The dust of the Harvey Weinstein debacle has not quite settled, and yet another tsunami of sexual allegations against renowned fashion photographer Terry Richardson, has surfaced once again.
The rundown goes like this; in a leaked email sent internally to all staff by the CEO of Conde Nast International, James Woolhouse announced that they will not be cooperating with celebrity photography Terry Richardson any longer. Shoots which have been arranged or any other shoots which have been completed but have yet to be published, “should be killed and substituted with other material.”
Such abrupt news came as the 52-year-old has been accused of engaging in sexually inappropriate behaviour with his models, some as young as 19 years old. In his defence, his work has always been sexually explicit in nature, known to all in the fashion world and those who have worked with him. Terry or ‘Uncle Terry’ as he is called by young models, has defended himself against these allegations by insisting that they were consensual acts. He was called out by models such as Anna Del Gaizo, Charlotte Waters, and Jamie Peck. Those who worked with him recounted horrifyingly degrading acts of him exposing himself and coercing the models to perform sex acts on him during photoshoot sessions.
Subsequently, he admitted to the Daily Mail that he “sometimes behaved in a sexually explicit manner” during interactions with the models.
Hooray another sexual predator has been exposed! It is going to deter others who are using their influence and power in exchange for sexual obligations, is everything is going to be sunshine and flowers from now on? Most likely no, I’m afraid. There are others like Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson who are still roaming free among us, and I’m sure that there are many similar experiences that remain hidden behind the Hollywood façade.
Though this move by Conde Nast International represents a pledge to fight against clout-wielding perverts, it is baffling that Terry Richardson can terrorise rising models for over two decades without any repercussions until now. Most importantly, why did the victims only care to speak out now? We are well aware that behind the glitz and glamour of the fashion and entertainment world lies a cutthroat industry. It is a very competitive business, and we are constantly discovering more about the pressures placed on young stars, both male and female, with those higher in the industry using their vulnerability for personal gain.
With this, it is becoming more and more common that victims feel they must remain silent about their experiences. Even if she speaks out, who will listen to her? Others may just dismiss her as being overly sensitive, or for being a prude. Over time the victims themselves will dismiss it as a small episode and decrease the disturbing nature of these crimes. The danger lies when it becomes normal to give sexual favours for a rapid rise to the top, or to keep quiet about sexual abuse. This can have serious consequences. Cases like this show a feeling of unworthy and lack of value, one of the reasons why sexual assault can go unreported. There needs to be a strong and clear message to all who have been tormented sexually, that they are worthy of being listened to and people are willing to fight for them and with them.