Andrew Griffiths- The Sunscreen Incident

Content: rape, coercive control, male entitlement. Andrew Griffiths was a Conservative MP from 2010 to 2019, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, a junior minister, from January to July 2018, when he resigned because it was revealed he had sent 2000 sexts to two female constituents. In June 2019 Andrew Griffiths MP applied to court for contact with his child. His wife opposed the application, claiming he had been abusive.

They got together in 2008. She found out about the sexting in 2011, and also about an affair when the other woman turned up at the Conservative Party conference. She stayed with him until the sexting, which had continued, was reported, when their child was only a few months old. The judgment on the facts of the abuse was only issued on 26 November 2020 because of difficulties arranging the hearing.

Her barrister, Dr Charlotte Proudman, reports that the sexts included “I want to be able to lift your skirts over dinner and show my friends”. Griffiths paid for this service, and could not accept the impact on the women of such texts, or that they were in any way victims. He said he was addicted to pornography.

So it is not true to say that a powerful man has been held to account, as the Court of Appeal summary does. He was powerful when he raised the action, and told his wife she would not be believed because he was an MP, but disgraced by the time of the hearing, when Kate Griffiths had replaced him as MP for Burton. He claimed in court that he had had a hundred hours of psychotherapy, considering the impact on him of childhood sexual abuse and the death of his mother, but that he was now mentally well- being well might be necessary to get contact, and being ill might explain some of his behaviour. He was in considerable debt, and living with relatives. The judgment on the facts shows the kind of abuse he subjected his wife to, over their ten year relationship.

On several occasions he penetrated her while she was sleeping, and “The sunscreen incident” shows he thought he owned her. After his disgrace, he gave evidence in court that he had paid for everything on an expensive holiday, and so was very cross when his wife had not packed enough sunscreen for him: she should look after him. His exposure in the Press has not taken his sense of entitlement.

He admitted that he went to the safe in the hotel room, got out his wife’s passport and Euros and threw them at her, telling her to “fuck off out of my sight and get the next plane home”. He claimed this was “such an inconsequential row” because “I was just a bit pissed off”. He accepted that he pushed her onto the bed, and even that “putting hand on someone is assault”, but still said that she had reacted “theatrically” because his push was “not violent or forceful”.

In court, he said that he thought he had apologised afterwards. He said he loved his beautiful wife, and the judge took him to mean that he could not have behaved as he said, because of that Love. However, there were other assaults, including when his wife was eight months pregnant, and of a 74 year old man.

With the press about to reveal the sexting, he sent her a message begging her to stay with him in an apparent relationship to save his career. He said it could be without “sexual or touching rights”, but a relationship based on consent has no such rights.

On 30 April 2018 Griffiths came home from work to hear the child crying. He shouted at the child, whose name and sex cannot be given in the judgment, though I found it instantly through Wikipedia. He shouted, “Shut the fuck up, [name]”. I have great sympathy for parents worn out by their child’s crying. One or two have told me how they came so close to harming the child, and how glad they are they did not. He claimed in court that such anger was normal and ordinary, and it was said in a quiet voice. The judge did not believe him. The child was not yet three weeks old.

The judge considered Griffiths’ attempt to blame his second suicide attempt on the mother’s refusal of Christmas contact an example of continuing coercive behaviour. The Court of Appeal said that his attempts to prevent publication of the details was a further attempt at control. Even in the last few weeks, he was still at it: his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was late, and would represent a misuse of the court process.

He continued his mad flailing to the bitter end. This is her official portrait from 2019 as a new MP (Wikimedia).

Return to Edinburgh

I am very happy. I met my great-niece for the first time on Saturday. At ten months, she is standing up, and walking round furniture or when supported by two hands- sometimes by just one hand. She stood on my knee, and I told her how strong she was, and how wonderful that was. S tells me that “great-aunt” sounds much older than “grandmother”, but I am not convinced.

That is the first time I have seen the family since 2013. I suppose I am closer to them than at any time since then. I am unused to blogging like this, I am being especially politic: I restrict what I write to my reactions and feelings, but today not even all those; yet I can share the positive ones. I am happy. I may go back, even later this year, to scatter my father’s ashes, where we scattered my mother’s. The child’s parents are getting married. I hardly spoke to him, but he seems a decent bloke, attentive to his daughter.

Peter invited me, on the occasion of his thirtieth birthday.

-You’re not old enough to have a nephew aged 30, people tell me.
-I have an older sister who married young.
“I had him when I was fifteen,” joked S.

He has moved in with Amy, and they are getting married. He is happy with his job, and believes it has prospects, which pleases me. He picks things up. His MS has got no worse since he was put on a clinical trial, and he hopes the drug will be licensed. I worry for them, more than for my great-niece’s parents, and suppose they will face the difficulties couples face, and surpass them or not. She told me several things, some of which a parent might not want to hear, which I think are alright, actually. She is older than he is, and I like older women so I think that is fine and some people don’t.

It is never perfect. It is good enough.

I like her. I like her insecurities, they show sensitivity. And she arranged a good drink. I stayed with Fran, then walked along the Union canal to the restaurant, then to a pub, then another pub, then a third pub where Amy had arranged a downstairs room which she got for free if the people spent £300 on the bar. They did. The birthday cake was chocolate in the shape of a Wookie. Then I walked home along the canal, just before midnight, lit by tiny lights each side of the path, which was uncomfortable but safe enough.

Enough, enough, enough…

I went to Fran’s house, and was introduced to her daughter’s guinea-pig. It had beautiful long soft fur, but when I said yes I would like to cuddle it, and its cage was opened, it scuttled off into its box. I felt it is entitled to its autonomy so did not insist, but back in the living room picked up a teddy bear and stroked that.

I don’t like being human. I want to be a disembodied intellect.
-I know, said Tina.

Or, I want to be a fulfilled human. This need for closeness is such a pain when I cannot satiate it!

Becoming trans

No-one is “born that way”. Babies have personality, recognisable in the infant and the adult by those who watch them grow up; and we grow up in families and societies which mould us. Nature and nurture intertwine. There are a group of apparent men who feel the need to “make men” of themselves, and take macho jobs- on an oil rig, in the armed forces, the police firearms unit- and then transition. I look back to my childhood and think- was there another way?

I do not “blame my parents”. I recognise that they did their best with the situations they found themselves in. They did their best for me, in love, not being inerrant. It’s not “forgiving” for there is nothing to forgive.

I am intensely controlling. That’s why I am not working: I stay in my house because I need to be safe, I am not in control outside and not safe when not in control. My mother was very controlling. Her mother was, and her mother’s father:

My grandmother had to be home by nine. One evening she did not come home until quarter past nine, and her father was very angry with her.

“But dad, I’m going to get married tomorrow!” she said. He replied,

“There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip.”

That’s one of my myths. I come from a controlling family. That’s the proof of it. It’s the only story I have of my great-grandfather. I have few of my grandmother, and those are capable of wildly differing interpretation depending on my need. I want not to need this to be true.  I want to see clearly, not to lie to myself, for I have always lied to myself, and not seen that I was lying; and then I worked out that I was lying, and worked out by analysis what sort of lie would produce this ridiculous falsehood. The first I worked out was

I lie to myself, because I want to see myself as a good person.

I don’t think I am alone in that, though definitions of “good person” differ. I lie to myself because I want to feel safe, is the underlying lie. I tell stories to understand the world, so saying how I “became trans” I link together stories which seem to fit together as an explanation which is as true as I know how.

Insofar as “truth” could have a value for me- to justify, or even explain- I will only see it partially, I will gloss over the bits which don’t contribute to my desire. But I want to be truthful, so will try not to gloss, if I see I am.

I’ve been blogging five years. My first post was 18 August 2011- here it is. I have published 1,817 posts and about nineteen pages since then, and perhaps one other person has read all of it; people stay, commenting, for years. We are where we are by accident- why, in the 1950s, would my mother take a job four hundred miles from home, in that particular town where my father was born? (I am glad she did.) A story can’t say why I am how I am, but it might come to some approximation. I intend to post that tomorrow.

William Blake, Night Thoughts 8

The generous thing

Christ carrying the cross right detailI am glad my father remarried. Otherwise, at 88, he would have needed a carer. He might not have lasted this long.

Christmas 2001, they had been married for two months. I visited: it was the three of us, her descendants were in their own homes. On the Sunday I went to the Quaker meeting then to visit Sheena in Linlithgow, dressed female. I was still presenting male at work, but less and less, elsewhere. I got back to Dad’s flat, and went into the spare bedroom. Dad told me I would have to get changed in order to spend the evening with Margaret, who would be home from her visiting soon. Later, he came in to tell me I had to get changed as Margaret was arriving. I stayed, lying on the bed. Just as I had started cleaning off my make-up he came in to tell me I could stay dressed. And I wonder whether he projected his distress at my transition onto her- even whether I was part of that projection.

After I went full time, in April 2002, he told me I could not be in the house when she was there. I did not see her again until 2004.

He complained about her so much that when she wanted to move back to B—- I thought he might not go too. He complained about her to my sister as well. Now, my sister’s children call Margaret “Grandma” (my mother had the baby-name of “Li”) and may be more likely to stay in touch with her than with me.

And yet it was unquestionably good for him. I don’t know what his social life would have been like, but with her this year he could live independently, and without her he would need some carer- me, possibly- at least to shop and to do some of the housework and any gardening. He was dressing and bathing himself, I think.

If he, or we, were projecting distress at my transition onto her, had he not remarried that distress would have to come out in some other way, and we might have had a more honest relationship. When I had aversion therapy in 1991, he

(I have just found the title for this post.)

accepted me. I did not have to have aversion therapy, he said: if that was the way I needed to relax it was fine by him. Now I say I am glad he remarried, because it was so good for him. Even though it drove us apart, or at least after it our relationship was more distant. That is the generous thing to say.

Morbidity gay people die younger, and if so, why? Is it the prejudice of the straight population?

I started this thinking of parallels with left-handedness. In the 90s I met a number of left handed people, and those at school in 1920 often told me they had been forced to write right-handed. The verbally clever and emotionally barren play on words “The left hand is not the right hand” illustrates this. Those in school in 1930 were unlucky to be forced to use the left hand, by a backward teacher. There is a similar visible reduction in prejudice: the word “left” comes from Old English lyft meaning weak or useless.

So while the common understanding was that left handers died ten years younger, it is not necessarily the case. Merely establishing that there are fewer left-handers in older age groups is not enough: older lefties may have been converted. In England gay lovemaking was criminal until 1967, (in Scotland until 1980!) and older gay people might even now pretend to be straight, or be misreported as straight by prejudiced family members.

Here is an interesting study: gay people have a greater incidence of mental disorder in US states which do not protect us against employment discrimination, or include us as a protected group in hate crime legislation. Such states will be following the wishes of the majority of their population, though perhaps a majority in the recent past rather than now, so such lack of protection indicates historic prejudice in the population. Where that is the experience of gay people we suffer more mental disorder. Family Acceptance Project has done research showing that where families reject their child’s homosexuality, suicide and sickness is increased, and life success decreased. Falsely claiming that the Bible says gay sex is always sinful kills children.

Marli Renee at first appears winsome, opposing prejudice against gay people, but accepts those false views about the Bible, and cites the “Family Research Council”. See what they say about homosexuality: Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. This is the bias from which they start, with a paranoid dose of victimhood: Hollywood and the media relentlessly propagate the image of the fit, healthy, and well-adjusted homosexual. Tell that to Fox News, or TV Tropes, which gives hundreds of examples. The research is as selectively cited as the claim about the media.

People continue to be gay, and find partners, under the most repellent persecution: see this gay magazine from the 1950s- so I propose something which Marli may be willing to endorse- as her condemnation of unthinking nastiness to gay people is valuable and Christian. If the conservative agenda is limited to non-sensational claims that gay sex is unnatural and harmful, and discrimination or hate crime against gay people is made unlawful as that against black people, we will see how the morbidity changes.

I blame my parents!

Or not.

For a long time I was a goody-goody as far as my parents were concerned, aping their opinions and ideas and ways of being. And then, in my early thirties, I realised it was time to do teenage, which I had never done properly, and separate myself a bit. I discovered my emotions. They were anger, frustration, resentment and fear.

I think this was a good stage to go through. I had been hurt, and I did need to self-protect. And. Now I know that my parents did their absolute best for me. Knowing what I do of their circumstances and antecedents, I think they did wonderfully well.  I love my father’s enthusiasm for his work as a teacher, always seeking out new ways to engage with each child. Now he is retired, 86, still dancing.

I have decided that my most important memories of my mother are two particular wonderful hugs, expressing, perceiving and sharing love both ways. And. She worked so hard, all the time, and wanted the best for me the best way she knew how. And. Born fifty years later, she would have absolutely and completely got all this Personal Growth, and flown with it.

For years, I could have told you a story of my mother and then wailed, “She didn’t understand!” with as much emotion as if the incident had happened an hour before. And then, it clicked. “Oh, Riiight! She didn’t understand!” Relief, liberation, joy.