It’s not exactly as monumental as the reassurance that the New York Sun famously gave in their 1897 editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” but Cienna Madrid offers a highly literate and darned-near definitive sounding response to a Seattle Review of Books reader who was upset by “all the harassing men in the media lately” and had written, “At some point, we have to realize that a writer who writes about treating women horribly is probably pretty likely to treat women horribly, right? I mean, I’m not saying that they should be locked up or anything, but women would be smart to avoid authors who write approvingly about being monstrous harassers, wouldn’t they?”
Madrid responded, “I’d like to agree with you. It would make life simple if we could pass sweeping moral assumptions about artists based solely on their work. But that’s not—or shouldn’t be—the role of art.
“To me, good art pushes its audience to think about aspects of humanity in ways they have never previously considered, or points out beautiful or horrible trends in our culture that deserve scrutiny or celebration.
“Have you read Rabbit, Run? That’s a pretty great example of a total shitbag character who peaked in high school and has no respect for women. However, through Rabbit, John Updike explores themes of alienation and the idea that American men aren’t socialized with the vocabulary to express their emotions and basic desires (among other things).
“It would be a shame if artists shied away from exploring and commenting on the world because they feared retribution,” Madrid writes.
Read the full article: “The Help Desk: Do only terrible men write books about terrible men?”