The sexual assault scandals rocking nearly every industry, from Hollywood to the US Senate, has not escaped the world of photography and, in particular, the already highly-charged world of fashion photography.
One empowering aspect of the #MeToo movement is the ability for women and men who have experienced sexual assault to connect with one another to heal and bring awareness about the issue to others.
A group of Canadian models is using a closed Facebook group to warn other models about potentially predatory photographers in Canada.
Drew Catherine, a founder of the group, is herself a model, having worked in Toronto for three years during which time she herself experienced unwanted sexual advances during her career. She also relates the traumatic experiences of other models in the industry that include rape, abuse, invasions of privacy, and commercial exploitation of a model’s image without prior consent.
Toronto-Ontario Photographer Reviews hopes to put an end to these stories.
Catherine describes the group as a kind of union for models to protect themselves against predatory photographers and notes that often models have few resources to use in cases of abuse.
Catherine has also taken into consideration potential abuses of the platform and has group administrators monitor activity and posts in the group. When a photographer is accused of something, she often reaches out to them to get their side of the story. The goal of the group is to prevent and bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior towards models and Catherine makes sure that missions remains front and center in the group’s interactions.
The amazing aspect of this whole story is how powerful a force Facebook can be for connecting people with shared experiences to help them overcome common obstacles. Facebook groups can be created towards almost any legal purpose and are often geared toward niche interest groups, providing members with specialized and insider information on topics of interest.