First, the post regarding MZB's child rapist husband, and secondly, the post containing an email from MZB's daughter. Please read this before the rest of my post, because I will be referencing the information from both.
Quote, from Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter:
The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.
I have written extensively about the effect of MZB's work on my life, including my piece published in Jim C. Hines's Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F (also available openly on my DW/LJ -- note, trigger warning for talk of suicidal ideation in that essay).
I did not mention the depositions regarding Walter Breen in my posts about MZB, for a few reasons. Primarily, it wasn't the point of my essay, which was about representation in science fiction and fantasy, and how that affected my life. I had read the depositions many years ago, when I was 14 (unfiltered internet access ftw?), and I only had hazy memories of them; I probably should have re-read, but regardless, it did not negate the impact that her work had on my life.
Finding out that Marion molested her own daughter, however, and apparently other children as well... that sickens me. I write this not because I feel guilty for her work having an impact on my life, because I had no way of knowing these things when I found her books at age 11 and was introduced to gay, lesbian, genderqueer (although that term was not used then), and polyamorous characters. As a homeschooled child with a father who often railed against anything that didn't fit into his narrow Christian fundamentalist world view, these books (among others) allowed me a window into a world outside my own isolation. As I have written before, they are part of why I did not hate myself when I realized I was queer at age 17, and polyamorous a year or so later.
I've read many essays, and there are a few things I wish to comment on. One is the focus I have seen on the fans who feel betrayed by an author they loved. While this is certainly understandable, and I don't begrudge people for feeling the way they do, I don't feel that the focus should be on the fans. It should be on Moira and the other nameless victims. Moira seems to have the "It's Worse Than I Thought" post followed, so I encourage people to please go there and give your support.
I say this because there are those who are accusing her of lying. She has been accused of having a mental illness and making this all up. Her name has been dragged through the mud, and there are people who refuse to believe the victim, and in fact blame her, rather than dare believe that an author they idolize might in fact have been an abuser. I had no doubt at all about Moira's statement; in the depositions dating from 1992 or so, there is a statement that refers to Marion commenting that children do not have erogenous zones, in reference to her groping her young daughter. This was long before this recent revelation.
Even if I had, Moira's poem "Mother's Hands" would have sealed it for me. Speaking as a child abuse survivor (although not sexual abuse), there is such truth in the emotion in that poem; I'm sure some will argue that a talented writer could write something so true to life, but both her poems spoke to me in a way that left me shuddering and dark shivers down my spine.
But there is one matter I wish to address, regarding the fandom (yes, even though I said they should not be the main focus; they shouldn't, but this is something I feel is relevant and important). Something I see over and over again are fans (or former fans) feeling guilty for loving Marion's work in the first place, for finding solace, for opening their minds. Society, and people in general, are prone to all or nothing thinking. An individual can be a horrible person and still create great works of art, work that speaks to people, work that gives hope.
Until now, this was not public knowledge. What individuals choose to do with their copies of her work is up to them. It is a personal choice. I see people feeling like they are horrible for identifying with her stories and characters. I see people hating themselves. Myself, I feel shocked and sickened, but I can't deny the impact that her work had on my life. If not for her books, I might not be here today. The world doesn't work this way, but even still, if I had the chance to trade her work for Moira's well being, I would choose that -- regardless of what it might mean for me.
That doesn't mean I feel guilty for the place her work had in my life. Society in general protects those who harm children. My own family was abused greatly; to give an idea, when my mother took us to see the movie Matilda when we were kids, she came out of the movie saying that The Trunchbull was a model image of my grandmother -- except that The Trunchbull was less abusive. Nobody helped my family. Even today, there are children who do not get the help they need.
I have had young friends who were being abused by their parents; when I called CPS, I was told things like "We don't take out of state reports" (so what happens to out-of-state relatives that the children have confided in?), or "The child is under the care of a psychiatrist so we can't do anything." This still goes on. Every day, children are abused, and only a few get help. I didn't get help. I counted days until I turned 18.
Society likes to paint abusers as monsters with no redeeming qualities. This is not true. Many abusers are charming people, who attract devoted loyalty. They prey on those who are the most vulnerable, and because they have qualities that people admire, people refuse to believe their victims.
I have personally known people who were not believed about their abuse, or whose community demanded an apology from the abuser but refused to bring charges. Sometimes, the police don't do anything; see the cases where people who have raped children receive very little in the way of consequence because they are somehow important to the community, or they're a sports star, or they're famous in some way. Look at the number of Hollywood stars (and hell, I had to ban a "devil's advocate" on my LJ when this happened) who defended Roman Polanski.
People ask why Moira did not come forward earlier. I don't know her personally, but I can take a guess. Marion was (and to some degree, still is) well known and well respected in the science fiction and fantasy community. Over the past couple years, there have been multiple incidents regarding harassment at SF cons with people defending the harasser and blaming the victim; an editor who apparently regularly harassed women was defended by many; two authors who wrote sexist screeds in the SFWA Bulletin caused a schism and were also defended. I must note that certainly not everyone defended these people; there was outrage and outcry and many people did in fact hold them accountable. But not everyone, and these people (with perhaps the exception of said authors in the Bulletin, and this is to my understanding; I may be incorrect, since I am not directly involved in these circles) did not have nearly the fame and clout that MZB did.
As I said above, there are those who are accusing her of lying even now. This is some fifteen years after MZB's death. How would this have been taken at the height of MZB's popularity? I have my own experience with rape, albeit as an adult, and it took me a year to dare to call out the man who raped me on my Facebook page, because we had mutual friends and I was afraid that I would not be believed. This was a man who was in no way a public figure, and it was that difficult for me. I flat out cannot imagine trying to come forward with these revelations of abuse, when MZB was so very popular, well-respected, and loved by many.
So for those who say that she should have come forward before, shame on you. Shame, that you refuse to believe a survivor and instead her abuser, particularly given the depositions. (I should note that I believe that it would be shameful to refuse to believe Moira regardless of the depositions, but they are particularly damning.)
And to Moira, all I can wish for her, should she read this, is love and light and the brightest of blessings, for she surely has lived through everything dark.
(And yes, I'm posting this like a month late but my life has been hellish lately, as those who are my friends list can see, and I believe this important enough to still say, especially for those who haven't seen. Blog posts in a way are like flickers of light; their brightness catches attention, but once time passes, the light dims, and what may have once been a huge flame is no longer noticed. This needs to remain noticed. Also, feel free to link this wherever you wish.)
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