Tag Archives: Jimmy Savile

Integrity: the power of independent action

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An article in today’s Independent newspaper by columnist Jasmin Alibhai-Brown reveals how an anonymous letter sent to her by one of TV presenter Stuart Hall‘s child victims was instrumental in securing his recent conviction for the sexual abuse of young girls. (This article contains upsetting details of sex abuse.)

Whilst recently re-watching TV footage of Mark Williams-Thomas‘ ITV ‘Exposed’ documentaries and the subsequent Panorama episode, I was once again struck by a certain pattern of behaviour: how many players in the Savile scandal – over the course of four decades – visibly squirmed whilst trying to explain how they managed to ignore both persistent rumours, first-hand witnesses and their gut instincts about Savile’s violent, predatory tendencies. To varying degrees they knew, but did nothing…

How refreshing then, to see someone with a moderate level of media clout actually take up the baton and, like Williams-Thomas, use her position for the greater good. Reporting the – anonymous – complaint may have come to naught, she may not have been believed; but she listened to her conscience and took the chance and as a result a dangerous criminal has been apprehended. Unlike Savile he is still alive to face punishment.

Some, including the Mirror‘s FleetStreetFox have argued against the publicising of investigations into public figures accused of historic offences, citing the old saw of damaged reputations. The conviction of serial offenders such as Hall firmly refutes this position. Hall initially feigned innocence and vowed to fight the allegations; but publicity surrounding his case encouraged fresh witnesses to come forward and in the face of overwhelming evidence he capitulated and pled guilty.

There’s a lesson here: honesty, integrity and co-operation bring results. The old boys network, built on career-insecurity and awe that protected the likes of Savile is not insurmountable. Two days ago it was announced that Yewtree detectives will fly to Sydney, Australia to interview a 43 year-old witness to improper conduct on the part of Rolf Harris back in the ’90s. Like so many witnesses to such crimes, her fear of not being believed was an overwhelming factor in her failure to come forward previously. This is what hierarchy, what patriarchy does: it creates artificial power structures where the word of one person is worth less than that of another; where concealment of wrongdoing, of criminality is a surer way of maintaining an illusion of personal, or career safety than is honesty.

The cost to our individual and collective conscience, integrity and health is high, however. I hope Savile‘s – on occasion, inadvertant or naive – colluders, as well as his victims can live with that. I suspect both will continue to be troubled.

Alibhai-Brown has shown herself to be a woman of integrity; and thru her example, several of Hall‘s victims are, one hopes, on the road to regaining theirs.

Online Harris-ment

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Noticed a spike in my stats a couple days ago – 515 reads. To put that in context I have just 50 followers and average maybe 30 reads a day.

What’s going on? Bloody Rolf Harris again, that’s what. Arrested this time. His name first came up in Yewtree reports as early as November and he spent Christmas in The Priory afflicted with depression. Scarcely a day goes by when his name isn’t the most popular search term referring readers to this blog, even though I’ve dropped down to the second and third pages of Google/Yahoo!/Bing results. Most of the accused unearthed by Yewtree have come out fighting: it’s only him and a couple others whose names are being kept out of MSM reports, even though his name was leaked by Mark Williams-Thomas so it’s obviously kosher. Weird.

If I was him – and so stressed out by investigations, allegations and speculations – I’d want to get my side in. And surely no-one really buys into this MRA-fuelled guff about false accusations destroying credibility and careers anymore, do they? Roman Polanski, anyone? Hell, Bill Clinton – that paragon of fair and democratic treatment of females – sat on a panel, bold as brass backing The Girl Effect campaign a couple years back. The longer Harris hides away from the media spotlight, the more it looks like he’s got something to hide. Clifford, Starr, Travis et al are ‘out’ and scarcely warrant a mention. Truth is, the abuse of women and kids is just so damn banal; fit fodder for gossip but does anybody really want to know? Steubenville was a case in point: stone-cold photographic evidence of wrongdoing and media and public opinion is way sympathetic to the perps. Same with Michael Le Vell – it’s all about his anguish and damaged career prospects – the aforementioned Harris, and as for Bill Roache and his rapey (and swiftly semi-retracted, but not really) diatribe about reincarnation etc…

If anyone had started a conversation with me a few years ago about ‘rape culture’, ‘male-privilege’ or ‘patriarchy’ I’d probably have been ‘like, whatever…’. Now it’s all I see when I open up my browser. Depressing…

C’mon Rolf; at least give us your side of the story. you know you want to…

Catholic distaste for bad press

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THE MOST DAMNING PHOTO PUBLISHED BY A BRITISH NEWSPAPER THIS YEAR?

From mirror.co.uk: ‘Jimmy Savile and the cardinal…’

Cardinal Keith O’Brien quit just 24 hours before he was due to fly to Rome to help choose the next pope. His resignation followed a series of recent allegations against him dating back to the ’80s by three priests and one former priest regarding inappropriate sexual behaviour. He ‘strongly denied’ those claims, but revelations of a relationship with Savile dating back to the ’70s will undoubtedly bode badly for his chances of being believed.

Another priest at Kilsyth (O’Brien‘s parish) at the time has been suspended following claims of abuse against two young victims. Ironically, it was Cardinal O’Brien who ordered the investigation last September; and when allegations against Savile first broke in the MSM last year, it was the cardinal who called for him to be stripped of his papal knighthood.

Also ironic is the fact that Cardinal O’Brien is known for his strong anti-gay views: he recently criticized the Scottish government’s plans to enshrine same-sex marriage in law by 2015, describing the latter as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. No wonder he was named ‘Bigot of the year‘ by Stonewall Scotland in 2012. His stance on women’s rights is no less forgiving: six years ago he claimed the abortion rate in Scotland was equivalent to “two Dunblane massacres a day”, also describing the implications of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as akin to “Nazi-style experiments”. In all ways an exemplary Catholic, then.

It’s extraordinary that in the 21st century, an organization of such far-reaching social and political influence can continue to practice discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation with impunity. But the church has a real problem with sex, full stop. It’s clearly learnt it’s lesson from the last few years of public outrage over institutionalized abuse, and their media machine has been quick to swing into action following the O’Brien debacle:

Jack Valero, of lobby group Catholic Voices, said it was right for Cardinal O’Brien to resign.

He said: “I am very happy that this has been taken seriously, that the nuncio – the Pope’s representative in the UK – has written to the four people who have made the allegations to thank them for speaking out, and that the whole thing has been done so quickly.

I think this shows a new spirit.”

O’Brien tendered his resignation November last, and it was officially accepted by the Pope last week, but his sudden departure was unexpected. Was immenent exposure of the Savile connection a factor? New spirit or not, division, and confusion around the issue of priests and sex run deep in the church to this day, in particular the failure to grasp that the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sex tilts on consent, not the gender or sexual orientation of the participants. The church’s exception to homosexuality is not ‘homophobia’ per-se, so much as calculated propaganda in the interests of furthering it’s world-dominating, sex-dimorphic agenda. When O’Brien spoke of a ‘human right’ to marriage, it was the right of men to produce (Catholic) offspring he was defending. And who are ‘celibate’ priests to be dispensing this advice, anyway? That the Bible highlights the sinfulness of homosexuality*, yet not of paedophilia is scarcely surprising, given the social context of its time: that the church cleaves to those same standards 2000 years later, and that we give credence to the esoteric beliefs of this homophobic, misogynistic rape cult is the real scandal.

* See ‘Intercourse’Dworkin, Andrea. Ch. 8 ‘Law’ p. 185-211 for a penetrating, nuanced understanding of why homosexuality is such a ‘big deal’ within religious orthodoxy; and why policing men’s behaviour is really all about policing women.

All kinds of wrong

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According to a New Mexico lawmaker, impregnated rapees who abort should be arrested for ‘tampering with evidence’.

Of all the cruel and Byzantine ways that the law has contrived to interfere in women’s born right to own and manage their reproduction, this surely takes the cake. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t doesn’t even begin to cover it. On paper, objectifying the foetus as evidence runs somewhat contrary to the Pro-life definition of it as a fully-human being; but the implications in real life are exactly the same: don’t abort! The mother is still effectively owned and subject to the rule of patriachy. The likely psychological trauma of having to carry a baby to term and the fact of her/his existence will serve as a lifetime reminder of the initial violation, whether the mother decides to bring up the kid or not. And the science underpinning the law is flawed in any case. As a commentator on the thread (The Reality Dog) rightly observes:

‘This is shockingly stupid. Just using her own logic, why would you need to force the woman to carry the baby to term in order to get evidence? Once the abortion was performed, you would easily be able to get DNA from the fetus to prove paternity to the rapist and likely get that person charged and behind bars even faster. Once again, anti-abortion legislators are grasping at straws…’

Coincidentally – or perhaps not – this law would erect an additional psychological barrier against victims reporting the offense against them.

And this has implications for the kid, too. Growing up knowing that your life came about as the product of rape must, I imagine, have profound implications, and bear none-too-positively on one’s self-esteem and future relationship prospects. There’s an alternative, of course: not knowing the intimate details of one’s conception and parenthood; or the fate of one’s surrendered offspring – but as an adoptee I can vouch that that has its implications, too; both for the child and the parents, biological and adoptive. The likely internal conflict propogated by this proposal parallels that experienced by the incested child. As Suzanne Moore wrote in a perceptive Guardian piece in response to the Savile scandal:

‘I know people right now are having to make a decision to remove a child from a family after a series of disclosures about the white stuff that came out of “Daddy’s willy” when they were having their special time. The last thing this child wants is for her Daddy to be taken away.’

Which is to say, knowing that your parent(s) is/are bad people doesn’t necessarily diminish your need for a sense of ‘where you come from’. Even if that need is a product of patriarchal indoctrination, for the sake of our kids’ (and adults’) peace of mind it must be addressed.

I doubt the lawmakers consider these, or have even given them pause for thought, and whilst I’d be more confortable believing naïveté was a factor in their proposal, my inclination is that it’s politicking pure and simple: a legal statement of intent that promotes that reinforces the patriarchal agenda; specifically:

  • Reproduction is a legitimate end in itself, howsoever brought about, and rape is a legitimate means of reproduction,
  • A woman’s body is an extension of the state and subject to state control,
  • It is the duty and responsibility of the state to encourage, regulate and manage reproduction, by any means.

This bill bodes badly in a world that many care to appellate ‘post-feminist’: its basis is spurious science and its implicit cruelty to the forcibly-impregnated and their offspring are, individually, reason enough to contest its legitimacy on humane grounds. Taken together they embody a legal and moral abomination; another in a history of many.

State of denial

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And the revelations continue. Today, comic Jim Davidson is identified as the latest in a succession of celebrities to be questioned as part of the ongoing Yewtree investigation into the culture of sexual crime and misdemeanor within the media.

Like Max Clifford‘s ‘…birth certificate…’ interview, Davidson‘s blog comments (apparently now deleted, see extract below) could be read as a cynical disclaimer in advance of his impending questioning. Was he one of the ‘dirty dozen’ who contacted Clifford? Did he know he was in the firing line? Pure speculation, of course…

‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

‘The Jimmy Savile witch hunt is going a bit silly now. We all are starting to speculate and accuse… even in jest. So no I don’t know who’s next. Well, if I was in the pub with the lads it would be a different story.

‘Everyone has had the nod. Everyone is now an expert. Just pick someone you don’t like and say it’s them. So I’ll be the first one to knock it on the head and belt up. How’s about that then?’

DAILY STAR

‘Front page eh?……Well I was only stating the obvious (Jim’s Newspaper). It just goes to show how much interest this Saville (sic) thing is having. I read a thing today (in The Express) some one saw Jimmy Saville (sic) pinch some girl’s bum . Apparently that is a sexual assault. Where will all this end. As odd as he was, Saville (sic) can’t defend himself.The bloke’s dead for Godsake (sic).

‘Let’s move on and get some important stories in the paper. I haven’t heard anything about Jordan lately. What’s happened?

‘Fund raising for the British Forces foundation tonight. Monday sees me, Bobby Davro, Claire Sweeny and Mike Osman off to entertain the Navy on HMS Dauntless.

‘Spare a thought today for the two British troops KIA. There’s news.

‘Oh and do I really know who the next exposed pervert is?….well, have a guess,because that’s what the press are doing,that’s what we’re all doing!’

PANORAMA

‘How come the BBC can make a program blaming the BBC?

‘It’s like having yourself arrested and then being your own prosecuting barrister!

‘The BBC has finaly (sic) gone mental. This hot bed of leftyness has asked itself the question: “Should we have known?” The answer is yes. We all knew didn’t we?

‘A bloke who’s a loner dresses and acts like a nonce and thinks he is the most important person in the world. Hmmm. I knew… and didn’t do anything. Mind you I had no proof. To me he was just another pervert.

‘There are lots of them in Showbiz. There seems to be more gay ones than straight, but that’s because there are probably more gays in showbiz than most professions.

‘Who’s next to be the victim of a media feeding frenzy? I have the answer to that but like Jimmy Savile it’s only rumours… but when these rumours come out… WOW!’

In the comments section from the DM article, ‘Tenerifediver’ added:

‘This overblown witch hunt is a publicity manoeuvre to divert attention from the Asian paedophile gangs. They are alive and active NOW, and are far greater threat. But they’re not so easy to catch or to prosecute are they? … The Asian paedophile gangs have the Human Rights bill to protect them and the spineless lawmakers who allow it to continue. No. Go for dead people! They have no defense (even if they were guilty)…’

 Talk of ‘witch hunts’ and ‘publicity manoevres’ has its consequences, though: it serves to dilute in the public mind, the severity of the implications of the proliferation and sheer mundanity of sexual violence in our societies; and Davidson‘s remarks and Tenerifediver’s message board comments exemplify perfectly most of our misconceptions around violence in general and sex abuse in particular
  • violence/sex abuse are exceptional – far from the truth: under a system of hierarchy violence is inevitable, and the circumstances under which it is condoned are largely a matter of political expediency.
  • specific allegations against – purportedly – ‘soft’ targets are part of a campaign of misdirection from ‘real’ culprits – again, misleading: ‘tip of an iceberg’ would be accurate. One of my major concerns from the outset – the surfacing of allegations against Savile in the wake of his death – was finger-pointing towards specific organizations (e.g. the BBC) at the expense of recognizing (sexual) violence as an inherent feature of hierarchy/patriarchy. The distinction to be made – if any – between ‘legitimate’ violence as perpetrated by soldiers in the ‘theatre of war’ (telling phrase) or by parents under the aegis of ‘discipline’, and ‘abuse’ is, at best, a murky one. Patriarchy inheres a parent/child relationship model between state/authorities and population which tacitly legitimizes a significant proportion of violence in interpersonal/intercultural/inter-class situations (and I admit Dworkin‘s definition of women as a class unto themselves).
  • That the outing of offenders is part of a left wing agenda – if exposing an undercurrent of violence in society is on anyone’s agenda, it’s a feminist one: historically, the left and right demonstrate much of a muchness in their adherence to the patriarchy/hierarchy which gives rise to conflict and abuse.
  • the conflating of gender and race – history is littered with examples of attempts to tie the tendency towards violence onto genes specific to certain ethnic groups. This is troubling and misleading on two counts: that such pronouncements are almost without exception made by majority/oppressor populations against minority/oppressed populations, and, that it locates the cause of violence primarily in nature when, in fact, nurture is overwhelmingly causal. This has implications in gender terms, as well as racial ones. Taboos around violence perpetrated not only against, but also by women remain hugely problematic in today’s societies, as well as historically. Women do commit acts of violence – though to date no women have been implicated in the Yewtree investigation – and find themselves judged not only by the ‘normal’ standards applied to male offenders but additionally as contravenors of ‘natural law’ in societies terms. Patriarchy shafts us all (too often literally) but some more than others.
  • The spurious correlation between homosexuality and sexual abuse – read Guy Kettelhack‘s insightful Dancing Around The Volcano to hear how the Gay community is coming to terms with with ‘deviant’ sexuality (arguably better than their straight counterparts) and foreground the fact that 95% of sexaual violence is male on female, like this
  • perpetuation of the notion of an arbitrary ‘line’ between acceptable behaviour and abuse – of course, no-one would pretend that bum-pinching=rape, or that sexist ‘jokes’ or comments are equivalent to financial sex-discrimination, but – and it’s a big but – they all sit on a continuum of attitudes and behaviours that characterize an inherently unjust, undemocratic society and culture. It was telling that Jamie Kilstein’s ‘rape jokes’ drew abuse from sexist men and approbation from feminists – we all know what’s going on and too many of us would rather it was kept quiet. A sense of entitlement is bred into males and milking that to the max is the gold-standard for climbing the ladder: this certainly appears to be the case with Savile who ascended to ‘untouchable’ status within a plethora of organizations. Who on God‘s earth would think it reasonable having a pop DJ on the board for Broadmoor? If there’s a better example of the failings of the ‘old boys network’ I’ve yet to hear…
What’s becoming clear is that – Yewtree‘s three, Savile, Savile and others and, others categories aside – there are two categories of police witness in the YT investigation: those who allow their names to be published and – in Davidson‘s case, presumably, since he’s yet to issue a formal statement – make public their denial – those who hide behind injunctions. If Harris, and the several thusfar un-named protagonists in the Yewtree investigation are innocent of any wrongdoing they would be well-advised to peek out from behind the curtain of injunction and allow their testimony into the arena of public debate as the likes of Clifford and Starr have done. (Aside: the vast majority of hits on my blog are via search engine terms ‘Rolf Harris‘ + ‘Operation Yewtree’ – none for Clifford/Starr). If they feel they’re being made guilty by implication, or association then let us hear their denial. Harris is, if reports are to be believed suicidal. The fault for this rests with a hierarchy which privately rewards the very abusive, violent and discriminatory behaviour that it purports publicly to find morally repellent. Taboo and fetish are old-accustomed bed-fellows and the ‘high’ inherent in practising taboo behaviour is proportional to the moral indignation and shame of being outed. With such a deep rooted double standard in place is it any wonder men deny allegations of sex crime, well-founded or not. But there’s denial and denial and for all our sakes – especially for our future women and children – we need to know what and who we’re dealing with. If it’s left up to the gossip-mongers, they’ve already been found guilty, whilst our culture walks free and we all lose.

A penetrating insight into farcical attitudes to rape

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Along with Operation Yewtree’s exposure of sexual violence perpetrated by once-loved showbiz institutions come the predictable bad-taste jokes…

‘My wife wanted me to spice up our sex life and meke her feel young again – the white wig and cigar didn’t go down too well…’

‘I hear Rolf Harris has dropped “Two Little Boys” from his set for the upcoming tour…’

…and so on…

The ‘rape joke’ is arguably comedy’s most contentious trope. Racist and homophobic jokes pretty much disappeared from comedy routines back in the ’90s, even if they’ve made a belated comeback appended with an ironic wink. It’s the nature of comedy to push the boundaries of decency and acceptability but it’s telling that concessions to the sensibilities of minority groups so often don’t extend to women. Comics don’t really know – and the best of them will admit, as Henning Wehn did at a gig at a gig in in Lewes recently – whether their routine is actually funny or just offensive until the crowd laughs: the other side of the coin is that the audience really doen’t know what it finds funny until the comic points it up with his ironic aside; her barbed observation. Actually, what’s really funny falls broadly into two interconnected categories: the truth, and the lies and misdirection we deploy to skirt uncomfortably around it.

You know the guy’s onto something when he can riff on sexual violence and feminists praise him for it. In fact, he has received some harsh criticism and abuse, via Twitter and Youtube, and mostly from those he refers to as ‘the rapey man brigade’. Because he tells a truth that they and many others don’t want to hear; a truth that is – in  this case, literally – laughable.

There was nothing funny about the reaction of certain elements within the gaming community when feminist (and avid video game fan) Anita Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a study of the portrayal of gender within video games… except… well isn’t it funny, deeply ironic , that the mere prospect of such study being prompted an outpouring of exactly the kind of hostile, misogynistic sentiments that her project sought to expose: an irony one suspects, that said gamers were blissfully oblivious to. But the backlash to the backlash is the real story: in the same way that Mark Williams-ThomasExposed… documentary enabled so many of Savile‘s victims to come forward with their stories and seek catharsis, even justice, of a kind; so Sarkeesian‘s campaign, or rather the backlash against it, emboldened others equally discomfited by the culture of sexism within gaming to make their voices heard. Games may be ficticious, much as pornography and Hollywood are ficticious (and at least game producers don’t have to grapple with the ethics of employing real actors and actresses – though on reflection that might be a problem in itself) but if the end user is oblivious to the fiction then the distinction  (between it and truth) is arguably moot.

You have to stir the waters to bring the detritus, and the treasure, to the surface.

Like Sarkeesian, Kilstein dares to tell the truth. making said distintion clear. Like Sarkeesian, he brings down a shitstorm onto his head; from conservatives – that means people who want things to stay as they are; people who fear change: which specifically means men – and admittedly, some women too – who want to keep on raping, keep on getting away with raping and/or enjoy for themselves the dubious benefits of a society in which rape and the nebulous threat of rape (amonst other violences) provides them with political, social and economic capital. And like Sarkeesian, Kilstein is brave enough to go public and face down his critics; albeit thru the medium of satire.

‘… They would call me some kind of homophobic slur (a frequent conservative trope, to conflate disparate, albeit commonly politically-subversive positions: homosexuality, liberalism, feminism, leftism etc…) or they would be like “I hope you get raped”, “I’m raping someone you know” (and ludicrously) “I’m gonna rape a steak” (but note the parity in content and tone with the Sarkeesian backlash). My favorite were, there were like some homophobes that combined their homophobia and rape so they’d be like “I’m gonna rape you, queer!” And I mean that’s kind of progressive, sorta liberal of the guy like “Oh I hate gay people so much but I hate you more I’m gonna get over my fucking fear of gay people when I rape the shit out of you.” I was like “I’ll take one for the team on that…’

From a critical standpoint it’s crucial that Kilstein is satirizing misogynistic attitudes, not mocking or belittling rape victims, in contrast to the kind of rape ‘jokes’ that rightly draw much feminisic ire: from a comedic standpoint, less so: that  ‘jokes’ may superficially reinforce predjudice doesn’t necessarily render them unfunny. In much the same way that it’s not fair or reasonable to project the responsibilty for violence onto its victim – or indeed, media, guns or ‘society’ at large – nor is it fair or reasonable to project the responsibility for verbal offence onto the ‘offender’. This might at first glance appear contradictory but it highlights an intrinsic difference between verbal and physical offence:  one can learn from and combat a sexist/racist/homophobic ‘joke’ or comment  in real time – and via the internet, forever more – in a way that a victim of rape or shooting can’t. We have a shared responsibility to engage in a public discourse where the violent underbelly of our so-called civilised society is concerned. (Kilsten’s) comedy has a valid role to play here:i

‘Men always say women have it so easy because they can get laid whenever they want. Why, a woman can just walk down the street, point to a dick and, before she can count her lucky stars, that dick will be inside of her. I wish I had women chasing me at every turn! I could just walk down the street by myself at 3 in the morning and be like “Which one of these ladies is gonna take me to street-fuck land?” Sometimes they wanna fuck me so bad, they are literally chasing me in a frantic, horny, serial-killer-like state! Sometimes, with a weapon, probably to show me he has other talents than chasing! Some girls may say this is assault, but the onus is on the girl, for being out at A PLACE and WEARING THINGS! The world is your orgy!’

(my emphases)

The tragedy – and which gives Kilstein‘s satire its edge – is that too many men and women buy into exactly this kind of hype. Victim-blaming is endemic in our culture and nowhere more so than where violence against women is concerned; in her 1988 essay M’learned Friends (British feminist) Joan Smith wrote, ‘Some of the assumptions that USED TO [?] apply routinely in the area of coercive sexuality immediately come to light: most strikingly, the idea that men live their lives on a hair trigger and can be provoked to violence by the most insignificant stimulus, a notion which parallels the old proposition that women must behave with circumspection at all times because of men’s uncontrollable sexual urges.’ (my emphasis). But not everyone accepts this cynical reading of  human relations. Earlier in the same polemic, Smith quotes one Justice Rougier in his summing up of a 1988 case of indecent assault and GBH over which he presided: ‘Women … are entitled to dress attractively, even provocatively if you like, be friendly with casual acquaintances and still say no at the end of the evening without being brutally assaulted … you broke her jaw just because she wasn’t prepared to go to bed with you.’ Even in 1988, a man more representative than most of male privilege and power was able to recognize the existence and pervasiveness of a rape culture. By this time Savile had been getting away with enacting his violence for over two decades. To date, admittedly scanty reports on the progress of Yewtree nonetheless suggest he was a far-from-isolated case. The price of denying said rape-enabling culture is exemplified by 500+ belated reports of devastating violence and intimidation perpetrated by Savile, his colleagues, colluders, apologists and deniers in the media; and there’s every reason to believe that that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. And here’s the thing: rape works. It intimidates and silences people. It’s taken 40 years for Savile‘s crimes to be openly discussed and taken seriously:  which is why media players such as Sarkeesian and Kilstein, as well as survivors of Savile ought to be deserving of our praise.

The real ‘State of Fear’

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As regular readers of musicbugsandgender will know, I’ve been keeping one eye on developments following the outing of the late Jimmy Savile as a serial sex offender. Most of the opinion and comment via the MSM, alternative press and public comment alike – that I’ve read, anyway – has been broadly speaking, responsible and sympathetic to victims, which only served to show in sharp relief this ill-considered, ignorant  and revolting diatribe from The Huffinton Post’s Brendan O’Neill

‘The reason the Savile scandal continues to gather pace, despite its obviously destructive effects, is because there are two industries that do benefit from it – the media industry and the therapeutic industry.

In the media, right from the salacious tabloids that like nothing better than to panic about paedophiles to feministic commentators on the broadsheets who muse at length about “cultures of abuse”, the existence of an alleged 300 Savile victims is like manna from heaven.

They can wring both titillatingly horrifying stories of woe from these victims (in the case of the tabloids), or hold them up as evidence of a deep-rooted climate of sexism (in the case of the broadsheets), and thus the more victims there are, and the more they are willing to relive their pasts publicly and frequently, the better.’

O’Neill does a disservice to his peers in both the tabloids and quality dailies, here. Of course there’s a degree of sensationalism within journalism; arising inevitably from the inherent tension between the desire to tell a ‘truthful’ story, and competing within an ever-expanding marketplace to engage readers on an emotional level in order to make a sale. The best journalism utilises dramatic devices to do both, and whilst I’d argue that the broadsheets achieve a better balance I’m loath to dismiss the Red Tops en-bloc – as reactionary and inflammatory as they can often be; to discern a lack of caring would be mistaken. If O’Neill’s grasp on the motives of his peers is shaky – not to say cynical – then his apprehension of Feminism’s is more so: mind you, this is a man with form for misogyny and blustering arrogance, as evidenced by the paranoid, wrong-headed invective he directs towards feminists and lawmakers in response to George Galloway‘s infamous ‘every insertion’ defence of Julian Assange.

And he’s not the only one who would like to see the fallout from Savile nipped in the bud. In the comment section below the article, a reader by the name Henry Galt, wrote:

‘Meanwhile, 28gate goes completely unreported, well, everywhere except The Scotsman so far.

Sordid will do nicely. Real manipulation of the masses? Nah, we’ll just leave that one off the table. Too grubby.’

Nobody would suggest that 28Gate is un-newsworthy – indeed, to Beeb-bashing right-wingers it might appear to be, to appropriate Galt‘s expression ‘Manna from Heaven – but to suggest it is of more fundamental significance than Savile (amazed the opportunity to append a ‘gate’ was missed here) is misunderstood to say the least. What’s revealing about Galt‘s comment is his use of the word ‘real’; specifically do dismiss – as O’Neill does, albeit by different means of reasoning – Savile‘s, and by extension, humanity’s victims of sex abuse.
One might imagine that Galt and his merry band of climate sceptics swimming against the tide of prevailing scientific concensus (for all of, what, 30 years?) might feel some empathy for exponents of Feminism, who, in their efforts to expose and combat male violence have played David to the hierarchy’s Goliath for centuries. 30 years? That’s less time than some of Savile‘s victims have had to live with their fear, shame, lack of trust and sense of betrayal; and most pertinently here, with NOT BEING BELIEVED. The insularity of such single-interest obsessives tends to render such parallels invisible, however: if these guys think of themselves as real mavericks, they might want to raise their heads above the water once in a while.
Mention of climate-change scepticism and  manipulation of the masses in the same – virtual – breath however, called to mind the late American author, Michael Crichton and specifically his novel, State of Fear. For the unfamiliar and link-phobic, Crichton‘s novel is premised on a sceptical view of CC akin to Galt’s, but positing CC itself as the political establishment’s red herring – a Lysenkoist fad which he compares to Eugenics in the novel’s afterword. (For my part, I consider myself a CC sceptic – sceptical that is, about the political motives of the ‘pro-‘ lobby and their apprehension of CC thru history. I certainly don’t doubt the reality of the phenomenon).

Contrastingly, there’s nothing ‘faddish’ about the matter of child sex crime, or about crimes of violence in general, come to that: the problems they present are perennial and devastating. Another writer of intelligent Sci-Fi, Steampunk author China Miéville, touches upon sexual violence in his novel Perdido Street Station: thru the device of the Garuda, a non-human race with laws and customs in contrast to the human city state of New Crobuzon. he introduces a definition of rape as a crime under an umbrella determined ‘choice theft’. His is a definition quite different to the problematic, historical definition of ‘rape-as-theft’, rooted in property law, which, unlike the latter correctly identifies it as a psychological weapon of mass destruction. This definition has especial resonance in reference to the systematic sex abuse of kids, where domination thru violence – sexual or otherwise – during formative years so often complicates their positive self-determinative abilities in later life, impacting on self-esteem and an ability to make positive choices and form successful relationships.

Which brings me back around – and if you’re still with me, my thanks for your patience – to the Huffington Post article. Far from ‘The Savile scandal … further dent[ing] social solidarity’, as O’Neill would have it, his (Savile‘s) 40-year reign of terror is both a consequence of, and compelling evidence for, a lack of healthy social solidarity. That men of high social and professional standing; men who have achieved most, if not all of what supposedly constitutes success in our societies and yet, in order to consummate that success are driven to manipulate, terrorize, rape and – if forensic evidence uncovered at Haute de la Gaurenne shows what it appears to show – kill our most vulnerable, most precious citizens, our children is deeply unsettling. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what their behaviour illuminates is a psychic vacuum in the collective consciousness which men – and women too on occasion – are prepared to kill our future in order to fill. In this respect at least, there is a valid parallel with CC, insofar as it’s the selfish actions of the most privileged of world citizens that threaten to impact the future of the human race the most. The shame is that too many of said privileged few seem more intent on mining the climate of fear and uncertainty for political and financial capital, rather than presenting meaningful solutions. Treating our women and children better would be a good place to start, the better to promote social solidarity and responsibility.
The big story about 28Gate, unlike Savile, is that (and you might want to whisper this, for fear of bringing down a tornado of wrath from climate scientists of every stripe) there’s no story. So the BBC has adopted a ‘pro’ editorial policy on the reporting of climate change – BIG DEAL! In case you’ve been watching/reading with your critical faculties disengaged for all of your adult life you’ll surely have detected that every news channel and publication has its own characteristic political stance and editorial policy to match. If you only read publications/watch programmes that cater to and reinforce your extant predjudices (which far too many people do, sadly – and if you’re one of them, more fool you) then your propensity to comment likely exceeds your qualification to do so. Personally, I feel confident that, with a reasonably objective estimation of their respective biases, I could peruse the details of the same story in either The Daily Mail or The Guardian, say, and arrive somewhere within the ballpark of the truth. The near-universal anti-female/anti-children bias consistently adopted by society and its institutions rarely gets the level of mainstream coverage it deserves and in spite of the publicity afforded in the aftermath of Savile; O’Neill, Galt and too many others still argue for denial. I, on the contrary argue for open debate – which must start with the premise that we have a problem
To give a rough and ready estimate of the scale of what we’re up against in the UK alone:
Population = 63,000,000; female population = 31,500,000; no. of victims of sexual assault = 10,500,000. That’s just females and just in the UK. As we’ve heard in testimonies by victims from Haute de la Gaurenne and Bryn Estyn, there are a significant number of male abuse victims too; and if the numbers here are shocking enough, the toll of casualties from war-torn areas such as Bosnia and The Sudan is, by any estimates far higher…
Not surprising then, that Susan Brownmiller was moved to describe rape as: ‘… a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.’ The implication is less that all men are rapists, than the notion that – even those of us who aren’t – by refusing to acknowledge and challenge the violence in our culture are perpetuating it; are thus perpetrators by proxy who continue to enjoy the dubious benefits of the gender inequality that is both cause and effect. Paraphrasing Brownmiller to acknkowlege the existence of male victims and female perpetrators would make for, if anything, an even bleaker picture; a picture that the O’Neills, Galts and Galloways of this world would rather we didn’t pay much attention to.
This is a climate in desperate need of change.