4 in 5 Swiss artists face sexual harrassment

4 in 5 Swiss artists face sexual harrassment


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2021

A German academic survey shows that workplace abuse is commonplace in Swiss theatres and opera houses.

This report contains names of some alleged perpetrators.

Read at your own risk.



  • JussiB says:

    i thought european women have higher threshold for harassment than puritanical americans?

    • John Borstlap says:

      It differs with every area. Generally speaking, in the north of Europe the female harassment treshold is quite high, because they know that in the emancipation war they are slowly winning, so they can get back at the males in the near future with revenge harassment. In the garlic belt however, it’s mainly the men who are harassed, a tradition which begins in early youth through the domineering role the mama plays within the family clan. In Sicily for instance, the emancipation movement is about men, and they form underground gangs to defend themselves against overwhelming feminine pressures, and don’t shrink back from violence, blackmailing, money laundring, etc. etc. The first truly organized gang was set-up in 1805 by Alessandro Maffi, whose name has been connected to the movement since.

      In a small eastern area of the Wuerzenburgerwald there is an isolated European community where no harassment ever takes place, and it is therefore a famous tourist destination with theme park and museum about the place’s history. Anthropologists from all over the world regularly visit the community to find-out why harassment has been overcome so early in history in a restricted environment. The reason appears to be the ‘Weiberschmelzschenschwab’, a folky tradition stemming from early medieval times, which encourages gender fluidity, so that suppressed femininity in males is ventilated in psychologically safe contexts. It’s part of the local maturing trajectory, unique in Europe. Between ca. 1345 – 1507 it was the only place in Europe where males could marry each other, be it only temporarily until they were ready for a female. Divorce however was strictly taboo and extramarital adventures punished by burning at the stake untill 1786.

      • fflambeau says:

        Nonsense: ” In the garlic belt however, it’s mainly the men who are harassed, a tradition which begins in early youth through the domineering role the mama plays within the family clan.” I lived in Rome and witnessed “garlic” eaters on buses who loved to get close to women just to pinch them and feel them up on crowded routes. No women did the same thing.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “Academic survey”? Oh, so completely lacking credibility.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The Swiss are notorious for their wild frivolity and rampant debauchery. (It’s the mountains.)

    • Brettermeier says:

      “(It’s the mountains.)”

      That’s how they kept their snowed-in village from going extinct. (That didn’t help the gene pool to deepen, of course.)

  • Der Richter says:

    I am actually quite amazed that a story like this was even able to get out of Switzerland. No country is as obsessive in covering up and denying any wrongdoing of any Swiss person or institution. Hopefully they are making progress there in being truthful and have come to the realisation that they are not as perfect and law-abiding as they would like to give the impression that they are.

    • John Borstlap says:

      As the cuckoo clock symbolically expresses, sudden shocking revelations are quickly disappearing behind closed doors. But the Swiss shouldn’t worry about it, because it’s the same elsewhere.

      • John Borstlap says:

        As the thumbs-down clearly show, there are also Swiss readers perusing this site. Even reassurances cannot take away their worries.

  • fflambeau says:

    I suspect the problem is not isolated to the Swiss.

  • Another orchestral musician says:

    Shocking, but not surprising at all. There are lots of dark stories in Switzerland but people usually just hide everything and pretend that nothing wrong ever happens in their idyllic land. Well, I guess this is (hopefully) coming to an end.

  • IP says:

    And the fifth was the perpetrator?

  • Nothing new. In 2006, Freia Hoffmann published a book about the massive sexual abuse in music schools: Panische Gefühle: Sexuelle Übergriffe im Instrumentalunterricht. Here is an article from 2017 about sexual harassment and exploitation in music conservatories: https://van.atavist.com/belaestigung-musikhochschulen

    You can try google translate to read it. I seem to recall another study published 15 or 20 years ago about these same problems in Switzerland. It was focused on minors studying music.

  • JussiB says:

    Charles Dutoit is Swiss and very affectionate with the ladies.

    • Lothario Hunter says:

      So is Muti, uncontrollably so. But he is not Swiss. He can count on the Protector of Man to actively or passively enable him.

  • Rumpole says:

    Why do those who encounter harassment not simply wear covert bodycams to record what is happening warts and all then they have prima facie evidence?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The only really effective weapon against harrassment is the burqa, the garment which covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground. It covers the entire face, including the eyes (with a mesh cloth to see through) and the body. It makes the female invisible so that there is nothing left to harrass. It thus offers total freedom of movement in public spaces and public transport, it ensures liberation from the male gaze, and takes away any worry about a bad hair day. When all Swiss women would take-on this anti-male fashion strategy, the puzzled males would be turned harmless and confused.