'The seven deadly sins are rather like the 7 dwarfs according to Ross Fitzgerald. Most people, if they try, can remember about five or six -and those they can't recall are almost always the most telling. Fitzgerald, however, thinks there are 11 deadly sins in this witty, erudite & informative collection he has asked Australia's finest writers to comment on the sin that suits them best. Well-known Australian writers present their thoughts on the eleven deadly sins. Contributors include Marion Halligan writing on melancholy, Blanche d'Alpuget on lust, and Gerard Henderson on anger. The editor is a Brisbane academic and social commentator.'
I chose "Lust" because my first encounter with sexuality had such a profound effect on me. At the age of 12 I was molested by a fifty-four year old District Court judge. He was a neighbour who lived in the same street. Contrary to the usual pattern of the child feelig helpless, hopeless, disempowered and ashamed, I felt the opposite. There was a specific reason: my father. I had a truly terrifying father. He had been a State champion light-heavy weight amateur boxer, a wrestler, a water polo player, surf life-saver and blue-water yachtsman but the real terror was his temper. He had a blazing temper, and I was his adored, hightly protected only child. I always knew that if I told him about the Judge I would probably be getting a huge hiding, but the esteemed gentleman could end up dead. My father was more than capable of killing another man with his fists. The Judge, who was slim and not in the least athletic, seemed to realise this himself. From the outset he wordlessly conveyed fear, so instead of seeing myself as a victim I had a sense of empowerment. We were both playing with fire, but he was the one who would get burnt. Inadvertently, the combination of the randy old pervert and my father set me up for life never to feel subservient or inferior to men. This was not usual for women growing up in the 1950s. Nor was my take on my experience of sexual molestation in line with the experience of most victims. When it was published there were outcries in the media and psychotherapists asserted in print and on radio that I had in fact been psychologically damaged by the Judge but refused to recognise it. Pity they hadn't met my Dad. Before publication I took the decision that I would give no interviews nor make any comment, no matter what was said. I stuck to this. It made me unpopular with many people, but I did not want to embarrass my father by disclosing my reasons. (He was horrified already by the story and blamed himself for not protecting me.) The second part of "Lust" is about my first 'grown up' sexual adventure as a 17 year old. This time my father did intervene and the man suffered horribly. But there is a kind of happy ending. My lover, a Polish writer, who at the time was a political refugee in Australia, escaping the long arm of Soviet oppression, went on to find refuge in America. There he was honoured by President Reagan for his contribution to Polish-American relations and won literary awards for his work on other Polish emigres. Now aged eighty, he and I correspond from time to time by email. With the benefit of hindsight I think our relationship was more than lust: I think it approached real love.