The world of music has long been notorious for being a sphere in which sexual harassment, assault and objectification are a daily reality for women – issues which are simply swept under the rug and slotted in the ‘boys will be boys’ folder of everyday sexism.
But in the past year there has been more than a glimmer of much-needed change. Social media and the internet have given voices to the previously-silenced – and where one voice is powerful, many can start a revolution.
Meet the female artists, journalists, gig-goers and trade insiders speaking out in order to make the industry a better place. Not just to work and perform, but to enjoy, because music is for everyone.
1. Andreea Magdalina
Founder of shesaid.so, a global community of women who work in the music industry with the aim to strengthen support networks, offer partnership opportunities and provide a platform for female-made content.
Established in September 2014, it now has over 1,000 members worldwide connecting women across all sectors of the industry, from PR to music management.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK, Magdalina said: “shesaid.so’s mission is to create an environment where women are given equal opportunities in their career path.
“It’s been an incredible tool for empowering women music executives – our speaker events are a catalyst for conversation, increasing the profile of women who are making an impact in the industry around the world.”
2. Girls Against
Five teenage feminists (Anna, Anni, Ava, Bea and Hannah) fighting against sexual assault at gigs and live music concerts.
The movement was created in October 2015 after one of the friends experienced sexual harassment at a Peace show in Glasgow. The group aims to start a discussion between fans, bands, promoters, venues and security companies, along with offering support to victims.
“We hope that if we all speak about the issue loudly and clearly, perpetrators realise that they are not welcome at gigs and we will not tolerate their behaviour,” Girls Against shared on their website.
3. Bethany Cosentino
Half of American rock duo Best Coast, Bethany Cosentino has always been outspoken on the sexism she’s encountered as a female frontwoman.
In an essay written for Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny, the singer and guitar player shared her experiences of battling the patriarchy and calling out gig reviewers who only mention female artists’ outfits and appearance.
“We live in a world where a man can yell at me while I’m onstage, ‘Bethany, I wanna fuck you!’ and I am supposed to not only stand there and take it but also digest it as a compliment to add to my fierce arsenal of sexy confidence,” she wrote.
4. Jessica Hopper
Editorial director of music at MTV, and author of ‘The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic’, Jessica Hopper frequently uses Twitter to promote women in the music industry, most famously with her open call for stories of sexism.
Her tweet shone light on how women are often made to feel they don’t ‘count’, with hundreds of responses flooding in from female musicians and music journalists.
5. Becky Blomfield
Frontwoman of Bristol punk rock band Milk Teeth, Becky Blomfield is vocal about sexism in the music industry.
In a powerful new blog for The Huffington Post UK, Blomfield recounts the objectification she’s experienced and cites it as the reason there aren’t more female musicians.
“There are some people in the industry who try to manipulate women and market them as more of a product than a person,” she wrote.
“Hopefully it won’t be too long before the world catches up to the real definition of feminism – until then, don’t let the minority of assholes hold you back.”
6. Amber Coffman
Dirty Projectors singer and guitarist Amber Coffman started a media frenzy when she outed Heathcliff Berru, founder of Life or Death PR and Management, for inappropriate sexual behavior.
Her series of tweets prompted many other women to come forward with their own claims via social media and only a few hours later, Berru resigned from his position as CEO and issued a statement that he would be heading into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction.
Following the events, Coffman’s story prompted even more exposés of sexual assault and harassment within the industry.
7. Meredith Graves
Perfect Pussy singer Meredith Graves wrote and read aloud a powerful essay on sexism and the notion of authenticity at the 2014 Basilica Soundscape Festival.
“Women are called upon every day to prove our right to participate in music on the basis of our authenticity,” she said.
“Our credentials are constantly being checked — you say you like a band you’ve only heard a couple of times? Prepare to answer which guitarist played on a specific record and what year he left the band.
“But don’t admit you haven’t heard them, either, because they’ll accuse you of only saying you like that genre to look cool.”
8. Rachel Brodsky
Rachel Brodsky, assistant editor at SPIN magazine, made the headlines earlier this month when she called out Miles Kane of The Last Shadow Puppets for hitting on her during an interview.
“Is it normal to be asked up to a male musician’s room — even as a joke? Or cheek-kissed, repeatedly high-fived, and stared down?,” she wrote.
“Even if he’s entirely harmless (and I’m sure that he is), is this the sort of thing that I should let go for the sake of my job?”
Brodsky hopes that her, and other women, speaking out will help increase “professionalism toward women in the music industry.”
9. Tracey Wise
Regular gig-goer Tracey Wise has campaigned tirelessly online to create a safer environment for women at shows in the UK.
Her initiative, Safe Gigs For Women hopes to spread the word that it is not acceptable to harass women, encourage victims of assault to share their stories and liaise with venues to create a standard of safety.
Wise, who launched the movement in June 2015, has written a number of blogs for HuffPost detailing her experiences and ideas on how to implement change.
10. Lauren Mayberry
Frontwoman of Scottish electro band Chvrches, Lauren Mayberry wrote a sharply-worded thought piece about sexual harassment on the internet.
“Why should women ‘deal’ with this?,” she said of sexist and derogatory comments online.
“Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to ‘just deal with’.”
11. Rosie Solomon
This month English student and Redbrick Music writer Rosie Solomon’s review of a Baroness gig went viral.
The post, titled ‘This Is Not A Review’, detailed the sexual assault 20-year-old Solomon experienced when watching her favourite band play in Birmingham.
“I wanted to write this article to encourage anyone to do the same,” she wrote.
“I am not an object of your sexual fantasy, I am a person and I have the right to see my favourite band live by myself without fearing for my safety.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Solomon describes being blown away by the response to her article.
“I have received messages from men and women alike thanking me for raising awareness of this problem and saying that I have changed their minds and they would now report similar incidents like this in the future.”