CASE STUDY
Eric Gill / The Body: Terminology
07 May 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

One of the issues addressed in the exhibition Eric Gill: The Body is the sexual abuse of his teenage daughters Betty and Petra. The way in which we address these issues and explain them to our audiences and visitors is extremely sensitive and should be treated with respect. We will be addressing the abuse frankly and openly, and would prefer not to use terms that downgrade the acts or sidestep the issue.

If you find yourself engaged in conversation with members of the public and the subject crops up, please make sure that you are familiar with the appropriate terms and vocabulary so that no offence is caused when discussing Gill’s conduct.

If a visitor wishes to engage with you on the subject and you are uncomfortable with doing so, please refer the visitor to another available member of staff.

Finally, this can be a difficult subject to absorb – if you are affected by any of the terms used below, please talk to a staff member who will offer advice.

PREFERRED TERMS TERMS TO AVOID
Sexual abuse of his daughters Paedophile (he was not, as the girls were teenagers at the time)
Incestuous sexual abuse Peccadillos/  strange goings on/ funny business
Acts of sexual abuse Unusual sexual tastes / particular preferences
Familial sexual abuse Strange/bizarre/outrageous personal life
Subjected to sexual abuse Pervert
Child sexual molestation Controversial behavior

(it is not controversial, it did occur)

Child sexual abuse Bad behavior (it is but this could be used to minimize)
Perpetrator of sexual abuse
Child sexual assault
Domestic abuse
Victim/survivor

This is a grey area – these terms are used frequently but can cause offence – the more preferable term is ‘people who have been subjected to sexual abuse’.

Reprehensible
Disturbing
Distressing

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