SpongeBob’ is a ‘violent,’ ‘racist’ colonizer, says University of Washington professor

SpongeBob the Racist?

“SpongeBob SquarePants,” which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Friday, has millions of fans around the world, but one University of Washington professor is clearly not among them.

For a recently published academic journal, the professor, Holly M. Barker, wrote an article “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom,” in which she offers a different take on the affable sea sponge.

“SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland,” the article reads.

Barker calls SpongeBob’s colonization of Bikini Bottom “violent” and “racist,” and also claims that the cartoon is guilty of the “whitewashing of violent American military activities” against natives of the Pacific.

Barker’s beliefs come from the idea that the show is set in a version of the real-life Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. During the Cold War, natives of the area were relocated and the American military used the zone for nuclear testing.

Fox News caught up with ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ cast members Carolyn Lawrence, Bill Fagerbakke and Clancy Brown, who talked about their favorite moments from the series and how the show made a huge impact on US culture.

The area remains uninhabitable to this day. That history has given rise to fans’ theory that Bikini Bottom is inhabited by creatures who owe their mutation to that testing.

Barker stated that as an “American character” allowed to inhabit an area that natives had no choice but to leave, SpongeBob showed his privilege of “not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs.”

Barker also points out the cultural appropriation of Pacific culture, with Hawaiian-style shirts, homes in the shapes of pineapples, tikis and Easter Island heads, and the sounds of a steel guitar perpetuating stereotypes of the region.

Even the theme song, according to Barker is problematic, as it denounces the area as one full of “nautical nonsense.”

Barker understands that the writers likely didn’t have colonization in mind when creating the show, but she’s upset by the lack of acknowledgment that “Bikini Bottom and Bikini Atoll were not (the writers’) for the taking.”

Other issues for Barker: a perceived imbalance between male and female characters, and the name “Bob” representing an everyman rather than a culturally appropriate character

In the article, Barker claims that because of these themes, children have “become acculturated to an ideology that includes the U.S. character SpongeBob residing on another people’s homeland.”

The article concludes with this:  We should be uncomfortable with a hamburger-loving American community’s occupation of Bikini’s lagoon and the ways that it erodes every aspect of sovereignty.”

The journal in which the article was published is called “The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs,” and it is designed to publish pieces on “social, economic, political, ecological and cultural topics.”

A rep for Nickelodeon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Fox News’ attempts to reach Tom Kenny — who voiced SpongeBob Squarepants — were unsuccessful.

By Nate Day

Why we keep falling for hate-crime hoaxes? Children are lying…

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.

When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.

As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.

Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.

The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects. 

It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.

Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.

In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.

Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.

Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.

It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.

Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo

WATCH: ‘Hundreds’ Of Young People Regret Gender Transition, Seek Reversal

A female who transitioned to male as a teenager is speaking out about transgender regret. 

Twenty-eight-year-old Charlie Evans told Sky News in a recent interview that she’s spoken to “hundreds” of young people, mostly same-sex attracted women, who regret their gender transition. She also encountered an “online community of 5,000 in a similar position,” according to the network (video report below).  

Evans transitioned and viewed herself as male for almost ten years, before deciding to detransition. 

“I’m in communication with 19 and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it,” she told Sky News, adding, ”I think some of the common characteristics are that they tend to be around their mid-20s, they’re mostly female and mostly same-sex attracted, and often autistic as well.”

“They don’t know what their options are now,” Evans explained.

After dealing with her own experiences and connecting with hundreds of others, Evans  has started a charity called “The Detransition Advocacy Network.” 

“The Detransition Advocacy Network was established to support people who have stopped or reversed gender reassignment,” an ad on Eventbrite for an event for the charity explains. 

To celebrate the launch of The Detransition Advocacy Network on November 30, a group called “Make More Noise” will host an event “discussing the ethics of the social and medical transition of gender non-conforming women and girls” and will feature “talks from professionals working in the field followed by a panel discussion of detransitioned women talking about their experiences.”

After speaking publicly about her transition, Evans recalled being confronted by a young woman “with a beard” who also regretted her transition. “She said she felt shunned by the LGBT community for being a traitor. So I felt I had to do something,” Evans said. 

Another woman who reached out to Evans said she began her transition at the tender age of 13. “After taking testosterone her voice got a lot deeper, she grew facial hair and her body changed. She had been planning to have surgery to remove her breasts this summer,” Sky News reported. 

Now, at 21, the young woman, who only wished to be identified as “Ruby,” wishes to try to undo the damage done to her body and live as a female. 

“I didn’t think any change was going to be enough in the end and I thought it was better to work on changing how I felt about myself, than changing my body,” Ruby said. 

Ruby compared gender dysphoria to an eating disorder; she’s personally suffered with both.

“I’ve seen similarities in the way I experience gender dysphoria, in the way I experience other body image issues,” she said. 

“When I was at my gender clinic to get referred for hormones, we had a session where I went over my mental health issues and I told them about my eating disorder and they didn’t suggest that that could maybe connected with my gender dysphoria,” Ruby explained. “For everyone who has gender dysphoria, whether they are trans or not, I want there to be more options for us because I think there is a system of saying, ‘okay here’s your hormones, here’s your surgery, off you go.’ I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone.”

A spokesperson for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which takes on gender-confused “transgender” patients as young as three years old, pushed back on the women’s lived experiences. 

“Decisions about physical interventions made in our care are arrived at after a thorough exploration process. While some of our patients may decide not to pursue physical treatment or drop out of treatment, the experience of regret described here is rarely seen,” the spokesperson said. 

As highlighted by Sky News, questioning gender transition, even within young people, has been largely castigated as “transphobic” rhetoric. Still, folks like Evans and Ruby who regret their transition are resisting pressures to keep quiet. 

And there are more. In 2016, PJ Media ran a piece on two young people, both female, speaking out against transitions of children and young people. One of the women detailed  irrevocable physical harm she had undergone in the process of her own now-regrettable gender transitions.

“I am a real, live 22-year-old woman, with a scarred chest and a broken voice, and five o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman, that’s my reality,” Cari Stella revealed in a YouTube video. As noted by PJ Media, Stella “objected to transgender journalist Julia Serano’s insistence on calling her ‘transgender.’”

“Gender was done to me,” Stella continued, “gender was traumatizing to me, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore.”

“When I was transitioning, I felt a strong desire — what I would have called a ‘need’ at the time — to transition,” she explained, though the transition would eventually have what she underscored were harmful effects. “It can be damn hard to figure out that the treatment you’re being told is to help you is actually making your mental health worse. Testosterone made me even more dissociated than I already was.” 

Another young woman who has decided to detransition after identifying as male, Carey Callahan, voiced frustration with the transgender journalist for “erasing” her lived experience. 

“If self-definition is a human right, I don’t know how much louder we can shout to the world we’re not trans,” she said. “And for me, if you say that I’m on the transgender spectrum, what you’re doing is you’re erasing everything I’m telling you about my life and my story.”

“I had trauma that led to me disassociating from my female body, and … the longer I chased that disassociation — the more I asked people to call me special pronouns, the more I tried to change my body, the more I ensconced myself in a community that would affirm a trans identity, the worse I felt,” Callahan explained. 

“It’s a central story in my life, and you’re erasing it to make me fit into your ideology,” she added. “Your set of ideas of how the world works is not worth acting like I don’t exist, or acting like you get to define my gender for me. No, that’s not how that works. I’m a real person, and you have to deal with my existence.”

By  Amanda Prestigiacomo

On the 70th Anniversary of China Communism Hong Kong reels from ‘one of its most violent days’

Hong Kong Fight for Freedom

The 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China was “one of Hong Kong’s most violent and chaotic days”, the city’s police chief has said.

An 18-year-old protester was shot in the chest with a live bullet – one of six live rounds fired by police.

Protesters – some armed with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles – fought pitched battles with police in several parts of Hong Kong.

In all police made 269 arrests, more than on any day since protests began.

Those detained ranged in age from 12 to 71. More than 100 people were taken to hospital and 30 police were injured.

Tuesday’s unrest saw police fire 900 rubber bullets and 1,400 rounds of tear gas. That compares with 1,000 tear gas canisters fired in the first two months of protests.

In the days leading up to the anniversary, tensions were high in Hong Kong, which always sees protests on National Day.

This year, however, Hong Kong has seen four months of protests sparked by proposed changes to an extradition bill. Though the changes have been abandoned, the unrest has continued, expanding into demands for greater democracy.

Students at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College show solidarity with the shot protester
Students at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College show solidarity with the protester who was shot

The shooting of Tsang Chi-kin, who was attacking an officer with a pole, was captured on video and shared online.

“My chest is hurting, I need to go to hospital,” said the 18-year-old, who was arrested after being shot. The government said he was now in a stable condition.

Although people have been shot with rubber bullets in previous protests, this was the first injury from a live round.

Police chief Stephen Lo said firing the bullet was “lawful and reasonable” as the officer thought his and colleagues’ lives were under threat.

Asked why the bullet was fired at close range, Mr Lo said: “He [the officer] did not decide the distance between him and the assailant.”

Hundreds of people staged a peaceful sit-in outside the teenager’s school on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 96 people, mostly students, who had been arrested on Sunday appeared in court charged with rioting.

Repairs to shops, businesses and public facilities – including the mass transit system – are under way following Tuesday’s violence. All metro stations are now open.

What made Tuesday different?

In Beijing, the anniversary of Communist Party rule saw a parade of Chinese military might: 15,000 troops, 580 vehicles and missiles, and 160 aircraft.

In Hong Kong, some 1,200 miles away, protesters marked the day very differently.

Peaceful marches soon exploded into violence. BBC reporter Tessa Wong, who was on the streets, said protesters fought “pitched battles” with officers.

Shortly before Tsang Chi-kin was shot, men wearing helmets and gas masks attacked an officer on the ground with a pole.

An officer responded by firing his gun at close range.

Elsewhere, protesters threw petrol bombs, started fires, and ran at officers. Police responded with water cannon, tear gas, and – in total – six live rounds.

The day saw the highest number of arrests since this year’s protests began, and the highest number of live rounds fired.

A woman at West Kowloon Law Courts on Wednesday, where 96 anti-government protesters were due to appear
A woman at West Kowloon Law Courts on Wednesday, before 96 anti-government protesters arrested on Sunday were due to appear

What explains the anger?

The protests were sparked earlier this year by a proposed law, which would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.

Opponents thought this would put Hong Kongers at risk of unfair trials, and, in July, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the law “was dead”.

But despite the law being withdrawn, the protests have continued every weekend.

Clashes between police and protesters have created their own momentum, and there is wider discontent too.

Recent years have seen growing opposition to the perceived encroachment of Beijing on Hong Kong’s politics and threats to local identity.

Many young people have economic worries, and there are also demands for universal suffrage for elections to Hong Kong’s parliament.

As China showed off its superpower status in Beijing, violence in Hong Kong – a special administrative region of China – was inevitable.

What is the background?

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British territory. Since then, it has been part of China but with its own system of law and government – known as One Country, Two Systems.

Hong Kong has its own judiciary and a separate legal system. Rights including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are protected.

But those freedoms – the Basic Law – expire in 2047. It is not clear what Hong Kong’s status will be then.

PARENTS: Children of the Great Scattering

PARENTS: Children of the Great Scattering

Like fools, we rushed in. I came of age politically in the 1960s, earned my doctorate in the 1970s, and taught social work students (mostly at masters and doctoral level) until retiring in 2011.

In the first period of the sexual revolution, my students and I mostly celebrated the revolution as a period of liberation for adults, especially women, from the constraints of tradition, law, and custom.

Insofar as we considered at all the impacts of the revolution on children, families, and communities, we minimized them or saw them as beneficial. Easy divorce would free children from having to grow up in loveless, conflict-ridden families. Thanks to the pill and abortion, all children would be “wanted.” Children would be freed from the stigma of their parents’ divorce or their mothers’ unmarried status, cohabitation with an unrelated man, or other nontraditional family structures.

We didn’t consider seriously the coming drop in fertility and the shrinkage of families. What was the impact on children to spend, as half of them now do, at least some of their childhood without one or both biological parents? What was the social impact of fatherlessness, of growing up with few or no siblings, of having few cousins, aunts, uncles, or little involvement of the father’s side of the family?

Sometimes, especially at the end of the 20th century, a family scholar sounded the alarm, but far too few of us seriously examined these questions.

Denial

These issues go to the heart of almost every social problem social workers address. Yet my students and I had difficulty discussing them frankly, no doubt in part because many or most of us were directly affected by them in a world of divorce, premarital sex, cohabitation, and lone parenthood.

There was also concern that noticing the adverse outcomes in education, criminal justice involvement, employment, mental health, and just about every other social indicator, from fractured families and fatherless children would stigmatize single mothers, children born out of wedlock, and cohabiting couples.

So we talked, not about the family, but families, as if one kind of family structure was as good as another and it was discriminatory to say otherwise. We could call for more public resources to meet the needs of single mothers and their children and praise the heroic struggles made by such mothers, but not worry that such family structures themselves disadvantaged children or that the government was bankrolling and incentivizing them by substituting for the role of fathers as providers and protectors.

Many of us saw such dependence on government as liberating women and children from dependence on men. Some described marriage, in the common phrase of the time, as a “hitting license”—ignoring the research evidence that women were safer in marriage than in any other kind of relationship, such as cohabitation. Children were most at risk of violence and abuse when living with their mother and her partner who wasn’t the children’s biological father.

Textbooks used in marriage and family courses treated marriage as pathological rather than what it had been understood as since it was recognized in the first legal codes millennia ago—as the optimum setting for raising children and assuring paternal responsibility. They continued to expound these distortions and expose hundreds of thousands of students to their ideology long after researchers of all political persuasions had shown them to be false.

Against all evidence, textbook authors, publishers, and professors persisted in perpetuating a false narrative about marriage and the needs of children as if it were factual.

Children of the Great Scattering

In her important new book, “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics,” Mary Eberstadt shows how the children of the children of the sexual revolution responded to this brave new world with primal rage.

They grew toward adulthood in a state of panic over identity. They had lost the experience of a natural, intact family, not to war or disease but to the sexual consumerism of their parents. In the process, they were bereft of a clear answer to the question “Who am I?”

Previous generations, Eberstadt says, had answered the question in terms of their expectation of growing up in a family—the expectation that they would have children and a family themselves, that parents and siblings and extended family would remain their primal community, and thus, that it was a tragedy not to be part of a family.

Eberstadt discusses many aspects of the “Great Scattering” of families and the angry responses to it.

In some cases, young people whose interests were ignored when they were babies—like the children of anonymous sperm donors who were conceived with the deliberate intent from the start that they would grow up fatherless, without knowledge of or contact with their own biological father—found their own voice as young adults.

Unlike adoption, which had developed as a way to provide a child without a functioning family with parents, the aim in surrogacy was to meet the desires of adults, not the needs of children. But those children grew up and expressed publicly their sense of loss, as in organizations like The Anonymous Us Project and Stop Surrogacy Now.

One of the most striking manifestations of the anger and loss of sense of belonging is the profound shift in the pop music that children of the Great Scattering drove up the charts. It was no longer the music of abandon of their parents’ youth but, as Eberstadt says, the music of abandonment. It was anger—expressed most powerfully, but not only, by rap superstar Eminem, against parents, especially fathers, for breaking up their families and leaving them to grow up with a dysfunctional childhood.

As Eberstadt puts it, “During the same years in which progressive-minded and politically correct adults have been excoriating Ozzie and Harriet as artifacts of 1950s-style oppression, millions of American teenagers have enshrined a new generation of music idols whose shared signature in song after song is to rage about what not having had a nuclear family had done to them.”

In some cases, especially on college campuses, the identity rage took on irrational, preadolescent forms. Protesters behaved like children having a tantrum, shouting down speakers on campus with different views from their own, crying, chanting, screaming, or taping their mouths shut as if they were the ones being silenced rather than doing the silencing.

Shorn of identity rooted in family, argues Eberstadt, young people adopted alternative nonfamily identities as ways of being—defining the self in terms of combinations or “intersections” of race, sex, sexual appetite, and “gender”—with some curious results.

In its coarseness, vulgarity, swagger, and belligerence, says Eberstadt, feminism in its latest phase (as in the Women’s March) has adopted some of the more obnoxious features of the “toxic masculinity” it deplores. Feminism manifests the “routine renorming of women toward men”—the message continually given to women that, to succeed, they must behave like men. It’s a message that, far from liberating women, traps them in the paradigm of being “failed men.”

These, a generation later, are some of the poison fruits of the sexual revolution that we rationalized as being in the interests of everyone. But it was, as much as anything, a revolution in parenthood—in the subordination of children’s needs to the desires of adults.

Paul Adams is a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Hawaii and was a professor and associate dean of academic affairs at Case Western Reserve University. He is the co-author of “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is” and has written extensively on social welfare policy and professional and virtue ethics.

PARENT ALERT: ‘Predators’ like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy ‘underbelly’ of the Modeling world

PARENT ALERT: ‘Predators’ like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy ‘underbelly’ of the Modeling world

Jean Luc Brunel ran a Miami-based modeling agency launched in part with a $1 million investment from Jeffrey Epstein. In exchange for the contribution, Brunel is alleged to have funneled young models to the now-deceased pedophile.

Brunel vanished after Epstein’s suicide, before being spotted in South America in September, according to the French outlet Le Parisien. French authorities are investigating him for rape, sexual assault and his ties to Epstein, but Brunel has denied that any misconduct arose from his relationship with the perverted financier, who hung himself in a prison cell weeks after his July 6 arrest on child sex trafficking charges.

But men like Brunel and Epstein are nothing new in the world of high fashion.

“There are solid people in the industry,” supermodel Kathy Ireland told Fox News. “There are also a lot of predators.”

The majority of female models enter the fashion industry between the ages of 13 and 16. Their age and the often unfamiliar surroundings in which they find themselves make them especially vulnerable to sexual predators like Epstein.

“Before entering the modeling world, my universe was as far as I could ride my skateboard in Santa Barbara,” said Ireland, who started working at age 16. “When I came to the city [New York], I was very naïve. I thought that all adults would be good, honest, respectable people like my mom and dad.”

She was wrong.

Ireland recalled her narrow escape from a harrowing early job. The owner of the agency she worked for scheduled her with a photographer who was said to be a good friend of the agent. Ireland quickly learned that the photographer had seedy intentions when she got in a car with him and headed to a hotel.

“This photographer had set this up so that there was one hotel room and it’s only one bed in the hotel room and I was expected to stay with him,” Ireland said.

“We were on a freeway. I was contemplating, ‘What do I do? Do I jump out of a car on the freeway?’”

Situations like this were commonplace, and according to Ireland, agents were often complicit.

“What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys,” she said. “They’re not playboys. They’re predators.”

“It’s illegal to have sex with a child, with a minor, and that’s not consensual. There’s nothing consensual about that.”

Ireland has previously discussed an incident when she punched a photographer for getting physical with her after she refused to take off her clothes.

Kathy Ireland: "People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.” (Sipa via AP Images)

Kathy Ireland: “People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.” (Sipa via AP Images)

“I said, ‘No’ and he said, ‘You model swimsuits.’ People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.”

“So often young girls come to me, they see the glossy retouched images and they see the covers and they want to model. It looks so fun and beautiful and glamorous and easy and they don’t see everything that goes into it.”

What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys. They’re not playboys. They’re predators.— Kathy Ireland

The life of a model can include 18-hour days without breaks, months without payment for work, living in crowded “model apartments,” and going into debt. Models coming from other countries can become beholden to their agents for necessities like visas, housing, and food.

In addition to this poor treatment, young models are often unchaperoned leaving them vulnerable to predators like Epstein. Funneling in young women from overseas can be as easy as filling out a temporary visa.

To help combat this, Model Alliance, a policy and advocacy group founded by former model Sara Ziff, pushed the passing of the Child Model Act in New York in 2013. The law affords child models the same basic rights and protections as child performers like actors, singers and dancers. Prior to the law’s passage, models under 18 years old were not protected under New York’s labor law.

Ziff, who began modeling at age 14, was surprised.

“New York is the center of the American fashion industry and the fashion industry relies very heavily on underage girls,” Ziff said.

“One of the problems that we’ve seen for many years in the industry has been agencies representing 14, 15, 16-year-old girls who are thrust into a very adult environment and are walking at New York Fashion Week and appearing in magazines and advertising campaigns and presented as adults.”

Ziff had a similar experience to Ireland when, at 14 years old, she was told to take her clothes off by a photographer.

“Being put on the spot to pose nude or semi-nude was pretty common. No advance notice or consent, and a lot of difficulty getting paid,” she said. “Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid. When I eventually left after enduring quite a lot of abuse, that agency withheld my earnings — they refused to pay me.”

Under New York State’s Child Model Act, a child model under 16 years old must be accompanied at work by a “responsible person designated by the parent or guardian.” A parent or guardian must also set up a trust account for the child and “an employer must assure that at least 15 percent of the child model’s earnings are put into that trust account.”

Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid.— Sara Ziff, former model

These safeguards may protect young models from some of the industry’s pitfalls, but predators still lurk.

Anita Teekah, the senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon, counts the lack of financial transparency among many things that leave underage models vulnerable.

“Models are told they are dispensable. They are very much inhibited from airing grievances for fear of retaliation. If you’re underage, this compounds all of this,” Teekah said.

Anita Teekah, senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon. Source: Safe Horizon/Dana Rosenwasser

Anita Teekah, senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon. Source: Safe Horizon/Dana Rosenwasser

“There’s so much harmful behavior that has been deeply normalized. Once something becomes normalized, it’s hard to fight it. It doesn’t mean it’s right or legal, but because it’s normalized it’s harder to fight.”

This is the slippery slope into trafficking, according to Teekah. Young women are often unaware of their rights, which leaves them defenseless.

“This is going to sounds pessimistic, but it’s human nature to try to exploit people,” Teekah said. “It’s easier to get away with these things when you have people who are vulnerable and won’t speak out.”

Though more protections are in place for models, there is still work to be done, a fact highlighted by the Epstein scandal.

Ziff recalls meeting Epstein as a young model. She came away from the encounter unscathed but credits that to her circumstances.

Kathy Ireland during an interview with "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on June 23, 1999. (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Kathy Ireland during an interview with “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on June 23, 1999. (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

“He might have recognized that I was not as vulnerable perhaps and was coming from a slightly different background from some of these other girls who he allegedly abused,” she said. “I am all too familiar with the overlap between trafficking and modeling and unfortunately it’s a very real problem that’s taken the Jeffrey Epstein case for people to even, it seems, acknowledge or be concerned about it.”

“But it’s not surprising to people who work in the industry,” Ziff continued. “Jean Luc Brunel’s behavior was well-known. I heard from other agents over the years about him so none of this is anything that’s new and unfortunately nothing yet has been done really to address it. It’s still going on.”

Chloe Olsen and Kathy Ireland attend The Daily Front Row's 7th annual Fashion Media Awards on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Daily Front Row, Inc.)

Chloe Olsen and Kathy Ireland attend The Daily Front Row’s 7th annual Fashion Media Awards on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Daily Front Row, Inc.)

Fox News reached out to Brunel’s former attorney Joe Titone who recently communicated with his client by phone. Titone had no comment regarding the pending allegations and says he does not know Brunel’s whereabouts.

Ireland had no direct contact with Epstein, but calls him a “familiar character,” and understands how young girls could become prey to those like him.

“I can see how young girls are susceptible. Many of them have never left home before—naïve like I was, trusting,” she said. “The ugliness of it takes different forms and there’s something about seeing a person in an image. We can objectify people and dehumanize them and somehow justify that it’s okay to abuse them, to rape them, to discard them.”

Kathy Ireland's novel Fashion Jungle is set for release January 2020. 

Kathy Ireland’s novel Fashion Jungle is set for release January 2020. 

Ireland, who is working on a novel about the industry called “Fashion Jungle,” acknowledges the good works done in the industry, but remains aware of its dark side.

“I feel very grateful to have survived the industry because it’s rough,” she said. “It is a jungle out there and my hope is that the young people there will survive this jungle and we’ll share their stories.”

By Georeen TannerAngela Bertorelli