It's starting to look like maybe they "had something" back in the days when a woman could never be alone with any man who wasn't her father, brother or husband. Maybe it wasn't a convention meant to curtail the freedom of women. Maybe it was for their own protection. And it's starting to make sense.
No woman willingly la di da goes off alone with some man who is creepy and frightening and known to be violent. She goes off alone with a man who seems kind and gentle and decent, a friend or lover or even a casual acquaintance who comes across as nice, as safe, as trustable.
And then the woman gets the shock of her life when he hits her and/or rapes her.
I know men can be trusted. I trust all the men in my family, gentle men, every one, and I have sons who would never even think of hurting a woman. I know many lovely men who have never threatened or abused me or, as far as I know, any other woman.
So where all are these other guys and where are they coming from? These guys who have murdered more than a thousand First Nations women in the past few years. These guys who beat and murder their wives and girlfriends. These guys who molest and rape. And that's just here in Canada. When you look around the world to, for instance, Africa, you can't help wondering if a large number of men are some kind of alien in a human body.
I have been alone with three in my lifetime who gave me a serious scare, and felt lucky to get away without being forced to do something I didn't want to. I've known another who believes any woman is strong enough to stop any man and therefore rape is impossible. Him I wouldn't be alone with again. And as a very young woman, I was inappropriately groped by an employer and a co-worker at one of my first jobs. I laughed it off and forgot about it, afraid I was just immature and had somehow invited this treatment by my lack of sophistication. I never reported it, and I didn't quit the job either. I just became more careful.
Becoming a martial arts aficionado couldn't hurt.
Or maybe we should never, ever be alone with a man we don't know well and trust.
(Even then, do women and children have to worry?
According to the history books and the newspapers, we do.)
Jian Ghomeshi should check himself into a treatment centre and get some help. He has serious mental health issues if he is compelled to punch women in the head or choke them. Maybe he should be in jail; maybe he would be if any of the women he abused had gone to the police. And as I listen to their stories this week, I'm also wondering about their judgment, these women, when they chose to be with him for a second time after experiencing rough treatment on the first date. Still, high hopes, willingness to give someone a second chance, not taking your own experience seriously, and poor judgment aren't crimes; violent abuse is.
When you look at the statistics on reported rape and abuse of women and children today, the social conventions of a couple hundred years ago don't look so silly.