In the wake of the ever-growing list of allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, model Cameron Russell is taking to Instagram to elevate the voices of those women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment in her own industry.
Using the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse, Russell is posting screenshots, by permission, of private messages sent to her by female models, detailing their own experiences of having faced gender-based violence in their professional lives — and often with threat to their careers.
In the first of such messages posted by Russell, she explained in the caption, “A brave model (and friend) reached out to me with her story today.” The subject sharing her story with Russell asked to remain anonymous because the photographer who allegedly harassed her still works in the industry — but still wanted to break her silence. “We are not talking about one, five, or even twenty men. We are talking about a culture of exploitation and it must stop,” Russell wrote. She then asked her followers to share their tales as well “so the industry can see the size and scope of this problem.”
TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️ A brave model (and friend) reached out to me with her story today. She has asked to remain anonymous but asked that I share her words here because the photographer still works in the industry. She wants to encourage other women to speak up. We need a way to begin breaking the silence while remaining protected. We are not talking about one, five, or even twenty men. We are talking about a culture of exploitation and it must stop. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STORY ANONYMOUSLY, DIRECT MESSAGE ME and I will post your words. If you would like to share publicly use the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse so the industry can see the size and scope of this problem. Hearing about #harveyweinstein this week has sparked conversations about how widespread and how familiar his behavior is. We talked about how hard it is to share stories of assault. When they are the norm, calling them out can feel disruptive and unprofessional. On many occasions I've been called a feminist for reporting unwanted groping, spanking, pinching, pressure for dates, phone calls and texts of a sexual nature, lack of appropriate changing areas, etc. And because the response has always been "are you surprised?" or "that's part of the job" I tolerated them. When the offenses were bigger, calling them out is terrifying, and demands a level of exposure and backlash to what is already painful and sometimes shameful. #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse
A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on Oct 12, 2017 at 12:30pm PDT
And share they did. With 24 hours, Russell shared nearly 50 posts, all from individuals detailing stories of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, or other uncomfortable and usually unwanted situations.
A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on Oct 12, 2017 at 3:41pm PDT
TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️ Thank you strong friend. Even stories that don't end in rape are important to share. As a young mode I know I had a hard time listening to my intuition because industry norms around physical and sexual boundaries are so loose, and often vile. This behavior is rampant and not okay. DM me your story to remain anonymous or post using #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse
A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on Oct 12, 2017 at 1:40pm PDT
A post shared by Cameron Russell (@cameronrussell) on Oct 12, 2017 at 4:01pm PDT
Talk of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct has long tinged the modeling industry, including the series of allegations against famed photographer Terry Richardson that were reported in 2014 and other models speaking out against working with “sexual predators” in response.
In 2015, Cara Delevingne came out about about her own experience having faced sexual harassment in the industry. (Delevingne is also one of the many actresses to have since come forward with allegations about Weinstein.)
The model advocacy group Model Alliance was founded to protect models from predatory behaviors and systemic sexual abuse in the industry. And a March 2017 survey by Models.com found “inappropriate touching” to be a regular part of many models experience in doing their jobs.
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