Late last night, September 8th, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments issued a press release heavily criticizing photographer Tyler Shields’ latest work entitled “Love is forever (sorry)” posted on his website tylershields.com. earlier that day. Captions to his photos read: “You can’t run and you can’t hide Love will always find you when you least expect it…” And “Love is chaotic it doesn’t make any sense and if its not done right it can kill you… Ever been in love?” Featured photos include actress Heather Morris and another male modal engaging in domestic violence.
In their press release S.A.V.E. stated:
“A black-eyed Morris, dressed as Barbie, stares seductively into the camera, and later merrily presses a hot iron to her partner’s crotch. The photo depicts a getting-what-he-deserves storyline that reinforces serious misconceptions about domestic violence. Men are stereotyped as abusers, and Barbie supposedly strikes a blow for victims everywhere.”
“Predictably, reactions to the photos have focused only on the abuse to Barbie: her assault of Ken has been ignored, even though it is the more serious crime. Rita Smith, director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), spoke to E! news about the photos, but it was as if she had seen a different set of photos.
Still worse, nothing has been said about the photographer’s donation to an advocacy group that disregards male victims of domestic violence and portrays men as serial abusers: after the negative public reaction to the shoot, Tyler Shields told the Daily Mail that he would auction off his photos and donate the proceeds to Glamour magazine’s Tell Somebody campaign. The Tell Somebody campaign, like almost all programs, focuses exclusively on violence perpetrated against women—that is, on only half the picture.”
The photos are somewhat smutty in their nature and some would argue that the artist is trying to titillate a sadomasochistic response in the viewer. Certainly this is an artists prerogative. However, S.A.V.E. goes on to criticize that Shields chooses as his beneficiaries should include advocates of male victims as well. S.A.V.E also is critical of the stereotypical nature of the material in that it poses only males as the perpetrator. One could also argue that the sexual glamorization of domestic violence for profit does not promote understanding the problem and actually trivializes it.
When invited by AVFM News to comment on this criticism of his work via the contact email address on his website we received the following reply:
“I am the model in the photos and my crotch is fine because she was not really trying to hurt me…”