Lazy Saturday Reads: I Have No Words

Judith Slaying Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi

Good Morning!!

I have no words today.

Thanks to Delphyne for this article at The Guardian: More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil.

Two women are holding a man down on a bed. One presses her fist against his head, so he can’t raise it from the mattress, while her companion pins his torso in place. They are well-built with powerful arms but even so it takes their combined strength to keep their victim immobilised as one of them cuts through his throat with a gleaming sword. Blood spurts from deep red geysers as she saws. She won’t stop until his head is fully severed. Her victim’s eyes are wide open. He knows exactly what is happening to him.

The dying man is Holofernes, an enemy of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and the young woman beheading him is Judith, his divinely appointed assassin. Yet at the same time he is also an Italian painter called Agostino Tassi, while the woman with the sword is Artemisia Gentileschi, who painted this. It is, effectively, a self-portrait.

Susanna and the Elders, artemisia gentileschi

Two big, blood-drenched paintings of Judith and Holofernes by Gentileschi survive, one in the Capodimonte in Naples, the other in the Uffizi in Florence. They are almost identical except for small details – in Naples Judith’s dress is blue, in Florence yellow – as if this image was a nightmare she kept having, the final act to a tragedy endlessly replaying in her head.

“This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises!” yelled Gentileschi as she was tortured in a Rome courtroom in 1612. Ropes were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tight. The judge had advised moderate use of the sibille, as this torture was called, for she was after all 18. Across the court sat the man who had raped her. No one thought of torturing him. Defiantly, Gentileschi told him her thumbscrews were the wedding ring he’d promised. Again and again, she repeated that her testimony about the rape was reliable: “It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true.

Tassi was hired by Gentileschi’s father to give her painting lessons.

Tassi tricked his way into her room and started making unwanted offers of sex, she testified. “He then threw me on to the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, he placed a hand with a handkerchief on my mouth to keep me from screaming.”

She fought back. “I scratched his face,” she told the court, “and pulled his hair and, before he penetrated me again, I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh.” But she couldn’t stop him. Afterwards, she rushed to a drawer and got out a knife. “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonoured me,” she shouted. He opened his coat and said: “Here I am.” Gentileschi threw the knife but he shielded himself. “Otherwise,” she said, “I might have killed him.”

1498 self portrait, artemisia gentileschi

Read the rest at The Guardian. It’s a story that still rings true today. Gentileschi’s rapist was found guilty but wasn’t punished, and she was tortured. It’s a story as old as time and as modern as today when a Senate dominated by old, white Republican will elevate an attempted rapist, sexual abuser, and right wing political activist to the highest court in the land.

Centuries after Gentileschi was tortured by the legal system of her day, women are still routinely raped, sexually abused, and even murdered in the name of male supremacy. And when they dare to speak about what was done to them, they are abused again by the “justice” system and betrayed by colluding women like Maine Senator Susan Collins.

What is wrong with these men, beginning with Donald Trump, pretender to the presidency? Because I’m feeling mean, I’m going to post this Twitter thread.

I’m not sure I agree with this analysis, but I have always seen Trump as effeminate. His vanity, his hair, his odd hand gestures, he’s so far from masculine. Is that why he hates and abuses women? Because he feels weak and inadequate? That’s what I suspect.

Here’s piece by Jaco at The St. Louis American: Brett Kavanaugh and Republican white maledom.

Like most 68-year-old white males, I’m disgusted that an ideologue and perjurer accused of sexual assault is about to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

That sentence, of course is a lie. And the lie is in the first seven words. Most 68-year-old white males want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The respected Quinnipiac University poll shows 48 percent of Americans polled oppose Kavanaugh, while 42 percent support him. But 59 percent of white men want Kavanaugh, along with 45 percent of white women.

African Americans oppose Kavanaugh by 81 percent, while Hispanics dislike him by a 65 percent margin. In fact, the poll finds Kavanaugh is unpopular among every demographic group except white people over age 50, where the majority support him. Not co-incidentally, white people over age 50 vote in huge numbers and control the big money donations to the GOP.

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, Artemisia Gentileschi

The entire Kavanaugh process has been one of the most blatant examples of minority rule since apartheid fell. Kavanaugh raged in self-pity during testimony. The White House limited the FBI “investigation” into sexual assault charges. Trump mocked Kavanaugh’s accuser. Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell sniffed that the GOP “won’t be intimidated” by sexual assault survivors. In every case, conservative white men snarled about how they, not Prof. Christine Blasey Ford or the rule of law, were the victims.

Charlie Cook, founder of the often-indispensable Cook Political Report, crunched the numbers and found that conservative Republican white males make up 18 percent of the American population. And yet they make up 100 percent of the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 100 percent of Republican leadership in the Senate, and 84 percent of the GOP Senate majority.

They’re determined to put a man with the judicial temperament of Bart Simpson on the bench for one simple reason. They want him as the fifth Supreme Court vote to erase every “liberal” decision of the last 60 years that has given expanded rights to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, consumers, workers, and anyone else not part of conservative white maledom.

Click on the link to read the rest.

More recommended reads:

Yahoo News: Christine Blasey Ford’s Attorneys Reveal Statement From Corroborating Witness.

Yahoo News: Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed that it crashed.

Statement from Debbie Ramirez (PDF)

The New York Times Editorial Board: The High Court Brought Low. Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

Michael Tomasky at The New York Times: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis.

Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews: Investigation at Yale Law School.

Yahoo News: Lawsuits point to large trove of unreleased Kavanaugh White House documents.

The New York Times: House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control.

The Intercept: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh are both in the Bush family inner circle. That helps explain her vote.

The New Yorker: The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh.

That’s all I have for now. Please take care of yourselves this weekend.

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39 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: I Have No Words”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’m sick at heart today. I’m thankful for all of you Sky Dancers.

  2. RonStill4Hills says:

    I brought this up from below because it is important to me that you guys know how important you are to me…thanks.

    I love you people. I really do. Thank you so much for what you allow me to share and what you all share back. I would not know what to do without you.

  3. Sweet Sue says:

    Amazing job, BB. You are a woman warrior.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Judge Kavanaugh cannot have it both ways. He cannot gain confirmation by unleashing partisan fury while simultaneously claiming that he possesses a judicial and impartial temperament. If Kavanaugh really cared about the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court, he would even now withdraw from consideration.

      But I see no evidence that he is about to withdraw. Kavanaugh will thus join the court as the black-robed embodiment of raw partisan power inconsistent with any ideal of an impartial judiciary. As the court moves to the right to accommodate Trump’s appointments, Kavanaugh will inevitably become the focus of distrust and mobilization. His very presence will undermine the court’s claim to legitimacy; it will damage the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. It will be an American tragedy.

    • NW Luna says:

      A snarling Kavanaugh photo would have been appropriate. He is rabidly partisan. Even as Trump nominees go, he is abysmal. Two-and-a-half thousand law professors say he’s not qualified for SCOTUS.

      It’s all about the rich white straight men clutching on to power like dragons on their hoards.

  5. NW Luna says:

    He’s too damned ethical.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Maybe we all are. The other side stops at nothing. I’m not saying that we have to be like them but can we develop a long game?

  6. NW Luna says:

    We need a Cat Interlude. Here is a very calm kitty who must have been used to this from kittenhood.

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. NW Luna says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      I saw that a couple of days ago. I think countries like China and Saudi Arabia are pulling this stuff because they know they won’t be criticized by Trump for human rights violations.

      • NW Luna says:

        Agree. The current SoS is not likely to do much. Diplomats? Meh. Plus Jared is hob-nobbing with all the middle-eastern countries he has $$$ ties with.

  10. NW Luna says:

    • Sweet Sue says:

      But Susan Sarandon promised!

      • Enheduanna says:

        Both Vermont Jesus and SS wanted a “revolution”. They’re happy the GOP is crushing certain people with their authoritarian outrages. They think it’ll draw out the masses. Too bad so many people had to suffer and die and it will take a few generations.

  11. NW Luna says:

    The Gentileschi painting is punch-in-the-stomach powerful. I’ve liked it (been in awe of it?) from the first time I saw it printed in my art history book. The painting resonates. I saw the original Self-Portrait as an Artist at the Vancouver BC Art Gallery when it was on loan there recently. I stayed with it for many minutes and came back again to it, with the Judith Slaying Holofernes painting in my mind. She had amazing talent. I’m sure if she’d been a man she’d be far more famous.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      No question, Luna. She was a great artist, wasn’t she?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wish I knew more about art history. I wonder how many fine women artists have been lost to the memory hole, just like women writers and scientists.

      • NW Luna says:

        “Anonymous was a woman.”

        Read through one or two college art history books. There often is some difference between editors on which works are included even with agreement on major artists. More than once have I wondered why Artist B, a woman, wasn’t given as much attention as Artist A, a man, when there was seemingly little difference in their level of ability. (Not that I’m an expert in the subject.) Also since works of women artists were seen as less valuable than men’s they were less likely to be kept through the years.

  12. NW Luna says:

  13. NW Luna says:

    Anyone surprised at this ratio? I thought not.

  14. RonStill4Hills says:

    Susan collins is either mentally ill, irredeemably corrupt or monumenytally. Of course all three is a possibility.

    Either what Dr Blasey Ford described happened to her as she described or nothing happened to her at all. No amount of rationalization allows for having it both ways.

    If you don’t believe she was assaulted by Shitfaced Barfing Bart then you think she is a fabricator and fantasizer.

    Senator Collins is allowed to have her own opinion but own it you two-faced sack of shit.

    I am losing the ability to vegetarian cuss. The bad words are winning these days.

    Either she is a credible witness or she is a liar. I believe the Doctor. The judge is the liar.