[Content Warning: This article contains frank discussion of the rape and abuse of children. Please do not read this if it will affect you in a negative way.]
For those who don’t know, Marion Zimmer Bradley is a renowned feminist sci-fi and fantasy writer whose works include The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series.
It recently came to light that Bradley had protected a known pedophile and child rapist: her husband, Walter Breen. Her own daughter, Moria Greyland, said this about her mother:
“The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away. I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment. I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family ‘home.’ None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops), but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls”
If there’s any doubt about Moria’s testimony, here’s what Marion said during her husband’s trial:
“And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?”
“I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.”
“Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Can you tell me why you would publicly state that Walter was not a pedophile when you knew that he had been having sex with a minor child?”
“Because, as I said, [Victim X] did not impress me as a minor child. He was late in his teens, and I considered him — I think he would have been old enough to be married in this state legally, so I figured what he did sexually was his own business.”
Note: the child in question was actually around 10 or 11.
So Marion married a man who was molesting a child and had no problem with it?! What is wrong with this woman?
There’s been debate whether or not Marion should be stripped of her awards and her works forgotten. Or do her accomplishments trump her faults? I think it’s time we as a society start to learn to separate the art from the artist. Before you say it, yes, art is essentially a piece of the artist themselves. But in silencing and condemning the art, we also silence her victims. We should praise her works, but she should also be condemned. It’s time we stop giving free passes to people just because they’ve done something great; a crime is a crime. It’s like Micheal Jackson. He is, no doubt, one of the greatest performers of our lifetime. The music industry would have been a completely different place had he never existed. BUT! He should have been brought to justice for his own pedophilic acts.
For now, Marion is dead, and only her works live on. We should continue to read them, but we also need to remind everyone that behind the writer, there was a horrible monster.
How do you feel about the Marion Zimmer Bradley case? Should she be tossed aside? Forgiven? Let us know in the comments.