This fashion shoot inspired by rape is NOT okay
Mumbai-based fashion photographer Raj Shetye is in hot water over a series of photos he shot depicting what appears to be a gang rape. The fashion shoot, titled "The Wrong Turn," features a group of men who appear to be forcing themselves onto a woman inside of an otherwise empty bus. If this scenario sounds at all familiar, perhaps that's because the series bears a striking resemblance to the 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student inside a moving bus in New Delhi--a resemblance, by the way, that the photographer assures is pure coincidence. Yeah, sure.
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In an interview with Buzzfeed, Shetye claimed the fashion shoot "is not based on Nirbhaya"--an alias given to the New Delhi rape victim, which also means "fearless" in Hindi--nor was it intended to glamourize rape. "It's just a way of throwing light on it," he explained. "Being a photographer, the only medium I can communicate in is photos," Shetye went on to explain. "For me, it's as simple as that. It's art. Making movies, writing articles, making a poem--these are all ways of addressing the topic. Being a fashion photographer, this is what I can do best."
Wait, this deplorable photo shoot was his way of address the topic of rape? I'm sorry, but I call BS. I don't believe for a single second that Shetye intended to use this photo shoot as a platform to discuss sexual assault. In fact, I know that this wasn't his intention. How do I know this, you ask? Well, he said so himself.
In a Facebook post directed at his critics, Shetye explained that the shoot was "meant to highlight our double standards where people expect the rich or well-heeled to dress well and travel in the luxury security and comfort of their own dress norm core so to conform to norms of societal expectation thereby killing her dream to look good & be the cynosure of all eyes." In other words, the photo shoot wasn't some grand statement about how rape culture; the fashion shoot was intended to say, "Hey, rich people should be able to dress nicely and take public transportation without being made to feel bad." Or something like that.
Obviously, there's been a ton of public outcry on the matter, however, Shetye remains unfazed. In fact, he tells Buzzfeed he's just happy to have started a conversation. "It makes me feel satisfied about my work--at least the work I did is so impactful that I'm able to shed some light on this. I don't feel happy, but it makes me feel satisfied. That whatever I've tried to communicate is being communicated." Yes, he's satisfied with his work. So satisfied that he decided to remove all traces of the photo series from the internet. Eye roll.
Images via Buzzfeed.com
Do you buy that Shetye was just trying to generate a conversation about sexual assault?