It’s the sort of comment that leaves the blood rushing in your ears, the same way “drama queen” and “take a joke” and “get over yourself” might.
“Diva”. It’s a word used to belittle and disregard and it hit Australian model Robyn Lawley, 28, hard in the chest after she complained on set about sexual harassment.
“You’re being a diva,” she was told, after protesting that her shirt was taken off her without warning. She told Be she was “shocked” by the comment.
“It’s those moments where you think: ‘Wow I hope this changes one day’, and I’m proud that it finally is,” the mother-of-one said, adding: “What model hasn’t felt uncomfortable on set before?”
When asked about the incident, Lawley’s agent Chelsea Bonner of Bella Management told Femail the act was an example of sexual misconduct.
“A lot of people in the industry think it’s normal practice to treat ‘up and comers’ like dirt,” she said.
LISTEN: Founder of Bella Management Chelsea Bonner speaks to Mia Freedman about the moment a beaten-down Robyn Lawley walked through her door. Post continues after audio.
Lawley’s comments come in the wake of the #MeToo movement that’s seen women speak out about sexual harassment in a range of industries – a waterfall of allegations triggered by actress Ashley Judd publicly accusing disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse.
More specifically, her insight into the mistreatment of models follow accusations of sexual misconduct levelled at world-renowned photographer Mario Testino by 13 male assistants and models last week.
Brands such as Vogue and Burberry have dropped the 36-year-old photographer since the allegations were made public, Be reports, even though he’s denied any misconduct.
Lawley says models are often made to feel like “objects” on set, as if they have no voice.
“I’ve had those moment where you think: ‘I can’t say anything because I’m going to get shit for it, it’s going to backlash against me or my agents are going to say they hated me or I was difficult to work with’.”
And this, perhaps, is the second wave of the #MeToo movement.
Certainly, it’s never acceptable for a man to use his position of power to sexually exploit and abuse a woman. And the millions of women sharing their #MeToo stories will hopefully go someway in ending this abhorrent behaviour.
However, the implication that something might go wrong for a woman if she is anything but compliant – even in cases that aren’t sexual harassment – is also a vile abuse of power.
Listen to the full episode of No Filter with Founder of Bella Management, Chelsea Bonner, below. Post continues after.
Calling a woman a “drama queen” or “diva” or telling her to “get a sense of humour” when she reacts negatively is part of the problem. It’s silencing and degrading. Most of all, it’s dangerous because it’s exactly the sort of attitude that enabled the Harvey Weinsteins, maybe even the Mario Testinos, to violate their victims in the first place.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual or physical abuse, contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732. You can also visit their website.