In a man-bites-dog version of the usual #MeToo pattern of male aggressor, female victim, NDP MP for Abitibi-Kamiskimingue Christine Moore has been accused of serious sexual misconduct.
Unusual in itself, the story is particularly noteworthy because Moore has established herself as a righteous warrior in this normally dog-bites-man domain. On to the story momentarily. First, the set-up that will cast that story in the light of a gendered hypocrisy so dazzling it hurts the eyes to look at it.
Moore recently claimed to be so ‘shocked, shocked’ by alleged sexual-misconduct complaints she had heard against her colleague, Regina MP Erin Weir, that she felt duty-bound to share them with the entire NDP caucus, declaring that she personally “would not feel comfortable to meet with [him] alone.”
So far, since particulars provided are vague, Weir’s misconduct amounts to being a “close talker” and making some women uncomfortable – though not uncomfortable enough to come forward themselves and complain. Not only were Weir’s hopes of becoming caucus chair dashed, Leader Jagmeet Singh dumped him from caucus as the hot potato Moore had turned up the flame to cook.
It turns out that it was also Moore in 2014 (we now know; we didn’t then), who so helpfully whispered into Justin Trudeau’s ear that two Liberal MPs were guilty of sexual misconduct.
One of them, Massimo Pacetti, by Moore’s account, was guilty of non-consensual sex with her and was suspended from caucus by Trudeau with no investigation. The facts of that incident – Moore accompanied Pacetti to a hotel room after a function, drank with him into the wee hours and even provided a condom for sex – argued against non-consensuality, but hey! Good feminist soldier Trudeau reflexively “believes the victim.”
But now it comes out that a year before that – this is the man-bites-dog story – Moore allegedly committed sexual misdemeanours (potentially including sexual assault according to the Criminal code) against a male victim, a former combat soldier.
According to the account of Corporal Glen Kirkland, following his 2013 testimony regarding problems with Veterans Affairs to the House of Commons standing committee on national defence, on which Moore sat, Moore invited Kirkland up to her office, an invitation Kirkland did not consider refusing because of her high status.
His story continues: She plied him with liquor in spite of being told he was on contra-indicated medications. She accompanied him, uninvited, to his hotel and stayed the night. She followed up by sending unsolicited and unwanted sexually explicit photos. She showed up uninvited at a golf game with buddies in Saskatchewan and embarrassed the hell out of him by doing so. Later she flew to his Brandon home, unannounced and unwanted, where she finally got the message that Kirkland wasn’t into her, and had to stop pestering him. (One might say that throughout this entire process, Kirkland did “not feel comfortable to meet with [her] alone.”)
The story has the ring of truth, because a) Moore has not denied it, only refused to comment on it; b) Kirkland is not accusing her of sexual assault, even though legally he could (see under Moore, Pacetti); and c) Kirkland did not come forward with the story himself, although he had told friends about the details and it had been floating around Ottawa for some time. He was only moved to go public via a CBC reporter’s solicitation when he got wind of Moore’s role in Weir’s expulsion from caucus. Moore’s hypocrisy, a bit too rich to swallow, was Kirkland’s motivation for cooperating with the media.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in a real bind over this.
He has been pro-active in lending full support to women on the #MeToo file. He had dumped Weir over complaints of a far less serious nature. Now he was faced with a real conundrum: a female MP who is allegedly guilty of grave sexual misconduct (the liquor, the power imbalance, the unsolicited advances, what has all the earmarks of non-consensual sex, the stalking), whose behaviour, in short, if alleged to have been perpetrated by a male against a female, would have politically “disappeared” him in a nanosecond. Finally, concluding there was no possible way to save her, Singh suspended Moore pending an investigation.
Jagmeet Singh is hugely embarrassed by the Kirkland story and deserves to be. He has famously said, “You have to believe survivors.” But when he said it, he meant women. Because in his mind, only women are ever victims of sexual misconduct. And in his mind, women never lie about being victims. Both assumptions are demonstrably false, and evidence to the contrary is easily accessible. But attestation to these dogmas has been a litmus test on the left for fealty to feminist correctness, and no NDP or Liberal leader can politically afford any deviation from that party line.
But the rest of us are free to draw our own conclusions. Moore and Singh and Glen Kirkland have provided us with a teaching moment to do just that. Now’s a good time, in fact, to have a national conversation on what that word “survivor” actually means.
A brief lesson in etymology: The word “survivor” dates back to the Holocaust and those who literally survived the death camps. The word should never have been appropriated to mean someone who has undergone a bad sexual experience or some form of gender-based discomfort. The word should apply only to experiences where literal life and literal death are the story. Because the opposite of survival is non-survival. That means death or at the very least a descent into such reduced quality of life that it is tantamount to death.
In the Moore-Kirkland story, we have an example of a real survivor. And it isn’t a woman.
Glen Kirkland’s tour in Afghanistan was about as bad as it gets without dying in combat. In 2008, as a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Kirkland was dreadfully injured in a Taliban ambush, in which three of the five crew members in his Light Armored Vehicle were instantly killed. Kirkland survived, with 75% of his hearing gone and part of his vision. His pancreas was shattered, endangering his insulin supply.
He still has bits of shrapnel emerging from his body.
And of course he suffers from PTSD. A realtor today, he needed years to rebuild his life, although he still suffers the effects of his ordeal and likely always will to some extent.
That’s what you call a survivor. Kirkland was also extremely emotional on the day Moore began her alleged seduction of him, which she knew because she witnessed his tears and anguished demeanour during his testimony. What kind of a person takes such an opportunity to initiate a sexual relationship under the guise of professional courtesy or interest?
Being a man, and trained to believe that inappropriate sexual conduct by women is nothing to make a fuss about, Kirkland dealt with the tension and irritation he says Moore caused him as one more piece of lousy luck life had thrown at him, and moved on.
We owe it to Kirkland to take this story seriously for what it has to say about the double ethical standards we routinely apply to sexual misconduct. If the sexes in this account had been reversed, and a woman in an extraordinarily vulnerable emotional state had been seduced by a male MP, it would have been front page news, and universal condemnation loud and fierce. That MP would have found himself under the bus in a heartbeat, and never climbed out from under it. His leader would not have been “troubled” by it, nor would he have taken even 24 hours to “reflect” on what to do about it.
Jagmeet Singh, and everyone else for whom the word “survivor” springs so easily to the lips when a woman accuses a man of sexual impropriety: Please stop! You are guilty of trauma appropriation. The correct word for someone who alleges misconduct of any kind, until proven otherwise, is “complainant,” and if proven, “victim.” Let us show some respect to those Canadians who have put their actual lives on the line for the rest of us. Let us reserve the word “survivor” for them, who have actually merited it. Even though – and some of you harbouring certain theories will just have to suck this up – most of those who have actually merited it are men.