Why Jian Ghomeshi Can’t Blame BDSM for His Violent Actions Towards Women

by October 28, 2014
filed under Sex & Dating
Topics ,

jian-ghomeshi-and-guest

thegate.ca

This past Sunday, many Canadians were shocked to learn that the CBC was cutting ties with one of its most well-known radio personalities, Jian Ghomeshi. Rumours quickly swirled that there was a big story about to break, so Jian attempted to head off the gossip by issuing his own statement, claiming that he was the victim of a smear campaign by a “jilted ex girlfriend” and that he had simply engaged in some risqué BDSM behaviour. He insisted that the CBC was firing him for being kinky and that he was being punished for acts that took place in his private life.

The story almost seemed plausible until the Toronto Star published their article. In it, they had claims from three different women saying that Jian had assaulted them. The women were hesitant to come forward due to the fact that they had discussed being open to BDSM with Jian only to end up being punched, hit, choked and suffocated without consent.

And this is where it all gets messy. Jian has tried to paint himself as someone who engages in BDSM and is being kink-shamed by the CBC. However, anyone with knowledge about BDSM knows that consent is the name of the game. To add to that, BDSM means different things to different people. One person might say they are into BDSM and mean that they enjoy being tied up and spanked. Another person might say they are into BDSM and mean that they enjoy having their skin cut or being choked during sex. These are just a few examples of the many acts that fall under the BDSM spectrum. That is why consent is so important in this community. BDSM is not something that you can spring on someone. It requires conversations about what kinds of acts are okay, what kind of physical sensations one wants to experience, deciding on safe words and actually stopping the act when those safe words are used.

Safe words are of the utmost importance for people, especially since you don’t know how you might react to a particular scene. For instance, a participant might burst out crying but want the act to continue. Or you might want to be able to yell ‘no!’ while being assured that your activity can go on. A safe word ensures that both parties are able to explore their limits in a safe and consensual manner. But to begin with, there has to be a lengthy discussion about what kind of acts one wants to engage in and feels comfortable with. A sub might be okay with slapping but not punching, flogging but not whipping. These are the kinds of limits that need to be discussed beforehand.

It seems typical that Jian would try to paint the CBC as old-fashioned prudes who are trying to police his private sex life. He knows that there are still a lot of people out there who are turned off and confused by certain BDSM acts. Even I have witnessed people engage in some hardcore scenes such as needle play, Japanese rope bondage or being punched repeatedly until their body formed a large bruise. I understand how an outsider could view these forms of play as extreme and undesirable. However, these acts were explicitly consensual. They were asked for, agreed to and enjoyed. Furthermore, people who practice these kinds of BDSM play know that you can’t just jump in without experience. There are standards of practice and even workshops to teach people how to safely engage in these acts without posing a real physical risk to their partner. So when one of the women in this case says that Jian struck her in the face with his fist almost as soon as she walked into his home, I have to believe that they did not sit down to have a long, detailed conversation about their preferred BDSM practices. In fact, it was only fitting that Jian would compare his kinks to Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that is generally reviled by the BDSM community for portraying what is essentially an abusive relationship and trying to pass it off as kink.

It would be a shame if people really believed that Jian is being persecuted for simply being into BDSM. There are thousands of people who carry on healthy BDSM relationships within the privacy of their homes. Admittedly, this is a world that can be off-putting and mysterious to many. But even through that lens, this story still comes down to consent. And it seems that consent to commit these acts is the one thing that Jian was missing.


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