New developments on #metoo: pain, not harmless pleasure

From the Nobel Prize to Christian Kracht: In cultural spheres, it was considered almost necessary to endure humiliation. That is now an end.

No longer silent, no longer hiding Photo: Unsplash/ Steve Harvey

It is frightening what is currently coming out in the cultural sphere in the sign of #MeToo. The confession of the writer Christian Kracht that he was sexually abused by a teacher when he was twelve years old, delivered during his Frankfurt poetry lecture, is not the only one.

You have to think about it. The Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded this year and will possibly be damaged for a long time to come because the jury systematically covered up cases of abuse up to and including rape. That the allegedly so noble circle around the poet Stefan George revolved around abuse at its core is suggested by a research of the FAS.

The American writer Junot DIaz first outed himself as a victim of abuse in a harrowing text – before he in turn was also named as a perpetrator by no less than three women. And then there is the case of Dieter Wedel, who, according to all that is known, used his position of power as a film director for psychological terror and sexual violence.

This list alone shows how central the #MeToo movement has long since become for society’s self-image as a whole. What it has made possible is a very different, a direct way of speaking. Silence cartels; conspiracies of sexual violence against children and adolescents as "pedagogical eros"; also the silence of people who had buried their abuse experience deep inside themselves until now – all this is now breaking open. Fortunately. Anyone who reads stories of those affected or articles about them quickly realizes that until now they have kept silent not only out of shame or self-protection, but also because they saw no chance of being heard.

Sad reports about ego armor of those affected

It must be said so clearly in light of the current cases: our society was not on the receiving end when it came to sexual violence. In some cultural spheres, the ability to endure humiliation was even considered an almost necessary condition for being allowed to participate in this supposedly so creative and self-determined field. Often enough, with dire consequences for those affected.

Based on the classic "Mannerphantasien" (fantasies of men) by the cultural theorist Klaus Theweleit, Christian Kracht now brings together the emphatically cold, often psychologically armored characters of his novels such as "Faserland," "Imperium" or "Die Toten" with his experience of abuse. In the story in the last Spiegel about the abuse cases surrounding the Nobel Prize, one came across very saddening accounts of the ego armor of those affected.

The #MeToo movement has socially enabled a new self-understanding and a different, a direct speaking

It is precisely in such splitting off and in these psychological escapes into coldness and harshness that one shows how one has to struggle for one’s self-image, sometimes for one’s life, after such an experience. Incidentally, the case of Christian Kracht also shows that it was by no means only the teachers at the elite boarding school to which he was sent who failed, but also the members of his own family.

What to do? Institutionally, where this has not yet happened, checks and balances must be built into cultural institutions so that cartels of silence cannot continue to exist. In addition, many of the notions of culture that continue to be popular should be thrown on the garbage heap. Those who take it only as a harmless pleasure – like many of the current wellness and entertainment-oriented marketing campaigns around reading – are all too quick to overlook the pain that sometimes lies at its core.

This text comes from the taz am wochenende. Always on newsstands from Saturday, in the eKiosk or in the practical weekend subscription. And on Facebook and Twitter.

And the ideas according to which artistic geniuses are allowed to take more liberties than other people or according to which one must first make sacrifices before one is accepted into the circle of illustrious cultural workers also belong on this garbage heap. It is precisely through such ideas that abuse has all too often been masked.

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