There’s a joke going round on Twitter that ‘they are arresting the Seventies.’ The ‘Seventies’ they are arresting is the decade rather than the mean age of those being rounded up by Operation Yewtree, though 73-year-old Jimmy Tarbuck is the latest entertainer from the period known to have been questioned about historical sex abuse allegations. Max Clifford, himself arrested for the same alleged offence, has said that there are many famous older men living in fear of an early-morning visit from the police. We seem to have come rather belatedly to the idea that being on TV, famous, rich, or any combination of the three, conferred on some men a sense of sexual entitlement. Girl fans in their teens (groupies, in the language of rock) were excitedly vulnerable to the charms of fame and what came with it, and the men – who, as John Peel (not obviously an abusive monster) said, ‘didn’t ask for ID’ – took their tribute in sexual encounters without concerning themselves with the age of those they were exploiting.
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