The Jimmy Savile child sex scandal is widening in Britain dragging in more and more personalities from the music industry of old. This has got me thinking about society's abhorrence and social panic about adult men having a physical relationship with a teenage girl. We read of the British school teacher who ran off with his 15-year-old student, a German politician whose career was ruined by his affair with a 16-year-old and of course Berlusconi with his 'bunga bunga' parties with young girls.
These men are animals. Right? Perverts with no moral sense at all. Right? Paedophiles. Right? The girls, innocent victims with no way of knowing that they were being taken advantage of. Right?
Well, that's what the media are telling us.
But - if I may be the devil's advocate for a moment. Have you met teenage girls? Have you been one? I have and I know that I was fantasizing about sex from about the age of thirteen. It was all my friends and I could talk about and we weren't fantasizing about our pimply, gangly school-boy mates.
At 14 I was dreaming of getting horizontal with Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton and Sting. Possibly all at once. These guys were more than double my age. At the age of 15 I successfully seduced my first rock-star and adopted the secret life of a groupie for the rest of my teenage years, chasing INXS and Duran Duran and just about anyone else who was top of the pops. I was predatory, 'collecting lovers like butterflies.' The truth is that back in the late seventies and early eighties the 'school-girl' thing was a big drawcard. Now, as an older, wiser woman, I find this distasteful and just plain wrong but I know some of that is driven by my ageing ego.
Lori Maddox, a famous teenage groupie from LA, is alleged to have lost her virginity to David Bowie at the age of 13. She was Jimmy Page's steady girlfriend while still underage. And then there's the Rolling Stone who gathered no moss because moss takes too long to grow, who hooked up with Mandy Smith when she was 14! Elvis started playing with Priscilla while she was still a young schoolgirl.
Some girls do develop a sexual identity before others and it doesn't always fit nicely with the current legislation that controls that area of her life. The age of consent varies around the globe: In Japan it's 13 for a girl. In Australia it's 16. In Tunisia - 20. For male homosexuals the age is usually much higher. Does that mean that human sexuality develops differently for girls according to their geographical location or that gay people mature more slowly?
The local newspaper back then, was happy to publish 16 and 17-year-old bikini models on page three. The media promoted the teenage girl as the ideal and it still does. Idiots like Benny Hill had stupid television shows where blokes ran around chasing buxom blondes in sexy school uniforms.
There is a world of difference between a paedophile who grooms and targets young children for sexual abuse and a young man who is seduced by a young girl with casual sex on her mind. And it is an important distinction to make; a shade of grey that needs to be understood.
While the media rustles up a storm of indignant horror at the men who have been accused of fooling around with young girls back in the seventies, they would do well to remember that by definition Bill Wyman, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others - could by strict definition - be accused of child sex crimes.
Back in the day teenage groupie sex was epidemic. It was the fuel that drove rock and roll. It is not in the same category as the Belgian paedophile rings or the systemic abuse of children by Catholic priests. It just isn't.
Celebrities get targeted by wanton teenage girls. I know, because I've been the hunter.
My teenage experiences were not rape. I am in a position to be able to differentiate between the two. They are poles apart. But even consensual under-age sex is considered an offence, even if it is between two experimental teenagers. I knew what I was doing at 15 and by 17 I had learned some hard lessons, crossed some lines and learned to pitch my own boundaries. I believed I had the right to say 'yes' as well as 'no'.
Max Clifford, one of the world's top publicists (from The Beatles to Simon Cowell) was arrested this week in this latest hunt for child sex offenders from the seventies and even earlier, in the British music industry. He denies any wrong doing.
"All kinds of things went on - and I do mean young girls throwing themselves at them in the dressing rooms at concert halls, at gigs, whatever. They never asked for anybody's birth- certificate and they were young lads..." he has said.
I do not make excuses for any genuine abuse and/or rape that these men might be guilty of. Children, women and men, young and old, should be protected from unwanted sexual attention.
I simply hope to present a balanced perspective on this issue.
We are products of our society. The one I live in now is very different from the one I lived in as a young girl. It's very hard to judge past behaviours through a modern-day lens.
Retrospective justice is not necessarily 'just'.
We used to drive without seatbelts! It was dangerous. But armed with that knowledge now, should we hunt down every bare-back driver from three decades ago, lock them up and throw away the key? These men may have done wrong, but I want to be one of the girls who stands up and says - quite unashamedly - that I accept responsibility for my own part in that behaviour.
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