Listed as one of my newest obsessions, is the feminist voice of Sady Doyle, founder of Tiger Beatdown. I recently came across her piece in Elle.com tackling the Maria Schneider and Bertolucci story, where she says what no one else is saying: we allow women to suffer for the art of men. This is not an isolated incident, this has been happening for decades, will continue to happen, and it’s because we allow it to happen.
Listing Picasso, Jodorowsky, Kubrick, and Hitchcock as famous (and beloved) offenders, Bertolucci Wasn’t the First Man to Abuse a Woman and Call it Art and He Won’t Be the Last, will (hopefully) reset the way you think about art and entertainment.
The really shocking thing about the rape of Maria Schneider is how long it took us to pay attention.
Yet by framing their abuse as a necessary evil, we’re not only devaluing those women as artists—essentially, arguing that professional actresses aren’t talented enough to scream or cry on camera without being tricked—but buying into a very old paradigm, in which men are the ones who make art, and women are only the tools men use to make it.
Yet we let these incidents pass — and countless lesser tyrannies, from countless lesser men; everything from David O. Russell calling Lily Tomlin a “cunt” to Lars von Trier smashing a monitor next to Bjork’s head — because our idea of “art” can include male cruelty. An artist, in Western culture, is meant to be demanding, obsessive, rebellious, dangerous, and male. Female artists, meanwhile, are labeled “difficult” or “crazy” if they so much as attempt to resist male artists’ aggression, often with lethal results for their own careers. When Hitchcock realized that Hedren would never sleep with him, he kept her on contract without allowing her to make any other films, until her career was over; when Gilot did successfully leave Picasso, he told every art dealer he knew not to buy her work.
The result is an art world where women are reduced to objects, mere means that men are free to exploit for their preferred ends; a world where a director staging the sexual assault of a 19-year-old actress is seen as just one more bit of Method trickery, given more or less the same moral weight as DeNiro choosing to gain weight for Raging Bull or Choi Min-Sik eating a live octopus for Oldboy. It’s a world where women are reduced to props, mere machines for suffering. And in that world, the shocking and frightening thing isn’t just that Schneider was assaulted. It’s that no-one cared when she told us about it, and that too many stories like hers are going unheard.
What Doyle doesn’t delve into is that this problem doesn’t only affect women. As a society, we also turn the same blind eye toward child molesters simply because they are considered great artists. The archetype is the same though; creative, obsessive, genius, and male. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, Victor Salva; are just a short list of men allowed and encouraged to keep their career after a child-sex scandal, or child-rape conviction.
We are simply un-phased by the exploitation, rape, and torture committed by male artists, just as long as we get to keep our precious entertainment.
Read Doyle’s full article here: http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a41293/bertolucci-abuse-art/
Featured Image: Pixababy