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What's gotten in the way of the music industry's Me Too moment?




Recording artist Kesha (C) performs with (L-R) Bebe Rexha, Cyndi Lauper and Camila Cabello at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Recording artist Kesha (C) performs with (L-R) Bebe Rexha, Cyndi Lauper and Camila Cabello at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS

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A lot of time and energy has been focused on the treatment — and, especially, the mistreatment — of women in the film and television industries. The music business, however, has largely escaped equal scrutiny.

Andrea Domanick of Vice’s music channel, Noisey, is trying to change that.

The music world has always been a guiding force for cultural progress and I think it needs to shake the fear of staying afloat financially and talk about how we make this better for our community. How do we make this better for the people and not just the dollars behind the industry?

Over a two-year period, Domanick spoke with more than two dozen women about their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse in the music business: "The responses I got were overwhelming. Almost every woman I know in the music world has a story. So there was a real hunger to talk about it and come forward."

But, Domanick tells The Frame that "the majority did not want their names used." She says this makes it harder to address sexual harassment and abuse "head on."  

Domanick compares the Grammys to the Oscars in terms of how each show addressed the Me Too campaign and sexual misconduct. She notes that the Grammys didn't really look the issue "in the eye or call it by name. There were just implicit nods to female empowerment"– such as Kesha's performance of "Praying"– whereas the Oscars weren't "sugar coating it or using a euphemism." 

 

In her article, "The Dollars and Desperation Silencing #MeToo in Music," Domanick lays out factors that contribute to a culture where abuse and harassment can go unchecked.  

One inhibiting factor is the reality that some male music stars who have histories of abuse, harassment or assault have continued to work in the industry. One example is the rapper Chris Brown, who, in 2009, pled guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend, Rhianna. Domanick says that people will ask, Where is music's Weinstein? But she says the music industry has already had its Weinsteins.

We've had them for years. We had them even beginning with R. Kelly and charges of sexual misconduct with minors. And he's still signed. He's still touring. So is Chris Brown. So are countless others. What message is this sending? What incentive does that give fans or anyone else or whistleblowers to do anything about it when they see [that] legal ramifications have come against these artists. Great investigative journalism has revealed a lot about these artists. Nothing happens. So there's a broader cultural assumption that this kind of behavior comes with the territory in music — like, you signed up for this.

 

 



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