Warning: contains images of rape portrayed through the lens of the objectifying pornographic male gaze
When I reflected on the discovery of a rape fresco from ancient Pompeii that depicted Leda and the swan, I did not mention that the image of the rape of Leda by Zeus along with related images of Zeus raping Europa as a bull and raping Danae as a shower of gold are favorite themes in the history of western art up to the present day. Myths of rape not only give artists permission to paint or sculpt naked women but also to normalize rape as an aspect of culture. In the imagination of western artists, noble or immortal women are portrayed as passively accepting and even enjoying being raped. The fact that these women are understood to be icons of female beauty delivers the message that female beauty invites rape.
I am beginning to…
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