26 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 18

Sadist revolution

Sir: It is always irritating to see an interesting argument marshalled in false or unworthy terms. Mr Attwood-Wood's letter contains a pretty example of false analogy backed by intentionally pejorative terms and a gratuitously irrelevant insertion, and with your indulgence I propose to analise it in some detail.

The term ' seduction ' is applied retrospectively to what_ had given the appearance of an act of love. It implies that one individual has made sexual use of another having first wilfully presented a false picture of his status, character. motives, or intentions to that end. The principle 01 caveat emptor applies to such transactions, and rightly so, since no one can have absolute knowledge of another's character and motives, and few people's status and intentions are invariably transparent, even to themselves. Certain classes of people, principally children and idiots, are held to be more impressionable than their fellows and are not bound by this principle; carnal knowledge of such is defined as tantamount to rape, which brings me to my second point.

Mr Attwood-Wood has chosen to insert the term ' strictly speaking ' into his question. This suggests that there is a valid (if less strict) manner of speaking whereby a person who has been seduced could be described as involuntary, and her seducer could therefore be treated with the same harshness which our society (rightly) reserves fo rthe rapist. For Mr Atwood-Wood's information, the victim of seduction is voluntary by definition, and no amount of skill on the part of the seducer, or sympoathy on our, will make her complicity less real. This does exonerate the seducer from being accused of a crime, though not from the consequences of his actions. The phrase ' strictly speaking ' in a sentence does not exonerate the writer from speaking strictly.

If Mr Attwood-Wood wishes to take issue with Mr Grant's statement of fact, let him do so on the legitimate ground that someone who does not deserve it, and is unprepared for it, may encounter pornography by accident, even as one might become the victim of an exhibitionist, or discover a couple making love on a riverbank any warm afternoon. And if he feels that the injunction to avert one's sight is no longer sufficient, then let him say so, without any empty rhetoric about force or seduction.

C. N. Gilmour 197 Woodstock Road, Oxford.