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to think that some older people dont 'get' why JS et al is so important?

(29 Posts)
boschy Mon 19-Nov-12 14:11:34

My PIL and aged DM came to lunch yesterday - their average age 80. Conversation turned to the BBC, JS, Dave Lee Travis etc, and all 3 oldies were of the opinion that 'in their day' young women were well able to fend off lecherous men, and "everyone knew who was NSIT" (Not Safe In a Taxi) and why couldn't the girls and women 'involved' in the current allegations just have hit back/kneed their attacker in the balls/left to get another job as appropriate. (I did point out of course that many of them were still schoolgirls, below the age of consent, young boys, in residential care, possibly already damaged etc etc).

DD1, 16, and DD2, 13 put up a very spirited defence about how this was an abuse of power, not necessarily about sexuality, and that no girl/young woman/older woman should have to accept any kind of attention they don't want. (I was very proud of them both).

MIL came out with a load of pants about some men just being the cuddly type, and she couldn't understand why everything had taken so long to come out, as if time passed means it wasnt important.

DM admitted that times have changed, and that what was 'ok' in their day is not acceptable now, but I think even she still thinks there is an element of 'men being men'... although as an Irish catholic, she holds a special place in hell for paedophile priests/Magdalene laundries etc, so I guess she is kind of on the right path.

DH and I asked all 3 of them why they thought it would be acceptable for their grand daughters to think this kind of behaviour was the norm, and MIL took great offence and said that girls should know how to fend off unwanted behaviour and that it was a sign of weakness not to be able to do so.

So I guess I am not quite sure what my AIBU question is, but the whole conversation really annoyed me, and I think it is to do with the fact that MIL in particular seems to think it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup...

TroublesomeEx Mon 19-Nov-12 14:17:33

Sadly, I think some people of this generation do think like that.

My mother thinks it's always the girls' fault. Always.

In her eyes, men are simple folk and slaves to their bodies/hormones and if a young/pretty girl will insist on flaunting herself...

It doesn't make it right of course, but my mother can always turn it round to being the victims' fault. It's a very big part of why I no longer have any contact with her.

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Mon 19-Nov-12 14:21:01

I don't believe it's anything to do with being 'older people'. The older people I know are just as disgusted as the rest of of us. I think there are people who make excuses for abusers like this in every generation.

mrskeithrichards Mon 19-Nov-12 14:21:56

I think it all sounds a bit heated for Sunday lunch with elderly parents!

missymoomoomee Mon 19-Nov-12 14:22:10

I know of a situation where a woman found out her 3 children had been abused, years after it happened. She had 2 boys and a girl, within minutes of finding out she said to the girl that she needs to be there for the boys because 'girls always get groped, but boys have the whole gay thing to contend with as well' Fucking vile thing to say, he daughter no longer has anything to do with her.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 19-Nov-12 14:23:02

Maybe they didn't learn much from the conversation but maybe you learned why the problem was so hidden for so long? Forty years ago was another country when it comes to attitudes to young women, dirty old men and taking children seriously. FWIW I think you should tell your DDs it would be OK to kick an assailant in the nuts... as well as expecting to be treated properly at all times of course. Belt and braces.

IFartInYourGeneralDirection Mon 19-Nov-12 14:23:57

Some old people don't get it as some young people don't get it.

Iwillorderthefood Mon 19-Nov-12 14:25:36

I do not think that it necessarily has anything to do with age, my 75 year old mother thinks that the whole thing is disgusting and thanks her lucky stars that she did not let her children write to JS.

KRITIQ Mon 19-Nov-12 14:25:38

I think it can be very difficult when you've grown up with a certain set of values and beliefs to shift those, even when faced with evidence that these were very flawed. Some people find it easier to absorb changes in thinking than others do. It was only a couple of generations ago when rarely would anyone do anything if they suspected a child was being beaten by a parent. These things were "in the family" and you poked your nose out, or at best, tried to do something only in an indirect way. Now, most people would find that head in the sand approach unacceptable.

I think we're perhaps not quite so far along the line of accepting it's not okay to let child sexual abuse happen, or that it was actually never okay for that to happen. I think particularly where it involved abuse of slightly older children, and female children, the old tropes about girls maturing faster than boys, Lolitas seducing unsuspecting older men and that still pervasive idea that women do have a responsibility to do things so that men won't rape them hmm comes into play. I can't say it's only older people who believe some of these things, and use them as arguments to make what adult abusers in the past did seem "not quite so bad."

Another possible reason (impossible to say, not knowing the experiences of the women you cite,) is that there are a helluva lot of adult women (and some men) who are survivors of child sexual abuse. Most never saw their abusers held to account. Actually, few reported what happened or perhaps even saw what happened to them as abuse. It was either one of those things that just "happened" if you were an unlucky girl in such and such situation, or they absorbed the message (which abusers and society STILL tries to push) that they were actually partly if not wholly to blame.

So, if a person is carrying that load with them, they may be less likely to feel sympathy for other people who have experienced abuse. It's the, "well, I dealt with it, why can't you?" sort of way of rationalising it all. Just a thought. Sad, but sometimes it happens.

boschy Mon 19-Nov-12 14:26:24

cogito I think you are right, forty years ago was indeed another country. Neither of my girls would have any problem with a knee to the nuts!!

mrskeithrichards yes it was a bit heated, but it was better than talking about the latest holiday the PIL had been on for the 3rd time in an hour...

diddl Mon 19-Nov-12 14:28:48

I wonder if it´s more getting their head around the scale of the cover up?

I´m 5ft "tall" & when younger hovered around 45kgs-in any century that didn´t give me much chance of fending anyone off!

I do think attitudes are different-although I don´t think that underage sex/rape has ever been acceptable, has it?

But I think/hope that girls/women feel more able to speak out without feeling ashamed/to blame these days.

TroublesomeEx Mon 19-Nov-12 14:34:04

Not 'acceptable' as such, but certainly I grew up with the message that it was something that girls enabled men to do to them.

TroublesomeEx Mon 19-Nov-12 14:35:15

In fact, when I was at school (in sixth form) I participated in some training targeted at the girls around making ourselves less vulnerable to sexual attacks.

There was nothing for the boys about not doing it in the first place.

fatlazymummy Mon 19-Nov-12 14:35:24

To address a point kritiq makes.I think there is a difference between those who have been abused and those who haven't,but I think it goes the other way.
Those who have never suffered abuse themselves are more likely to brush it off,or not believe it,because it isn't part of their reality. They are the ones who say that they should have reported it at the time, because to their minds abuse is something purely physical. They don't realise or understand how it affects the victim mentally.
Those are just my observations,and of course I'm sure there are no hard and fast rules. Everyone is different of course.

shoppingbagsundereyes Mon 19-Nov-12 14:35:49

My mum the other day when I was talking about JS said angrily ' you can't tell me Harry Stiles checks the birth certificates of all the groupies he sleeps with, can you?'. She couldn't see that 15 yr olds who may or may not have consensual sex with Harry Stiles and other teen boys are in a very different situation from 12 yr olds from care homes who were raped by a 60/70/80 yr old man.
She is convinced all the JS stuff is either a harmless pat on the bottom or groupies who change their mind decades later.

Mandy2003 Mon 19-Nov-12 14:39:23

I work with a lady who's well over 70 and a man who volunteers with us sometimes is 80-ish, a paid up member of the "wandering hands in the workplace" tribe. Has not tried it with me though.

The lady mentioned trouble she's had with him, verbal only luckily, and I said to her that I expected 40-50 years ago that sort of comment was common and/or accepted in the workplace.

She said "No it wasn't." Which surprised me. This was before all the JS stuff btw.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Mon 19-Nov-12 14:42:17

Your OP surprised me. I was expecting you to relate a lot of victim-blaming, minimising, "men will be men", suspicion of the motives of the people speaking out etc, and there is some of that.

But there is also the stuff about young women "in their day" feeling able to fend off lecherous men, up to and including kneeing them in the bollocks. Which, if true, is a bit more enlightened than I would have expected. Some women today - fully grown, not vulnerable in any easily definable way - still don't feel able to do that.

Sp at least they have some grasp of what boundaries women should be allowed to set, even if they seem to have zero appreciation of sexual power politics or the particular challenges faced by children/vulnerable adults.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 19-Nov-12 14:57:49

It is difficult.

I don't know quite what to make of this, but it's relevant, so excuse me an anecdote. My gran was very ill with brain cancer, which had many effects including meaning that she was much less 'guarded' and would often tell me things I'm quite sure she would not normally have told me (of course, she was dying and that may have made a difference too). When I was growing up she was very prim and proper, and would never mention sex. But when she was dying, she spoke about sexual assaults. I am sure she would never had told me these things if she'd not been ill. When she was well, she was always the type to insist that girls should be 'nice', for example being very sniffy when I wore jeans not skirts. She was terribly worried - and scathing - about women using the internet 'because you don't know what man you're talking to'. But I realized that actually she had buried quite deep an experience she found really horrible. The only way she knew to block that out, the only way that was given to her by society, was to talk about what 'girls' should do, not what men might do.

I don't know if that's the same for other people of her generation, but I do wonder.

TheSmallClanger Mon 19-Nov-12 15:08:32

A lot of good points have been made here, especially by kritiq.

I think there is a certain sort of older woman, who has maybe had opportunities denied to her due to the times in which she lives, who takes this resentment out on younger women, because she is unable to seek redress from the people/men who did it to her.

Equally, there is another sort of older, elderly now, woman, who is also the product of her time: the women who served in the Forces and the Land Army and the factories, who had to toughen up because they didn't have a choice. They are some of the feistiest old ladies you'll meet, but because they've lived with it for so long, they take their attitude for granted.

mamamibbo Mon 19-Nov-12 15:12:22

i, as a 24 year old woman couldnt fend a man off when he groped me so i understand, its not about how strong you are physically at all, its mentally, being terrified paralyses you and it is terrifying sad

boschy Mon 19-Nov-12 15:17:23

Yes I think there is definitely the attitude that a bit of groping is to be expected, any man worth his salt would try it and any girl worth hers would put him in his place, either metaphorically or physically.

What I found so interesting is that my girls were so categorically not prepared to take any kind of shit - and I think education at school has played a big part in that. PHSE lessons etc all seem to underline that personal space is just that, and that children/teens nowadays have the right to speak out and to expect to be heard. (obviously its something we endorse at home, but they live pretty sheltered lives in comparison to many of their peers although we talk about anything and everything under the sun and really always have done ever since they were tiny).

EldritchCleavage Mon 19-Nov-12 15:22:25

Well my parents are in that age group and don't think like that at all. Nor did my grandmother or great aunt, and they were born at the end of the 19th century.

I'm afraid I don't let people off the wrongness of this kind of thinking on generational grounds, though I recognise this kind of misogyny and excusing of sexual violence was more prevalent years ago.

worldgonecrazy Mon 19-Nov-12 15:31:54

I think you need to separate out DLT and JS. JS is alleged to have abused vulnerable young adults and children, who had no chance of fighting back. DLT is alleged to have assaulted grown women. Whilst both things are horrible, JS's behaviour is off the scale compared to DLTs.

I fear that bringing DLT's name and actions into it will muddy the waters and detract from the horrific nature of JS's attacks. DLTs sense of entitlement if he did jiggle a woman's boobs without her permission, is pretty awful. However, it is nowhere near as awful as raping a mentally and physically disabled child. Grouping the two together will lead many to the "storm in a teacup" mentality, and that is wrong.

VoiceofUnreason Mon 19-Nov-12 15:34:19

Groping was undoubtedly more prevalent in the 60s and 70s than it is now. You only have to watch a lot of dramas made then to see it was commonplace for men to give a woman a pat on the bum and nothing thought of it.

I do wonder if there is a generational aspect to it. I was discussing the DLT arrest - he's yet to be charged and it relates to two grown women as opposed to children and (if he is to be believed) a grope - with some people of his age at the weekend. To a person, they all said that that sort of thing happened all the time then and it was really thought little of, if it was "merely" a grope. What they had difficulty with was why these women had taken 30 years to make a complaint. Even if they couldn't fight him off, they could complain.

DappyHays Mon 19-Nov-12 15:39:02

JS abused kids who lay unable to move in hospital beds. They had not one single chance of fighting him off. This was witnessed by adult patients in other beds and done with the knowledge of the staff. It is that simple. It is that disgusting. It is that unforgiveable.

My DM isn't an old dear but a rather young 58 but her attitude towards these things stinks. She thinks lots of 14 year olds look 21 so it isn't the blokes' fault etc. This was said in reference to that maths teacher who fecked off to France with his pupil...Jeremy Forest. I bet Jeremy Forest feels that Jim fixed it for him to get off the front pages of the papers.

It is all grim.

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