As I spoke about in a previous op-ed, being a woman, LGBT or gender-diverse person in the music scene is hard enough, and in 2017, almost every female-identifying person I know working in the music scene has more than one horror story involving mistreatment by a male co-worker, musician, management or even venue security due to their gender identity. Through personal experience, and the reading of brave testimonies of victims who have chosen to come forward and share their own experiences, it has become more then clear that the music industry has a serious problem with men taking advantage of women – and I have absolutely no fucking time for it anymore. I am angry, fed up, and want shit to fucking CHANGE.
In the last twelve months, a number of band members have been outed by victims of their alleged sexual misconduct involving minors; Front Porch Step, Glenn Harvey formerly of Moose Blood, Lloyd Roberts formerly of Neck Deep (who has been since cleared of wrongdoing by police), and most recently, Jesse Lacey of Brand New. When allegations are made against men in bands, it seems that much of the internet forgets that both the victim and alleged perpetrator are human beings – the victim is suddenly an attention seeking liar, and the alleged perpetrator’s talent and status somehow negate any and all ability to commit unsavoury human acts. People always seem to want to disbelieve that the musician could do such a thing, and also implicate the individual/s affected as a cause and contributor to their own victimisation; “she shouldn’t have spoken to him in the first place!”, “she could have stopped speaking to him if she wasn’t comfortable”, “she shouldn’t have gone back to his hotel room/tour bus!”, “well what did she expect?”, “she could have told someone back then!”, and to all of that I say: fuck off.
Why, when allegations of sexual misconduct, assault or harassment involving anyone in a position of power and a teenage girl surface, do so many people instantly throw the majority of responsibility and mistrust at the young victim, rather than the adult man in question? Suddenly everyone is concerned about what a ‘false rape/assault/misconduct allegations’ could do to their careers, rather than the fact a woman has come forward detailing a crime that has been committed against her by someone she had known or trusted. What does a young fan or industry professional have to gain from outing a musician she looked up to or worked alongside, after they have betrayed her trust and taken advantage of her? The flurry of internet comments insulting, blaming and demeaning her for being a victim? Being blamed for ‘ruining someone’s life’? Aspirational! I’m sure everyone would love to experience that as a reaction to them opening up about the trauma they experienced! The major responsibility is not on a young woman to avoid become a victim; it is for older men to not make them victims in the first place.
I believe that this negative attitude stems from the toxic ideologies about women in music that underpin so many of the gender-based issues the industry face. Many men in the industry still don’t completely accept women as equal to them; the progressive social elevation of musicians over the years has fostered a warped sense of entitlement, self-service and status within many individuals; artists are idolised and worshipped by their supporters, which connotes that the artist is on a higher plane than their supporters, thus creating an imbalance of power. This leads to the incidents that caused me to write this article; adoring fans who would do anything for their heroes (which we all know to be true, especially at a young age) at the hands of individuals who are sexually motivated and have easy access to this willing pool of participants; willing, because they are not emotionally developed enough to realise that they are being manipulated, used, or that the situation they are in is not okay. Willing, because getting attention from your favourite band member is something to ‘aspire’ to. Willing, because women have been raised to view their self-worth as parallel to the amount of attention they receive from men, especially men in power. The idea that older men see no problem with preying upon young women is disgusting, and a reflection on the lack of respect women are afforded in so many aspects of life.
Every time new allegations are made, more and more people become affected by the putrid actions of one individual; offenders may be your favourite bands, your friends, your bandmates, co-workers or a manager. Trying to process that someone you idolise or have close contact with is capable of these things can be incredibly difficult; they have betrayed the trust you’ve placed in them to be a decent human being, they have hurt another person, and you are reminded that the scene you made a home for yourself within is not safe. I’ve put together a simple list of tips to implement, that I hope may give readers some insight on how to battle this problematic behaviour.
- Be a decent fucking person. Be accountable for your own actions. Don’t pursue underage girls. Don’t share unsolicited nudes. Don’t harass people online. Don’t sexually assault people. Don’t rape anyone. Be kind and supportive of victims when they come forward. Don’t make jokes about the troubling experiences of others. It isn’t that fucking hard.
- Protect young girls. Just because you might hate ‘stupid fangirls’, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect or protection. Afford them the protection you may or may not have experienced; don’t let their youth be marred by negative experiences with shitty men.
- Listen to victims. Have your first instinct when you hear about a young girl being taken advantage of be to believe them. Listen to what they have to say. Support them, care for them, and remind them of their strength to speak out, because it is a very hard thing to do, and takes a lot of courage to expose your experience for the whole world to comment on
- Keep people accountable. You cannot separate the music from the artist; continuing to support an artist despite knowing what they have done is problematic and perpetuates this sort of behaviour in the scene. Call out offenders. Do not protect offenders or excuse their actions. Continue to pursue the truth. Stop excusing fucked up behaviour because someone is in a band. If you’re in a position of power to act when something like this happens, do something.
- Keep your mates/peers in check. Don’t put up with any seedy behaviour; if you hear a rumour, investigate and confront the potential perpetrator it involves. If you get sent or shown a nude not intended for you, call out the piece of shit sharing private photos of someone without their consent. Don’t let them participate in misogynistic behaviour. Call. Them. OUT.
Music is a place people go to feel safe and supported, and there is absolutely no room for predators, rapists, harassment, bullying, violence or any other behaviour that threatens another human being in any way, shape or form. Don’t fucking cross the line. Do not put up with this shit. Fight back. Call abusers out. Support victims. Care for one another. Keep our scene safe.
Written by Georgia Moloney.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim or is/are distressed by any of the recent revelations relating to sexual misconduct by musicians, there are a number of helplines listed below where you can get support:
****Throughout this article I addressed the issue of older men manipulating younger females, however I also want to acknowledge here that this also occurs when the gender roles are reversed and to gender-diverse individuals, as well as older men and women in the industry; we stand just as strongly with these victims as we do with any others.