Why is Rape in Art ‘Exquisite’?

Content note: discussion (and non-explicit visuals) of sexual violence, rape apology.

The internet has been somewhat crazy of late because a man wore a sexist shirt while being interviewed on TV, was called out on it, and subsequently apologised. It all wouldn’t have been such a big deal, really, except that all of a sudden feminism was being charged with obliterating a man’s scientific achievements and censoring artistic expression. Or so the media circus went.

I have been travelling lately, around Italy, and as such I have been in a lot of museums and galleries. I mainly went to these places to see the Roman collections, as I don’t pretend to be very interested or knowledgeable about art in general. But I also dropped in on a few other exhibitions, to see the sort of things generally seen as part of the canon of the Western artistic tradition, the masters, if you will.

Turns out, the masters seemed to be fascinated with rape, especially scenes of rape from Classical myth. Proserpina, the Sabines, Lucretia. On more than one occasion, I wished I’d brought along a pen and paper so I could make little placards to stick next to the paintings and sculptures. ‘Warning,’ they would have said, ‘this piece contains scenes of violence against women.’ I wonder if that would have caused a similar media circus to shirtgate. … More Why is Rape in Art ‘Exquisite’?

Questions of Identity

As a teenager, I learned very quickly that there are some things that you just can’t do in public in Australia. Every year at the end of April, I am reminded of the one that has always stood above the rest: questioning Anzac Day. I remember tentatively expressing my doubts as to its validity and … More Questions of Identity

Patriarchy Past and Present: The Case of Cicero’s Clodia

One of the ongoing questions in the study of classics is what relevance the ancient world has to us today. Sometimes I feel a little odd, as a leftie, a feminist and even as a young woman, for studying what if often seen as a bastion of the colonial, elite white male tradition. My Greek … More Patriarchy Past and Present: The Case of Cicero’s Clodia

Exams and Linkspams

See what I did there? It rhymes! I’ve been reading some really great posts lately, in between exam revision, so I thought I’d share some of the ones that stood out for me. I really empathised with this post by Unladylike Musings on rude men and rape culture. I do almost everything to avoid drawing … More Exams and Linkspams

Mothers and Whores: Women in Ancient Rome

This piece was written for the 6th issue of the UQ Women’s Collective Zine, titled “Herstory.” Women in the Roman Republic and Empire are one of the most elusive parts of history. They are spoken for, but never speak; represented, but rarely for themselves. Where women feature in historical literature, the patriarchal tradition of moral … More Mothers and Whores: Women in Ancient Rome