The Role of Consent on Public Platforms

A few weeks ago, an article about Chakrubs was published in Vice Quebec. It was a lovely piece about one woman’s experience using Chakrubs and how it shifted her approach to self-pleasure.

The aspect we want to address is a photo that was shared within that article. It belonged to artist Laurence “Moniasse” Sessou, who originally posted the image on her Instagram. Vice Quebec did not ask for Laurence’s permission before re-posting the photo alongside an article with the title “The day I inserted a crystal in my vagina.” Chakrubs was not sent the link to this article when it went live.

Not only was this image used without Laurence’s consent, but the experience described was not at all like her own. On the Instagram post where Laurence had originally posted the photo, she described using her Chakrub for ancestral healing. To then see that photo used without her permission (and without being given proper credit) to describe someone else’s sexual experience made her feel objectified and used.

Laurence reached out to Vice Quebec and requested a public apology as well as remuneration for using her photo without permission. Chakrubs also reached out to the online publication requesting that the photo be removed. Vice Quebec eventually took Laurence’s photo down, but they ignored her request for reparations and a public apology.

This lack of accountability is problematic on several levels. All of us, whether individual creators, small businesses, or large corporations, have to be conscious about how we are sourcing our content. A public profile does not give one clearance to use that content without asking for and obtaining permission. Creative consent is just as important as any other form of consent, and when any type of consent is violated we must look at how those powers are being abused.

In this case, Laurence Sessou is a Black woman whose photo was taken and used to highlight a white woman’s experience. When Laurence reached out to Vice Quebec’s Chief Editor, also a white woman, her concerns were ignored. In the video we have shared in this article, Laurence draws the correlation between her original post about using her Chakrub for ancestral healing and how through their mishandling of this issue, Vice Quebec is continuing a legacy of thievery that colonizers have been employing for centuries.

None of us exists in a vacuum. We have to consider how our actions affect others and this is especially true for those who enjoy certain privileges that others do not. It’s especially true for companies that have the money and resources to easily do the legwork to ensure that their content is reputable.

We stand by you Laurence and we apologize for the distress and hurt that this incident has caused you.

We want to take this opportunity to share Chakrubs’ personal policy for sharing content online: We do not publish content that is not ours unless we have asked and received permission from the original creator. We always credit the original creator when sharing content that is not ours. We understand that different creators prefer to be credited in different ways (or not at all) and we always respect these requests. We are committed to respecting your privacy and even customer testimonials can be published anonymously if a request is made.

From Founder Vanessa Cuccia:

Above all else, Chakrubs is a brand that values the needs of our community. The sharing of our experiences helps us feel seen and validated, but that becomes compromised when our stories are taken without permission. Chakrubs is committed to protecting our ability to share our stories comfortably so that we may continue inspiring others.

View this post on Instagram

Still no response from Vice Quebec @vicequebec @vice @viceuk so I've decided to be transparent and explain my situation. SARA BARRIÈRE-BRUNET MANAGING EDITOR, VICE QUÉBEC and I have exchanged a couple of emails last Monday and I did not get a resolution. The irony about all of this Vice saga and the image Sara chose to use to illustrate 'The day I inserted a crystal in my vagina' Melodie Nelson's @melodienelsonforever article on her use of Chakrubs @chakrubs . • I know sexuality can a sensitive subject to talk about and everyone has their own unique ways to express and talk about it. There's no right or wrong way as it is personal… very personal. • That is why I have a problem with the initial use of my picture on the article. It was not my story yet my face and half naked body was there. • The idea of Ancestral Healing resonates again but maybe this time it's on Sara's side… Sara, you've unfortunately did what some of your ancestors did in the past, you saw something you liked, you took it without permission, then you used it to your advantage and when you got caught, you changed your story. (There was no Instagram link or credit on the article I've got the video to prove it.) • Sara did have an option to use Melodie's pictures for this article but for some reasons chose not to, instead, she chose to objectify and use my body instead to decorate the work of somebody else. • I am deeply disappointed by the this outcome i.e. No apology, no payment, no reparation. • Those Ancestral mistakes do not need to be repeated. It would go a long way to rectifying your unconscious behaviour by means of an apology and payment for the use of my image for your commercial piece . You have my invoice. #vicequebec #vice #objectification #blackwoman

A post shared by Laurence Sessou 🇧🇯🇫🇷🇬🇧 (@moniasseartistmuse) on

Author: Danielle Dorsey
About: Danielle Dorsey is a regular Chakrubs contributor who writes our monthly tarotscopes, new moon rituals, Chakrubs Current and edits most of Chakrubs editorial content. She is a freelance writer whose words have appeared in GirlBoss, LAist, Travel Noire, Lonely Planet, and more. Danielle has five years experience as a tarot reader and is a certified reiki master in Usui and Tibetan techniques. Danielle’s work centers around ancestral healing and helping those with marginalized identities achieve peace and wholeness. To check out Danielle’s writings visit DanielleDorky.com and for more information about her tarot and reiki offerings visit tarotviews.com.
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