A couple days ago I wrote about an Ottawa Sun journalist and his use of the word “tryst” when he described the sexual assault of a teenage girl. It wasn’t the first time that journalist used that word in place of rape, molest, abuse, or assault. Words count for a lot when it comes to sexual assault. Downplaying the impact will not only embolden and excuse those who abuse but it will also add to the stigma victims deal with by making rape seem less of a violation and more of a misunderstanding.
In one of the cases the reporter wrote “the girl’s tender age — she was 12 at the time — doomed the star-crossed pair” and that the girl said she was okay with what had happened to her.
That brings me to Lori Maddix and David Bowie.
David Bowie died this past week and there has been an outpouring of grief and tributes. Bowie was a musical genius, no question, and but he crossed the statutory rape line. Maddix, who was 15 when she ended up with Bowie, has written positively about her experience with him. She doesn’t see herself as a victim and it being her story, that is her right.
But that doesn’t mean we should ever be okay with what David Bowie did – he brought a 15 year old girl to his hotel room, undressed in front of her, had her give him a bath, and, going by the definition of the law at the time in California, raped her. A little while later so did Jimmy Page.
And there’s more of course. The music coming from these guys is fantastic but we really need to examine why for so long society has been so willing to turn away as they walk children into hotel rooms.
It’s not up children to say it’s okay with them – it’s up to adults to say it isn’t and if those adults don’t say it it’s up to the rest of us.
I really like David Bowie’s music.