Over the past several years, numerous women have come out to discuss their experiences with celebrity photographer Terry Richardson. Just this week, a woman accused him of some truly appalling acts that allegedly took place when she was just 19. For the most part, Richardson has kept quiet on the subject; when our own former writer penned a (wonderful) piece on his unbelievably creepy behavior, he didn’t respond. Now, Page Six has acquired a letter Uncle Terry wrote in an attempt to dispel the accusations against him.
According to Richardson, these accusations are lies–all lies!
“People have become comfortable concocting hate-filled and libelous tales … In writing this, I make a humble attempt at correcting these rumors … All that remain are the lies.”
Which explains why so many unconnected women have repeated them publicly with their names attached, right? Also, they presumably are hate-filled considering the content; wouldn’t anybody be filled with hate for their abuser?
“I chose to primarily ignore a cycle of Internet gossip and false accusations against me . . . I felt that to dignify them with a response was a betrayal of my work and my character.
“… When these allegations resurfaced over the past few months, they seemed especially vicious and distorted . . . becoming nothing more than an emotionally-charged witch hunt.”
To be honest, it sounds like Richardson is simply responding now because the amount of attention has increased exponentially as not one blog, not two blogs, but dozens of blogs and new outlets and people totally unrelated to feminism or the fashion world are listening to these women’s stories.
You’re right, Terry–it’s a total “witch hunt” to discuss the unreasonably solid example of rape culture that is your career. Man allegedly harasses women. Women are horribly scarred by experiences. Women speak out. Man continues with business as usual.
It’s not like Terry doesn’t know his photos are hyper-sexual creepshots; he notes that “like Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton,” his book Terry’s World “explored the beauty, rawness and humor that sexuality entails.” And this totally explains why most of that “sexuality” features women, often in creepy, dehumanizing settings (NSFW) and often sucking his dick. Art! (Also, I find it a bit of a stretch to compares oneself to photographers who can actually take decent photographs when one is incapable of doing anything but the most primitive form of “shocking snapshot,” but I digress.)
Oh, but when it comes down to it, it’s all these ladies’ faults:
“I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases . . . I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do. I give everyone that I work with enough respect to view them as having ownership of their free will and making their decisions accordingly.”
Oh. Huh. It’s almost like he’s…blaming the victims? I’ve never witnessed that technique before!
I get that he doesn’t act this way with his celebrity clientele; if he shoved his penis in the face of, say, Lea Michele or Beyonce, I strongly doubt he would ever work again. Those women have bodyguards, lawyers, money, and strong enough careers that working with Richardson doesn’t really boost anything for them, so they would never feel that horrible power dynamic that comes from being a 19-year-old model standing between a 48-year-old man with an enormous career and countless connections and a mid-40s assistant as they both shout at you to do sexual positions to their liking. So yeah, it kind of makes sense that his celebrity buddies would be less aware of his alleged behavior.
However, that does not mean they need to continue supporting him. When this many women come forward over the course of this many years–often with repercussions that include harassment and public name-calling–it would sure make sense to, at this point, cut ties with the guy. (Sad reminder time: We live in a world where a famous person coming out as gay is genuinely more controversial than a famous person being accused over and over of being a sexual predator.)
So, if you don’t support Terry Richardson nor his hunt to explore the “rawness and humor that sexuality entails,” hop on over The Representation Project to tweet at some of the brands and magazines that have continuously employed him. I mean, we’re all witches anyway, apparently; we might as well do some hunting on behalf of what’s right.
Photo: Getty Images