When reading these horror stories, one cannot help but think, “How can he get away with this?” Jamie Peck related that she was not alone in the room with Richardson. In fact, she was surrounded by assistants and camera crew, who were cheering her on when she was asked to grab Richardson’s unmentionables.
In short, none of Richardson’s reported behavior was a secret. How many modeling agencies heard these horror stories from their models and did nothing about it? How many ad executives saw Richardson’s pictures of girls tied up and let them go to print? How many assistants watched Richardson sexually abuse young, naïve girls who were too starstruck to protest what was going on?
Terry Richardson is entitled to presumption of innocence in a legal sense, but there’s pretty overwhelming social evidence that he’s a creep. The worst offender here is the fashion industry, which allowed this man to rise to superstardom while turning a blind eye to the abused girls he left behind.
It is truly a feat of hypocrisy that an industry that is dependent on women, as models and consumers, that likes to pretend to be a proponent of feminism, can turn a blind eye to the criminal misbehavior of someone so unfeminist, a man who enjoys making women uncomfortable and showing them vulnerable and, in some cases, in danger of bodily harm.
Until Vogue’s about-face, the fashion industry seemed not to care at all about what this man was doing to women. It’s not clear that anybody cares even now. In October, an anti-Terry petition began circulating, urging major fashion brands to stop giving Richardson work and reopening the dialogue about his past behavior. Just two months later, Beyoncé dropped her top-secret all-music-video album, with one of the videos directed by Richardson.
In fact, despite all of the allegations currently circulating, one does not have to look too hard to find a brand-new Richardson photo spread. The cover of the May 2014 issue of Harper’s Bazaar was shot by Richardson.
Aside from Vogue, no other major magazines Richardson has worked with, such as GQ and W, has voiced any opinion on the matter.
The fashion industry is one of the real perpetrators of the war on women, and the industry’s indifference to Richardson’s behavior is proof of that. This business is dominated by liberals who are quick to label Republicans anti-women and eager to hold fashion shows to fundraise for Obama. Yet the people working in fashion don’t care about serious abuse — some of it rising to the level of potential crime — against women.
In one of the pictures that made him famous, Richardson asked his assistant to don a tiara with the word “Slut!” written on it and kneel down in a trashcan while performing fellatio on him. This was ten years ago, in 2004, and the man has been gainfully employed since then. Why? Because the fashion world sees women the same way Richardson does.
— Christine Sisto is an editorial assistant at National Review.