Germaine Greer’s apologia for child abusePosted: June 27, 2014
The following article was written by Germaine Greer following the jailing for 15 months of Helen Goddard, a trumpet teacher at City of London School for Girls, for the sexual abuse of a girl who she had groomed and exploited between the ages of 13 and 15, followed by another anonymous article which was printed alongside it. Greer is also the author of a pederastic book The Boy (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003), and once proudly told the Sydney Morning Herald that ‘A woman of taste is a pederast – boys rather than men’ (see Greer in interview with Andrew Denton, September 15th, 2003).
I leave it for people to arrive at their own conclusions.
The Times (London)
September 23rd, 2009
‘Jazz Lady’s affair was foolish not evil; Falling for a minor is not evidence of perversion or vileness, says Germaine Greer’
Once upon a time I met a 35-year-old woman who told me that, when she was still very young, she destroyed her life. She was a precocious, lonely little girl living in a very small and isolated community. Her best, indeed, her only friend was her young uncle. They spent far too much time together unsupervised and gradually their relationship became intimate.
When it was time for her to go away to boarding school, she missed her uncle so much that she cried herself to sleep every night. A friend begged to know why she was crying and eventually she told her. The friend told a teacher, the teacher told the head. The police and the care workers rushed in and for months she was pressured, day-in day-out, to admit that her uncle had abused her. As long as she refused to incriminate him, she was treated as if she was both mad and bad. At last, during yet another interminable interview from yet another child care professional, she broke down and said what they wanted to hear.
Her uncle was arrested, vilified and found guilty of a slew of heinous crimes and jailed for many years. She never forgave herself.
He was the love of her life and she betrayed him. That is her story as she told it to me. Her whole life had been corroded by guilt. Self-esteem was beyond her reach.
So how old was she? How old was he? I don’t know and I don’t very much care. I know I’m supposed to care. I’m supposed to think that falling in love with people under the legal age of consent is evidence of deep perversion and vileness, but I don’t.
Young people shouldn’t fall in love, you wish they wouldn’t, and yet they do, very often with someone rather older than they. The results are nearly always catastrophic, whether the love is returned or denied. When an old friend of mine was still a schoolboy, he climbed into the bed of his guardian, who he adored. His appalled guardian threw him out of the house. He swallowed rat-poison.
I’m not supposed to talk about Helen Goddard’s victim as her lover. She’s not supposed to be capable of being anybody’s lover. She’s still not 16. She has tried to take the blame, she had admitted that it was she who first kissed Goddard, but it makes no odds. As a 15-year-old she was incapable of consent, let alone of seduction.
In Shakespeare’s play of star-crossed love, we are told repeatedly that Juliet is 14. We don’t know how old Romeo is. There’s nothing to say he isn’t 27, like Helen Goddard.
Yet it is Juliet who instigates the affair and precipitates the clandestine marriage and its consummation. And as for deceiving one’s parents, you can’t go a wholer hog than Juliet did. In a sane society lovers are protected from mutual self-immolation; in a crazy one they are driven to it.
Judge Anthony Pitt’s pronouncements about the Goddard case are contradictory, as well he knows. “This case is so serious an immediate sentence of imprisonment is inevitable,” he said. He also said that a fiveyear ban on Goddard meeting her lover would be “draconian”, “unnecessary, unkind and cruel to the victim”. Goddard will be allowed to write to her from prison and they will be allowed to meet once she is released.
It looks very much as if the judge believes that the unnamed victim is capable of love, and that separation from Goddard, the criminal who abused her, will cause more pain to her than to Goddard. Some would say the judge is being sexist, and believes, perhaps, that being seduced by a woman is less damaging to a child than being seduced by a man. The child in question is capable of becoming pregnant, so sex with a man is far more dangerous for her than sex with a woman, sex toys and fluffy handcuffs notwithstanding. There is, after all, a difference.
The parents of Goddard’s lover are bitter. “Miss Goddard did not stay true to her professional responsibilities, which include taking full responsibility for any personal feelings that may have arisen. Our teenage girl has been led to believe by Miss Goddard that their contact is within the bounds of a normal relationship, apart from the fact that our daughter is under age.” All true. And yet you wonder just what force that word “normal” has. Are they saying their daughter would have remained heterosexual if only she hadn’t succumbed to the charm of the Jazz Lady? The same could as fairly be said of the Jazz Lady herself. Goddard had never had a relationship with a female before she fell in love with a schoolgirl; the schoolgirl had never had a sexual relationship with anybody.
The younger woman is the likelier to grow out of her teenage feelings. The truth of her parents’ claim that because of Goddard’s actions, “she has been deprived of the opportunity for the normal [that word again] development of sexual relations” remains to be seen. Goddard might find herself, besides being disgraced and stigmatised for ever, dumped for a man.
The blogs are a-throb with people asserting that a man who had had a relationship with a pupil would have been more harshly treated than Goddard. Brett Meads, of Peterborough, for example, is facing a lengthy jail term. This 28-year-old teacher has admitted nine sex offences involving three girl pupils aged 15 and 16. This was not love: this was predation. I do not expect to hear the three girls claiming that they seduced him, nor do I expect to hear that they are writing to him in prison. The situations are different, not because the offenders are of different sexes, but because the nature of the interaction is fundamentally different. In 2007, a science teacher at Headlands School, Bridlington, was sentenced to four years and nine months for having sex with three pupils, not a lot more than 15 months per victim.
It seems that all the girls in her classes adored Goddard, but only one got close to her, disastrously for Goddard. She was foolish, and she broke the law, but she is not dangerous. Unless of course her fellow prisoners fall in love with her too. I hope the authorities let her have her trumpet.
‘My lesbian fling with a teacher’
I was 15, a pupil at a co-ed public school in Surrey, when the affair happened. I had an inkling I was gay, but would never have labelled myself as such. I just knew this particular teacher was – she had the classic butch lesbian look. I didn’t find her sexy ,she wasn’t, but I became obsessed with her and desperately wanted to do something about the way I felt about women.
I approached her after a few months. She was shocked and said: “You do realise I am a woman?” Of course, I said. “So you’re gay?” she asked. I said I didn’t know but that I had a crush on her. She asked me how old I was. I said 18, although it was obvious I wasn’t. She was 32.
I asked for her phone number and she gave it to me. A few days later she told me she knew I wasn’t 18. Then she bought me a mobile phone as she couldn’t ring me at my family’s home. The affair began three weeks later. We would spend time in her car. We sometimes met at her sister’s house. The affair went on for 15 months. My only concern was my family finding out, which they didn’t. Neither did the school.
I do think it was an abuse of trust to an extent. She was manipulative and threatened to kill herself when I tried to end it. She claimed she had cancer. It was very damaging. The flipside was I was doing what I wanted to do – I was having gay sex and I enjoyed it in the way straight girlfriends told me they liked having sex with boys . But I wasn’t in control. At one stage she threatened to use a note I had written to out me, and she threatened to tell my parents.
The relationship helped me to realise I was gay, but the lies and games disturb me even now.
I think that Helen Goddard should have been reprimanded, but that harshly? Surely the question is: what was the girl like and what did she want? Was she timid, or like me, did she know what she wanted and go after it?