Unlearning and listening

This week has been tough for many. I woke up feeling exhausted and tired, not even a double shot of caffeine could fix me today. For the first time, I totally and completely lost myself in the digital discussion about women’s safety on the streets and at home. I’ve never felt this deeply over something and I never before allowed myself to literally lose sleep over an online conversation.

There is a lot that can be said about the unlearning and listening that we must do to create a better and safer environment for everyone. There is a lot that can be done when it comes to raising discussions early on, so we are not unlearning behaviours or prejudices, but instead we are brought up with equality and respect ingrained.

To relate this back to my world—the art world—I know that as a female photographer (and model) I must use my experiences and create environment that is safe and comfortable for everyone I work with. I have seen the dark and unreported side of this industry, and there is a lack of safety net for models (and photographers).

A lot of situations go unreported because there is this perceived notion that models will lose work if they are vocal in speaking out about their experiences and are naming names. It’s an unwritten rule, almost. Which is why public reviews of photographers on websites, such as, PurplePort, are meaningless.

They are just a public front, a final piece of the transaction to ensure a regular flow of trade for models. Many female models know that once they begin speaking out and naming names, they are often mistrusted or seen as “disruptive”. They are risking losing their income if they are seen as such.

It shouldn’t be like this. Models shouldn’t have to get in touch with other models via private messages to ask the truthful and honest opinion and experiences working with certain photographers. Models shouldn’t be made feel bad for requesting to bring a chaperone to a nude forest shoot. They shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to ensure their safety. 

There is a lot that needs to be done and I want to be a part of the change. I know what it feels like to be on both sides of the camera, and I know what it feels like to receive harassment and uncomfortable comments. I know what it feels like so I take security and comfort of my models and my clients seriously. 

I hope that more people will engage with this conversation on how we can make the world safer for ourselves and everyone around us. A lot of unlearning and listening is to be had yet.

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