BY MAUREE N O'HAGAN
Portland writer Jim Goad has long been accused of glorifying violence against women. Now he's been charged with practicing it, as well.
Goad made national news two years ago when a Washington bookseller was charged with distributing obscenity after selling Goad's controversial zine Answer Me! With the ACLU on Goad's side, the bookseller was acquitted.
Last year, Simon & Schuster published The Redneck Manifesto, Goad's defense of "white trash."
Despite describing himself as a misogynist, Goad has maintained that his glorification of violence, including violence against women, is satirical.
In issue No. 4 of Answer Me! Goad writes, "I am not a member of a global male conspiracy to subjugate women by force." On May 31, however, police charged Goad with exactly that, arresting the 37-year-old writer for beating his girlfriend so badly that she wound up at the St. Vincent's emergency room. He has been charged with kidnapping and six counts of assault—the former charge a Measure 11 offense that will earn him 7 1/2 years in prison if he's convicted.
According to Goad's alleged victim, Sky Ryan, the couple had several brawls in their yearlong relationship. None, however, compared to a May 29 car ride during which the 22-year-old woman says she feared for her life. According to Ryan, she and Goad got into an argument while driving to her apartment around 5:30 that Friday morning. The verbal battle soon got physical, Ryan says. "He locked me inside the car and skidded out," Ryan told WW. "He was laughing, saying he'd kill me. I was pleading for my life. He's pounding me." On Skyline Boulevard, Ryan, "screaming and bloody," finally convinced Goad to let her out of the car.
When police interviewed Ryan at St. Vincent's, her left eye was swollen shut, she had bite marks on her hand and she was bleeding in several places, according to an affidavit filed by District Attorney Rod Underhill in Multnomah County
Circuit Court. Since Answer Me! became popular in the early 1990s, Goad has been somewhat of a celebrity. "He's kind of heralded for not being afraid to write what he wants to write," explains Marty Kruse, who runs the small-press section at Powell's City of Books. "He's written some of the most offensive stuff I've read."
Goad revels in graphic depictions of violence. On the cover of the notorious "rape issue" of Answer Me! a perky-looking waitress with a bloody nose and blackened eye sports a name tag saying "Hi! I asked for it!" Inside the magazine goes on to
describe, among other things, how women secretly enjoy rape.
"He sort of found a sensitive nerve and started throbbing on it," Kruse
says. "That's what Answer Me! was all about…. I saw the whole thing as
this fabulous satire, as social commentary. I saw it as an affront to the
politically correct." Goad, who fancies himself an intellectual and in interviews brags about his 3.76 GPA from Temple University, called the publication
satirical, arguing that crtics display "a total lack of irony."
Debbie Goad, Jim's ex-wife and the co-editor of Answer Me!, says it's
an "educational" magazine.
"Everything is a learning experience," she told WW. "People need to
open their minds and see things from all different angles."
Kruse, for one, was surprised to learn that Goad had been jailed on
such serious offenses. "My impression the whole time was that he was
just sort of talking the talk," Kruse says. "I never once believed he
meant what he wrote."
Goad's court-appointed attorney. Shari Pearlman, says her client's writings
should be kept separate fror the charges he faces. "There's no relevance whatsoever," she told WW. Underhill however, says Goad's publications may be helpful in build ing a case against him. "His writings… have some link because of
what I understand his writings to be—that is. violence against women," he says. "I don't see that it's closely [related], but it has obvious relevance."
Richard Martin contributed to this report.
Sky Ryan may not have been the first victim of Goad's violence.
In June 1997 Debbie Goad learned that she had ovarian cancer. After that, her
husband of 10 years began beating her almost daily until October, according to
a restraining order filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Debbie Goad accused Jim Goad of kicking her, spitting on her, hitting her and threatening to kill her, among other things.
The couple divorced in December, but earlier this month, while her ex-husband was in jail for the recent beating charges, Debbie asked a judge to lift the restraining order. "[He] has seeked counseling for three months and we are now friends after our legal divorce…. If I have a relapse from my ovarian cancer, [Jim] will take care of me and help me out."
Debbie Goad now claims that the original restraining order was "a misunderstanding."
When asked by WW whether she lied to the judge in order to obtain it, however, she said no. —MO