Art for Rape Survivors

Rape is universally condemned; in all cultures and throughout time. When something is universally condemned, it is because some humans committed the crime in all cultures and throughout time. But statistics are small comfort for rape victims. Many ancient laws required harsh penalties for rapists, but patriarchal societies, from which ours derives (Greece, Rome, Britain) required compensation for the father of the victim, since a daughter was considered his possession until she got married and became her husband’s possession.

A woman artist, Artemesia, who lived in the 1600s in Italy, was raped by her tutor. There were no laws against rape per se, but her angry father sued the perp for damages. The perp said it was consensual, so they had to torture Artemesia to get the truth. Under torture, she still said, “I was raped,” so her father won the case, though the POS rapist never paid.

Artemesia was an excellent artist, but she had to move away to escape the shame. She eventually married, a happy marriage by all accounts. She also became very successful financially as an artist, which was extremely rare back in the bad old days.

She made a painting of a woman holding down a man, while another woman coolly slices off his head. He is not dead in the painting, but he’s about to be and he knows it. This is obviously how Artemesia felt about her rapist. I’m an artist and quite non-violent, but I confess I smiled when I saw the painting. She didn’t kill the man in real life, but I bet she never sold the painting, but kept it around her home. I bet she smiled every time she looked at it.

Michael Palin Quest for Artemesia 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s