Before #MeToo, before the 45th President's declaration of grabbing women by the vagina, before the harrowing Cavanaugh hearings in the U.S. Congress: there was the autumn of 2014. In a bizarre burst of synchronicity in the news cycle, the Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault scandals both came to light. For most Americans, the Cosby narrative (and subsequent verdict, something of a surprise) is the familiar fodder of the nightly news. Ghomeshi, a former CBC broadcasting personality known best for his flagship interview program Q, however was far less known.
Upon inspection, the narratives – and how the media and defendants framed them – were disturbingly similar. Both accusers utilized the patented tactic of deflection by way of pointing to the victims' decision to stay anonymous. Rather than "stand" by their words, Cosby and Ghomeshi insisted that their victims' decisions to stay anonymous was simply a sign that they were jealous enough entities that merely wanted to ruin their careers rather than “stand beside” the invariably painful experience inflicted by their attackers.
Citation Needed is a series of performances to act as metaphor for the strength and necessity of anonymity for survivors of sexual violence. With the performer's body hidden from view, two alternating narratives are recited: the fully-cited third-person narrative of the Jian Ghomeshi case from the point of view of the Canadian press, and the anonymous stories of the assault victims – notably lacking citations, instead capped with the echoing phrase, “Citation needed.”
Due to the nature of the subject matter, this is an ongoing project.
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