19 September 2012

Alex Chapman, sex performer; Lori Douglas, sexual wallflower?

Historically, men have been sexually dominant. And their view of women was that they be submissive - not dominant, or independently active.

The subject of Alex Chapman’s sex life has come up again, since first being mentioned in July, 2012, informing us that the man who accused Jack King and wife judge Lori Douglas of sexual harassment was a sex performer who sought paying clients online (Chapman was 'online sex performer,' July 19, 2012; ‘Man at centre of Manitoba naked judge case was a sex performer: lawyer,’ Sept 17, 2012). The reality is that both Chapman and Douglas are ‘sexual performers.’ However, only one of them has been legitimized through historically-approved gender roles. Changes in perceptions of gender roles, not fully accepted across social and workplace boundaries, are at the root of this problem facing the Inquiry panel members, brought together to look into the circumstances of Lori Douglas's application for and acceptance as a Manitoba judge.

If the lawyers for Lori Douglas think that treating Chapman and Douglas the same is a way of avoiding bias, they are sadly mistaken. And if they try to have the inquiry ended for the reason of unfair bias, they are, once again, deluded as to what bias actually means, within the larger context of society, tradition, and sexual gender roles.

In July of this year, 2012, it was thought by two of the Inquiry panel members (Catherine Fraser and Guy Pratte) and by Rocco Galati, Chapman’s lawyer, that introducing Alex Chapman’s sex life into the proceedings would be unfair to him, showing him to have had consensual sexual relations despite disapproving of Lori Douglas’s sexual activities. However, Ms Fraser of the Inquiry panel apparently missed the point of consensual relationships by ignoring the power difference between Chapman, a client of Jack King’s, and the power couple of King and Douglas. It wouldn’t have been mutually consensual, for them to meet for the purpose of sex between Chapman and Douglas, not as long as one had more power than the other. As it turned out, the only power Chapman had, and one that made him fearful, was to take the case of sexual harassment to court.

Lori Douglas’s lawyer, Sheila Block, argued over the same point, saying that including that evidence would lessen the impact of Chapman’s claim that he was "shocked" and "damaged" by King's proposal of sex (Chapman was 'online sex performer,' July 19, 2012).

The problem with this kind of logic, as expressed by Lori Douglas’s lawyer especially, is that judge Lori Douglas and Alex Chapman are being treated as equals by members of the Inquiry panel and the lawyers, with no gender-specific or other differences in their beliefs, sexual conditioning, and social status being acknowledged. Trying to equate the kind of sexual behaviours that Lori Douglas engaged in with the kind that Chapman did doesn’t work. They come steeped in culture, gender-specific traditions, and power differences of various kinds. To start with, the images that distressed Chapman, that Jack King showed him, were of Lori Douglas, “naked in various forms of bondage, in chains, with sex toys and performing oral sex” (Judge sex controversy lawsuit quashed, Nov 16, 2010).

I would argue that Alex Chapman’s background, possibly his Jamaican roots, and his male conditioning, could easily account for his horror at seeing pics of the judge in bondage gear. We might assume that Chapman was a traditional man, raised to treat women in a particular manner, and not used to seeing them as dominant.

Journalist Dean Pritchard reports Chapman’s reaction to Jack King propositioning him to have sex with his wife, Lori Douglas, and to the photos of King’s wife and the website, as follows “It was sadistic stuff. I would never treat a woman like that. They were terrible pictures,” and “I went and checked it out and it was a paid website where there were black men raping white women, at least that's how I interpreted it. . . . I was disgusted by that stuff.” (King ‘messed with my head, July 16, 2012).

Is it conceivable that a man who performs sexually for women online might hold traditional views of sexuality and gender roles? Certainly it is! Is it also a possibility that a man’s country of origin and his race could also affect his view of authority figures and punishment for going against what is expected of him? Of course! So we have one dominant sexual personality coming up against another, but only one of which is a traditional viewpoint. The other is feminist.

In the National Post’s Full Comment, Christie Blatchford writes about Chapman in a tone that suggests she doesn’t understand what it is like to be afraid of those in authority, of not having backup when needed, from one’s employer or even from one’s country. She ridicules and demeans Alex Chapman in a way that suggests she has no real comprehension of how a person might feel about his powerlessness, or how his very real powerlessness affects his life. She writes, quoting Chapman,

“‘Manitoba’s bench is totally corrupted,’ he said at another point. There were very ‘powerful people and they would make my life miserable,’ he said on a different occasion.”

Then she adds,

“The best, and also the worst, moment came when Mr. Chapman said, with a straight face, ‘These are powerful people I was dealing with and they may come and kill me’ (Accuser’s case against Manitoba judge perishing from self-inflicted wounds, Jul 17, 2012).

I can’t imagine that Christie Blatchford has ever felt that way.

As stated by journalist Steve Lambert, the five-member panel overseeing the inquiry has to deal with accusations of bias by both sides, a dispute that threatens to end the inquiry (Man at centre of Manitoba naked judge case was a sex performer: lawyer, Sept 17, 2012). But it isn’t Chapman who is on trial. And if his genuine discomfort with the sexually-dominant female has been misunderstood, it may be because he is surrounded by them, in court and in the media, and it may be these very same women who are reluctant to grant him any empathy for the situation in which he found himself.

On this theme, Christie Blatchford opens her story on the apparent contradiction between Alex Chapman’s pornography collection and his lack of desire for the kind of sexual attention Lori Douglas had on offer (Manitoba judge’s accuser no sexual wallflower, but inquiry astonishingly refused to hear about it, Sept 17, 2012). But there is no contradiction. If all pornography were the same, then it wouldn’t have to be continually created, with different scenarios, different women and men, different props, etc. No one can know why he didn’t take up the offer. Perhaps the reason had something to do with the sexual subject being the wife of the lawyer he had taking care of his divorce, his unwillingness to get involved, and his inability to gracefully exit the situation. The consequences of saying No to someone in power can be devastating, as many women know.

Margaret Wente presents her womanly perspective to this dilemma, arguing that “Of course we should hold judges to a higher standard than other people. But judges live in the real world. They even have sex lives. Lori Douglas's only crime was to choose an unstable spouse, and have sex with him (The persecution of Lori Douglas, July 14, 2011). But Margaret, we all live in the real world, and we all have to pay the consequences of our husband’s actions, their midlife crises or if not them, then those of our employers or colleagues, and so on. There is no end to it. You can’t put all the responsibility for this on Lori Douglas’s husband. As soon as they imposed on someone else’s life, they were involved, and partly responsible for the outcome, at least to the extent that they have to live with it. And as judge, Lori Douglas’s future is at stake, regardless of who was at fault, just as so many other women’s futures depend on the actions taken by those with whom they are in relationships.

Previously it has been stated that all the lawyers in her area knew of the circumstances of Lori Douglas’s photos on the internet, the first time she applied to be a judge (Nude photo controversy was 'well-known' in Manitoba's legal community, husband says, July 25, 2012). These are the people she associates with - her colleagues who accept and understand her, and her sexual habits. But why aren’t they able to understand and accept a man who gives the impression of being traditional, and needing to be dominant sexually? And if they cannot understand and empathize, what kind of lawyers and judges are they, while on the job?

Lori Douglas’s lawyers have asked the Federal Court of Canada to halt the inquiry, before it even gets to the real issue – Lori Douglas’s withholding of the facts of the photos online on the official application to become judge, other possibly misleading situations, and whether or not this will affect her future as judge (She had to know: Chapman, July 17, 2012).

Accuser’s case against Manitoba judge perishing from self-inflicted wounds, By Christie Blatchford, National Post Full Comment, Jul 17, 2012

Chapman was 'online sex performer', inquiry hears, By Dean Pritchard, QMI, Agency, Toronto Sun, July 19, 2012

Judge sex controversy lawsuit quashed, CBC News, Nov 16, 2010

King ‘messed with my head’: Chapman talks at Douglas inquiry, By Dean Pritchard, Winnipeg Sun, July 16, 2012

Man at centre of Manitoba naked judge case was a sex performer: lawyer, By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press, CTV News, Winnipeg, Sept 17, 2012

Manitoba judge’s accuser no sexual wallflower, but inquiry astonishingly refused to hear about it, By Christie Blatchford, National Post Full Comment, Sept 17, 2012

Nude photo controversy was 'well-known' in Manitoba's legal community, husband says, By Steve Lambert
Winnipeg — The Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, July 25, 2012

The persecution of Lori Douglas, By Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail, July 14 2011, Last updated Sept 10 2012

'She had to know': Chapman, By Mike McIntyre, Winnipeg Free Press, July 17, 2012

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