Friday, October 31, 2014

What's Not Okay

Oh Canada; proud, strong and free
It has been a tough couple of weeks to be a Canadian. Last week, in two separate incidents, Canadian military members were killed; both random acts of violence, but both meant to be strikes against our country. The deaths rocked us as a nation. And with good reason. Despite the violence, we banded together and swore to remain united in our peace, honesty and trustful natures.

And then on Sunday, a well-loved and respected radio host from our public broadcaster was fired from a post that he helped to create. The media was set ablaze by a Facebook post he published outlining some of the details. He warned that more details would come from people intent on smearing him and his career. Well, those details have come forth and they are worse than ugly. As far as his career is concerned, it may or may not be salvageable. Certainly, his private life has been made public in such a way that the world seems to have been given a seat in his bedroom. Without benefit of trial, he has been condemned to the full extent that the media can punish him. And I struggle to look away.

I love Canada. It is my home and native land. I am proud to recognize myself as a native and yet ashamed that as a nation we apparently have been duped by a charming individual intent on his own self-fulfillment and satisfaction. I have read the stories and am aghast at every new piece of the plot. Women have come forth, both anonymously and now using their own faces and names, to share their stories. Have we harboured a criminal amongst us? Have we given a wolf sheep's clothing and begged him to lead us? It is not for me to decide and for that I am thankful. But the number of women who have shared stories too similar and too awful is enough to cause doubt in the most ardent supporters and fans. Those fans have dropped rapidly over the last week.

So why do I let the story of a celebrity who has fallen from grace affect me so? As Canadians, we are supposed to be good, honest people. We are supposed to put forth the best qualities that we can and emulate the unwavering faith in our country and humanity, like Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent did. Sure they weren't perfect, but they died in the line of duty, their lives taken as they represented all that is good, nay Great on Canadian soil. And now we are sullied by an individual that appears to have taken his self-serving needs much too far in their satisfaction. I don't need to name this individual for my fellow Canadians. His face has been splashed across the media this week, even while the CBC has ripped it off of any piece of their property. And if the reports are true, then so they should.

For the story is ultimately about women. The story is about respect or a lack thereof. The tales that are spewing forth tell of violence masked in consensual BDSM. The problem lies in the lack of consent, hence we speak of abuse. They say he hit them. Nine women claim this now. Who knows if more will come forth, others will keep their secrets to themselves, or some will recant these vicious images that us dismayed Canadians are being forced to witness. Regardless of how this story plays out, I suspect that the conversation about abuse will be a little louder now.

You see abuse doesn't always happen to the other woman. It doesn't always end up being meted out to the sluts or girls that 'wanted' it to happen. The women that are sharing these stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds and education levels. None of them seemed to ask to be hit. None of them seemed to enjoy being called names or being made to feel like it was a normal part of life. They all pushed the abuse into "the past" to try to move beyond it and try to forget how it made them feel. But today, they realized that for the actions they allowed to be Okay, by not standing up against the abuse, those actions continued and touched too many other people. And it was NOT ok.

It is NOT okay for someone to make you feel stupid, worthy of abuse, or like you asked for it. It is NOT okay for someone to hit you, choke you, or rape you. It is also not okay for someone to isolate you from friends, family or society, question your integrity, nor turn the blame back on yourself for actions they have taken. Too many women face some form of abuse in their lifetimes, whether it be physical and/or emotional, by the hands of strangers, casual acquaintances or those that we are supposed to love and trust. Because once that trust is damaged, the world becomes a more difficult place to negotiate.

I know this has become another rant and for that I am sorry. I struggle to come to grips with this breach of trust, this shattered faith in humanity that I hold so dear. I do believe that people are inherently good, but am sad to acknowledge that I feel akin to these women right now. I have never met any CBC personalities, but I knew someone who made me feel like it was my fault that he felt compelled to search my body, clothes and home for evidence of my misdeeds. Like I deserved to be cast as a disreputable woman because his insecurities and jealousy made him look for my guilt. He never found it, but left behind my shattered innocence in the wake of his accusations. He will never admit to his lies or improprieties, so I must move forward and attempt to find faith in humanity knowing that not everyone that smiles is a friend, and not everything that seems a gift is always so.

But this lesson is valuable nonetheless. And I refuse to let the small minority of people that do not understand how their actions affect others rule my world. For I am Canadian, proud, strong and free. I live in a place where men and women give their lives to protect mine. I prefer to see people who take up the cause to make the world a better place and refuse to be bullied by power-hungry individuals who can't see beyond their own noses and backyards. And I rally around women strong enough to stand up and say what is acceptable and what is Not. May you find peace in your release of those ugly memories that should no longer own you.

I am working on mine.

*If you are interested in more of the story that inspired this post, you can read more here...


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