MeToo is like the French Revolution claims Swedish Academy member

A member of the prestigious Swedish Academy has spoken out on a summer of scandals that rocked the institution, appearing to brush off assault allegations against a friend who was jailed for rape.

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards NewsMavens, Sweden
MeToo is like the French Revolution claims Swedish Academy member - NewsMavens
Horace Engdahl, 2008, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

In the interview, literary critic Horace Engdahl brushes off accusations that Jean-Claude Arnault, a French-Swedish cultural figure who assaulted dozens of women, saying the claims "didn’t at all fit with the image I had of this man". He further suggests that any misconduct could be because "He’s a Frenchman, he comes from a different culture."

Speaking after a court found the man guilty of rape, Engdahl says "We live in a dangerous time" and even compared the #MeToo movement -- which has seen women around the world speak out about sexual abuse -- in many cases without naming the perpetrator -- with the Reign of Terror in 18th Century France, during which thousands were executed.

One year after #MeToo first went viral, a majority of Swedes believe the campaign has had a positive impact. Yet this interview shows how even in this Scandinavian country, as in many others, many still consider it to be a step too far and are eager to portray the alleged harassers as the true victims of a worldwide "witch hunt".

Details from the story:

  • Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of a Swedish Academy member was publicly accused last year of assaulting 18 women
  • The allegations caused a crisis in the prestigious institution, with several members, including the Permanent Secretary, pushed out and others resigning in protest
  • No Nobel Literature Prize was awarded for 2018 due to the huge disruption within the Academy

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