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Over 300 women call out sexual harassment and abuse in the Australian music industry

By | Published on Wednesday 13 December 2017


Inspired by the nearly 2000 women working in the Swedish music industry who last month demanded an end to a corporate culture that too often tolerates sexual harassment and abuse, over 300 women working in the Australian music business have now signed an open letter calling for similar reform.

As previously reported, as Hollywood dealt with the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and as the #metoo movement gained momentum online, a much more frank conversation began within the music community about sexism – and sexual harassment, abuse and assault – within the music sector.

Last month’s open letter in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter overtly put the spotlight on the misogynistic culture within Sweden’s music industry that allows incidents of sexism and sexual harassment to become common place, and which makes victims of such harassment nervous of speaking out, fearing the negative impact doing so could have on their careers.

Just as that letter was being published, it emerged a senior executive at Warner Music Sweden had been suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct. That exec has since been fired, with Warner insisting it was seeking to learn from the incident and put better procedures in place to protect its employees from such abuse.

The new letter signed by women working in the Australian music business begins: “We are artists, musicians, managers, lawyers, booking agents, record label employees, publicists and more. 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”.

As with the open letter from the Swedish music community, the new letter describes various specific incidents of sexism and sexual harassment experienced by some of the signatories.

It then goes on: “Together we say #meNOmore. Together, we give a voice to these issues and demand zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours. There is no place for sexual entitlement in the workplace and in our industry. Change starts today”.

It continues: “We have listened to our friends. We have names of perpetrators. We know the same names that are repeated in unrelated circles. It saddens us that the people who hold us in fear and keep us silenced are people we work with, people who many of us have aspired to work under, and people who some of us have known as friends. These people need to be held accountable”.

“To the men who support and work alongside us – you are a vital part of this conversation. Be kind, listen and act if you know of something happening. Stand beside us and call out those who let us all down and who hurt our friends. To everyone who has a story to share, we hear you and this letter is for you to know that you are not alone”.

Concluding, the letter states: “To future workers of the Australian music industry – this is for you. We will continue to fight together so that one day, we can all work safely in a respectful, inclusive and supportive industry”.

The 300+ women signing the new letter also acknowledged their Swedish counterparts. They say: “We want to thank our colleagues in the Swedish music industry who came forward with a powerful open letter that inspired us to do the same. In its honesty and precision, it relays an experience which is so often hard to pinpoint or qualify”.

You can read the Swedish letter here and the new Australian letter, via The Industry Observer, here.

As previously reported, in the UK, the Musicians’ Union has staged open meetings for their members to discuss harassment and will be working with its counterparts elsewhere in Europe to identify practical initiatives to make the music industry a better place to work. Commenting on those conversations, the Union’s Assistant General Secretary Naomi Pohl recently wrote: “We need nothing short of wholesale cultural change in our industry, for every musician to understand what is acceptable in a workplace and what is not”.