Opinion

Is it BDSM or is it Rape?

ghomeshi

via Flickr user Damien D.

TW: Physical and sexual assault, victim-blaming, discussion of BDSM

I’m not going to say whether I think Jian Ghomeshi is an abuser/rapist. I’m not one of the women accusing him of assault and I’m not the legal system. But I will say something that has not been talked about enough in all these articles: It doesn’t matter if Ghomeshi is into BDSM — it matters whether he had consent.

For background, Ghomeshi was a host for CBC (he was fired after the allegations) who has recently been accused by several women of things ranging from workplace sexual harassment to sexual and physical assault. Ghomeshi posted on Facebook saying these allegations come from an ex and a series of other women who have falsely accused him. He says he is being punished for the fact that he’s kinky in bed and enjoys BDSM.

None of the women who originally accused him have come forward publicly – leading some to believe this is a Gone Girl case of crazy, bitchy, lying women who want to take a poor, innocent man down (can you tell I really hated Gone Girl‘s social implications?). But recently Lucy DeCoutere, a popular Canadian TV actress, came forward and said Ghomeshi, without her consent, choked her to the point where she couldn’t breathe then hit her several times on the side of her head.

Allegedly some of the women who have accused him of assault had previously engaged in text-message-based role play. So there’s a good chance part of the reason these women don’t want to identify themselves is the shame society places on those who are into kinky sex — and I can bet a big handful of people would assume that a woman who’s into rough sex can’t be raped…ugh.

Let’s be absolutely clear: BDSM is NOT the same thing as rape. And consent is not a one-time deal; someone can give their full consent in text messages but later decide the BDSM has gone too far and they want out. As soon as consent is withdrawn, any further force is assault. But the allegations are much more black-and-white than that: these women aren’t saying the BDSM went too far, they’re saying Ghomeshi beat and assaulted them without consent.

So how can you tell if you are engaging in kinky or BDSM sex or if you’re assaulting someone? Here’s a handy guide that I created in like 26 seconds:

consent

 

One example of “an option to stop” is a safe word.

Now can we please stop wondering if the problem is Ghomeshi’s kinky desires? The problem is whether he abused and raped these women. Let’s focus on that, please.

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