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Male Execs Pretty Sure Assault’s Not a Problem in Fashion

A ‘WWD’ article on the topic failed to include any thoughts from women.

Terry Richardson. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Every industry is examining its own role in turning a blind eye to its particular Harvey Weinsteins, and fashion is no exception. On Wednesday, Women’s Wear Daily published a story about sexual harassment in the fashion industry as it related to advertising, specifically discussing what it’s like on set during photo shoots. The story quotes only male executives.

One after the other, each said they’d never witnessed sexual harassment, assault, or abuse on set. For example, “We did crazy antics to get crazy pictures, but never abused anybody.” Collectively, the men conclude that fashion doesn’t have the same problem as, say, Hollywood or Silicon Valley.

The story is full of quotes like “I don’t think anything happened and we were worried about one thing — do great pictures” and “I was under the opinion that all these things had gotten better.” One executive said that he walked in on a model having sex with fashion photographer Terry Richardson, against whom a laundry list of accusations has been leveled, but didn’t think anything of it because “I don’t know what the relationship was.” Another mentioned that he’s hired “abusive stylists,” but clarified: “Sexually abusive? Maybe emotionally abusive. They take it out on the girls and guys and they took it out on me. I always embraced that banter back and forth. The best ones really believed in what they were doing.”

At the top, the piece mentions that activist and model Cameron Russell invited those in her industry to share their stories via Instagram; following hundreds of replies, Russell has spent the last week sharing screenshots of the responses on her account, while women at large have been encouraged to speak out about their own experiences using the hashtag #MeToo. Regardless of what it was meant to do — WWD declined to provide a comment to Racked — this piece reads like a less-than-thoughtful response from the industry’s obviously naive male contingent. The paper, which has long covered and championed a female-driven industry, does not even challenge the anecdotes. The Richardson one, for example, is followed by this quote: “Terry never abused anybody when I worked with him.” Countless women have repeatedly accused the photographer of assault.

Choosing to cover sexual assault and not include the voices of women adds further fuel to this ongoing problem. As advertising executive Cindy Gallop tweeted, “all-male interviews = biggest reinforcement sexual harassment is rife.”