There are some things I can no longer excuse… (TRIGGER WARNING: Child Abuse)

Alright, folks. Time for a more serious posting. This one is about someone that I never met, but who has, regardless, had a tremendous impact on my life. She was one of the founders of the living history/medieval group that I am part of, and an incredibly influential writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her name was Marion Zimmer Bradley.

And she was a child molester.

I have known for a long time that MZB was surrounded by controversy. Her husband, Walter Breen, was a reprehensible man who fairly openly molested young boys, a fact that Marion was both aware of and covered for, countless times. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I found her excuses to be despicable…but I always found a way to empathize with, if not accept, her position. She said in one of the depositions for his trials to one of the prosecutors, “Clearly, you have never been in love.” That spoke to me. I know too well what it is like to love someone enough to excuse their wickedness, to want to make believe it didn’t happen and to, no matter how wrong it is to do so, want to brush that part of them under a rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Then, a couple weeks ago, something happened. Moira Greyland, MZB’s daughter with her monster of a husband, spoke up. She told the world that, horrible as he was…MZB was worse. She had abused Moira since she was three years old, up until she was twelve. She beat her, strangled her, and attempted to drown her for refusing to be her own mother’s lover. It is a horrid, sickening thing to read about, but I read it because the truth is more important than my discomfort. Now, I have to question all that time I spent silently excusing MZB’s actions. I have to gag at how often I mentioned, almost proudly, that she had named and helped found my medieval group.

There are those who will say that we should separate the art from the artist. That these terrible crimes in no way taint the artistic works of the person who committed them. Alas, I am not so able to separate my emotions on this matter. When I was a young boy, I was sexually abused by a teenage cousin. The memories of that stick with me to this day, and it took many years to get over the feelings of anxiety they caused in me. So maybe I am just too emotionally swayed by this to forgive the art of the artist. Thing is, a monster may make beautiful art, but I still wouldn’t have it hanging in my living room.

So tonight, I am going to throw out the books I own that are by MZB. Granted, I wasn’t a huge fan, but I do have some of her anthologies. I will also never buy anything that her estate profits from; her children were disowned, and the money from her estate supports her life-partner/secretary, who also had a hand in covering up the abuses of Breen and MZB. I don’t expect everyone I know will do this. I’m not asking them to. But it’s something I must do.

Here are some links for those who want to read more about this mess.

http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/

http://www.sff.net/people/stephen.goldin/mzb/

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20 comments

  1. Bleh! That’s horrible.
    That statement, “clearly you have never been in love”… Although it SOUNDS good… I think we cover for them because we know how stupid we look staying in the situation… “Love” is our escape goat. At least I know it’s been mine!

        1. It’s alright, sweet lady. The person I am today was formed by all my experiences, including the bad ones…and I rather like who I am. ;) I would not wish such things on anyone, nor forgive anyone for doing them to another person…but I accept them as being part of me.

  2. We are all set free to a serious degree by these truths. Thank you, Mark, for sharing these painful events and your own personal traumas, your honesty shines.
    In admiration,
    john

    1. Some things, no matter how painful, must be shared that they are never again hidden. Thank *you* John, for reading and for your constant support. You are one of the most amazing writers I’ve met through this site!

    1. As am I. As an adult, I know where it stemmed from; my uncle had been abusing my cousins since they were toddlers. This doesn’t excuse what happened to me, but I understand where it came from. I am fortunate in that the cycle did the opposite for me – it gave me an unwavering disgust towards abusers.

      1. I’m glad that you were able to break the cycle and understand it enough to turn over the ugly, damaged tarnished side into something positive and shiny for YOU and those near and dear. It’s one thing to commit crimes against adults, not that that’s right either, but at least I can begin to comprehend what might motivate those actions, but crimes against innocent children who are still developing is intolerable. Something I read this weekend on once the abuse stops if you’re interested, it was heart-wrenching and eye opening. http://thepublicblogger.com/2014/05/11/our-featured-presentation-when-the-abuse-stops/

    1. It was a shock to me, the abuse part. It is strange to me, but for some reason, perhaps because of my own past, I am not shocked to hear a man is an abuser. When it is a woman, it just throws me for a loop, probably because I’ve had such strong, maternal, loving women in my life. Makes it hard to imagine.

      1. It is generally the men you hear about. I’m sorry you had such unhappiness in your past. Sounds like you’ve turned a corner and have some great people in your life now.

        I always admire people who have been dealt a tough hand and who make the decision not to let it dictate the rest of their lives. I know another person like that. Now I can add you to the list of those I have a genuine admiration for ’cause what some peple have to bear in their lives sure isn’t easy.

  3. You opened my eyes to something that I suspected while reading her work, but never actually thought further on. Some of the nuances were there. Looking back I remember wondering why she wrote about some of the topics in the manner in which she did. Thank you for bringing this out.

  4. Thank you Mark for sharing, my sub was a abused child by her uncle, it’s still difficult for her to accept this part of herself and nevertheless the release is at this condition.

    Take care.

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