What is Measured and What is Owed?
Change is the only constant. The human mind forgets this. Preferring to normalize, regulate, and otherwise maintain comfort and the illusion of safety, the human’s forgetfulness often manifests itself as apathy, ignorance, consumption, and the phrase, “That’s just the way things are.”
Similar but different to “It is what it is,” when stating, “That’s just the way things are” we participate in the groupthink belief that reality is somehow static or fixed. “It is what it is” refers to what currently is — or has been. “That’s just the way things are,” conversely, attempts to nail down an ephemeral truth and keep it there. Forever. Kind of like Jesus on the cross.
In filmmaker and activist Sarah Polley’s first book of essays, Run Towards the Danger, she writes about her upsetting, degrading, painful and frightening sexual encounter with Jian Ghomeshi and her decision to stay silent when women began to come forward with accusations of assault against him. Polley was thirteen years old the first time she met Ghomeshi and sixteen years old at the time of her alleged assault.
The reason she stayed silent in 2014, while more and more women came forward, she writes in an essay entitled The Woman Who Stayed Silent, is because she was counselled to stay silent — by nearly everyone she approached for legal advice. Lawyer after lawyer told her that under no circumstance would they advise a woman they know and love to enter the criminal justice system in an attempt to hold a man accountable to his predatory behaviour.
There were other factors at play in Polley’s decision not to speak up. On top of the lawyers’ advice, she had her infant children to think about, her patchy memory of the incident to consider, and nearly two decades, post alleged assault, of documented and ongoing friendly behaviour with Ghomeshi.
In order to not ruffle any feathers — professionally or internally — Polley minimized and normalized what Ghomeshi did to her, stuffing her story into a neat little box labelled “Worst First Date ever” and stored it away, only to be brought out at parties for laughs over cocktails.