“There is a fury in all of us women because we have been non-consensually touched and moved and shaped and pretzeled and bottled and sold and marketed and told to dance in so many ways. And it’s enough. It’s enough.”
— Tracee Ellis Ross, Actress, Producer, Director, Activist
I was the lead photographer at an all woman-led company in New York — a job in which many people would dream of having. It certainly was my dream job. How could it not be? I was working with all women and creating beautiful and dreamy images with a team of people whom I admired. This was my ideal; photographing women and products women love and enjoy. It seemed light and airy; sensitive and wondrous. My images were and still are being used in well known publications all over the world, including The Gentlewoman, The Violet Book, The Violet Book Japan, Vogue, Puss Puss Magazine, NY Magazine, and Pan and the Dream. Every time I come across an image of mine in a publication, a warmth of pride runs through my body, then I close the magazine or book and simply realize that was my past. Once I find the words, I will write more about my (quite tragic) journey that led to the ending of my career with this particular company.
Simply said, when something looks and feels particularly shiny and dreamy, one must know there is always a dark side — a side that many will not see nor ever know about. In light of our climate today, I feel the responsibility to speak up and out about the #metoo movement that has affected many women and not necessarily in a positive way. I, unfortunately and fortunately — depending on how you look at it, happen to be one of those women.
I was recently flipping through the Gentlewoman, a publication I admire deeply and have had the privilege to be published in multiple times. However, the most recent feature of mine in their Spring and Summer 2018 catalog struck me. It was like a lightening bolt came down and jarred me. Not because of the image they chose, but because of the article mirroring my image. I know the response I had to these pages is because of a personal experience I have endured with both of these relating topics — an all women run company and the philosophy of “consent.” The facing pages, pages 142 and 143, could not be more opposite of one another in tone, depth, color, and the message they portray to The Gentlewoman’s readers. I still wonder why they chose such a beautiful and airy image to pair with this article — but really what image would pair well with a sensitive article in which so many people can relate to?
The pairing could not be more ironic and iconic for me — as a previous employee, as a woman, as a photographer and as a woman who experienced sexual harassment that dragged on for almost two years. An experience that will forever be engrained in me as long as I live. The debilitating memories will fade as time passes but I will carry the weight with me forever.
So what is consent? Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote a beautiful article in The Gentlewoman page 143 about consent and what it means to consent in the workplace, at college and even at home. She states that “the University of Wyoming defines consent as voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, verbal, non-coerced, continual, active and honest.” Minus being sober, my experience was definitely not voluntary, verbal, non-coerced, continual, active and honest. Was yours? What was your experience? I am sure you can relate and yours was not this either. I understand every person may have their own definition about what consent actually means and most companies implement stating what they think consent and sexual harassment means to them — to benefit and protect them as a company and not their employees in non-leadership positions, like me. I was not the CFO, COO or CEO — I was not viewed as a woman or much less a person. I was just “the photographer” and disposable.
I look at the mirroring pages and I am hit in the face with the words “Jewelry as Poetry” and “Consent” — maybe we as a whole should start viewing consent as poetry — to help protect and fight for women who have been and are being violated in the workplace, at school and at home — places we should be able to trust with people we should be able to trust.
I am continuing to learn and rebuild the trust within my community — I thankfully have found an incredible community in New York at The Wing. I wish to speak more about the #metoo movement publicly and promise to be an active member, friend, co-worker and woman to those around me.