What If Fashion Ads Objectified Men the Same Scary Way They Do Women?
The style world is abuzz over two influencers allegedly abusing their power with young women. We examined what their iconic ads might look like if guys were the ones in compromising positions.
It’s been a rough few weeks for pervy middle-aged guys in the fashion industry.
First, photographer Terry Richardson was the subject of a much discussed New York magazine feature that questioned whether the lensman is an artist or a predator. The piece explored more than a decade of allegations of abusive behavior toward fledgling models, who told of Richardson asking them to perform graphic sex acts to further their careers.
Even high-profile models have long expressed disgust at Richardson’s methods. In 2010, supermodel Rie Rasmussen told Page Six, “He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves.”…
…Meanwhile, on June 18, American Apparel CEO Dov Charney was unceremoniously dismissed from his position because of the A.A. board’s “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.” A smattering of the allegations he’s faced during his tenure: holding an employee as a personal sex slave for eight months, sexually harassing multiple models and employees, assaulting a store manager, and using ethnic and racist slurs with staff. His questionable behavior had been common knowledge for at least a decade, starting with a notorious 2004 Jane magazine article in which he masturbated in front of a reporter.
Why the ouster now? The depressing but predictable answer is money. The board didn’t seem to mind his sketchy behavior when the company stock was $15 a share in 2007. American Apparel leaders only took action after stocks plummeted to 47 cents in April and the deductible on the company’s employment liability insurance surged to $1 million from $350,000, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. (Charney, who owns a 27 percent stake in the company, is trying to wrestle control of it back from the board.)
The eerie similarities between the men’s alleged predation—along with their shared predilection for oversize glasses and ’70s-porn facial hair—had the ladies at Jezebel wondering if they’re the same person. It also got us thinking about how the fashion industry has turned a blind eye to their antics for years. Imagine the CEO of an insurance agency engaging in super-NSFW nude dances around clothed subordinates of the opposite sex. Or your boss claiming, as Richardson has, that getting naked makes colleagues feel more comfortable doing their job. Crazy, right?
Richardson and Charney aren’t the first to create hostile work environments, nor are they pioneers in exploiting sexuality to sell clothes. The Mad Men of the world mastered that in the ’60s. However, their porny influence has trickled down through the ad industry to an alarming degree in the last two decades. Whether or not the recent controversy will lead to the downfall of either, it’s time someone called out the rampant sexism they’ve fostered. What better way to start than by replacing the women in controversial ads with dudes like Charney and Richardson? They’re just as disturbing as you’d expect, but only half as distressing as the originals. (Continued at the source.)