At various times throughout my art modeling career I have been tempted to sit down at my computer, write a lengthy detailed email exposing everything I know about certain people, airing everyone’s dirty laundry that I’m privy to, calling out bad behavior, betrayals, and backstabbing. Then I’d CC it to everyone in my address book, hit “send”, and let the whole thing crash and burn. Sure, I’d be flaming myself and my career in the process, but in that state-of-mind I probably wouldn’t give a shit. I’d just find something else to do. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.
I have devised a regulation that I believe should be implemented in the art community. Here it is: married male art teachers between the ages of 45 and 58 should be prohibited from working with female life models. No, I’m not kidding. The only exceptions to this rule will be granted when the male artist undergoes psychological counseling by a licensed professional and is 100% cleared of suffering from a mid-life crisis. Then, and only then, will that male instructor be permitted to work with female models. All others – those diagnosed with mid-life crisis – are forbidden from being in the same room with nude female models. They can do still lifes and landscapes. We’ll let them back into life classes after their 60th birthday.
The dirty little secret of the art world, from the model’s perspective, is the disturbing prevalence of pathetic middle-aged perverts who blur the line between professionalism and their own personal ego-driven issues and insecurities. I have twice now LOST SIGNIFICANT MODELING EMPLOYMENT all because a male teacher concocted fantasies in his head about me, treated these delusions as fact, and decided to deal with them by punishing ME rather than seeking help for his issues. This is unacceptable. They are usually married men, always in their 40s or 50s, always have inflated perceptions of themselves in terms of their artistic talent, and always disguise their fetishization of models by behaving in a chummy, open, and genial manner. These are the guys who are full of shit. And they get away with their unethical behavior over and over and over again because no one calls them out on their lies – no one except for the accusing model whose word carries no weight whatsoever in this business.
Don’t ever – EVER – underestimate the boy’s club that is the art world. It is very, very real. And I say this as a woman who doesn’t identify as a “feminist” at all. But when a married male art teacher, in some cases notorious for being an inappropriate perv, finds himself attracted to a model and is frustrated by that attraction, I can promise you that it’s the MODEL who will suffer for it. A model, by the way, who did absolutely nothing wrong.
Just to be clear, I am speaking about flagrant, egregious LIES – situations in which these male art teachers just make shit up about models. Pure fantasy. Pure fiction. Look, I understand we are all human. If you are a male artist who develops feelings or an attraction to a model, you can inquire. You can wonder and contemplate. You can even try, if you must, to pursue an affair. But you can’t just MAKE SHIT UP and act on it by ostracizing the model with no explanation or apology, and without taking even five minutes to hold your own delusions up to scrutiny – your own delusions which are the real problem. The model isn’t the problem, YOU are the problem. And no model should ever have to lose work because a male art teacher fabricated ideas about her IN HIS HEAD. Men like that are not even men. They are silly, spoiled children who have regressed back to adolescence and shouldn’t be allowed near adults.
The art world is rampant with these dickheads. Their male peers either protect them or simply look the other way. The worst assumptions are made about the model, while the benefit of the doubt is given, or some excuse made, for the male artist. You know, because he’s so technically “brilliant” or “talented” or some other art crap that should in no way absolve bad behavior. I write about great artists all the time on this blog. But in real life, if some male artist treats a model badly I don’t give a damn how “talented” he is. It means absolutely ZERO to me. A douchebag is a douchebag. As far as I’m concerned, I’d lock all these assholes in a room – WITH their shitty artwork – douse the place with gasoline and burn it to the ground.
The art community is blessed with many extremely hardworking, dedicated models, who endure physical pain and strain, booking aggravations, and a multitude of temperamental personalities, so that artists can benefit from the life model experience. And what do these models get in return for their diligence? A tenuous work existence subject to the arbitrary, fanciful impulses of middle-aged, unhappily-married pervs who just wish they could get laid with the sexy nude model posing for his class and feel like a stud again.
If only I were a vindictive person. But unfortunately I’m not, and sometimes that pisses me off. Because there are a few people I know who really, really, really deserve to have their careers and reputations destroyed.