British police are about to investigate the alleged abusive sexual assaults (40 complaints so far) on some young women who came into contact with the fundraiser and broadcaster, Sir Jimmy Savile, at the height of his fame in the 60s and 70s. The sad fact is that he is dead and we are only hearing one side of the story. We can never hear his side, so any investigation will always lack that balance. But there are distinct patterns to the stories told by each of the abused women in the ITV documentary, and it's patterns that indicate behaviour, character and personality.
The Savile scandal is indicative of four main elements, which have their echoes right now in our modern society, despite the fact that Jimmy might have preyed on his teenage targets over 25 years ago. We can see the most important element reflected in the Megan Stammers debacle with her teacher. But that is for later.
All the affected women's stories, told independently, bear out the following key aspects:
1. Jimmy Savile simply used young girls for his pleasure. They meant nothing to him in the scheme of things except for sexual gratification. They all said there was no kind of emotional reaction toward them from him. It was all about him and his needs. This was a man who was clearly emotionally repressed, or retarded, for whom the real and genuine appreciation of any woman would have been alien to him. He appeared to have little self love, so how could he show real love to others?
This lack of self love was masked by a superficial 'love' of others in raising money for good causes as well as the way he always went on about his closeness to his mother. But if he abused the very people he was trying to help, that showed more contempt than love, especially for women, and was the biggest pointer in his insincere approach to people. In time, his fundraising came to justify the abuse he was doing to youngsters, both in his own eyes and the male dominated society that shielded him. So long as he kept the money rolling in, it didn't matter what vulnerable disadvantaged children, who trusted him implicitly, were being exposed to. Society, including the media, colluded to keep the money bandwagon rolling because, obviously, the ends justified the means.
The Effect of Cultural Differences
2. When we are tempted to self righteously ask why people from that time did nothing about it, forthright broadcaster Janet Street-Porter on 'Question Time' gave the best answer so far to such unmerited scapegoating. She reminded us that when she was a child and was 'molested' by her hairdresser and when she told her mother about it, her parent did even hit her into the bargain. That was the nature of the times we lived in: a strongly male dominated environment where women were seen and not heard, where people couldn't handle sexual issues and so lived in denial about them. And if the women were heard, and it was negative, it was all their fault. They asked for it. Hence whatever MEN turned a blind eye to, carried on anyway, because only men had the power to change things and they did it only when it affected their own interests. That is why domestic abuse was so rife too because no police at the time would interfere. It was seen as a man's 'right' to beat his partner.
That was the background to Jimmy Savile's Britain and we mustn't be tempted to put today's indignation onto past cultural behaviour. We have to see such behaviour in the context of the time. Nothing was done about Savile's predilections because women had few rights, celebrities were hero-worshipped without the scepticism of today, and his fame, charity work and connections protected him from the approbation ordinary mortals might have received. We have evolved a long way since then with our technological society where women are almost on par with men, and paedophilia has been recognised for the damaging emotional consequences it carries for victims. But there was no such equality or care back then. And that's an important point people looking for scapegoats need to bear in mind. We are trying to merge two very different societies emotionally when they carried different mores and expectations. http://entertainment.stv.tv/blogs/193357-jimmy-saville-scandal-show-how-rosy-the-old-days-really-were/
3. However, the reason why those girls flocked to Jimmy Savile has not changed at all down the years: the power of fame and celebrity to draw vulnerable, loveless people who cluster like moths to a flame. Every one of us in life desires four things as a matter of course, what I call my SAVI concept: Significance, Appreciation, Value, and Inclusion. To the girls who were drawn into Savile's evil web, he offered all of those on a larger than life scale. Here was a man who was way out of their league, known for his good works, who was treating them in such a special way: making them feel valued, significant and included in his life. That would have been heady stuff for them. And that's exactly what also happened to 15 year old Megan Stammers who ran away with her 30 year old teacher, Jeremy Forrest, a week ago right now in 2012.
She was being treated as someone of real significance, someone being wanted and valued, that would have been especially poignant if she wasn't feeling like that before - and she wasn't, according to her Facebook page. Wrong or right, she was going to bask in his attention and value of her and grab it with both hands. He did not abduct her. She went of her own free will because she liked the feeling of being special, being valued and appreciated, and so did he. The fact that he should have known better, being the older adult AND her teacher is of little consequence in view of the single most important reason for those girls' actions: a chronic lack of self love.
The Role of Self Love in Life
4. Megan Stammers wrote that she felt 'self loathing'. At 15 years old she couldn't stand herself. She felt undervalued and excluded. Her teacher, Jeremy, sounded excluded and undervalued too in his marriage. He should have known better as the adult to not encourage a vulnerable girl to be romantically involved with him, especially when he was in a position of authority AND was married too. But his own negative feelings and need to feel appreciated and valued found someone who provided it for him, regardless of her age. She too found someone who made her feel better about herself. Bingo! Act first and damn the consequences, which showed his own immaturity.
The tragedy about this situation is that they are treating the teacher like a criminal. But he is not. As a former education manager myself, I can clearly see that he acted inappropriately to suit his position. No one knows if they have had sex to break the law. That's a different matter. But he did not abduct her. He behaved foolishly through the 'love' he thought he felt for Megan, without taking her age into account. That kind of behaviour deserves a different approach in punishment.
We cannot solve today's problems by using yesterday's mindset and yesterday's tools, and with kids who are even more savvy, sophisticated and mature. It really isn't just punishment that is required in this sad case. The biggest thing that needs to be explored in our society is the role of self love in our relationships with others. A lack of self love is at the root of many crimes, carried out by people who loathe themselves and who prefer to take out that loathing on society instead through deviant deeds. Someone has to pay for such awful feelings hence the type of often brutal crimes being committed.
The girls that Saville might have abused and Megan Stammers all share one thing: a desire to belong, to be treated special and to be loved. Unless that fact is recognised as a starting point for changing behaviour and protecting young girls by boosting their self esteem, confidence and self love, we will still be getting the same results, and still wringing our hands in false indignation, another 40 years from now!
The saddest part of these stories, especially of the women abused by Savile, is that a lot of attention is being put on an investigation. That's all right for the purpose it might achieve as a deterrent to others. But the focus now needs to be put on helping those women with their emotional issues which would have dogged them since they were abused. The experience would have dramatically changed their perception of themselves and others. It was very clear that one of the women is still suffering from its effects in the way she looked and how she regarded herself. Their emotional welfare should now be the priority above everything else.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2012
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Happiness is a state of being. We are the ones who decide whether we wish to be happy or not, by the script we use inside our heads."