Thursday, 25 October 2012

Savile, the stars, and young flesh

Plenty has been said about the late Jimmy Savile, the BBC and who knew what when.  Much hypocrisy has been engaged in.  But it's really quite simple.  Savile liked young flesh, when he could get it.  Anyone who knew him personally knew that.  I worked at the BBC from 1984 to 1997, nowhere near the Jim'll Fix It studios, ,and I heard the rumours.  I heard that there always had to be a chaperone present when Savile and girls in their early teens were in the studio.  Well, shouldn't there always have been?  I modelled a bit when I was a child, and there was always a chaperone there.  My son acted and modelled as a child, and there was always a chaperone there.  The chaperones had to be there because everyone knew what men might do to children who had no-one there to protect them. Savile cultivated an utterly eccentric image and bawled his catchphrases so that nobody could see his real face.  It's that simple.

Savile wasn't a paedophile.  No more was Wilfrid Brambell, who was known to be similarly inclined (and who cultivated the image of a leering, dirty old man because - that was what he was.  Clever.)  Those two just liked them young.  Young, but post puberty.  Gary Glitter, now, I think he likes them younger than that.  He went to South-East Asia, where the girls look younger than they do in the West, and where puberty happens later.  And he emerged on to the scene a bit later, when there was less tolerance of such behaviour, so he is now disgraced, as Savile and Brambell were not in their lifetimes. Jonathan King, of course, did not get away with it.  He went to prison in 2001.  But he liked boys, not girls.

I was a teenager from 1967 to 1974.  I was groped, fondled and molested many times.  It happened routinely.  A friend of  your father's giving you a lift home, a man on a bus, a hand up your skirt in a crowded place, nothing out of the ordinary there. I didn't like it, but I learned to deal with it, and I don't consider myself to have been abused. It didn't happen to me so much after I was about 15 - I looked more like a grown woman by then.  And besides, I was going out with boys by then.  Which was a whole other minefield.  You had to let them do enough so you weren't a prick-tease, and not enough to get you called easy.  How glad I am those days are (more or less) gone.  My daughter has been able to have easy friendships with boys in a way that I rarely could back then.  If you were friendly with a boy people assumed it was sexual.  Not any more.

So, that was the culture.  Savile got away with it because men in positions of power could.  Savile protected himself by focusing on young girls who were vulnerable, who did not have parents around protecting them.  The BBC isn't particularly at fault here.  It's wrong to single it out when everywhere was the same.  All that has happened is that conduct like this is now disapproved of.  Rightly.  To prey upon young girls who are not yet used to their own sexuality, who are susceptible, as all young girls are, to flattery and being told they are attractive, is despicable.  But when men could routinely get away with it, they did it.  Not just TV stars  Not just Jimmy Savile.  Ordinary men everywhere.  Men like your dad, behaving despicably.  And the girls, if they got more than a passing grope, were silly little sluts who deserved what they got.

Young flesh is still a commodity, around the world.  It shouldn't be, but it is.

I would only say that preying upon young girls is not paedophilia.  Abusing children is different from, and worse than, what Savile did.  And there is a danger, in this situation in which the BBC is tying itself in knots, of forgetting that.  Human sexuality is not simple.  But knowing what is right and what is wrong is simple.  Though never easy.


Anonymous said...

My husband worked for a time as a DJ with Radio One and knew a lot of those people ( Emperor Rosko, Diddy David Hamilton, DLT etc) although not Savile. He has always said that there were rumours about Jummy Savile.

In terms of those days - I didn't have the gropes on the bus or treatment from friends of father etc. Lots of people had sex in their teens ( usually 5th/6th form) but the the pill etc was readily available and there was no stigma.There was more stigma about failign your A levels and re-sitting. Rightly so. Or liking teh gross Tamla Mowtown music intstead of 'heavy' music.

In many ways, I think there is much worse pressure on young girls nowadays than in those GOOD days.We weren't exposed to pressure by teenage boys to send phone pics of ourselves in obscene poses - there was no sexting - there was no risk of being filmed and flashed all over the internet. I think it is worse now - much worse. Then, I suppose, sex was a handshake. I am not talking about age-differentiated sex - just sex. You found out whether or not you were sexually compatible - if not, no probs. Just move on. It took the 'big deal' out of it. It is all big deal again today - with vajazaling; 'lady gardens' etc. Girls expected to have brazilians and look like porn stars. Things were better then.Give me Woodstock any day. You don't knwo what you've got till it's gone

Anonymous said...

'I would only say that preying upon young girls is not paedophilia. Abusing children is different from, and worse than, what Savile did.'

Do you really mean this? The law, and most right thinking people take a rather different view.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But when can we be certain a complaint is real. I doubt it is so in thi case but in the past there have been malicious complaints that were thrown out of court afterreputaions were damaged.

Jane Griffiths said...

that's right in terms of the increased opportunities for harassment and bullying - but I still think that things are better now. Also that Tamla Motown is fab, and when i was in my teens I never listened to it, and vocally dissed it, because of how I identified myself. A pity.

Jane Griffiths said...

anon 1244 yes I do mean it

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I do wonder whether abusing a lot of young teenage girls once each is so much worse than abusing one or maybe two young girls many times over a number of years. Both are wrong.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they are better. I would have huge body worries now that were not relevant then.

Just look at the fact that Rachel Johnson's 14 year old daughter ahs felt obliegd to go in for brazilian waxing? Liek most fo ehr classmates?

This would not haev happened then at all. Never even thought about. Today, girls cut themselves and ask for vaginal plastic 'beautifying' surgery. This is sick and ill.

We have come backwards not forwards.Women are more subjugated sexually than in the early 1970s And it is seriously sick.

Anonymous said...

Jane - at last some common sense. I have felt, as wrong as Savile's activities were, that we are heading into another round of hysteria and false allegations against others

And quite right to point out that Jonathan King was treated differently because he liked boys - who would have largely been above today's age of consent

Jane Griffiths said...

quite right about the body issues which were not around then. I worry for my granddaughter, who is almost five.

Anonymous said...

I understand the technical term for people who fancy teenagers is actually "hebephile" (or in terms of fancying people in their late teens, which is legal in Britain, "ephebophile").

What Savile and his ilk did is appalling and deserves to be punished but you are quite right that those who molest little kids are in a seriously different league. This is actually largely reflected in law (under 13 far more serious).

Good point too about Jonathan King. I am also annoyed that some of the evidence used against Peter Morrison was that he liked 16 y-o boys. Well that would be perfectly legal now. The gay age of consent until as recently as 1994 was the truly barmy 21.