A Canadian game show called Just Like Mom aired from 1980-1985. Fergie Olver [whose name I kept misspelling, which is now fixed] and his wife Catherine Swing co-hosted the show for 4 of those years. Mr. Olver seemed to have a little obsession with affection, and a viewer caught on to that trend and edited the video you’ll see below. This is what it can look like when an adult is showing inappropriate sexual attention to a child.Oliv
I’m neither a psychologist nor expert on these issues, but I’d like to share my interpretations and thoughts about what’s going on here:
Why don’t the mothers do anything about Fergie Olver’s behavior? They’re sitting right next to their daughters who are being pressured into giving out kisses to a middle aged man. I think they hold back out of embarrassment or fear. If they say something, it’s on television in front of an audience that wants lighthearted entertainment. The producers and director would be angry for the disruption. They’d draw attention to themselves. Maybe it’s not a big deal, they might think. This is just funny and non-threatening.
- Can someone who was the age of those children or older tell me what affection with strangers or family friends was like back then? Was it more socially acceptable?
Is it nervous laughter we hear in the background, or is it truly amused chortles? It bothers me to hear little snippets of cheering when a girl finally gives in to the pressure.
Fergie Olver uses a light, playful tone of voice when talking to the girls. He showers them with compliments and asks about their personal life–even the dating practices of one girl. He uses his body to get very close, covering their personal space with his arm around the back of the chair and his head stooped low to make eye contact. He moves closer and tricks the girls into bringing their faces up before stealing a peck on the cheek or even the lips.
When a girl refuses or acts nervous, Olver either goes for the kiss anyway and ignores their feelings, or he tries to persuade them; he even tells Alison (0:46) with a whisper in her ear that if she gives him a kiss, she’ll win the show. When she refuses, he warns her of the consequences. What do we call coersion of a sexual nature? That’s right kids: sexual harrassment.
What. A. Fucking. Skeezebag. I wonder what Olver’s wife thought of his sexual miscunduct on the show? What was he like in private when the cameras weren’t rolling?
Who’s my favorite kid? Alison (0:46) who says clearly that she does not give out hugs and kisses freely and that no she will not give him one even when he asks repeatedly. Alison’s mom calls him a “dirty old man” after he tries to bribe Alison. That’s the one piece of honest observation we get to see in this video, and I don’t feel that anythiing is amusing or wrong about her saying what everyone should have been thinking.
The girls’ body language should say enough: We see two of the girls physically move away from Olver when he goes in for the kiss. They’re startled, frightened, and uncomfortable. That is called unwanted sexual touching.
How did this douchebag get away with such flagrant behavior? Have we simply grown more aware of the dangers of that sort of attention than we were back then? What do you think of these clips?
One of my friends on plurk sent out this quote:
Let your desire for pleasure and your desire for feeling good be your only guiding light.
So far, I’m the only one who has reacted negatively to the message, and I suppose I’m not surprised. I take a lot of things seriously, and I’m not exactly a wild and crazy free spirit. Hedonism has always prompted an inner dissonance for me, and I’m trying to get to the bottom of why. I wonder if I’m an outlier in the secular community. Perhaps I’m missing the mark.
What is Hedonism?
Hedonism is an ethical system that stems from this truth: people are motivated primarily by the production of pleasure and happiness and the avoidance of pain. It argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. I agree that we humans do in fact desire our own happiness so strongly that it can outweigh most other impulses or values.
What bothers me? Selfishness and a lack of compassion. Hedonism strikes me as ultimately self-serving and love-less. When a person embraces his or her passions and vices to the detriment of another’s wellbeing or the social good, then I lose respect for that individual. Hell, I even lose respect for myself when I seek my own happiness and comfort over that of another person. I admire those who seek the greater good and the contentment and peace of the group over their own pleasure; I wish I could say I acted this way more often.
Living a hedonistic lifestyle may not be the best choice for imbalanced individuals. Should a pedophile seek pleasure and happiness even though sexual satisfaction is at the expense of a child and against the law? what about addictions? Isn’t moderation or the agony of quitting better even if it is painful or difficult? Perhaps I’m thinking of sily examples, but the people I’ve met who have said they embrace hedonism have often been those who are rebelling against limits and healthy living in moderation. Perhaps they don’t understand it in its ideal form—whatever that may be. Hey, I’m no expert!
What should we value? Should the seeking of pleasure and lack of discomfort trump an altruistic or sacrificial decision?
Andrew left a thoughtful, interesting comment on my recent post about coming out to my family. I think it’s worth responding to at length, and I’d like you all to chime in if you feel inspired. What do you think about my decision?
The only family member who does not know of my atheism is my brother. I love him very much, and he’s a great guy. I am intimidated, however, by his methods of confrontation, debate, and the tenacity with which he clings to and reveres his doctrines and traditions. He is a passionate conservative, KJV-only, fundamentalist Baptist preacher who loves to evangelize and debate (neither of which I have ever enjoyed).
“Sinning against yourself”
Andrew has this to say about my reluctance:
I can understand your feelings of wanting to keep people in the dark, it is easier to do nothing. My own coming out as atheist prompted a lot of negative comments from my family, but now I am so free! And after a few years have been able to mend fences.
I just want to say that by lying to your brother, you are sinning against yourself. What’s more important, his feelings or your being able to live in an honest, open way without cognitive dissonance?
Gonna be painful tho, I know how hurtful believers can be when they are saving the lost.
Privacy vs. Lying
I hear what Andrew is saying, and I admire him for coming out to his family and working through all of the backlash. I’d like to clarify things just for my own satisfaction:
And after a few years have been able to mend fences.
That’s right. It takes years. It’s like putting off excercising/dieting to lose weight because you know how long it will take to reach your goal and how hard it will be. Sure, it’s worth it to start (the sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over the hard parts). But that’s not what procrastinators do. I’m a procrastinator. I avoid difficult situations and put them off. That’s where I’m coming from.
I just want to say that by lying to your brother, you are sinning against yourself.
If you consider me not telling him about my religious choices as lying, then I can see your point. But I do not think I’m lying at all. If he asks me a question, I answer honestly. Sure, I’m not telling everything and am withholding some pretty key information about my opinions on certain issues, but I don’t think someone is necessarily lying to me if they don’t tell me about the most personal things going on in their lives.
It’s kind of like political discussions. I’m a progressive, and the rest of my blood family are staunch conservatives. If I don’t mention that I’m a progressive, or that I disagree with their views, or shout my opinions to the world… that doesn’t mean I’m lying to them. they may assume I share their views, but I might not.
I may be avoiding difficult situations–and I may be silly and scared of it–but I don’t think I’m doing it in a “sinful” (ugh, that word…) way.
Perhaps secrets don’t work in my family. Perhaps my older sister (M) asked directly and my mother didn’t want to lie.
When I came out atheist to my mother in October we agreed that I’d be the one to tell my siblings; I didn’t want her to feel obligated to be my secret keeper or play defense for me. So when my mother called me last night to chat, she admitted that during a conversation about me, she told M that I was an atheist.
I can only imagine what sorts of things they discussed that would lead my mother to feel it was necessary to tell M about my deconversion. Did my recent politically charged discussion with M come up? Did my off-handed Facebook comment about “Fred Phelps and his god” ruffle some curious feathers? Was M concerned about my lack of morals and sex life? Perhaps they spoke about how distant Mom and I have been lately and Mom wanted to tell her why.
I know guessing and making things up in my mind won’t help me know the truth (hint, hint, Christians!), so I’ll stop there. Did it hurt that my mother didn’t let me tell M about being an atheist? I’m surprising myself when I answer: No, not at all, actually. More than anything else, it let me off the hook. I was putting off outsing myself for “the perfect moment”—which of course would never come. So now that I don’t have to worry about how to say it, I can think forward to how I should present my thoughts and answers to M when she comes to me with questions. She might not; she might not want to tell me that she knows. We’ll just have to see.
Why am I so calm about this? I was filled with anxiety just a few months ago about how my family would react to my coming out. Maybe it’s the lack of reaction (since I wasn’t there) that keeps me feeling peaceful—as if it was a success already. Maybe it’s because I feel so much more confident in who I am and how being an atheist is not wrong. When I found myself feeling guilt or embarrassment about being an atheist, I was acting out of the lessons and patterns I was given as a Christian. I may finally be breaking free of that training… bit by bit.