Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Predators beware: little girls grow into angry women

Amid all the hand-wringing and harrumphing over Jimmy Savile's alleged behaviour with teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s, what you won't hear much is a blase sigh and, "Well, it was all quite normal then". Which it was.

You see, we've never had much of a clue how to protect young women from older male predators, or whether to believe them when they blow the whistle.

My memories of the 1980s are that schoolgirls were, by and large, fair game, as long as they were vaguely post-pubescent.

The age of consent was treated much as wearing your seatbelt, or driving home when hammered: a petty law. I mean, blimey, these men with teen girls weren't paedophiles.

These were simply older guys, totally well-adjusted, in their 30s and 40s who seemed to surround themselves with young women of circa O-Level age and get them drunk and have sex with them. Nothing to see here. Move along.

I don't remember the word 'paedophile' surfacing, not until the mid-1990s, when it was suddenly a national threat. Every town and village had its ageing lotharios, its oldest swingers in town.

Oh, help yourself, society shrugged back then. They're only daft young women. And, to be honest, they shouldn't slink about in make-up and bras and go in pubs if they don't want to confuse fellas.

We had a wry smile at Bill Wyman's child-bride, tutting, "Well, this is bound to end in tears." (He met her at 13, why didn't it end in jail?)

When Jonathan King was made persona non grata for using his fame to entice underage young men, King quacked that this was homophobic, as his male hetero counterparts had been at this game for decades. Though it pains me to agree with King, in a wonky way he was correct.

Over the past few days, I've heard people gasp about cover-ups and about upset girls being ignored, peppered with a lot of, "Well why didn't these women say something sooner?"

I think these three things tie neatly together. Instead of false outrage about history, I'd be happier to hear strident plans to protect and listen to young women.

If you're 42 with a 17-year-old girlfriend, well you're legally in the clear, but I still find you vaguely revolting.

The interesting thing about how we treated young women in the 1970s and 1980s is it's really a ticking time-bomb, as these naive young fillies grow into angry broads. There must be men the length and breadth of Britain who observe scandals like Jimmy Savile's and sleep uneasily remembering past conquests.

And so what if you told her you knew important people and maybe bought her a few presents. That doesn't make you creepy, does it? She was 15 but she looked at least 20. See, the problem with women now is they're all so educated and they've got so many rights, they can tie men up in knots about the past and the police will listen.

Well, actually the police are beginning to listen, when pushed, and take it rather seriously. Soon, pervert. Very soon.

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