Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

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Laurie Toby Edison by Carol Squires

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Speaking Out

Laurie and Debbie say:

Liz from Badgerbag wrote us (and many other people) about the erotic photographer Michael Rosen’s abusive sexual behavior towards her, when she modeled for him years ago. And that she was not the only young model who had this experience. She spoke to her anger and concern that in spite of her public blogging about it, and her discussions with people in the sex positive community, that he remains an accepted a member in the community. We admire and support Liz’s courage and persistence in speaking out.

Liz said:

I am perturbed that despite years of my having spoken out in private and in public spaces about the photographer Michael Rosen’s continued actions, he has a show coming up at Femina Potens, a queer and feminist space in SF.

Breaking silence about abusive behavior is always crucial. Keeping silent even in any close and embattled communities, while understandable, is ultimately destructive to the community rather than supportive.

We know only good about the Femina Potens Gallery, and are hopeful that they will heed Liz’s words.

Pantryslut wrote this in response in an open letter to Femina Potens on Live Journal:

… It has come to my attention from multiple sources that Mr. Rosen has a history of inappropriate conduct with solo women he photographs in his studio. It is also my understanding that he has never publicly acknowledged or addressed the concerns of his former models.

Until the day comes that Mr. Rosen does, indeed, engage with the larger sex-positive community about these concerns, I, as a member of that community, am unable to continue to support his work. Indeed, I am compelled to speak out against others supporting his work or extending him our collective community goodwill. …

We agree.

6 Responses to “Speaking Out”

  1. Julia says:

    I was pretty upset by the response on badgerbag’s dreamwidth entry, which included this from someone identifying herself as management at Femina Potens:

    “It seems like there is a need for dialogue between you and Mr Rosen to work through this experience”

    I found that outrageous and upsetting, to say the least.

  2. Laurie says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that.

  3. Lynne Murray says:

    In my not-so-innocent youth I was the victim of a serial abuser who also preyed on other women in our group who trusted him. This was 30 years ago, so the blame-the-victim view was much more prevalent, but it is not dead. I was beyond angry–partly at having been manipulated by someone I tremendously admired and thought of as a mentor, and partly at being powerless to accuse or stop him from continuing the abuse. I literally spent years demanding an apology and the attitude I got (though no one said it directly) was “you girls were fools to let yourself be alone in a hotel room with that man–what did you expect?” We had expected someone we trusted to remain a mentor.

    What helped those of us who recovered? Talking with each other. Seeing that this man had an M.O. that was invariably the same, which included getting the woman alone in a private setting for therapeutic massage that turned sexual. The damage to the women involved included one suicide attempt, much substance abuse, lost employment and at least one broken marriage.

    The capper was years later the abuser sent me a pornographic novel “by anonymous” and asked if I had written it. The book consisted of the abuse incidents reframed as the hero being overcome by lusty young women who won’t take no for an answer. His modus operandi from his point of view. He still thought of as his fantasy, no apology would ever be forthcoming from him because he didn’t see it as wrongdoing.

    To anyone in such a situation, I would urge them to talk to your women friends, talk to other victims. It never hurts to confront and expose such behavior, but the real healing comes from validating your own behavior, valuing your own integrity and realizing that a sick individual who manipulates others may not be capable of reform. Worse yet others in whatever community may have no interest in making waves to reform him. It may sound like a pitifully small outcome, but if Liz’s speaking out has helped another woman not to be alone and vulnerable to a predator, then it has infinite value. I can only speak from my own personal experience. As they say on the net, your mileage may vary.

  4. Adrian says:

    It’s amazing how much has changed since 1993 (and of course even more since 1968.) Sex positive queers and perverts are still stigmatized, but now we can form communities for reasons other than mutual defense and support. Closets are dangerous, in the way anything that discourages victims from asking for help is dangerous. (Victims and witnesses who hesitate to speak, not wanting to say why they were there, instead of respectably elsewhere. Members of the larger community who have reason to be afraid of police attention or even scandalized gossip making a shanda fur die goyim.) I hope the increasing openness makes potential abusers hesitate. It’s hard to know for sure.

  5. Laurie says:

    Lynn,

    I agree that shared pain, stories and support from friends and people who have similar experiences are invaluable in healing. And breaking silence even if the abuser is in denial, which is pretty usual, is nevertheless extremely powerful and often liberating.

    Adrian,

    I’m not sure if increasing openness makes abusers hesitate or simply more careful. But it certainly ups the chances that they will pay in some ways for their behavior.
    And it greatly increases the chances that the people they prey on will have a stronger ground to stand on in refusing or reporting them.

  6. marlene says:

    Laurie is out of town and asked me to put up this clarification:

    The work will not be shown at Femina Potens. The show will be at Mister S Leather and is being coordinated and promoted by Femina Potens. This was the case from the beginning and is not a change.

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