What is there to say? Shocking? Terrible? Those poor girls and women? And boys apparently too.
I don’t need to say all that because everyone else has said it.
A couple of things I will say. They are currently allegations under investigation. That isn’t to say they aren’t true, but that legally they have not been proved.
Quite how they are going to be proved when Jimmy is no doubt turning, spinning, probably laughing in his gold satin-covered coffin in Scarborough cemetery, I have no idea. Perhaps some legal person can enlighten me? But you can hardly take him to court and expect him to defend himself.
Can one prosecute the dead? You certainly can’t libel them. So people are free to say whatever they want about Savile.
Oh and for non-Brits, Jimmy Savile was a British disc jockey, and a TV personality who did charity work, ran marathons, had strange blonde/white hair in a page-boy cut, smoked large cigars, and went on endlessly about his mother ‘The Duchess’. He had no partner which often gave rise to speculation about his sex life, eg was he gay because he wasn’t married? He held numerous honours including an OBE and a knighthood (making him Sir Jimmy Savile).
It’s not 12 months since he died. At the time, the coffin was on display at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds. There was a funeral service in Leeds Cathedral. The following day, the gaudy gold coffin was paraded along the seafront at Scarborough before he was finally buried, wearing a tracksuit, a Help for Heroes wristband, and with a green beret presented to him by the Royal Marines back in the 70s.
Now, he is the bogeyman that everyone loves to hate. Did I like him? No. But I didn’t like Tony Blackburn either. I can’t remember whether I ever spoke to him, but because he’d bought a flat in Scarborough, when I was working on the newspaper there, we would sometimes ring him up to get a quote.
To me, there are a few key and very distinct aspects to this case.
1) There are allegations that Savile abused young women and boys. Or to be more accurate, sexually/indecently assaulted, molested, harassed, and abused them. Those are the least of the potential charges. Other charges could well include rape and paedophilia, especially given the ages of the girls/boys.
2) There are allegations that he abused patients at:
Broadmoor (a high security psychiatric hospital in the UK)
- Stoke Mandeville (specialist rehab and spinal injuries hospital in the UK)
also assaulted girls at Duncroft Approved School (Surrey, UK, now closed)
(See the link at the end for an interesting interview with Louis Theroux where paedophilia is discussed)
3) There were previous inquiries into his alleged sexual abuse, by
a) the BBC and
b) the police.
Over a period of nearly 60 years. There was never enough evidence to take a case any further.
4) According to people who worked at the BBC at the time, there was a culture of sexual abuse, under-age sex ie rape, and general awareness of these crimes that were committed by a number of presenters/TV stars.
5) There has been a huge media jump-on-the-bandwagon since these allegations first came to light. Why would there not be? As I said above, Savile can neither be prosecuted nor sued for libel. They can literally write what they want.
What gripes me about this whole saga is the air of self-righteous sanctimoniousness that seems to be floating around the place.
Bad police, bad BBC, extremely bad Savile. And – this couldn’t possibly happen now could it?
Why not? Celebrities of whatever genre are even more in our faces than they were 20/30/40/50 years ago.
Young people are just as aspirational and perhaps even more desperate than they were back in the Dark Ages, to get somewhere. To be famous. (For fifteen minutes). Women and girls are continuously bombarded with crass messages about the need to be sexy, beautiful, slim but curvy, because you know, women need to be approved of by men and fit those nice stereotypical images.
I know, because I got those messages too 30 or 40 years ago, and sadly for me at the time, the only category I fitted into was slim. Not sexy, not beautiful, and definitely not curvy.
When we feed girls and young women stupid romantic stories about being little princesses, and one day their prince will come .. blah boring blah .. it sits in their subconscious. When we show reality celebrity shows on television or glorify the wife of a footballer because she has achieved a rich and affluent lifestyle, we are reinforcing the old imagery.
We are saying, ‘If you are a young, beautiful and sexy woman – you will get on in life.’ (So long as you don’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement, that is).
There is prostitution on the streets. In brothels. And then, there is socially approved prositution. Sell yourself to the highest bidder. And you aren’t just selling your body, don’t forget your soul and your mind are forfeit too.
The bottom line is that our society continues to objectify women. To treat them as sex objects. And as women, we play up to that. We know no better. It’s our conditioning.
However much our brain kicks in, we wonder if we will be that princess who captivates the heart of a prince? We won’t of course. And the prince may well turn out to be not so nice anyway. Better the frog than the prince.
I’ve been there. I’ve been into the (married) star’s dressing room and was asked to go back to his hotel for sex. (More than once). I didn’t. But – it was a narrow escape. I would have been just another groupie.
It’s time we encouraged our girls and young women to make their own way in life and that doesn’t mean on the back of someone else or on their back. Role models for women should include lawyers, doctors, judges, academics, businesswomen, scientists, accountants, but not a celebrity/showbusiness chattel.
What’s this got to do with the Jimmy Savile case you ask? Fairly obvious I would have thought. It’s not just the BBC management, employees, and the police who are to blame. Let alone the sexual abusers. It’s a much broader issue that has, at its heart, the portrayal of women in our society as something that exists to give men sexual pleasure, but otherwise, is totally irrelevant in life.
That’s one of many reasons women don’t pursue cases of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, indecent assault, and rape. We aren’t taken seriously. And therefore, we don’t take ourselves seriously.
Interesting piece from Joan Bakewell looking at not just Savile but the whole culture at the BBC.
Interview of Jimmy Savile by Louis Theroux.
Police investigations into allegations over the years against Savile