ME TOO

Since the Har­vey We­in­stein reve­la­tions, women have been us­ing so­cial me­dia to share per­sonal sto­ries of sex­ual abuse and ha­rass­ment via the ral­ly­ing hash­tag #Metoo. Su­per­model BRID­GET MAL­COLM joins the protest

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

Model Brid­get Mal­colm speaks up about sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

It has been a week of read­ing count­less women’s per­sonal ac­counts of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, abuse and as­sault, and it has been hor­ri­fy­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, none of this is sur­pris­ing.while one sex­ual preda­tor — Har­vey We­in­stein — may have been stripped of his pres­tige, there are count­less oth­ers out there still prey­ing on young women (and men), us­ing their sta­tus and power to ma­nip­u­late and as­sault fright­ened in­di­vid­u­als. As a woman who has quite lit­er­ally been “grabbed by the pussy” in night­clubs, on the street and even in the gym, I have been watch­ing these events un­fold with a feel­ing of hol­low sat­is­fac­tion. It is about time, but the stag­ger­ing num­ber of women com­ing for­ward sick­ens me.

Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model turned po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist Cameron Rus­sell has been us­ing her so­cial me­dia plat­form to pro­vide a safe but pub­lic place for vic­tims to anony­mously share their sto­ries through her In­sta­gram ac­count, @cameron­rus­sell; and read­ing what these mod­els have writ­ten, I can usu­ally name the pho­tog­ra­pher and the client, and re­con­struct the scene.we all know who the worst per­pe­tra­tors are in the fash­ion in­dus­try. We all know whose names on the call sheet in­flict a sense of dread.as an “older” (26) model, I know how to pro­tect my­self from un­wel­come ad­vances. But these be­hav­iours were learnt — forced into be­ing from mul­ti­ple as­saults. Mar­garet At­wood said, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.women are afraid that men will kill them.” Learn­ing as a teenager how to pro­tect your­self from men — through your cloth­ing, eye con­tact, lan­guage — and then learn­ing as a young adult that this isn’t enough is soul-shat­ter­ing.you have to choose: either be nice and as­saulted or “hard to work with”,“cold” and safe.

I heard a story of a cer­tain male pho­tog­ra­pher who got black­listed from a huge com­pany af­ter some mod­els com­plained about his be­hav­iour.this made me so happy. Hav­ing worked with him be­fore, I knew ex­actly what they were talk­ing about.there is space in the in­dus­try for pos­i­tive growth — if more es­tab­lished mod­els speak out, things can change for the girls who are just get­ting es­tab­lished.work­ing in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try does not make you bait for a man with a cam­era.

I have had to learn to set bound­aries. A cou­ple of months ago, I was booked on a job where I would be shot fully nude but be­hind a screen. It would be for only the out­line of my body — no nu­dity on set or on cam­era. Good money, too. As I read the job de­scrip­tion, I be­gan to shake and cry, and I knew I had to turn it down. I knew I would not feel em­pow­ered in this cir­cum­stance, that I would feel as if my body be­longed to some­one else.

It took meet­ing my hus­band to be­gin to trust men again — be­cause not all men are preda­tors. There are kind, gen­tle men who love and re­spect women. I was raised by a man who showed me un­con­di­tional love and re­spect, and my brother shares these val­ues. I have male friends whom I am safe around and whom I love deeply.

In my 11-year ca­reer, my pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences on set far out­weigh the neg­a­tive. I have worked with all kinds of in­dus­try peo­ple, in all kinds of set­tings, and the vast ma­jor­ity of them were an ab­so­lute de­light — re­spect­ful and car­ing. But it is the few ex­cep­tions who need to change. It is the re­peat of­fend­ers, the in­dus­try peo­ple who come with a warn­ing from your agent and friends, who need to be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions. There needs to be no space left for them in this in­dus­try; an in­dus­try of cel­e­bra­tion and artis­tic ex­pres­sion, a safe place for a lot of in­di­vid­u­als who do not fit main­stream cul­ture. One in­ci­dent of sex­ual ha­rass­ment can have last­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions through­out a vic­tim’s life, and un­til there is a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy in fash­ion, not enough is be­ing done.

I hope that more light be­ing shone on this topic means change will hap­pen. I hope that nam­ing the per­pe­tra­tors means they get black­listed. I hope that young women start­ing in the in­dus­try will be safe at cast­ings and meet­ings.and I hope that Har­vey We­in­stein’s dra­matic de­scent from Hol­ly­wood power player to dis­graced out­sider is just the be­gin­ning. Most of all, I hope for a world in which women are safe from sex­ual as­sault. Cameron Rus­sell got it right: my job should not in­clude abuse.

“We all know who the worst per­pe­tra­tors are in the fash­ion in­dus­try. We all know whose names on the call sheet in­flict a sense of dread.”

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