In the fall of 2018, a few weeks after virtually every woman I knew had posted ‘Me Too’ on her social media, I found myself in conversation with a KABK teacher. It was our first time meeting, and I believe I was talking about the potential impact of #MeToo pretty passionately. Awkwardly, he asked me: “Well, but what about all the Good Men?”. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but told him surely this was more complicated than Good or Bad. Later, that same teacher started harassing me, taunting me about being such a ‘good girl’ (didn’t I want to be ‘bad’ instead?) and publicly yelling at me about how terrible my art was at an end-of-year show. A large group of teachers was present for this. None spoke up.
Whenever I mentioned the teacher’s behavior, I was given the same reply: yeah, the man was a bit boorish, but he didn’t mean anything by it. Underneath he was surely a Good Man. Something of a Genius, really.
I slowly began to understand what the man’s question had been about.
Three years after that conversation, at the start of my graduation year, this teacher was put on probation by the KABK. It was part of a chain-reaction that was going off in the school: furious posters, student protests, social media outrage, leading to national media attention. All of this was the result of an anonymous Instagram account called @calloutdutchartinstutes, on which stories of abuse and sexism had started appearing overnight. The account itself was a reaction to yet another bombshell that had dropped right before: an NRC article written by Lucette ter Borg and Carola Houtekamer which exposed the Dutch artist and KABK alumnus Andeweg as a predator who had systematically abused women for well over a decade. In the article, the journalists criticized the KABK for its lackluster response to the ample evidence of Andeweg’s violence at the time of his study. Us present-day students received a message from director Marieke Schoenmakers ahead of the NRC article dropping, letting us know in no uncertain terms that the culture described in the article did not reflect that of KABK today. In response came the uproar.