Shining a Light on Darkness

Sexual exploitation by powerful men has a long history. Will it ever end?

Unremitting: The Rape  of Lucretia, by Alessandro Varotari, 17th century.

The revelations about Harvey Weinstein and those of other men who used their privilege for the sexual exploitation of women – and men – with less power than themselves, feels as if it has woken us from sleep. In choosing the ‘Silence Breakers’ as their Person of the Year – all those pictured and an unidentified elbow that speaks of you and #metoo – Time magazine has exalted the efforts of those who let the light in through the cracks.

What troubles me is the idea that the Weinstein phenomenon is a recent excrescence. Yet there is a deep and bitter historical root to this matter that needs to be known, because what we are seeing is ‘history today’: the ritual enacting of behaviours that have long thrived.

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