16 votes

Weeks after Alice Munro’s death, daughter tells of dark family secret (gifted link)

9 comments

  1. [5]
    kwyjibo
    Link
    The last paragraph reminded me that I shared the news of Alice Munro's passing here on Tildes, so I thought I should share this, too. You can read Andrea Robin Skinner's story in her own words...

    Andrea Robin Skinner, a daughter of the Canadian Nobel laureate Alice Munro, said her stepfather sexually abused her as a child — and that her mother knew about it, and chose to stay with him anyway.

    Skinner, who is now an adult, detailed these accusations in an essay in The Toronto Star on Sunday. According to a separate article in The Toronto Star, Skinner went to the Ontario police, and in 2005, her stepfather, Gerald Fremlin, was charged with indecent assault against her. He pleaded guilty.

    By then, he was 80 years old. He got a suspended sentence and probation for two years. Munro stayed with him until he died in 2013.

    Because of her mother’s fame, Skinner wrote, “the silence continued.” Munro died on May 13 at 92.

    “What I wanted was some record of the truth, some public proof that I hadn’t deserved what had happened to me,” Skinner wrote of going to the police in 2005, about 30 years after the abuse began.

    “I also wanted this story, my story, to become part of the stories people tell about my mother,” Skinner continued. “I never wanted to see another interview, biography or event that didn’t wrestle with the reality of what had happened to me, and with the fact that my mother, confronted with the truth of what had happened, chose to stay with, and protect, my abuser.”

    The last paragraph reminded me that I shared the news of Alice Munro's passing here on Tildes, so I thought I should share this, too.

    You can read Andrea Robin Skinner's story in her own words here. I didn't share this link because I couldn't read it myself. (likely geolocked, as I kept getting 403 errors.)

    19 votes
    1. clem
      Link Parent
      It's interesting to see how this echoes some of Anna Ardin's thoughts about Julian Assange sexually assaulting her and getting away with it:

      It's interesting to see how this echoes some of Anna Ardin's thoughts about Julian Assange sexually assaulting her and getting away with it:

      She slams many of Assange's supporters - and journalists - for seeking a “one-sided narrative” which turns him into a hero, and her into an evil CIA agent.

      “I think that we have a problem that we have to have these heroes that are flawless… I don’t think heroes exist outside fairytales.”

      Ardin says her intention was never to write off Assange as a one-dimensional villain, to be “kicked out of society”.

      Offenders are seen as “monsters, completely different from all other men", she says. And this means the “system goes on”, she argues, as “normal” men don’t realise that they, too, can be prone to violence - so they don’t interrogate themselves.

      “I want him to be seen as a normal guy. That's what normal guys do sometimes. They cross other people's boundaries.”

      She thinks that progressive movements often have problems calling out leaders, fearing any criticism delegitimises the entire cause. “You can't be a leader and abuse the people who are active in your movement, because the movement will not survive.”

      People should not be able to get away with sexual crimes, or any crimes just because they’re influential, she adds.

      14 votes
    2. [3]
      chocobean
      Link Parent
      Ugh, yuck. I dont have definitive answers on how to separate art from the artist etc, and I am certainly not saying that artists need to be Saints or that other people need to come to the same...

      Ugh, yuck.

      I dont have definitive answers on how to separate art from the artist etc, and I am certainly not saying that artists need to be Saints or that other people need to come to the same conclusion as me etc. but only on a personal note, I cannot "celebrate" this person anymore, and her writings will always have a layer of grossness to them that I won't be able to shake. Into the trash they go.

      I'm happy about the siblings healing together. I want her abuser to be adequately punished, and I also blame their father. Also positive that Andrea is moving on with her life and helping others in turn.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        kwyjibo
        Link Parent
        It's both complicated and simple. In this specific case, it's extremely hard to separate the art from the artist given what her art's been about. I've only read a book of hers and bought a couple...

        It's both complicated and simple. In this specific case, it's extremely hard to separate the art from the artist given what her art's been about. I've only read a book of hers and bought a couple more after her recent passing. I don't think those books will be on my reading list anytime soon, but when I eventually get to them, I'll read them with this article mind. So in that sense her art evolves, it precedes her.

        Given the subjects she perpetually deals with, my take away from reading more of her work won't be about admiring how talented she is putting human intricacies into writing but how can a person who's so good at doing so can be so blind as to utter this nonsense:

        “She [Munro] said that she had been ‘told too late,’” Skinner wrote, that “she loved him too much, and that our misogynistic culture was to blame if I expected her to deny her own needs, sacrifice for her children and make up for the failings of men. She was adamant that whatever had happened was between me and my stepfather. It had nothing to do with her.”

        2 votes
        1. chocobean
          Link Parent
          And it's especially eye popping after she successfully wrote from the perspective of a regular human mother in the same position. I think maybe it serves as a reminder that our blind spots are...

          And it's especially eye popping after she successfully wrote from the perspective of a regular human mother in the same position. I think maybe it serves as a reminder that our blind spots are truly blind.

          I can respect your approach. That's a good way to take it. See if one could Sherlock Holmes how human blind spots work.

          Imma just read something else since I already have such a huge stack of unread books :p

          2 votes
  2. [4]
    cfabbro
    Link
    Mirror: https://archive.is/b3Bnw
    3 votes
    1. [3]
      kwyjibo
      Link Parent
      Shoot! I thought I pasted in the gifted link. I apologize. Here's the gifted link.

      Shoot! I thought I pasted in the gifted link. I apologize. Here's the gifted link.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        👍 I was going to update the link to that... but @mycketforvirrad already did, like 10 seconds after your comment! So fast! :P

        👍 I was going to update the link to that... but @mycketforvirrad already did, like 10 seconds after your comment! So fast! :P

        4 votes
        1. mycketforvirrad
          Link Parent
          I was just milling around, at a loose end... 😊

          I was just milling around, at a loose end... 😊

          4 votes