Jian Ghomeshi may have been acquitted of five charges of sexual assault and an additional charge of overcoming resistance by choking, but the former CBC Radio host hasn’t exactly been welcomed back into Canadian culture with open arms following his 2016 trial.
After keeping a low profile since the controversial verdict, Ghomeshi, 51, has re-emerged with an essay for the New York Review of Books in which he complains about the hardships of “being an erstwhile ‘celebrity’ who is now an outcast.”
“My acquittal left my accusers and many observers profoundly unhappy,” writes Ghomeshi in one passage after declaring he was “cleared on all counts” following the trial.
“There was a sentiment among them that, regardless of any legal exoneration, I was almost certainly a world-class pr**k, probably a sexual bully, and that I needed to be held to account beyond simply losing my career and reputation,” he continues. “Since then, I’ve become a hashtag. One of my female friends quips that I should get some kind of public recognition as a #MeToo pioneer. There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy everyone hated first.”
Ghomeshi also writes that he has “not spoken publicly about the explosion in my world for four years. Given that my name, at least in Canada, turned into a metonym for everything from male privilege to the need for due process, I’ve been aware that weighing in to reclaim it and inject nuance into my story is fraught, to say the least.”
He continues: “There has indeed been enough humiliation for a lifetime. I cannot just move to another town and reboot with a pseudonym. I’m constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online. This is the power of a contemporary mass shaming. Even people who are supportive sometimes have expectations of how I will act based on a singular, sexualized identity that was repeated in media stories. But this period has also been a tremendous education.”
Ghomeshi also writes about contemplating taking his own life after watching his life crumble beneath him. “Less than a month before my life exploded, I watched my father die. Then I lost almost everything else I thought was important. All the pillars of professional and personal support I had believed to be solid were gone almost overnight. The professional team that I had hired as experts to guide me through the explosion bolted, too — but not before they had cheered on some ill-advised social media postings and threatened lawsuits,” he adds.
“During the first two weeks, I was suicidal,” he admits. “I contemplated the methods by which I could kill myself. I was terrified of being awake and terrified of falling asleep. Evenings were filled with nightmares that inevitably involved my father on his deathbed. It was as though the end of my life as I knew it was somehow conjoined with the actual end of his.”
During another section of the piece, Ghomeshi writes of the reaction he receives from men, claiming males will often “at some point furtively say, ‘What happened to you could have been me.’ That is, in the safety of conversations they were certain would not become public, men would tell me there were things that they, too, could have been accused of at points in their lives.”
Titled “Reflections from a Hashtag,” Ghomeshi’s essay was published online on Friday, and it didn’t take long before eliciting some scathing responses on social media slamming the disgraced former media personality.