Friday, December 2, 2016

A Conflict Of Priority.

There are some things that are now so politically sensitive that  it is almost impossible to voice an opinion without somebody accusing you of some ism or other.

There is the sadly commonplace issue of what to call that day that happens on the 25th of December. You know Santa, drunkenness, presents  .. and oh yes, it is to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus if you are a Christian. And a celebration of being nice to people if you are not. It was a pagan festival in Europe long before Christianity came along. It was the turn of the deep winter and those lucky enough to survive it celebrated.

I was talking to a Muslim friend this week, and he starting going on about how much he hates Christmas. Because he says  his non-Muslim friends suddenly become very tongue tied round him wishing him a err ‘happy holiday’. He was taken into side room at work and asked if he wanted to take part in the Christmas lucky dip or not.  ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ he asked, ‘I do work here and it is office tradition.’ His kids get very upset as everyone else is talking about what they are getting from Santa but nobody asks them, and make a very politically correct point of not asking them. It’s a sad state of affairs when kids are left out of anything, especially Christmas. His kids know that it’s a Christian tradition and that they do their own thing at other times of the year.  It’s about being happy and showing appreciation for friends and loved ones, which is the same in every language I am sure.

And then there was the more prickly issue last week, some professional footballers spoke out about the sexual abuse they had suffered as youngsters. I have no issue with that at all, and well done to them for speaking out but it was the first item on the news . The second item was the death of a two year old child at the hands of his 'parents'. Am I the only person in the world who thinks it is the wrong way round. There is a huge moral panic in this country about sexual abuse, it is now the territory of the moral stormtrooper, but it is not new it has been going on since time began and maybe the human race should realise that.

As a crime, and it absolutely is a crime, it can fuel all sorts of other criminal activity including human trafficking and murder. It is pushed so far into the extreme of something unspeakable that is simply goes more underground. Could there be a better way of dealing with it? Some kind of amnesty? I mean where do you go if you are an adult who realises they have a genuine sexual attraction to children? Can you go to your doctor and ask for help or does that get you placed on a register? A register that might be leaked to the press by a do gooder with a freedom of information issue? There was a famous case down south where a house was set on fire because the arsonists were so stupid they could not tell the difference between a paedophile and a paediatrician. And there were children in the house at the time of the fire. 

The mob mentality is alive and well. 

I treat many patients who have ‘survived childhood sexual abuse’, and just note that well know phrase 'survived'. I would say that 50% of them have come to terms with it, rational enough to know it was nothing to do with them, it was the abuser. And they have good counselling to understand why the abuser did it. They grow up to be sensible people with maybe just a tendency to keep a very close eye on their own children. 

Other survivors, to be honest, let the abuse define them and everything that goes wrong in their life is down to the abuse and sooner or later that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Even one of the very successful footballers revealed that he turned to drink and drugs during his career due to the abuse he suffered as a youth.

The victim, any victim should never ever let the power be the possession of the abuser. That line of thinking only damages an innocent victim even more. So I am concerned that there now seems to be a growing assumption that if you have been abused as a child then the rest of your life should be scarred by that abuse. And some abuse survivors have said to me that they feel quite guilty that they do not feel that way, and they then start wondering if there is something wrong with them.
The recent headlines covering Operation Yewtree where victims were reporting historic abuse 40 or 50 years ago by celebrities who were either dead or already in jail, seems to me to be a poison chalice. Instead of pursuing those already in jail or already passed away for each new abuse claim ( 840 have come through on the helpline since the footballer went on the TV yesterday )surely the  resources should be directed into counselling or, maybe more importantly, to try and address the internationally organised abuse that is going on today. Even as I type this, there are atrocities being committed on children in this society and they have a chance of being saved. 

The German system seems to have  a better take on it – there is no burden of proof for a criminal case, both parties are asked to come to the table and have counselling. In the end sometimes they meet and that can be a very healing process  because at the end of the day it often turns out that they were both victims. Not always so but it might be a start.

And what of society as a whole? Two things are obvious. The most sexually attractive woman, according to the media, is now child like – stick thin, hairless, big eyed with petite facial features. Previous societies have regarded age as wisdom but not us.
And then there is the general sexualisation of general that goes on and we almost accept it without noticing. There is the odd moral outcry when a clothing store markets a bikini for a 5 year old but one look at the magazines children read tell a different story. Don’t even get me started on beauty pageants ...... false eyelashes, fake tan, full make up and, I do believe the term is, a stripper dress.
So while all that is going on the newsfeed is coming through that a mother has just pleaded guilty to drugging her own daughter with sedatives so that she could spend more time with her boyfriend. The mum is in court as the little girl, 4 years old, died due to the drug interaction.

In every species there is a strong instinct to protect the young, can’t help thinking we might be losing that in amongst the political correctness. Some straight talking required I think. 

Caro Ramsay  02 12 2016


  1. Caro, you bring up such an important and fraught question. Both my husbands and my closest male friend of fifty-two years were all sexually abused as children. One of them was a pretty crazy adult. The other two grew up to become exemplary men in every way. Though the two true survivors never lost all the guilt and shame they felt.

    I think it's a good thing that society is bringing the issue out in the open, but you cogently raise a very important subject. How much of all this discussion is voyeurism? And how much do the trends of fashion and popular culture turn children, especially too-young girls, into sex objects? As a species, we seem to be enormously screwed up on the subject of sex. I believe that the subjugation of women and male dominance--which is asserting itself just now world wide--is the moving force behind it.

  2. I don't know how I missed commenting on this yesterday, for I read it transfixed. I guess with all the planes and pains of yesterday's traveling I neglected to tinker with the keys on the iPhone. Then again, what is there to say?

    So much of what has come out is simply numbing to the senses. It's as if the very foundations of our institutions...from the purported safe haven of homes through our schools, methods of worship, governments...have conspired at offering up our society's most vulnerable as prey. And then cometh johnny-late-on-the-spot media. Trying to redeem itself but soon too often yielding to the ever present ratings/advertising gods, and neglecting the purpose to be gleaned from what first brought on the rage: protect the vulnerable from the abusers.

    It is a syndrome repeated over and over in so many situations. I don't know the solution, but I can hope and cheer and try to make my little part of the pond safer for those and what I care about.

  3. Indeed Jeff, there is a lot to be said for good old fashioned keeping an eye on folk. And, he other side of the coin is that genuine people who like kids are now under constant scrutiny. There was an old guy who lived on the corner where I grew up, we were always in his garden, helping to depod the peas, trowelling out weeds. Later I found out his own grandkids were in OZ, at a time when a long distance phone call cost a fortune.