I've been fascinated these past few days with the saga of Jian Ghomeshi, the fired CBC host who I had never heard of until this weekend when his story blew up all across every news feed I have.
In short: The 47-year-old Ghomeshi is a markedly successful, prolific and talented Canadian radio host known for his perceptive interviews and ever-evident intelligence on the show he developed, branded and created called "Q" syndicated all across Canada and to 180 U.S. stations as well.
On Sunday, Ghomeshi was fired by the CBC after they received "information" that they said precluded the station from continuing his employment.
Which leads to the multi-million-dollar question ($55 million to be exact, if you're Ghomeshi's lawyers who are now suing the CBC for "defamation, breach of confidence and punitive damages"): What was the "information"?
Well, on late Sunday night, Ghomeshi employed the very modern PR strategy of getting way, way out in front of the story no matter what the story involves -- just like David Letterman did with his blackmailers in 2009. Retaining crisis communications firm Navigator, Ghomeshi provided an incredibly detailed information dump on his Facebook page that included seemingly every sexual proclivity you'd ever want to know about his personal life. (Sample quote from the status, explaining his love of kinky sex: "We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year.")
His strategy obviously: Any potential "bombshell" from anyone or anywhere else would be dramatically diffused and spun from his own perspective -- a POV that has now been "liked" well over 100,000 times on Facebook so far). Indeed, every indignant word crackles off of this memo that his PR team no doubt furiously collaborated over...
Except, no mention is made in this Facebook status about several other disturbing allegations that came out shortly after Ghomeshi's Facebook post in The Toronto Star (most notably his interactions with a female coworker).
Which is perhaps one of the more riveting parts of this entire media storm: The subsequent report from The Toronto Star may never have come to light at all had Ghomeshi not taken the "get out in front of it at all costs" crisis strategy. As The Star's editor Michael Cooke justified their decision to print the lengthy piece:
Jian Ghomeshi’s Facebook statement Sunday night notes that “a major Canadian media publication did due diligence but never printed a story” about what are alleged to be Mr. Ghomeshi's abusive sexual practices. This is true. That “major Canadian media publication” was the Star. Mr. Ghomeshi further wrote “one assumes (the Star) recognized these attempts to recast my sexual behaviour were fabrications.” The Star began working on this story in May. The Star’s Kevin Donovan interviewed four women who detailed what they said was sexual abuse. None filed police complaints and none would agree to be identified in a story.Mr. Ghomeshi wrote Sunday night that “I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.” The reason The Star did not publish a story at that time was because there was no proof the women’s allegations of non-consensual abusive sex were true or false. They were so explosive that to print them would have been irresponsible, and would have fallen far short of the Star’s standards of accuracy and fairness. In view of Mr. Ghomeshi’s extraordinary statement on Facebook on Sunday evening, and his high public profile in Canada, we now believe it is in the public interest to detail those allegations, which appear to have led directly to his sudden firing from the CBC.
Which leads me back to Ghomeshi's original late-night Sunday posting. From the initial impressions perspective, it still seems to me that the radio star had most definitely won the out-in-front-of-it part of the media battle with his portrayal of himself as the target of a hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-lady-fury witch hunt.
Or as Ghomeshi's post explained it: The hapless victim of collusion, smears and “harassment, vengeance and demonization.”
But perhaps my very favorite money-shot word of all in that Facebook rant of his? One that was used (and picked up by almost every media source) thereafter? It was the trope of the "jilted" ex being trotted out as the cause of Ghomeshi's many, many woes.
His ex was jilted, you see.
She got jilted. By a man. AND SHE WENT NUTS. Because that's what women do. When they get all jilted and whatnot.
I read "jilted" so many times, it seemed as if it was being used as an empirical scientific indisputable qualitative descriptor like "blonde" or "brunette," "short" or "tall," "male" or "female." You know, JILTED. I mean, we can all agree she was jilted, can we not? And we know how jilted women can get. Shiver.
The precise definition is, in actuality: to "reject or cast aside (a lover or sweetheart), especially abruptly or unfeelingly."
I hate it when that happens.
So what is the opposite of "jilted," I wondered?
Kid-gloved? Gently let go? Wished well into the universe? Asked to be friends someday? Deleted the "in a relationship" status on Facebook but then erased the action in Facebook history so no one really notices it changed?
And while "jilted" is most definitely used for men as well, it struck me as particularly gendered in this case, and it made me think of the archetype of the unhinged woman in general -- in media, in Hollywood, in crisis communication team penned Facebook status updates.
In fact, I felt so jilted by seeing jilted so many jilting times, it made me want to come up with a makeshift A-Z "mansplain-tionary" as to what some of these delightful codes translate to when men use them to describe all those cuckoo bitches out there.
(Speaking of language, I've always cringed at the term "mansplain."And "mainsplain-tionary" is probably the worst portmanteau ever portmanteaued, but let's just ignore all that and pretend my hamfisted little conceit is clever as hell.)
I had some trouble deciding between "bitter" and "bitchy," "unstable" and "unbalanced," "witchy" and "wacky" and "whiny." (I decided to only include one derogatory code descriptor per letter.) And you'll see just how comically far I started stretching when I got to X and Z, but hey, a gimmick is a gimmick, man. You gotta commit.
A is for Abrasive. Translates to: Not feminine. Opinionated. Doesn't giggle on cue. Might have a differing opinion. Might actually engage in a fight. Might get as angry or aggressive...as a man.
B is for Bitch. Translates to: A difficult woman who is not easy-going and doesn't always agree. Sometimes she even changes her mind, the cardinal sin. She doesn't soften or sugarcoat or coddle. She applies pressure. She applies arguments. Sometimes she applies too much makeup. Why can't she just be nice? Everyone loves a nice girl. Nice girls don't cause problems. Nice girls don't have those pesky points of view. Every mom loves a nice non-bitch.
D is for Drama Queen. Translates to: Has standards. Has boundaries. Expects men to respect them.
E is for Emotional. Translates to: Is a human being who is not completely dead inside yet, but hang tight, she's getting there.
F is for "Fatal Attraction." Translates to: She texted more than twice when you didn't get back to her by 5 p.m. about plans you had that day.
G is for "Gone Girl." Translates to: She's setting you up. See also: bitch, crazy.
H is for High Maintenance: Translates to: She has goals, ambitions, motivation and drive. She likes to make plans. Sometimes she even has the gall to use a calendar. One time she sent you a Google invite. Boy did you and your friends have a good laugh about that.
I is for Insecure: Translates to: She has the capacity to feel emotions such as love.
J is for Jilted. Translates to: You found someone better, and she couldn't deal with it, bro.
K is for Klepto. Translates to: She wanted her coffeemaker back.
L is for Liar. Translates to: She remembers what you did accurately. She finds what you did relevant to the discussion at hand. She, unfortunately, does not just live in the moment like a dog.
M is for Manipulative. Translates to: She did well in her debate classes in college and has the nerve to not have lost the talent.
N is for Needy. Translates to: Expects not to get a sexually transmitted disease from you.
O is for Obsessed. Translates to: Thought you meant it when you asked her to make weekend plans and didn't know it was just a suggestion and why can't everyone just be chill?
P is for Psycho. Translates to: She is your ex-girlfriend.
Q is for Quirky. Translates to: Glasses and/or knits. Something about "Dr. Who."
R is for Red Flags. Translates to: She had sex with someone else you know from Tinder.
S is for Stalker. Translates to: She left you a voicemail once, why can't she just text like everyone else? Who doesn't just text nowadays?
T is for That Girl. Translates to: One time you saw her get drunk.
U is fo Unbalanced. Translates to: You met someone else.
V is for Vindictive. Translates to: She did not fake it in the bedroom. It was cruel. You've had to talk to your therapist about this one and you've even thought of sending her the bill.
W is for Whiny. Translates to: Her speaking voice.
X is for XX chromosome. Translates to: All bitches are like this.
Y is for Yeti. Translates to: A size 8.
Z is for Zany. Translates to: See: crazy, except she's a writer, too.
...And tell me, what did I miss?
Do you think I should have gone with "woman scorned" or "weird" instead of "whiny"? "Shrill" instead of "stalker"? What about "hell hath no fury" or "hormonal"?
Sorry about all the questions. I'm probably just being high maintenance.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.