his ego.
Maybe an unpaid internship is a legitimate opportunity considering I’m an up and coming nobody and he is a prominent public figure. Or maybe it’s an abuse of power indicative of a man leveraging his celebrity to persuade young women he can offer a future. Or maybe it’s an innocuous occurrence that has nothing to do with anything. My unpaid internship can’t even be used as a footnote in allegations as severe as sexual abuse.
After the internship best friend Michelle and I thought it would be a good idea to egg his giant poster that hangs outside the CBC. We never actually did, but we thought that would be an appropriate level of justice.
But my opinion of Jian abruptly changed with that 1600 word Facebook post proclaiming his innocence prior to any allegations been made public.
Jian is a smart, articulate, media trained man with a team of lawyers and PR people so it is unclear what he thought “the truth” would accomplish.
His tasteless diatribe makes Lebron’s “I’m taking my talents to Southbeach” look like Lebron’s “I’m coming home”. A horrible PR tactic despite its hundreds of thousands of likes. Just because something is viral doesn’t’t make it right.
At best Jian portrays himself as a man who was wrongly terminated for his proclivities to have rough casual sex with younger women. At worst his post is a literal example of a man using his position of power to silence victims of sexual abuse.
He claims that his private life is none of his employer’s business. Why would a tax funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation whose prototypical star is David Suzuki of “The Nature of Things” be obligated to enable a man who engages in debatably consensual commitment-free violent sex with young women?
It takes courage for victims of sexual abuse to come forward, especially when the assailant preemptively claims “She wanted it!”,“Prove it” and “All of that is a lie”. Perhaps one of the most disconcerting results of this media blitz are peoples’ anger and threats to the allegedly sexually abused women. This doesn’t look good internet. Not in the least.
The CBC has provided Jian with a nice home, a voice, a personhood, a living, national adulation, and an intellectually satisfying career. And as it stands now alleged victims of his sexual abuse are being given a voice in order to take his away. The media can be used to empower or silence, and it is no one’s inalienable right to have a national radio show.
And yes Jian, it can be a scary world out their with no job and an uncertain future.
But the good news is I’m looking for an intern.
*I wrote this piece as a reaction to his now infamous facebook status update. As the story unfolded it became clear the CBC was justified in his termination. It’s too difficult to articulate the sadness and anger I now feel about this man so I’ve decided to leave my post as my original logical reaction. Reading the stories of the unwanted sexual violence pretty much gave me a panic attack. You can’t read this Tornoto Star article or the many others that have surfaced and believe he’s innocent. Truth is beautiful. Fuck you Jian.