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It’s Not Just Women Experiencing Workplace Harassment

In the fight for justice for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, it is often very easy to leave out the narrative of male survivors. One recent outspoken survivor of male sexual harassment has been Terry Crews, who addressed his own encounter with sexual misconduct in Hollywood. The lack of discourse on the male victims of sexual assault and harassment causes society to forget that trauma from sexual misconduct affects many individuals, regardless of their sex or gender.

A recent article posted by The New York Times addresses the accusations of sexual misconduct against famous photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino. These accusations come in the wake of other accusations against men like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and recently, James Franco, which have started new movements and initiatives, such as Time’s Up, dedicated to stopping workplace harassment. Instances like this remind us to think of victims who are not women.

Of those who came forward to address the harassment and exploitation experienced at the hands of Weber and Testino are model and actor Ryan Locke and models Robyn Sinclair and Terron Wood. In addition to these models’ accusations, there were also accusations made by assistants and mentees of the famed photographers, many claiming to have been groped or attemptedly coerced into performing sexual acts with the photographers many years their senior.

Many of the men interviewed for the NYT article noted a similar sentiment in the conversations surrounding sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry – that they felt as though they needed to comply with or excuse the inappropriate behaviors of Weber and Testino for fear of ruining their career prospects.

When speaking about working with Weber, model Josh Ardolf said, “I felt helpless. Like my agency said, he has a lot of power. He’s done a lot of large campaigns. That was in the back of my mind. ‘I can’t screw this up. I already made it this far.’”

It is instances such as this that individuals must realize that sexual assault and harassment are rarely done out of uncontrollable desire, and instead, are acts of asserting and abusing power. Many of the men who spoke out about their experiences with Weber and Testino noted that the fame and power these men had in the industry had a direct effect on the trajectory of their own careers as models.

“Those who said they were on the receiving end of unwanted attention felt the choice was clear: acquiesce and be rewarded with lucrative ad campaign work, or reject the approach and risk hobbling, or destroying, a career,” said the article.

In an industry like modeling, where one’s looks and desirability are their main selling points, it becomes increasingly easy for society to justify the exploitation of these figures because of the nature of their work. This makes it difficult for models to speak up about their treatment in the industry. Hopefully the bravery of those who have spoken their truth will make way for much needed change in the entertainment industry as a whole, a change in which people can respect one another’s boundaries and hold sexual harassers and assaulters accountable for their actions.

Featured Image by Hammerin Man on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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