Another day, another Dude turns out to be a woman-hating hypocrite whose crimes have been covered up by an establishment unwilling to hold men accountable for their violence. This week we not only have a child victim of rape being punished for being too traumatised to cope with her rape, we also have Jimmy Savile* being “outed” as a child sexual abuser. I say “outed” but apparently everyone already knew but no one was willing to stand up to protect the children he was abusing. The collusion and total refusal by many, many people is utterly despicable. It’s also a prime example of hypocrisy in our woman-hating culture. Savile was considered “too important” to be held accountable for his crimes because he raised money for charity. Yep, the £40 million he raised during his life was more important the lives of the children he destroyed. Everyone who knew about Savile’s behaviour is complicit in his crimes and I hope the MET actually takes some responsibility and actively investigates those who covered up Savile’s history of child rape.
Men like Savile get away with raping children for decades because people care more about rich, white men than they do children. Just look at the coverage of the Megan Stammers abduction case and the massive cover-up of the Rochdale child grooming ring. The sheer number of people falling over themselves to excuse Jeremy Forrest for abusing his position as a teacher and abducting his student is vile. Apparently, a 15 year old child is responsible for ruining the life of an adult male rather than an adult man being held responsible for destroying the life of a child. This is when people start bandying about the term Lolita without acknowledging that Nabokov’s Lolita is about the long-term rape of a child by her stepfather. It’s not supposed to be a celebration of teenage sexuality but a story of child-rape [and don’t get me started on arseholes who think Gabriel Garcia Marguez’ Love in the Time of Cholera is romantic].
The children in the Rochdale grooming case [which has the added benefit of racism and classism in both the covering up of the crime and the reporting of it] were also victimised by a number of adults who covered up, over and over again, for the sexualised violence and exploitation of the children. Social workers decided that vulnerable teenage girls were more than capable of making their own “choices” about having sex with adult men. These children were raped because society deemed that vulnerable girls weren’t worth worrying about. It was their own fault for being vulnerable in the first place.
What links the crimes of Jimmy Savile, Abdul Aziz and Jeremy Forrest is the simple fact that many, many people colluded with them in committing their offences against children. If it weren’t for the sheer number of people covering up, turning a blind eye and pretending they didn’t know about it, none of these men could have committed the crimes they did. The male right to orgasm is clearly more important than the lives of the children as Roman Polanski and Mike Tyson both know.
I wish I could say that these cases were isolated incidents but they are not; like domestic violence, sexualised violence of children is a daily occurrence. This morning, I woke to discover this article by Julie Birchill about John Peel [and thank you to Leah Hardy for bringing it to my attention]. A quick search of google found very little information on John Peel’s history of child sexual offences [but rather a lot praising him for being a dude]. I think its worth reading much of Burchill’s article:
Peel told the Guardian in 1975. “Girls,” he said to the Sunday Correspondent in 1989, “used to queue up outside oral sex they were particularly keen on, I remember one of my regular customers, as it were, turned out to be 13, though she looked older.”
This was the Sixties. Fleeing America after the authorities quite rightly objected to him having sex with young teenage girls, Peel was joined by his wife, Shirley, a Texan girl, who was 15 when he married her.
Talking to the Correspondent about this young woman, now dead by her own hand, Peel seems strangely censorious: “She fell in with some extremely dodgy people she married three more times after me, and I was the only husband by whom she didn’t have a child.
Scratch a hippie and find a sexist – well into the Seventies, Peel was drooling on about “schoolgirls”, in print and on air, where his Schoolgirl Of The Year competition was quietly laid to rest during punk’s tenure. I always thought the alleged Sexual Revolution of the Sixties was not a bid to advance women’s rights, but rather to block them, to turn back the clock and push the brave new young working woman back to being barefoot and pregnant. Even the appearance approved for hippie women – long skirts, long hair – spoke of an earlier era, before girls raised their skirts and bobbed their hair and went out to earn a living
Knowing of Peel’s rather sticky track record on matters sexual, it seems both wildly inappropriate and somehow totally fitting that his latest venture is the radio critic’s favourite Radio 4 programme, Saturday morning’s Home Truths, which, as its name implies, is a deeply reactionary idea masquerading as a droll, down-to-earth sideswipe.
Home Truths concerns itself with family matters, both bitter and sweet. These may be as unimportant as the reluctance of teenagers to tidy their rooms or as serious as the alleged False Memory Syndrome, but they are linked by one overriding belief: that after all politics, after all ideas, there is the Family. And that the Family, alone of all institutions, is as natural as breathing.
Peel, being middle class, managed to survive the Sixties, and then thrive in the decades that followed. But for the young working class, the road of excess led to madness, alienation and incarceration; and for the girls who got hip to the Sixties slogans about sexual generosity, a joyless shag led to nothing but a council flat and the end of youth before they were entitled to vote.
I don’t blame Peel for changing his mind. But I do blame him for rubbing the nation’s collective nose in the fact that the well-connected can walk on the wild side and return to the fold, whereas the working class need only stray once off the straight and narrow to be trapped in a cul-de-sac of sorrow.
A public schoolboy who calls his children after footballers, a lover of World Music who happily took the Order of the British Empire, a landowner who does commercials for toilet paper and Playstations and yet calls himself a Bennite, a past ‘abuser’ of children who preaches Family Values in excelsis: it is not, as his fans like to say, a wonder that Radio 1 has not sacked him in 30 years. No, in all his patronising, phoney, hypocritical glory, he is Radio 1. Lord Reith would be proud.
Yep, that’s John Peel, national hero, bragging about sexually abusing a vulnerable 13 year old girl. In the world of hypocrisy, there is nothing quite like a right-on, left-wing dude. After all, Bill Wyman was never punished for raping Mandy Smith when she was 14 and, yeah, I’m using the word rape. 14 year olds are not competent to consent to sex with an adult man. The parents of 16 year old Julia Holcomb signed over guardianship of her to Steven Tyler to allow Holcomb to live with him. Her parents FFS.
Until we start holding men accountable for their violent, predatory behaviour, they will continue violating the bodies of children and women. Everyone who conspires to cover up or just refuses to report child sexual abuse should be held accountable for the abuse of those children. I want the MET to investigate every journalist, celebrity and hanger-on coming out of the woodworks to squeal “oh, oh, I knew, I knew that Savile was raping children.”
* I know Jimmy Savile isn’t left-wing. He’s a tory. He’s still one of those hypocrites who think their sexual pleasure is more important than anything else. Ever.