Reading about the grotesquely misogynistic Radio1 culture that fostered Jimmy Savile and other creeps is devastating for any woman. It is particularly grim when it’s so hard on the heels of the Rochdale pimps and rapists scandal. Perhaps the worst thing about it all is that these repellent men were all picking on the most vulnerable girls, those who had nobody to tell, those who would be unlikely to be believed if they did try to tell. A lot of these were girls already troubled and neglected and this made men who like to make themselves feel powerful by having sex with very young, vulnerable people feel able to grab at their bodies and disregard them as human beings.
It is this last aspect of it all that is most appalling. Of course, a girl of fifteen might well find an older man attractive and, though not particularly savoury to me as an idea, might enter a relationship with him. But a relationship is different. There are lots of girls who are pretty adult by 14 or 15 and it doesn’t take much to imagine that some of them might offer themselves completely willingly to a DJ, pop star or football player. The trouble is that they will likely be romanticising the objects of their desire, imagining intimacy, affection and some kind of relationship. It is unlikely that they expect sexual assault, contempt and humiliation.
The tabloids are, of course, leaping all over the Jimmy Savile story, lasciviously detailing the reported allegations of assault, drooling over the minutiae of the alleged attacks and feigning moral outrage at the culture of sexual abuse that seems to have pervaded the whole country at that time (and, let’s face it, this time too – look at Rochdale).
What is so depressing is that when people can, they do. Or, rather, when men can, they do. Having sex with and discarding a string of entirely interchangeable, and so dehumanised, young girls seems to be a horrifically common male fantasy. Humiliating a female who is not their equal gives insecure men kicks. For, of course, it is all about power and hatred.
It is, unfortunately, impossible to isolate this to a couple of sickening old DJs. The tabloids who are so excitedly slapping up pictures of Savile in gold boxer shorts are also running stories about ‘covergirls’ doing a ‘sexy photo shoot’, the comparative cleavages of different females stars, who is wearing the most ‘provocative’ outfit, ‘barely containing her curves’, who, after all, is younger looking and more screwable than whom. We can’t be outraged that men grope young girls when our whole culture is devoted to strapping women into dresses and shoes that pretty much cripple and hobble them and giving marks to the ones most lusted after. Look at the poor X-Factor judges – a couple of besuited men and then two women, infantalised in their appearance and barely able to move in their clothes and THEN judged by millions on how sexy they look.
Our whole culture is abusive towards women, sexualising and objectifying them at a very young age. There is nothing wrong with looking attractive or trying to look attractive but there is an acute problem with what is then done with this – the woman is presented as a disposable commodity, her sexualised appearance completely separated from her personality or, rather, perceived AS her personality.
It would be nice (don’t you think?) if men could refrain from assaulting, leering over and raping young women, whatever the cultural norms of the decade or country but, sadly, not only will they continue to do these things if they can get away with them but our culture actively encourages them to view women in this way.