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Musogyny: Picture Perfect Perversion?

Everyone knows it’s a man’s world out there (thanks James Brown), but there is none more so than the big bad world of music. From Miley’s twerking to Sinead’s slut shaming, these last months have seen an upward trajectory in the debate around gender issues within music. Rest assured that we here at Planet Notion will be keeping a keen eye on all things sexism. 

For someone who likes black and white images so much, it seems that professional celebrity snapper Terry Richardson prefers to take considerably murkier approach in his treatment of women.

Ranging from Beyoncé to Barack Obama – and every underage hipster model in between – his photographs and subjects have not only become the hit of tumblr but also big weights like Vogue, Vice and Rolling Stone.

He documented Gaga on tour, he put Miley on the wrecking ball (in her birthday suit and DM’s), and he is best mates with Jared Leto. But what is becoming increasing worrying is that Terry Richardson’s lines seem as clearly defined Robin Thicke’s.

As far back as 2004, there have been constant concerns about his integrity raised by women. One such complaint came from supermodel Rie Rasmussen, who famously ousted him in 2010 at Paris Fashion Week as having shown sexual predatory behaviour whilst shooting her for his infamous Terryworld book.

Throughout his career he has been no stranger to controversy and Rasmussen’s barely listened to experiences and worries are now becoming a troublingly recurrent theme within his professional life.

In March this year, model Charlotte Waters claimed that he had forced unwanted advances on her and asked her to perform oral sex on him during a shoot as well as ejaculating on her face. But it doesn’t even stop there.

Add models Jamie Peck and Liskula Cohen to the list. They both have also publicly documented their fears on Richardson’s inappropriate behaviour towards his young and often fledgling female subjects.

As recent as this week, new concern came from British model Emma Appleton, who made headlines after allegedly receiving an offer via Facebook from Richardson that subtly read ““If I can f**k you I will book you for a.shoot for Vogue in NY[sic]”. Gentlemanly.

Richardson’s camp have been quick to blame Internet hoaxers, but in the wake of the scandal US Vogue have since waded into the storm of outcry saying “The last assignment Terry Richardson had for US Vogue appeared in the July 2010 issue and we have no plans to work with him in the future.”

Whilst US Vogue seems to have put their foot down with this latest brush tarring, many celebrities, musicians and models are continuing to support Richardson’s work by agreeing to appear in his images, despite the stacked up hearsay of his creepiness.

He has strong supporters though. Vice founder Gavin McInnes spoke up for him in 2004, defending an art gallery’s decision to show his work and model Noot Sear has also voiced a belief in his professionalism.

Music’s brightest stars from across the genre spectrum, including Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Sky Ferreira, Whirlwind Heat, Young Love and Thirty Seconds To Mars, have all chosen him to direct videos for them.

It is important to point out that, although aspersions have been well and truly cast over his provocative approach to art, Terry Richardson remains legally innocent. No judicial case has ever been brought against him and until it does, his guilt remains unproven.

On the other hand, inappropriate rumoured sexual offers and apparent predatory behaviour needs to be sent a clear message; that there is no place for it in fashion or music .

So hit makers, like US Vogue, it’s time to lay aside Richardson as a go to man for beautiful direction until cries of misconduct are completely stopped or rebutted. Maybe it’s time for all industries to take a more literal black and white view of sexual harassment, and one that isn’t tainted by alleged violation.

- Sarah Joy

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