Ontario model opens Facebook group to openly discuss sexual harassment
An Ontario model says after experiencing her fair share of inappropriate behaviour from photographers, she has started a closed Facebook group just for models, so they can review and post honestly about their experiences to help warn others.
Recently, several men in the entertainment industry have been in the spotlight for allegations of sexual assault and harassment, including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Photographer Terry Richardson is also facing allegations.
Toronto-based Drew Catherine says after two years of being a model, she was fed up with how she was being treated by some photographers. She started the closed Facebook group in the spring.
"Many of us have been experiencing this for years," she said. "The Hollywood scene is just an exaggerated example of what's happening everywhere."
There were similar groups already online, but Catherine says these were open to photographers as well. Her group does not allow photographers.
She says she's experienced and seen a variety of behaviour that's inappropriate, including comments, touching and inappropriate offers.
"As a model, you have a set rate for your photo shoot and that's what you do," Catherine said.
"You are not an escort. Many photographers try and take advantage of that and offer you more money for other things."
Catherine says those cases can turn into a scary situation.
"I've had situations where I've had to have friends make an emergency call for me."
"I've left photo shoots without getting paid. I've left photo shoots and I have not received images. To this day, there are photographers I resent very heavily because they have hundreds of images of me they won't return because I didn't reciprocate their moves," Catherine says.
'Way too common'
She felt she had no choice but to have an area where models could openly talk about what happens with some photographers.
"It's actually getting ridiculous and that's why I made this group," she said. "It's getting way too common."
Catherine says models discuss how photographers treat them, not the quality of work produced. She says recently, sexual harassment claims were discussed in the group about a well known photographer.
"He ended up shutting down his entire photography page."
"He's no longer shooting because of this group, and the women who are coming together to bring him out."
Catherine says the group has administrators, and adds posts about sexual harassment won't be posted unless it's been reported to police.
"We do take minor infringements ... If he touched you, if he made comments, we allow you to talk about that because what this group is about is seeing multiple infringements."