The New York Review of Books silences women’s experiences of sexual misconduct

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A publication that amplifies the self-serving voice of a man repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct silences the voices of the women he’s hurt.

The Oct. 11 issue of the New York Review of Books is running under the theme, “The Fall of Men,” where former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi reviews his own actions toward women—specifically, the damage he perceives these women have caused his reputation.

Ghomeshi was tried on eight counts of harmful behaviour—seven of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking­—against six different women in 2015. Over 15 women came forward to describe instances of sexual harassment and violence. He was acquitted of all charges on the grounds of insufficient proof beyond reasonable doubt.

However, nobody—from the legal system to Ghomeshi himself—has denied he serially sexually coerced, frightened, and harassed women to some extent.

The New York Review of Books leverages their national platform to validate the self-pity of a man who abused his power to hurt women. It prioritizes the voices of men over women who’ve fought through trauma to be heard.

“The Fall of Men” issue is being published in a time where men previously publicly shamed for sexual misconduct are making a return into the public eye­—from Louis CK’s appearance at a comedy club to Ghomeshi’s article.

Pushing the spotlight from women sharing their experiences onto the men who abused them implies a woman’s pain is finite and insignificant.  

Ghomeshi writes that his piece is “not helpful in rendering women’s experiences more visible.” But he writes it anyway.

His article focuses on the humiliation he feels when recognized on the street—yet ignores the psychological and physical pain he’s caused to women.

Ghomeshi explicitly acknowledges he “ought to have been more respective and responsive” with women he “leveraged [his] influence and status to … entice.” This makes his actions sound mischievous, but acceptable.

The fact no editors caught the power abuse implicit in such statements emphasizes the magazine’s lack of understanding of sexual exploitation.

The magazine’s legitimization of this allows more transgressors to validate their behaviour, and discourages more women from stepping forward.

Ghomeshi states, “Before 2014, it was unimaginable to [him] that [he] would become a poster boy for men who are assholes”—ignoring his admission that his offenses began long before 2014.

The article places emphasis on protecting a damaged reputation above the safety of suffering women.

Ghomeshi’s already had the chance to defend himself in court. He doesn’t need another. If he were truly sorry, he’d rectify his errors in silence.

The New York Review of Books perpetuates the idea that abuse has an expiry date—it actively harms the progress of the #MeToo movement in a quest to generate readership and revenue.

—Journal Editorial Board

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