I have been following the recent story against the famous celebrity photographer Marcus Hyde (who has worked with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande) and Los Angeles-based model Sunnaya, who took to Instagram Sunday night to share several screenshots of an interaction between her and the photographer that was nothing short of grimey.
Photographer Marcus Hyde used the platform to solicit models, and the Los Angeles-based model responded in DM’s to his open call. He said in exchange for nudes he would do a free session; no nudes, and the shoot would cost. The point is: she was blatantly stating that sending nude photos wasn’t something she was comfortable with. The conversation went back and forth until he and his massive ego got offended and he told her to “suck a fat big dick.”
That’s how the story starts.
From there, models have been coming out and messaging Sunnaya with details of very real sexual assault stories (like Hyde putting a finger up a model’s vagina without permission). And as she begins to share these stories, Instagram (or someone on the platform) flags her content, begins taking down the screenshots of the interaction between her and Hyde, and threatens to remove her from the platform.
Let’s take a minute to digest this: a woman comes forward with personal claims and screenshots from an unprofessional and ego-driven abusive photographer, and then starts sharing much bigger stories of sexual assault, and Instagram deems her content offensive. It took a massive amount of bravery to stand up against a powerful male photographer, essentially jeopardizing her career to voice very real concerns of harassment and sexual assault, and rather than applauding the use of their platform for impactful reporting, they condemn her for the act. This kind of gatekeeping not only silences future women victims for fear of getting their account removed, but empowers abusers to continue using the platform to carry out disgusting behavior.
Not one to be silenced, Sunnaya has taken to Twitter, and has begun sharing the screenshots of stories from other women who have been harassed and sexually abused by Marcus Hyde.
On a more local level, by sharing this story High Street Disco has received direct messages from women in New York — and beyond — who have had similar experiences with influential photographers in their area requesting and soliciting nudes and using their power and influence to harass, scare, and abuse women.
We will follow both stories closely, and keep you updated. However, let this story and Sunnaya’s bravery inspire you to share similar stories — even anonymously— so that we can do something about the heightened levels of fear, harassment, and sexual assault that women are constantly facing everyday.
To send us your stories, anonymously or otherwise, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a direct message @highstreetdisco. Your privacy is very important to us, and your voice and your story deserve to be heard so actions can be taken against abusers.
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Founder of Left Bank Media. I write about music, and New York mostly. MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London.