Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Daughter Speaks Out

The MZB/Walter Breen scandal was bigger in the science fiction/speculative fantasy world than in the Pagan world, but MZB has influenced Pagans through her Mists of Avalon books and her Pagan associates, as detailed by Sonja Sadvoksky in The Priestess and the Pen.

If you ask someone under 35 about Mists, they do not think it is relevant, or maybe they have heard of it but most likely have never read it. If you ask someone over 35 the same question, especially if they are female, they often come back with with an answer that Mists was a fundamental book in their development as a Pagan and Witch. I kind of straddle this divide, as I am turning 34 this month, and I have a thing for weird books.

The Bradley/Breen scandal was about sexual abuse, and their daughter Moira Greyland experienced it too.(I don’t know the blog where she guest-posts, but the post itself came well-recommended.)

My observation of my father and mother’s actual belief is this: since everyone is naturally gay, it is the straight establishment that makes everyone hung up and therefore limited.  Sex early will make people willing to have sex with everyone, which will bring about the utopia while eliminating homophobia and helping people become “who they really are.” It will also destroy the hated nuclear family with its paternalism, sexism, ageism (yes, for pedophiles, that is a thing) and all other “isms.”  If enough children are sexualized young enough, gayness will suddenly be “normal” and accepted by everyone, and the old fashioned notions about fidelity will vanish.  As sex is integrated as a natural part of every single relationship, the barriers between people will vanish, and the utopia will appear, as “straight culture” goes the way of the dinosaur.  As my mother used to say: “Children are brainwashed into believing they don’t want sex.”

Read the rest if you can handle it. Moira is not exactly waving the rainbow flag.

I would rather not get into the whole “Can you separate the artist from the work?” because, most of the time, I think that you can. That’s the reader’s response. On the other hand, it is also fair for the critic to examine how the writer’s attitude toward X affects how she or he writes about X.

5 thoughts on “Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Daughter Speaks Out

  1. Angiportus

    I couldn’t handle it. The comments, anyway.
    I’m glad I didn’t buy any of Bradley’s books. After being majorly squicked by some of the sex scenes, I knew I didn’t want to read any more.
    As to whether there is a sector of the LBGTQEtc. movement that is a danger to the young, I am not sure. I suspect no more than in the straight population. For sure, the person who molested me was not gay. I suspect that a lot of homophobic people, religious or otherwise, have jumped on a bandwagon of blaming the gays for child sexual abuse. That isn’t helping anyone.
    People like Bradley and Breen give gays a bad name. Heck, they give human beings a bad name.
    For the record, Bill Cosby’s work is not welcome in my house either.

  2. I read the first two, maybe three paragraphs & was out.
    Didn’t help that my 4 year old was jabbering at me the entire time, intensifying my ill-at-ease feelings…

    “If enough children are sexualized young enough…”
    Every critter on this planet has a natural progression toward sexual maturity, most of which is biologically proscribed. My experience (& that of people close to me) is that pushing those natural boundaries inevitably results in disaster. Puberty has it’s time & purpose — obviously some people cannot see past their own self-serving desires.

    Stuff like this makes me want to become a helicopter parent, which is exactly what I don’t want to be.

    And what is with this: “It will also destroy the hated nuclear family with its paternalism, sexism, ageism… and all other “isms”” Yet they demeaned their own child for being female?


  3. Robert Mathiesen

    I spent my ‘teen years in Berkeley, 1952-1964, and my parents were born and raised in Berkeley. At that time, as later, Berkeley was home to a huge number of underground utopian schemes and dreams of every sort, from technocracy through sex radicalism to full-blown antinomianism and moral relativism. The sexual theories that MZB and Walter Breen acted on with their own children and others, seem to me to have been neither uncommon nor regarded by others as extreme in the years I lived in Berkeley. This may provide some perspective on the matter for your readers who were not raised in the San Francisco Bay area. — What changed around 1965, IMHO, was primarily the extent to which all these things came to be more widely known within Berkeley, and publicized outside of the San Francisco Bay area, and eventually politicized throughout the nation. — Personally, I never had a taste for utopias, or even for mass movements to make a better world or reform society; all these schemes and dreams left (and leave) me cold. — I do not wish to excuse or condone the great harm that was done to the Breen children and others. But it needs to be said that at some times, in some parts of our country, behavior that strikes us (here and now) as monstrous is or was not regarded as problematic even by those who do not exhibit it.

    1. I am sure that 1950s-early 1960s Berkeley served as a hortus conclusus for sexual experimentation (not the only one of course). Two things do concern me:

      1. Moira Greyland’s opening sentence connects Paganism with her abuse–although she does not capitalize it, I assume that she means “pagan” as a religious term, not in the Christian sense of “irreligious.”

      2. At the same time, I see a possiblity of her testimony being attacked as dangerous in the era of same-sex marraige, transgender rights, etc.. “You may have experienced it, but you are not allowed to theorize about it.” And that would be a bad thing too.

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