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.