Friday, 18 April 2014
Paedophilia isn’t something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. I know that some people do. They probably have kids and grandkids, so I suppose they are bound to. I know when I was a kid, my mum always told me that if a strange man tried to talk to me, then I should run and find a lady and tell her. Then along came Myra Hindley, in the 1960’s, and more recently, Vanessa George.
I guess my mum was naïve, I am sure that there have always been predatory women around. You just don’t hear about them very often. But both women have become archetypes of evil, because they stepped out of the traditional role of women as nurturers, instead embracing, and seemingly relishing, doing harm to children.
It’s not good enough to say that both women were under the influence of charismatic men. They knew right from wrong. It seems that some dark, latent, fascination was drawn from them, by the compelling influence of the men who came into their lives. Without those men, maybe the two women would have led quiet suburban lives; but we just don’t know.
Myra Hindley was working quietly in an office, in the 1960’s when she met Ian Brady. He introduced her to the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Adolf Hitler. They were lovers, but lovers who embarked on a spree of rape and murder. Myra’s role was to lure and abduct. Ian Brady raped then murdered the children that she procured for him. He sucked the life out of them like a greedy vampire. They buried their poor little violated remains on bleak Saddleworth Moor.
In 2009, Vanessa George, a mother of two, and a worker in a children’s nursery, appeared in court, having been charged with seven offences, including two of sexual assault by penetration and two of sexual assault by touching children in her care. She was also charged with making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Vanessa George, 39, was arrested after indecent images of children taken at Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth, were found on a computer disc seized by police from a suspected paedophile in Manchester. Police said that the photographs included pictures of children’s torsos taken on a camera phone at the nursery, where Vanessa George had worked for the past two years.
So far, none of the children has been identified, and the officer leading the investigation said that some of them might never be. Parents of the 64 children, aged between 2 and 5, have been asked to complete a questionnaire and list any features that could help to identify individual children from the images.
Russ Middleton, the head of Plymouth CID, said: “At this time we have been unable to identify any images of individual children and it is right to say some images may never be identified.” The number of photographs being examined by the computer experts could eventually run into thousands, Mr Middleton said, though he could not say how many had been taken in the nursery.
He added: “We have specially trained officers looking at the images. We have a large number taken from laptops and PCs but the starting point was from a camera phone. Some of these images were clearly taken inside the nursery but it is impossible to say where others were taken.”
Vanessa George’s arrest followed that of Colin Blanchard, who appeared at Trafford Magistrates’ Court charged with possessing and distributing indecent images.
Officers searched a caravan that Mrs George owns at Harlyn Bay near Padstow, Cornwall, in addition to the family home in the Efford area of Plymouth. Police said that her husband, Andrew, and two teenage children had been taken into “protective care”.
Police will be speaking to the nursery’s 15 other members of staff but say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the investigation.”
Vanessa George still refuses to say which children she abused.
Paedophilia isn’t a topic that sits easily with writers. Perhaps there is a fear of being identified, associated with the crime, let alone the idea of finding a someone to publish it. But a paedophile with a female accomplice? Myra Hindley had Ian Brady, Vanessa George’s mentor was Colin Blanchard.
Then there is also the case of “Marc Dutroux a Belgian serial killer and child molester, convicted of havingkidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six girls during 1995 and 1996, ranging in age from 8 to 19, four of whom he murdered. He was arrested in 1996 and has been in prison ever since. His widely publicised trial took place in 2004. He married at the age of 19 and fathered two children; the marriage ended in divorce in 1983. By then he already had had an affair with Michelle Martin. They would eventually have three children together, and married in 1989 while both were in prison. They divorced in 2003, also while in prison."
Michelle Martin was complicit and indulged in Dutroux’ atrocities.
Henry James anticipates this type of insidious, dark exchange in 1898, with his novella, “The Turn of the Screw”.
“The Turn of the Screw”, is essentially a ghost story. The subtle indications of paedophilia are there, but in a more “creeping up behind you”, dark manner than in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”, which tackles it head on.
A young governess, is sent to a country house to take care of two orphans, Miles, aged ten, and Flora, aged eight. Soon after her arrival, Miles is expelled from boarding school. Although charmed by her young charge, she secretly fears there are ominous reasons behind his expulsion.
With Miles back at home, the governess starts noticing ethereal figures roaming the estate's grounds. Desperate to learn more about these sinister sightings she discovers that the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of her predecessor, Miss Jessel, hold grim implications for herself.
As she becomes increasingly fearful that malevolent forces are stalking the children the governess is determined to save them, risking herself and her sanity in the process.
Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are the bad guys in “The Turn of the Screw”.
Peter Quint had been a servant at the house at Bly; Miss Jessel was the children’s previous governess. They had an intense erotic interest in one another. Both are now dead; Peter Quint in some sort of brawl. Miss Jessel, under strange circumstances, after she left Bly.
It is much more than a ghost story, “The Turn of the Screw”, is an enthusiastic romance of children and sex. The implication that Miles, the young ward of an impressionable governess, is sexually aware, sexually experienced, and sexually hungry has its draw. Titillating in its inappropriateness, the novel suggests through metaphor and silences what was, and still is, unmentionable.
A dialogue between the narrator and the housekeeper, Mrs Grose, emphasises this;
Mrs Grose says that she was afraid of Peter Quint. “I daresay I was wrong, but, really I was very afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“Of the things that man could do. Quint was so clever -- he was so deep.”
I took this in still more than, probably I showed. “You weren’t afraid of anything else? Not of his effect --?”
“His effect?” she repeated with a face of anguish and waiting while I faltered.
“On innocent little precious lives. They were in your charge.”
So the new governess, has strong suspicions that Peter Quint has corrupted young Miles, in addition to seducing and corrupting Miss Jessel.
Peter Quint and Miss Jessel haunt the house at Bly, they also haunt the children’s new governess. It seems that even in death the ghosts want the children for themselves.
When Mrs Grose and the narrator next converse they speak of the children as their darlings, their little dears. But Quint and Jessel, even as ghosts are still a threat. They narrator is certain that Quint and Jessel want to possess the children.
“They’re not mine -- they’re not ours. They’re his and hers!”
“Quint’s and that woman’s?”
“Quint’s and that woman’s. They want to get them.”
Poet and literary critic Craig Raine in his essay on Sex in nineteenth-century literature states quite categorically his belief that Victorian readers would have identified the two ghosts as child-molesters.
Mrs Grose tells the governess about Quint’s relationship with Miles;
“It was Quint’s own fancy. To play, with him I mean -- to spoil him.” She paused a moment; then she added; “Quint was much too free.”
Psychoanalytically, the governess, who is alluded to as being sexually inexperienced and sexually repressed, has attached the image of raw, animalistic sexuality with the ghost of Peter Quint, which explains why she is fervent in her efforts to keep this ghost away from the young and impressionable Miles. The housekeeper, Mrs Grose, early in the novel, implies that Peter Quint, who acted as master of the house at times, and the young Miles may have engaged in some man-boy intimate contact, and thus the strange behaviour of Miles can be read in this manner.
Quint represents a scary threat: sex. We know that he seduced the unfortunate Miss Jessel; Quint is a destroyer of young ladies, and that he spent far too much time alone with young Miles. Quint is described as handsome but dastardly, and he is seductive and frightening in equal measure. Basically, Peter Quint stands for everything the Governess is afraid of, and this sense of menace is his most distinguishing characteristic.
The narrator tells Mrs Grose about the ghostly vision that she’d had of Miss Jessel.
She describes her as “handsome, but infamous.”
Mrs Grose replies; “Miss Jessel was infamous…they were both infamous.”
But what is it that the governess is so afraid of? It seems that her entire focus is on the “corruption” of the children -- she is certain that they were corrupted by Quint and Jessel when they were alive and that they continue to be corrupted now that they are ghosts. Before she even knows about Quint, the governess guesses that Miles has been accused of corrupting other children. Although corruption is a euphemism that permits the governess to be vague about what she means, the clear implication is that corruption means exposure to the knowledge of sex. For the governess, the children’s exposure to the knowledge of sex is a far more terrifying concept than confronting the living dead, or of being killed.
In the final chapter, Miles tells the narrator the reason he was expelled from school.
“I said things.”
When asked how many boys he had “said things” to, he replies;
“No -- only a few. Those I liked.”
“…they must have repeated them. To those they liked.”
The narrator asks; “What were these things?”
Events take over and we never find out for sure. Although we share the narrator’s suspicions.
Consequently, her attempt to save the children takes the form of a relentless quest to find out what they know -- to make them confess, rather than predict what may happen to them in the future. Her fear of innocence being corrupted seems to be a big part of the reason she approaches the problem indirectly -- it’s not just that the ghosts are unmentionable, but that what the ghosts have said to them or introduced them to that is unspeakable.
But what the hell is going on with this current governess? She is the narrator and we only ever see things from her point of view. Is she reliable? Can the reader trust her? At times her narration seems to border on the hysterical. She describes the children as “little dears”. “Our sweet darlings”. But just pages later, she hints that they are duplicitous; colluding with the ghosts. And what about her own relationship with the children, especially Miles? On their walk to the church, their dialogue reads like an adult flirtation.
“I could say nothing for a minute, though I felt, as I held his hand and our eyes continued to meet, that my silence had all the air of admitting his charge and that nothing in the whole world of reality was perhaps at that moment so fabulous as our actual relation.”
Then later, the narrator is so overwhelmed, she cannot bring herself to follow Miles into the church.
“…it was too extreme an effort to squeeze beside him into the pew; he would be so much more sure than ever, to pass his arm into mine and make me sit there for an hour in close, silent contact with his commentary on our talk. For the first minute since his arrival I wanted to get away from him.”
Let’s not forget that Miles is a ten year old boy and the governess is a woman in her twenties. Does she have an infatuation with Miles? She speaks of their relationship as if she is violently, sexually attracted to him. Is she as guilty in her secret thoughts of the sin that she condemns Quint and Jessel for? Or maybe she is just flustered around males; she is seduced by Miles -- she continually tells us of his goodness; but it is plain that he makes her nervous. She has certainly been attracted to Miles’ uncle, when he interviewed her for the position of governess in Harley Street. And Peter Quint’s raw, animalistic sexuality terrifies her. It’s as if she can scent Quint’s musky, relentless, sexual arousal. Quint is primal, feral. He takes what he wants.
Henry James clearly knew what he was doing, when he created his characters and this malevolent situation. Never is he explicit, he lets his words work on us, like burrowing maggots. What we, as readers can imagine is vastly more frightening and haunting than what he, the author, could have ever committed to the page.
Perhaps James is asking us to consider; what is the source of evil? We know that evil exists, but where does it come from? He "turns the screw" on the conventional notion of evil, by introducing the innocence of children.
Miss Jessel, Myra Hindley, Vanessa George, Michelle Martin. What are we to make of them?
Paedophilia is silenced. Okay, these days we talk a lot about it. We babble and say nothing. When we try for a constructive dialogue, we end up screaming at each other. We panic.
What is less admissible, more unspeakable than paedophilia? And what then is more silenced than female paedophilia?
Friday, 11 April 2014
And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! -
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.
“La Belle Dame sans Merci”
The painting is by Frank Dicksee; the same theme & title.
There must be a group for men like me, at odds with social convention but at peace with my own nature. "Hi, I'm Ed and I am a spanked husband." Chairs in a circle, maybe a box of tissues set on the floor. With any luck, several guys are there with me both to tell their stories and tell me they know where I am coming from. I have yet to find such a collective of submissive odd fellows but if I ever do, I will follow my terse introduction with a narrative that, outside that circle of acceptance and shared vulnerability, would expose me to a hail of derision.
I was with Lisa for nearly twenty years, from dating and engagement to estrangement and now divorce. My personal story, however, is but indicative of the shifting dynamics of mating and relating that already have existed in a substratum of Western society for a very long time. Today, the world speaks of Empowered Women. In private, in shadowy precincts of swooning fetishes and closely guarded secrets among countless couples burrowed in the aggregate intimacy of the race, there are and ever will be dominant ladies and the submissive males under their feet. Thus, Lisa and Ed. For that matter, there are your neighbors and friends; bosses and co-workers and for God's sake, a handful of your relatives too.
About myself and my union with a woman whom I have loved for over half my life, I will share some stories and then offer a few tentative conclusions about where I suspect evolution is pushing women and men; that is, awkwardly and fractiously toward a realignment of gender roles in the 21st Century. Believing that experience is the best teacher and knowing how much people enjoy reading erotic details of other's lives, let me elaborate on my own transformation from self-indulgent jerk to disciplined husband.
Being male, there is a primal fact that permits no rebuttal: I think with my penis. That makes me like almost every other male, naturally. But not every man is joined to a woman who consistently lays the law down with a practiced poise so effective that the marriage itself reflects the exercise of her will. Here is a perfect example from our early days. Before our engagement, I used to accompany Lisa to the local fashion mall whenever she liked because there were sure to be plenty of young female employees wearing sexy outfits. I wanted all of them. Don't get me wrong here because I was already in love with Lisa. My cock nevertheless had not yet signed off on my future plans. I flirted intensely with all manner of attractive females when opportunities arose. Occasionally, I would seek out a certain statuesque blonde at a large department store, sidling up to whatever counter she was working that day. I really looked forward to seeing her and talking breezily about most anything, my day at work or some car I wanted, you name it. All to hold her attention and invite her lovely gaze. Her makeup was immaculately matched to her shoulder-length hair and I used to think there was an artist inside, showing her off to the world. Moreover, she seemed to relish the attention as much as I loved lavishing it on her! One night, I thought the coast was clear while Lisa was trying on dresses in a store two doors down across the wide and crowded walkway. I was making pretty good time with this young lady, I figured and while chatting her up, fantasized about how I could arrange a rendezvous. Then Lisa walked up quietly behind me. I watched the face of my luscious Amazon flush crimson as she averted her eyes and got suddenly very busy with stocking merchandise. It was the sum of all fears for a roué. Busted! Lisa had chided me repeatedly about conversing with women whom we did not know mutually. I could do nothing now but beg the question of my guilt. "Oh, hi honey. I was just..." That is as far as I got. "Go out to the car," Lisa commanded coolly. I started to protest that I didn't mean any harm. An obvious lie. "What did I just tell you?" Lisa was in no mood for games so I replied with a feeble "Yeah, OK. Sure," and did as I was told. It was maybe another 15 minutes before Lisa came out, took the keys away from me and drove us to her home silently. I don't know to this day what she told my alluring blonde acquaintance but never again did the two of us flirt or even acknowledge each other though Lisa and I still shop there often. When we got home, Lisa told me that my days as a skirt-chasing dog were over. She had trusted me on my own and I had let her down, badly. Seeing the dire straits I was in, I clumsily confessed to my treachery and apologized profusely while she sat on the couch, listening with an implacable scowl.
Clearly I was only digging myself in deeper. "Are you through?" I was definitely through, I thought. Finished. Lisa straightened herself and pulled up her skirt to form a straight line across her thighs. "You have just earned yourself a good spanking," she declared. "Take your pants down." I was not about to refuse and lose Lisa. I loved her, more so than any woman before and couldn't imagine myself considering marriage to another lady. This was a make-or-break moment. So I unbuckled my belt and dropped my pants to the floor. She reached out, grabbed my hand and pulled me across her lap. "You know damned well you have this coming," she said as she took down my boxers and strategically positioned my bottom so that it rose like a hillock over her stockinged knee. Lisa used a stern hand on me, cupped for a punishing resonance that soon brought intense heat and a ruby red blush to all four of my cheeks. In subsequent spankings, Lisa discovered the effect her hairbrush had both on my bare behind and on my behavior. Still, her point was soundly made that first time. She probably delivered about a hundred swats to each cheek, alternating with authority and scolding me throughout. I was reduced to tears, as much from shame and humiliation as from the sharp sting applied with building intensity. Afterward, I was banished to a corner of her living room with my pants all the way off, standing there for an hour while Lisa poured a glass of wine and admired her handiwork.
Thereafter, punishment spankings became the norm for me as Lisa evaluated then fulfilled my deep need for discipline. Her sturdy wooden hairbrush was always close at hand and worked wonders in reshaping my attitudes in our relationship and conduct outside the home, where by the way I was not immune from being turned over her knee! If I acted up, my pants came down even if that meant hauling me into an empty family rest room in a public venue. Lisa was my loving wife but a consistently strict and skilled disciplinarian. I must have divined this side of her nature when courting her. She was always confident and assertive from the beginning. What I did not anticipate was how much I would come to crave the control Lisa exerted over me. I did all that I could to maintain her trust in me because it was a long way to go winning it back after obvious flirtations and The Mall Incident. When I failed her in any significant way, particularly by disrespecting her feminine authority, Lisa exercised her matriarchal marital right to take my pants down (or make me do it for her to reinforce my submission) and administer the old-fashioned spanking we both knew I had earned. It was characteristic of a comprehensive lifestyle that served us well for years. Femdom spanking guided our marriage into a sexual wilderness.
END OF PART ONE
The painting La Belle Dame sans Merci (The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy) is by Frank Dicksee 1901
Oil on canvas.
Can be seen at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (UK)
Friday, 4 April 2014
The Body of Christ
A short story by
Jan Vander Laenen
"Ce qu'il avait fait de mieux
contre l'infâme de M. de Voltaire,
ç'avait e'te' un jour
dame! on fait ce qu'on peut-
de donner un paquet d'hosties a' des cochons!"
(Barbey d'AUREVILLY, A un dîner d'Athe'es)
The number of communion wafers that I have ever partaken of must be roughly the same as the number of men with whom I have hitherto made homosexual love, or so I concluded last summer. It was the eve of World Gay Pride in Rome, and I lay on the bed in my hotel room, somewhere in the district of the Campo dei Fiori, thinking about my own little life in general and the unusual event of the previous day in particular.
My own little life I am now forty can be fairly schematically split into two halves.
The first half was characterised by a very middle-class, Catholic education in a small village in the Kempen region and a boarding school near fascist Antwerp. From age 6 to age 20, about twice a week I attended Mass there and consumed a Body of Christ, which with a little arithmetic adds up to somthing like 1,456 communion wafers.
Add to that a conservative fifty of these sacred items that I, together with other blasphemious pals, went one night and pinched from the pyx in the chapel in order to supplement our poor boarding-school fare, and we reach the round sum of 1,500. During the second half of my life, I have virtually entirely lost my interest in the Body of Christ, although I have nonetheless developed a most overwhelming passion for the bodies of less holy men.
Dwelling on this passion here is of little profit: I have probably experienced a career in love similar to that of a good many of my libertine brothers and it therefore seems to me acceptable to estimate the number of bedmates I have had at something like fifteen hundred.
And whilst in virtually all Catholic regions the Body of Christ has pretty much the same taste and consistency and in principle can only be taken in a church and in the context of the celebration of the Eucharist, the range of tastes of the bodies of other men and the places where one might sample them are naturally much more extensive and varied. The same goes for the emotions that go hand in hand with performance of the two aforementioned activities.
To the best of my recollection, I have always downed my communion wafers somewhat indifferently, or perhaps with a hint of devotion, in short a very nondescript emotion in comparison with the feelings of passion, lust, loving and subservience that my many horseplay partners have been able to wrest from me.
So much for that: these mullings are my foreword to the unusual event that happened to me last summer. I was strolling through the centre of the Eternal City and having walked past twenty-or-so monuments without regard, I was suddenly taken by an unexpected mood of devotion.
Yes, I wanted to confess, I wanted to pray to God and the Holy Virgin and to have myself cleansed by imbibing a Body of Christ. Happily, Rome as everybody knows is just riddled with basilicas, churches and chapels, and about a hundred yards up the street I located a small, Baroque house of God in which I could assuage my religious hunger.
And so I set foot into the little church, made the sign of the cross with a few drops of holy water and went and sat on a pew at the back, as the Mass had started. And after first casting my gaze over the interior's sculptures and paintings, my eye suddenly fell on the priest, who was just magicking a chalice of wine into the Blood of Christ. He wore a chasuble. He had a full beard and a serious expression. I reckoned he was about forty. He struck me as familiar, although at that moment I could not remember at all where I might ever have met the man, and I immediately then dismissed this thought as one of those crazy notions that had frequently occurred to me in recent times.
Ten or so minutes later, as I was shuffling up the queue for my portion of Holy Bread, however, I got a clearer look at the man, and as I eventually stood plum in front of him, looked at him and stuck my tongue out, I thought I could read something akin to amazement in his eyes. Indeed, he was staring at me in wonder, wafer in hand, and for a long moment he stood in this position, as though turned to stone.
'Hello, Jan, how's things?' he eventually said to me in Dutch, at which he gathered himself, murmured 'body of Christ' and with trembling hand laid the wafer on my tongue.
I went and drank a Campari after the Mass, and it was at the pavement cafe that, having racked my brains for ten minutes that the priests' name suddenly dawned on me: Paul Van Gelder.
Well I never, Paul Van Gelder, it was a long time ago, in Brussels, both of us twenty and gay and each not daring to admit it to the other. And all the trouble we went to all those evenings in the student bars round Sint-Gorik's Square to avoid the subject, whilst we were both head over heels in love with one another.
And so on until that evening, that dark November night when you stood unexpected before the door of my study. I let you in, you took me in your arms and changed my mind with a French kiss as passionate as it was long. After this, you took your leave of me and with wavering voice told me that you would be going away from Brussels the next day to start training as a priest.
And so, Paul Van Gelder, you really did become a priest and, as fate had it, twenty years later our paths momentarily crossed again, in Rome, and in a church to boot, in the Holy Year and the day before World Gay Pride. Thanks, Paul Van Gelder, you gave me the most cleansing Body of Christ ever in my sinful existence.
Jan Vander Laenen
“Matthew 26:26-28: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jan loves to hear from his readers. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org;
"Transubstantiation" is the official Roman Catholic concept referring to the change that takes place during the sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist). This change involves the substances of bread and wine being turned miraculously into the substance of Christ himself. The underlying essence of these elements is changed, and they retain only the appearance, taste, and texture of bread and wine. Catholic doctrine holds that the Godhead is indivisible, so every particle or drop thus changed is wholly identical in substance with the divinity, body, and blood of the Saviour.