- Tuesday evening, philanthropist and former Dragon's Den judge W. Brett Wilson expressed his support for #IBelieveYou, The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services' new campaign to break the silence on sexual harassment, since fear of backlash and stigma prevents many victims from coming forward.
The announcement, posted to Wilson's Facebook page and Twitter account, respectively, features an image of him posing with what appears to be a tattoo of the campaign hashtag on his inner arm alongside the caption: "Let's break the silence on sexual assault with 3 simple words: #IBelieveYou".
- The post received many accolades from fans on Facebook and was shared more than 500 times within seven hours of being posted. None of the commenters mentioned an apparent contradiction in Wilson's position on the issue.
Less than a year ago, on October 26, 2014, CBC fired beloved radio personality Jian Ghomeshi over allegations of sexual assault, and it appears Wilson reacted by tweeting his support for his colleague, saying: "I believe Jian's story. The truth..." and linking to Ghomeshi's lengthy Facebook post outlining his side of the story.
- Wilson's tweet of support for Ghomeshi was met with outrage by those who felt it implied disbelief of the alleged victims who came forward with allegations of sexual assault.
- (Since CBC fired Ghomeshi that day, over a dozen women have come forward with similar allegations, resulting in criminal charges for seven counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking. Two of the charges have since been dropped. Global News put together a detailed timeline.)
- The offending tweet appears to have been deleted within days, but records of it still exist via manual re-tweets (RTs), which allow a user to reply to a tweet while also including its original text.
- This isn't the first time Wilson has been accused of sexism.
In April, blogger and author Gracie Ackerman penned some lengthy diatribes in which she alleged that, despite being a longtime paying member of Wilson's gym, she'd been refused full access due to content on her blog that she considers an expression of her sexuality and femininity.
- "I was told by his female manager that I was a threat to a good man’s reputation due to the nature of my art and writing.. due to the topless images of me on my website; so they didn’t want me smearing Brett’s great rep.."
Ackerman went so far as to accuse Wilson of victim-shaming—the very opposite of what the #IBelieveYou campaign hopes to accomplish.
- "I had every right to be treated with the same respect as others who asked to have photography in your gym.. and who workout in your gym.. I had every right to be treated with common, due respect regardless of who or what I wrote about on my website [...] and then you had the [expletive] nerve, and the cruelty to say to me that I said I was going to go topless in the gym..and then you turned ” VICTIM SHAMING” onto me by saying I was the one harassing Darcia and you..by having the courage to come to you, to address their harassment of me.."
- Wilson dismissed Ackerman's claims as untrue, claiming "Gracie is unwell — very unstable" and said she has a reputation for harassing people in Kelowna. He declined to provide his side of the story, suggesting "You might wish to reach out to her and get a sense of the warped reality she lives in."
- (Ackerman has not yet been reached for comment. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.)
In a more public misstep in March 2013, Wilson issued a brief 140-character apology after calling a male hockey player from the opposing team (Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks) a "sister" after he scored during a penalty shot.
- In this case, the offending tweet remains undeleted:
- Followers immediately called out Wilson's comment as sexist.
- Wilson did apologize for the inappropriate outburst, but some fans didn't excuse his sexist comment. One hockey fan tweeted, "As a woman who loves a good hockey chirp, it's disturbing that your go-to was a non-hockey sexist one".