While representatives of the film and theatre industries have been active over the past couple of months naming and shaming sexual predators and sexist abusers, it has surprisingly taken a while for members of the music industry to confront issues of misogyny that clearly exist in a world whose lexicon of ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ looks like soon being on the wane.
Things look they’re about to change since this morning an Open Letter was published online, outlining stories that involve trauma, sexual assault and/or violence at the hands of prominent players in the Australian music industry.
The letter reads: “We are women who work in the Australian music industry. We are artists, musicians, managers, lawyers, booking agents, record label employees, publicists and more. We all have our own stories, or know someone who does. We are not whingers or vibe-killers. We are passionate people dedicating our lives to music. In the face of uncountable discrimination, harassment, violence, and the general menace of sexist jargon, we have gritted our teeth and gotten on with the job. But today we say, no more.”
The stories range from women who have been subjected to general sexist bravado within the music industry to horrific accounts of rape and physical abuse. Perhaps just as disturbingly, one contributor says, “I am unable to reveal the details of my experience due to a confidentiality agreement which I was forced to sign.”
Here are a couple of the stories shared:
After winning awards at a national high school music competition I was recruited by an Australian musician to study with him. It turned out that I was to be groomed and sexually abused over many months. He told me that he selected girls for awards at the competition on the basis of their looks. The abuse triggered years of struggles with my mental health. I quit music years ago.
One male manager would come into our offices to have meetings with my bosses, whilst sending me text messages about ‘meeting up in the supply closet to make out’ once the meeting was done. He constantly would put his arm around my waist at shows, occasionally pinch my bum at after parties and once snapchatted me a totally unsolicited nude picture of himself, comfortable in the fact we were ‘close’ and that his position of power with a band we represent would keep him safe.
I was at an industry conference dinner. It was the heads of companies in both not-for-profit and otherwise in the room. I, as the executive director of a company, sat next to a senior publisher who decided it was a great idea to grab the side of my butt cheek as I sat next to him. Then, in front of an entire table of other company directors he said, “Let me tell you how to talk to men, to get what you want”.
While the open letter doesn’t go so far as to name names, it does close with the affirmative message that “Together, we give a voice to these issues and demand zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours”, ending with an invitation for readers to sign in agreement.
So far among the signatories are Australian music industry identities including Courtney Barnett, Tina Arena, Missy Higgins, Claire Bowditch, Jen Cloher, Myf Warhurst, Nina Las Vegas, Sarah Blasko, Sarah McLeod and Zan Rowe.
The full letter which ties in with the hashtag #meNOmore can be viewed and signed via this link. Antonino Tati
Tina Arena (top of story) and Courtney Barnett (middle) are among the signatories denouncing sexism and sexual abuse in the music industry.