Sexual Harassment/Assault by Influencers

By Alysha Brilla

Since Sunday, it's been big news that former CBC radio royalty Jian Ghomeshi has been fired allegedly because several women have come forward saying that he harassed them and/or engaged sexually and violently with them without explicit consent. I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few days. My first reaction after having read his pre-mature defence was that perhaps CBC fired him because he was aggressive sexually in a BDSM context?

This is a big deal.

I don't know all of the facts right now. 

Yes, I met Jian a bunch of times at industry events. I had dinner with him once. Just him and I.

For all intents and purposes, our interactions were civil and respectful. I never felt like there was any romantic/sexual pressure or even insinuation,  but that's just my interaction with him.

I am painfully aware, as a woman who started seriously engaging the entertainment business at the age of 15, of the predators out there. I've been offered opportunities for sex. Yeah, people still think it's a legitimate exchange. At age 17 I remember having dinner with one man who managed a big band at the time and his words to me were "I can get you big opportunities, you hotel is right around the corner".

The offers weren't always that explicit. Often times it would be people in positions of power wining/dining or trying to date me. When it became apparent I wasn't going to sleep with them, the plethora of hypothetical opportunities would disappear. This is an all-too-common experience both myself and other young women in entertainment have had. It's part of the reason I am now an independent artist and why my new album is called WOMYN.

The straw that broke this camel's back was a few years ago, when someone in a position of power tried to use that to his advantage and sexually harass me. This man was in charge of the trajectory of my career at the time. Contractually so. 

It became evident after a pretty traumatizing interaction with him, that all along he had absolutely zero respect for me as an artist, a woman, as a human being. 

I remember telling several people close to me at the time what had happened. I remember the one I trusted the most (and had the most power), telling me not to tell anyone.

It is very shocking to the system twice to be harassed/assaulted and then to have people react in a belittling or dismissive way.

Regardless of how great a journalist or radio personality Jian is, the claims these women have made need to be heard and respected to the full extent. That much is deserved.

Let me tell you first hand that the music, entertainment and media industry is full of predatory men. 

Also full of wonderful men, but there are TONS of ones out there who try to use their power to take advantage of women. 

We are all waiting to see how this unfolds.  I hope that this is a lesson in listening and for us to take seriously claims of harassment and assault because it does happen, especially by people in positions of 'power' and 'influence'. It's appropriated when companies keep the accused employed, which was the case for me.

That kind of behaviour should not merit respect and a comfortable income. 


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