Today’s song is ‘I’m in the Mood for Love’. This popular song was published in 1935. The music was written by Jimmy McHugh, with the lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The song was introduced by Frances Langford in the film ‘Every Night at Eight’ which was released that same year. It became Langford's signature song. Bob Hope, who frequently worked with Langford entertaining troops in ‘World War II’, later wrote that her performance of the song was often a showstopper.
Many famous artists have covered this song since it was first released in the 1930s. These include artists like Louis Armstrong: Vera Lynn: Billy Eckstine: Charlie Parker: Eddy Fisher: Mae West: Fats Domino: Rosemary Clooney: Brook Benton: Paul Anka: Johnny Mathis: Brenda Lee: Shirley Bassey: Alma Cogan: Barbra Streisand and Rob Stewart, among many others.
The trouble about being ‘in the mood’ becomes ‘big trouble’ for many men in the world today, especially after too many horrific revelations have emerged during the past two years since the ‘Me Too’ movement got into full gear with almost daily revelations of improper and sexual-offending behaviour.
The movement started when many international names were cited as having been persistent abusers of women over which they asserted power and influence. Such offences against these known figures included rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. The movement quickly extended itself to social media and Myspace. As the movement mushroomed, there was a number of high-profile posts and responses from American celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence and Uma Thurman to name but a few.
In 2006, the civil-rights activist, Tarana Burke from The Bronx, New York started using the phrase ‘Me Too’ and went on to found the ‘Me Too Movement’. After millions of people started using the phrase of ‘Me Too’ and hashtag in this manner, Myspace spread to dozens of other languages. The scope has become somewhat broader with this expansion and is now considered to be an international movement for the justice for marginalized people.
When I think about the 77 years that I’ve been alive, I cannot say that such offences against women were uncommon then, but I can say that the ‘male attitude’ thing towards females by men was certainly worse than it is today. In short, what today would undoubtedly be deemed ‘a sexual offence’ was not necessarily viewed as being an offence then. Male actions towards women in the 1950s and 1960s British society were simply not seen by men and society as a whole as we judge them today.
I know as an avid reader of British History, that were we to go back to the ‘Victorian Age’, we would find that such assaults on women by men have always existed in as great a number as the ‘Me Too’ movement have shown them to exist today and were worse two centuries ago than they are today.
This is not to minimise the wrong and harm of such acts, as to do so would be to marginalise all the women against whom they were perpetrated. It is simply to say that in the area of ‘sexual equality’ and feminine advancement over the past hundred-plus years, that man continues to be driven by his balls more than by his heart, head or any sense of propriety.
During my visits as a Probation Officer to working-class households in the early 1970s, ‘wife-beating’ would often be minimised by the husband as being no more than an argument ‘between a man and his wife’ (note the possessive use of the word ‘his’). I have known women who were physically assaulted if their husband’s tea wasn’t set out on the table for him as soon as he came through the door at the end of his work shift. As far as sex within marriage was concerned, the frequency, force of the engagement and duration of the act was outside the woman’s control. The man of the household decided when, where, and how often sex occurred.
It was true that many of the more influential/educated type of men and some of the middle classes (including probation officers, policemen and solicitors)would readily give ‘lip service’ to how a man should appropriately approach a woman in all situations and give her equal regard in all things. However, such male conversion was invariably no more than professional superficial ‘lip service’ being paid in public, whereas deep down and behind closed doors, their wives would have told you a different tale about what their husbands really thought about equality between the sexes, women in general and how they really treated them in the private confines of the matrimonial abode.
I recall being on an advanced psychology course during the early 1970s. The subject of the course day was ‘The changing attitudes of society over the previous fifty years’. ‘The Women’s Movement’ (Women’s Lib) had yet to come into its own, and to even consider the sexes as ‘being equal’ in Great Britain in 1970 would have still been highly questionable in many male quarters. We then lived in a male-dominated world, run by men and largely for man.
The lecturer at the course I attended, put up a list of every offence that was known to English Law from murder, manslaughter, treason, arson, rape, sexual assault, criminal damage, theft; all the way down to traffic offences, public disturbance, and minor misdemeanours like being drunk and parking fines. We were each handed a sheet of paper and was told that we should not write our names down on it or give any indication that might identify us. Then, the lecturer asked us to honestly tick the offences we had ever committed in our life (whether or not we viewed the act as being one of those offences at the time, but now accepted them to be so).
The findings within our group were most interesting. The group comprised of around 24 men and six women; all of whom were either Probation Officers or Social Workers aged between 30-50 years old. The year was 1972. The guaranteed anonymity of the exercise, along with the fact that being earnest to learn we were all more prone to being 100% truthful in our responses, produced some remarkable results.
Although it was not a scientifically controlled test, the results revealed that the present group of Probation Officers and Social Workers had all committed offences in their past which went undetected or for which no punishment had been forthcoming. While almost all the group admitted to every traffic offence going, acts of theft, acts of criminal damage and disturbance of the peace, their more serious offences were trivialised. Acts of arson as a teenager such as setting hedges and huts on fire were considered as being just a part of growing up; and when it came to those acts of sexual offences on the statute book in 1972, as well as our overall behaviour towards females during the years of our youth in the 1950s and 1960s, the group responses were startling.
Over 80% of males in the group admitted to at least one sexual assault, and around one-third of the men admitted to what today would be regarded as rape. It was interesting that some of the women on the course considered that many women who were raped ‘were asking for it’ the way they dressed in their flimsy dresses and their thigh-high mini-skirts, along with the situations they put themselves in. The most common phrase used by women on the course was, ‘Well, what did they expect would happen ……..?’
Let me immediate say that none of the men who had placed a tick against the offences of sexual assault or rape considered themselves at the time of their act to have been committing any such dastardly offence at all! As far as they were concerned, such behaviour by them simply reflected them being a young man sowing their wild oats as being par for the times.
For all you young people out there, currently throwing your arms up in the air in disgust, let me tell you truthfully, that for many males courting a young woman during the 1950s, when a woman said ‘No’, towards the prospect of any further sexual advancements being made by the man, it was usually interpreted by the male to mean ‘Maybe; and if she said ‘Maybe’, she always meant ‘Yes’!
Even within a marriage between a man and a woman, there was no such thing as an offence of ‘rape’ during the 1950s, however, unwilling the woman proved to be or however many times she shouted or screamed “No! No! No!” when sexual intercourse she did not want was demanded by her husband. I cannot forget how both police and society at large considered physical rows between a husband and wife to be wholly regarded as being no more than ‘a domestic’; something not to be interfered with by others outside the couple’s marriage.
This attitude would persist for many more years, whatever the level of physical assault the man inflicted on his wife. I have known dozens of women who had been physically battered and sexually assaulted and raped by their violent husbands, and when they phoned the police for assistance, it was marked up as being no more than ‘a domestic’ and wasn’t responded to.
Rape victims being exclusively interviewed by male C.I.D. Officers was the norm before the 1980s and they were often encouraged ‘not to press’ their ‘allegations’ which offered no chance of a conviction. It wasn’t until well into the 1990s before every police force in the land had a woman Police Officer to use when interviewing the victims of reported ‘rape’, or those sexual offences against children started to be investigated in seriousness against men of standing, influence, celebrity and power.
The New Millennium would dawn before society learned of a string of sexual offences committed against teenagers and children by celebrities like Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris and many others, along with powerful politicians like Sir Cyril Smith, Liberal Member of Parliament for Rochdale. After his death in 2010, numerous allegations of child sexual abuse by Smith emerged, leading the police to believe that Smith was a serial sex offender. What was almost as criminal as the acts themselves that Smith and Saville committed over three decades, was the relaxed attitude the police took in pursuing and following through with numerous complaints against these sexual offenders.
I can honestly say as a serving Probation Officer between 1970-1995, that I came across dozens of clients I supervised, who had been the subject of Care Orders as a child, and who’d been reared in Children’s Homes and Foster Homes. The majority of these clients told me that they had been sexually assaulted or raped by authority figures who were being paid to care for and support them. Most of them reported these crimes which had been perpetrated against them to the police and the authorities in question, and the general response was that the children were disbelieved, and no action was taken against the sexually offending adult/adults. Unfortunately, these sexual offences were not isolated incidents in the life of children in care, and often went on for years.
These were also the same years that corresponded with the rising abuse of minors by some Catholic priests and other clergies that were to remain covered up until the dawning of the New Millennium. We now know that Bishops were often told about the sexual offences of priests against children, and yet continued to keep the matter ‘in house’ while moving the offending clergy onto another parish where the offending invariably continued.
Not the church, the court of the land, civic society or common convention would protect either women or children as they ought to have done during the first thirty years of my life.
The next time you feel to be ‘In the mood for love' unless you have an adult partner ‘who is also in the mood’, I suggest that you either run a cold shower or run a marathon or go to bed early and play with yourself.
Love and peace Bill xxx