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Ripon, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Gary Dolman was born in the industrial north east of England in the 1960s, but grew up in Harrogate in Yorkshire, where he now lives with his wife, three children and dogs. His writing reflects his fascination by the dark places of the human mind.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Top Hats and Track Suits

The single biggest news item in the UK at the moment is probably the allegation that a National treasure; Sir Jimmy Savil abused scores of underage girls over several decades before his death.

Many of his alleged victims are coming forward now to describe their experiences.

But why, many ask, are these victims coming out now, after his death, when he cannot defend himself against their accusations or indeed suffer punishment if found guilty.

The answer psychologists, and many of the victims themselves give, is that they were simply too frightened to. They feared that their word would not be believed against that of a great and charismatic philanthropist such as Savil. They perceived him as being a great and powerful man, with wealth and therefore access to the very best legal representation.

Now that he is dead, there is no one to disbelieve them and the numbers of other women...and now men coming forward corroborates their own memory and provides safety in numbers from a public opinion still influenced by fond memory.

Savil was an enigma: Eccentric, yes; charismatic, certainly and undeniably a great philanthropist. Yet it seems now that he was also a monster.

If we struggle to marry those opposites in our minds, how must he have fared? Did he do his many good works to compensate for his bad? Did he genuinely believe that he was not really hurting anybody, or that his victims were actually enjoying it? Or were the alleged rapes and assaults the products of episodic madness?

My own feeling is that his power had corrupted him. (See my previous blog.) He regarded the girls as nothing more than playthings, objects to be toyed with at will.

It was the same in the Nineteenth Century during what came to be known as the Defloration Mania. Gentlemen saw young girls as pretty toys to be used and abused at will. They themselves were rich and powerful and effectively above the law. They were the very pillars of society and any attack on them was an attack on society itself. In Great Britain, the leading nation of the world, that would never do.

When the Defloration Mania was finally exposed by the journalist WT Stead amongst others, an outraged public was shocked to see that monsters might dress in waistcoats and fine linen. We today are shocked that they might also wear glittering tracksuits.  

1 comment:

  1. So, after leaving you all hanging with the mother of all scheduling dilemmas (and I just know you've been on tenterhooks waiting for news on both fronts), followed by my long radio silence, it would probably be easy for you to assume everything went disastrously belly up, nothing worked out, and that's why I've been so quiet and sad. Chandals