Another model has come forward about hipster darling, Terry Richardson’s predatory behaviour, adding to a long list of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations aimed at the photographer.
The model shared her story on Reddit, saying that she feels it’s important for her to share her experience “for the sake of other young women out there.” And here’s what I’d like to know: how many more women are going to have to share their stories about Richardson before we believe them, before we stop ignoring them, before we hold this man accountable for his disgusting behaviour? HOW MANY.
Sadly and typically, she blames herself for what happened as well:
Let me preface this by saying I am fully aware that this was bad decision making on my part and that the true purpose of me sharing this is I want people to know what is possible in these situations and that you as a human being are 100% allowed to say no to something you are uncomfortable with and I wish I had the strength to then.
Like a 19 year old woman trying to make it in the industry, in a situation with this man who she is made to feel can make or break her career, should have just been “stronger.” No dis to her — I mean, we’ve all felt guilt at not being “strong enough” to leave a sketchy situation or say no to a man — but to be clear, this is not on her. Richardson is in a position of power with all the models he exploits. The women are not in a position where they feel comfortable saying “no” and it’s likely they feel or are made to feel they need to say “yes” to anything and everything if they want work in the industry.
She goes on:
When I was 19 and going to art school in NY I thought it would be fun to do nude “art” modeling on the side for money. I thought hey I am comfortable with my body and a creative, open minded person so this is a great idea, right?!
Just gonna shout out “sex-positive feminism” here. Because thanks to you and the libertarians, women learn that if they are to be “open-minded” people who are “comfortable with their bodies” and, like, totally sexually liberated, man, they should be cool with nude modelling and porn and casual “sex work” and stuff. I mean, you want to be one of the “cool girls,” right? I see you assholes. I see you.
So she got in touch with Richardson to do some modelling, without really knowing about his reputation of predatory behaviour, went to his studio, and signed some release forms, saying: “I don’t remember what they said, definitely not anything specific about what he would want to do though, I had signed several of these before and it looked the same.”
Here’s what she says happened next (TW — this is explicit):
Eventually we got up to take pictures and he had me stand against the blank white wall in the middle of the apartment. I stood there and he started taking pics, assistant off to the side. Then he came up and took pictures POV style with his hand on my face. Then he put his thumb in my mouth, I actually thought this was funny in the moment and he and his assistant were very upbeat and just light heartedly directing me. Then he stepped back at some point and had me start removing my clothes (I knew I would be getting nude, so this was not weird to me). I remember he had me take stuff off in stages, he complimented a lot, his assistant too. Definitely the usual trying to make the barely legal model feel special kind of thing looking back. I honestly do not remember if the sexual stuff started by the wall or when he moved me to the couch area but at some point I was being directed to do things like hold the top of his pants while he took more POV style pictures, then eventually unbutton his pants and then his penis was out. Meanwhile it felt like it was all just happening and there was no time to step back and be like “woah this is out of hand”. I dont think anyone who knows me would describe me as a particularly aggressive person (and definitely wasn’t at 19) and the only way I can describe how I felt was nervous and paralyzed. At some point the assistant started taking pictures too with a crappy point and shoot camera. He had me posing on the couch and then I had my back to him and just literally felt him start licking my ass, like every part of it, and the assistant was taking pictures the whole time. Things were now completely pornographic and never once initiated by me. He was now on the couch with me and it became sexual act after sexual act, aggressive kissing, random sexual things being done to me and being directed to do everything you can think of back, everything slow so his assistant could photograph. He even directed me to squeeze his balls as hard as I could so that they pushed back up into his body. I did not even know that was possible (At least I learned something about the male anatomy that night?). I was completely a sex puppet at this point. It ended with him jacking off on to my face and he told me to keep my eyes open really wide and his assistant stood over me and it got in my eye and they both began taking pics of it for a what felt like 10 minutes but was probably only 30 seconds… Finally, they backed off and were still acting like everything was totally fun and normal and upbeat or whatever and I think I was visibly in shock.
DEAR FASHION INDUSTRY, HIPSTERS, AND CELEBRITIES: THIS SHIT IS NOT OK. NOT NOW, NOT EVER. DO YOU HEAR US?
If it isn’t absolutely clear by now, this man is a manipulative abuser. After the shoot Richardson asks her if she had a boyfriend: “I said yes and he started overly sweetly apologizing and so did his assistant. And he said oh I always mean to ask that first I’m so sorry.” Because, like, sexual assault is only ok if the chick in question isn’t already spoken for, yeah? Like, “Oh sorry, didn’t know another dude already owned you.”
To be perfectly honest, I feel too angry to even put a cogent sentence together right now, but here goes:
1) There are no more excuses. It is not ok to work with this man. The entire fashion industry is enabling him. His assistant appears to be enabling him. Celebrities are enabling him. Everyone who pays for his photographs are enabling him. Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Rolling Stone, Vogue — this is on you, too.
2) This is porn culture. You hear me? What Richardson is doing is mainstreaming porn. You cannot separate his behaviour from his work. They are one in the same. The work he produces is pornographic (link NSFW). I want everyone — especially so-called feminists — to stop trying to draw lines between the exploitation and degradation of women, pornography, the way women are treated and viewed and how women feel they must behave in this culture. It is ok to say that something is not ok. Just because it’s “sex” doesn’t mean anything goes. This perception of “sex-positivity,” this “No judging! No shaming!” shit that is ever-popular in online feminism and was enabled by the third wave has made space for the culture we are in now and made room for Terry Richardson. And while yes, Terry Richardson is responsible for Terry Richardson, and patriarchy is also responsible for Terry Richardson, the condonation of pornography and the pushing of the idea that women should be cool with objectification (and not just “cool with,” but “empowered by”) is also responsible.
There is such a thing as porn culture and we’re looking at it. There is no separating “fantasy” from “reality.” We can see the ways in which they bleed together. What Terry Richardson is doing he is doing because of power, but he’s also doing it because we live in a culture raised on and saturated in pornography. This is what we learn is sexy — what Richardson is doing is a porn fantasy. He is making porn and he is doing porn to women.
Decades ago, Andrea Dworkin said: “Pornography happens to women.” Get it? Open your eyes.
Is it not ok to work with Richardson now but it never was. And all you feminists out there calling him out for being a sexual predator are great and all, but it’s time to start making some fucking connections.