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"The Response To Emily Ratajkowski’s 'Sexual Assault' Allegations Proves Slut-Shaming Is Alive And Well"

"The Response To Emily Ratajkowski’s 'Sexual Assault' Allegations Proves Slut-Shaming Is Alive And Well"

Words by Hattie Gladwell

Earlier this week a personal essay by model Emily Ratajkowski, documenting her 2012 encounter with photographer Jonathan Leder, sent shockwaves across the internet.

The photo shoot at Leder's home in the Catskills, Emily says, ended with him forcibly "sticking his fingers inside of her" as the pair sat on his sofa drinking wine - a claim he has vehemently denied.

But the article, published in The Cut, is about so much more than the night in question; it's also about Leder's response, which speaks volumes about the way society views women in 2020.

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Emily Ratajkowski hit headlines with a powerful essay in The Cut this week (Credit: Shutterstock)
Emily Ratajkowski hit headlines with a powerful essay in The Cut this week (Credit: Shutterstock)

Labelling the allegations "too tawdry and childish to respond to," he said: "You do know who we are talking about right? This is the girl that was naked in Treats! magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time. You really want someone to believe she was a victim?"

Given that he completely discredits Emily's version of events on the basis that she once stripped off on camera, it's no surprise that Leder has been accused of slut-shaming.

Emily embarked on the fateful lingerie shoot back in 2012, when she was 20 years old and just starting out in professional modelling. Her long-term agent put her forward for an unpaid job with photographer Jonathan Leder, at his home in southeastern New York State.

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It's been suggested that Em Rata's modelling career makes her a less plausible 'victim' (Credit: Shutterstock)
It's been suggested that Em Rata's modelling career makes her a less plausible 'victim' (Credit: Shutterstock)

The aspiring model says she was offered wine throughout the night, before being asked to strip off. Having posed nude a couple of times before, Emily did what was asked. She was confident about her body; after all, he was supposed to be a professional photographer.

According to Emily, she was by this point extremely drunk and sat on the sofa chatting to Jonathan after the makeup artist had gone up to bed.

"Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling," she wrote. "I don't remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since.

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Emily with husband Sebastian Bear-McClard (Credit: PA)
Emily with husband Sebastian Bear-McClard (Credit: PA)

"I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn't say a word. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs."

The next day, Emily left Leder's house and tried to put the alleged ordeal to the back of her mind, never to be spoken of again. Until now.

In the aftermath of Emily's explosive essay, many feel that Leder's response highlights the toxic attitude that women's bodies are meant for the male gaze; that if we take ownership of and pride in them, we lose the right to say no.

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Yet Emily - who has previously been targeted by hackers who leaked intimate photos of her - has always been honest about the fact that she is comfortable stripping off on her own terms.

And regardless of what people think of the Robin Thicke video (yes, that video), it should have absolutely no bearing on her version of events that night. Because posing naked for professional work is a choice she has made. Because it is her body.

Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Leder told Tyla: "We were all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski's latest false statements to NY Magazine.

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"While we understand that Ms. Ratajkowski no longer feels that the images represent her in the way she would like, and are probably detrimental to her career as an actress and celebrity, nonetheless, her recent accusations are based in fiction and not in fact, and the facts should matter.

"Mr. Leder completely denies her outrageous libelous allegations of being 'assaulted'.It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive about the publication of the photos."

The photographer has also claimed that Emily is taking revenge because she is unhappy with him owning the rights to use the photos he took that night.

But while only the two of them will ever know what really happened that night, Leder's response suggests that if a woman chooses to pose nude - if she shows her body for a living - she is no longer credible.

And that's a terrifying prospect for women everywhere.

Featured Image Credit: PA