Being Sexually Harassed As A Female Photographer

Being a woman in a male populated field can have it’s challenges, especially if you’re trying to get in from the ground up. You work hard, challenge yourself, and aim for professionalism. However, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work, you’ll still be seen as “meat” or “a mark” to some creeps. This was my case a while back when trying to intern for 98Rock back in 2012. I was sexually harassed by John Boyle, and felt too uncomfortable to work there. Even after sending the screenshots of disgusting messages about “eating my ass” to his colleagues nothing was done. I’m posting this example, as well as others, to tell my story since I’ve been hearing from so many others about their complications with men in the workplace (years after the fact). Maybe if someone could read this they can have the courage to stand up for themselves and not be intimidated to take action.

About five years ago, I met a man named John Boyle who worked for 98Rock at Aftershock in Sacramento. We talked and exchanged info in regards to an internship with the station. I was so excited about this opportunity; I thought, “Finally! A step in the right direction!”. I wanted nothing more than a career where I was forever surrounded by metal music; my dream job. A friend and I went to the station for a guided tour provided by John. It was amazing seeing everything from the inside of a radio station. That night I took off to LA for a little vacation and was planning out my career path with 98Rock. It wasn’t until I got back from my trip that things got weird.

At first, it was difficult to get a hold of him (which didn’t seem weird at all, people are busy). It was when I DID get a hold of him when he was getting inappropriate with me. These messages below were sent to 98Rock (which they did absolutely nothing about) and had me shook. I didn’t expect this from someone who was “professional”, who brought me to his place of work, showed me around, had me sign intern paper work, and talked to me about a job. I was trying to brush it off, and play it off, but he just kept on sexually harassing me.

(click to enlarge; his picture is blank because I had felt so uncomfortable I decided to block him)

Now, this isn’t the first time someone who was SUPPOSED to be professional (AND married) has crossed the line with me -and it won’t be the last. I have dealt with countless disgusting people over the last several years who have nearly diminished my passion for going after my dreams. As a female photographer, I’ve been harassed by employers such as John Boyle, and even male models.

A prime example would be one of my photography trips to LA back in 2014. I had booked several models to shoot with and had a full schedule. This model named “Legan” from ModelMayhem was one of the people I had booked. He was a Nigerian model living in LA; I loved his look and wanted to shoot…. JUST shoot. During the shoot however, I realized that he had some physical boundary issues. While I shoot, I generally show the model what angles I’m getting, and how the photo looks. As I was trying to show him the photographs that I was taking he kept getting EXTREMELY close to me. I was obviously uncomfortable with him being so close to me. I tried holding the camera out farther away so he wouldn’t need to be so near, but he wasn’t interested in the pictures. After the shoot was over, he tried to have me ditch another shoot I had booked with another model to hang out with him. Of course I declined and went on about my day… at least I tried to.

“Legan” blew up my phone with text messages, not about the photos, but about me. He kept harassing me about my day, what I was doing etc. all while I was trying to get in all of my shoots before I left Los Angeles. It got to the point where I didn’t want to look at my phone anymore in fear it was him again and not a different model I had texted earlier. Finally, I let him have it. I couldn’t take it anymore and he needed to be stopped. That’s when I started receiving messages from him on ModelMyahem about the shoot (that I was avoiding because I didn’t want to look at his face let alone edit it).  So instead of deleting the pictures, I decided to change my editing style, and put him on blast.

Since he wanted to treat me like an object… I objectified him.

Later he went on a full-scale rant about American women saying “no” to him (as if he wasn’t repulsive). This was in an email he had sent to me (why all caps?):

“WOW, I DIDNT EVEN KNOW YOU WHERE LIKE THAT. I’m JUST GOING THROUGHT THINGS RIGHT NOW I TOLD YOU I WAS JUST COMING BACK FROM PARIS. I HAVE A CAR BUT ITS NOT IN LA. AM A OBJECT? TOP! I WAS JUST BEING NICE TO YOU. AND WOW THATS HOW YOU TREAT ME. COOL, THAT MY ME, HOPE THE WHOLE WORLD SEES THIS SHIT! RIGHT. PEOPLE HOW REALLY KNOW ME WOULD JUST LAUGH, BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT I AM.LOL! WHILE IT WAS NOT NICE WORKING WITH YOU”

My response: It was CLEAR AS DAY I wanted nothing to do with you outside of doing photoshoots and you kept on harassing me. I said “NO”. What the fuck is so COMPLICATED about the word “NO”? Do you rape women? When a woman says “NO” do you keep going and finally FORCE yourself on her? That’s pathetic. Know your place, and know when to fuckin quit. That shit wasn’t even REMOTELY cute. BY THE WAY… the world WILL see this shit. And this “apology letter” you wrote me.

My friends were disgusted by this and the comments he made about American women, which he deleted (as any person should be) and had this to say:

  • Wow, no that little fucker didn’t say that black girls are complicated in the US!?!? Ohhh
    •  Lol he’s just mad because a “complicated” woman stood up to him… He’s one of those chauvinistic pigs who think they can treat people how they want and have no consequences. Good for you for speaking out!
    • wow.. idk what to think.. except what a completely full of himself, weirdo asswipe!! keep it moving man!

    you mean we stand for women’s rights in the US, and we know a pervert when we see one, and I guess since you apparently learned English and still don’t fucking know what NO means, I guess we are complicated! Fucking douche bag, I will take being complicated over being simplistic, dry lipped, dumber than a box of rocks, wanna be american poser! Fucking asswipe!

Now, the most recent time I was harassed (actually ASSAULTED) was at Queer Fashion Week this passed year. I was there covering the show and hanging out with old friends while making new ones. Being in a queer-friendly place put me at ease. The men were uninterested in me, and I was thrilled. But one WOMAN in particular was interested in me, so much so, that she felt the need… to feel me up. I was backstage taking photos of models getting made up, chit-chatting with everyone, and having a good time. I had seen this woman before working backstage as a staff member. She was black, about 5’8”-5’9”, with a short hair cut in a white shirt. I never caught her name; if I had, it’d be in bold print right now.

While I was in the middle of photographing some models, I felt a hand go up my leg. I thought it was a child (since people brought their kids), but when I looked down, it was her. She went from my ankle and up my calve… I was disturbed by this. The model’s all saw the look on my face as she was doing this. At that moment when I realized it was her and what she was doing, I made a definitive choice NOT to stomp her out because I was working and wanted to be professional. After everything was said and done, I told my friends what happened and wanted to tell the coordinator what happened, but didn’t. I didn’t know her name, I didn’t know what to say, or what would happen (if anything). It’s as if I wasn’t safe anywhere, not even at a queer event. I felt gross, like a million bugs were crawling all over me. I don’t like to be touched, let alone felt up. The fact that a WOMAN did it, I felt betrayed.

These are just a few of MANY examples of me being harassed while I’m trying to be a professional photographer. I say this to women everywhere (not just photographers): STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! Document the injustice and tell someone – DON’T HESITATE. You may not want to talk about it, you may feel like people won’t take you seriously, but DO IT. You never know the outcome until you try. I made this post so others would know that they’re not the only ones. It’s not YOUR fault that they’re disgusting; put the blame where it belongs. I can go on about the countless times men (and some women) have crossed the line with me to the point where I couldn’t continue to work with them. Don’t brush things off as “normal”, it ISN’T. You don’t need to accept it as a “reality”, you need to fight for change. It’s likely that you’re not the only one they’ve harassed.

In the case of John Boyle, I inquired about him to a 98Rock booth while at a Black Keys concert in Sacramento. I told them I wanted to work for them, but was hesitant because of John’s behavior… which to them was NOT a surprise. It seems that I wasn’t the first one to say something about being sexually harassed by him. So speak up!

I hope this post resinates with those who have been through this so they come forward. I also hope that this post helps others be aware of what’s really going on and not accept sexual harassment as a “normal” thing that they have to put up with.

Of course, you can always contact me for support; I don’t mind it at all. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve consoled someone who’s gone through something similar.

You’re a person. You have rights. You don’t deserve to be treated disrespectfully.

Remember that.

 

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