So Sean Peacock / Shaun Colclough has been convicted of Sexual Assault and banned from ever taking a picture of a female model again without someone accompanying who knows of his convictions.
A quick summary of the background. In 1996, aged 22, he raped an 84 year old woman. During his sex offenders rehabilitation he was taught photography and discovered he was pretty good at it. He was very good at it actually, I certainly admired his work when I was starting. He began to intimidate models with sexual discussion, exposing himself to them and assaulting them. The actual details are elsewhere on the web, it’s kind of beside the point for this blog. The judge argued that his behaviour was an escalation because he had gone from a drunken rape to systematically planning to sexually assault these female models. Right on sister, etc.
I have nothing but the deepest respect for those women who have gone through the process of being a witness at court, leading to his conviction. Truly, that must have been a terrible experience. It can be hard for models to be taken seriously in instances like this because you know, they’re getting almost naked for strangers. It’s a bit like ‘She was wearing a short skirt m’lud’.
But that’s not what I want to discuss here. I want to discuss the community reaction.
Violence. That was the initial reaction.
I keep my eye on lots of the amateur photography websites due to my job (hey, I write about photography professionally, in case you didn’t know). Even the websites I’ve been banned from for upsetting the managerial staff, I still keep an eye on those for what’s happening in the community. So when I saw last night that Roswell Ivory had posted about the conviction of Peacock / Colclough I had to stay up late for an extra couple of hours to keep an eye on the reaction.
Violence and rape. The first responses I saw. Some lovely photographers actually wrote down that they hoped he went to prison and got raped by other men. Male on male rape is a serious crime and if you know anyone who’d ever been affected by it then you’ll know that it’s one of the hardest things in the world to deal with. Why would we wish someone to be raped in return for committing any crime? That’s a horrific thing to say.
(Highlighting not my own – I just scrubbed out the usernames and avatars.)
These photographers are potentially a danger to any model that they work with. Why? Because they consider violence and rape to be a casual, trivial thing. Let’s hope that a model never upsets them and they decide that they deserve to be raped for their misdemeanour, because clearly they believe it’s a worthy punishment for some crimes. Which crimes do they think it’s a worthy punishment for? Who knows.
Discussing prison rape isn’t funny. Male on male rape isn’t funny. You know who else believes that rape is a suitable punishment for comes committed? Illegal kangaroo courts in rural India. Then even in this country there’s the violent drug dealers who think that rape is a suitable punishment.
So when these photographers joke about how they hope Peacock / Colclough gets raped in prison as a punishment for sexually assaulting female models, they’re associating their views with these people. I’m sure that they’re the first people to say that they didn’t mean in in that way, but honestly, is there really a good way to say that someone should be raped? Is there ever a time that saying someone should be raped is funny? Is male on male rape funny while male on female rape is serious? Are the men that made these comments a bunch of fucking homophobic bell ends? (The answer is yes, btw. They probably are.)
Male on male rape victims are considered weak and unmanly, which is why it’s considered a fitting punishment for criminals. Well, you know what? Male rape victims are anything but weak and unmanly and it’s about time we just stopped perpetuating this disgusting myth. Men get raped by other men. It’s every bit as awful as a woman getting raped. And we’d never say that a woman was weak for being raped, so why do we make that insinuation about men?
I was going to rant more. But it was about to get personal. Read this instead. Especially the bit about unfortunate consequences.
Then there’s the reaction of it being good to have that guy locked up because real photographers don’t do those things.
I’ve seen several instances across the web this morning, but this one seemed to sum it up best. Also some of the others I’ve seen have been on private Facebook pages and I’m not quite comfortable sharing those on my blog. Although this one was public:
Well, sorry guys. Peacock / Colclough was a real photographer. A bloody good one at that. Let’s face it, he took better pictures than most amateurs (and many professionals) could manage. This term ‘real photographer’. I’ve seen it bandied about in the past. It seems to be used by guys who want to give naive young models a
false sense of security about working with them. Me? A cynic? No, you’ve got the wrong person there.
And it’s not a shame he called himself a photographer. He was a bloody excellent photographer. What else should he have called himself? A man who owns a camera and take pictures of people?
It’s dangerous to start labelling people in these terms. If there is one thing for certain though, it’s often the people who use the term ‘real photographers’ that aren’t actually very good. So what makes a real photographer if it isn’t about taking good picture? To be honest, I have no idea, and I don’t really care. I’m sure I don’t fall into their definition of a ‘real’ photographer because I’m not politely taking pictures of T&A, but there you go.
So this… #NotAllPhotographers thing. Of course, I’ve not seen that term used but there are parallels to be drawn with the whole #NotAllMen thing that happened earlier this year.
Saying that not all photographers act this way is a slightly weird and extraordinarily infuriating defence. We know that not all photographers act this way. Those of us who work towards attempting to eradicate this sort of behaviour from our beloved industry and hobby aren’t stupid. Cases like this don’t need a devil’s advocate. They don’t need someone saying ‘he wasn’t a real photographer, real photographers don’t do this’. At worst it redirects the discussion away from the topic at hand and back to the fact that most photographers are well behaved. We don’t need to talk about how great lots of photographers are, we need to talk about how fucking awful a minority of them are.
People who complain about these guys not being ‘real photographers’ aren’t engaging with the subject at hand. They’re derailing the discussion and doing a bit of white-knighting in the process. Yes, they were real photographers. Lets not ignore the fact that they were photographers.
These people are not predators who own a camera, they are predators who are also photographers. Sometimes they do use photography to get what they want, but guess what, they’re still photographers. Removing these people from the community by basically saying ‘they’re not one of us’ is a problem. It means that we can’t deal with them. We can’t come up with strategies to root them out and figure out how to attempt to prevent this kind of thing happening in the future.
At it’s very worst, if these guys aren’t photographers… then why are young women going to their houses/studios and taking their clothes off for them? If these guys aren’t photographers, then the models that are assaulted by them are just strippers and suddenly you’ve made it a whole lot worse for the models to do something about it. Because if you think that the authorities don’t take models seriously, then strippers and escorts have a whole extra layer of difficulty.