Today, I have learnt the real meaning of ‘feminist killjoy’. It’s something that I have joked about myself, the one in the room who’ll put a downer on a much loved film or celebrity.
There’s no joking today, only conflict with the death of David Bowie swamping the news and social media. I grew up with his music, ok I was born in the late 70’s but he was ever present. My favourite childhood film was Labyrinth. I went to see it at the cinema with my mum and even had a few books of the film. Later to have it on video, I watched it over and over again and could recite the entire script.
As a young girl, I had quite a crush on his character of Jareth. He was exotic and beautiful. I wanted to be Jennifer Connolly in the dream scene ballroom, to be whisked off my feet and lose myself in his eyes. Those eyes! So taken was I that I didn’t want her to win at the end.
When I became an adult, there was an uncomfortable feeling with the focus of the film being about a grown man trying to seduce a young girl but I ignored it as I wanted to continue to enjoy the film, the music.
Today I was stunned to hear that David Bowie had died, no one knew that he had been diagnosed with cancer 18 months before. This man who had been ever present in my life, a man that I wished I could have been like, was dead. I shared my shock and grief with thousands of others on FB and Twitter and turned the radio volume up to enjoy his songs. Then I read this:
Being a victim of rape and one who has had to live with a not guilty verdict, I couldn’t let this new information just flow over me like someone shrugging off an insult. I’ve read some of the testimonies of the 13 yr old involved and there is no indication that she felt that she was raped. I don’t blame her for that and can completely understand how a young teenage girl can be groomed into ‘sex’ without ever thinking of it as rape or assault. What I don’t understand is how a grown man can find a 13 yr old sexually attractive, I will never understand that.
And so I have this conflict…. I can never turn my back on someone who was sexually exploited by men who were famous and charismatic and yet I feel like I’m the ultimate feminist killjoy for sharing this on the day of David Bowie’s death. It feels so terribly wrong of me to do that.
How do you balance your enjoyment of someone’s work with their deeply unpleasant past? All too often we brush these things under the carpet because these men are so adored and revered across the world. What does that say to victims of abuse though? Are we saying that if you are exploited by someone famous, forget ever being taken seriously or having justice as this person’s creative genius is FAR more important?!
I’ll leave you to decide.