It was just a month or two ago that I was lauding one of Jian Gomeshi’s interviews to you, and now he is a person in disgrace. Now, a few weeks after the news first hit the airwaves, the reality has hit home. While the criminal allegations have yet to run their course, he has admitted that he didn’t even write the words that he spoke on the radio. It was the words, the language, the ideas, that really hooked me in. It was his intellect that made me turn on the radio each morning to hear his essay and how he would analyze the events of the day. He came across as a liberal, aware, artistic, modern young man. I was taken in.
It turns out that he is no different than the Wizard of Oz. Jian Gomeshi was all smoke and mirrors. We can pull the curtain off and he is just the voice behind the false persona. He was a creation of the media, of the modern cult of celebrity.
I thought it was just the young people who are sucked in by the media, addicted to Facebook and instant global connections and gratification. I thought the radio was safe. It is not, after all, a computer. It turns out we can all find false gods.
His firing and the recent suspensions and fines of several athletic heroes have led to important discussions about attitudes toward women in our society. Today, the radio conversation is wondering if this is a watershed moment for attitudes toward women in the workplace. As an individual who fought the good fight in the feminist seventies and eighties, as a woman who lost connection with Judaism in the sixties because of its patriarchal institutions, I believe the world still has a long way to go before women are equal.
Furthermore, I do believe that religion has much to answer for. Reform Judaism has moved forward, but there are many traditional religions which still treat women as “the other,” as “less than.” The Pew report certainly underlined the decline in religious affiliation. While there are many factors at play here, I have no doubt that institutionalized attitudes toward women play an important role.
I am thrilled with the progress that Reform Judaism has made, but there is always more to do. Yes, it has become a welcoming, inclusive religion that we can all be proud of, but we must be diligent in maintaining what we have accomplished.