Australia’s Music Industry Fights Sex Abuse With #MeNoMore Campaign

“In the face of uncountable discrimination ... we have gritted our teeth and gotten on with the job. But today we say, no more.”

SYDNEY ― Hundreds of women in Australia’s music industry have signed an open letter calling for an end to sexual abuse and harassment in their workplaces, the latest salvo in a growing campaign to purge misconduct from the country’s entertainment business.

The letter ― signed by 500 women, including musicians, radio hosts, artist managers, record label publicists, booking agents and more ― launches a new campaign titled #MeNoMore, riffing off the #MeToo movement hashtag.

“In recent weeks, as Hollywood carried the torch of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement and stories started breaking around the world, we found ourselves offering strength to our friends and colleagues who had their own stories to share – both publicly and in whispered circles. It’s become clear that the magnitude of #MeToo extends to our own shores and to our own industry,” the letter read.

“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 letter, signed by Australian music stars like Courtney Barnett, Tina Arena and The Preatures, shares numerous anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct in the country’s music industry. 

“Working backstage for a huge international act, their tour manager looked me in the eyes and as he told the room there were only two types of women: bitches and sluts.”

“I have had managers of bands place their hands on my body when I was asking to interview the band, I’ve been groped multiple times in crowds. I’ve been told by members of a band that they wanted to ‘show me something’ only to lead me into the bathroom and try to force themselves on me.”

“When I was 18, a particular frontman took advantage of me ... He was the frontman who after a show would force kiss you. He would text you saying come to this bar, gig, band and … he’d try having sex with you and when you’d say no, and he would say that “sex is just sex, it doesn’t matter.”

“After meeting at a festival, I was sent an unsolicited dick pic by a CEO even after declining his offer to come back to his office that was ‘very dark, had booze and cocaine.’”

The letter demands a zero tolerance response to such incidents, that perpetrators be held accountable, and that men who work alongside them speak out.

“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,” the letter read.

Bronnie Jane Lee, one of the women to sign the letter, posted about it on Instagram:

The collective letter is just the latest effort to address misconduct in Australia’s music industry. Music venues and festivals have faced calls to do more to stamp out groping and sexual harassment at events after a string of ugly and well-publicized assaults at concerts, including an alleged rape and several sexual assaults at the Falls Festival around New Year’s Eve in 2016.

Australian bands Luca Brasi and Camp Cope have won praise for repeatedly calling out bad behavior from the stage during their shows. The three female members of Camp Cope even started their own campaign, “It Takes One,” to raise awareness about assaults and violence against women at concerts.

Members of Camp Cope signed the #MeNoMore letter and appeared in the “It Takes One” campaign video below.

During the 2017 summer festival season, Laneway Festival launched a dedicated phone line for fans experiencing or witnessing inappropriate behavior.

And in July, hundreds of Australian music venues, musicians, promoters and record label employees teamed up for a campaign titled Your Choice” to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence and to combat it at concerts and festivals.  

Attitudes are rapidly changing within the industry, Dr. Bianca Fileborn, a lecturer in criminology at the University of New South Wales who focuses on safety and sexual violence at music venues, told HuffPost Australia last month.

“We’re starting to see a cultural social shift within the music industry, with more women, and gender- and sexuality-diverse people, coming into the scene and having a voice, being able to draw attention to this behavior,” she said.

“Suddenly everyone can share their experiences and we can see it’s a more pervasive pattern of behavior and not just one-off isolated incidents,” Fileborn added.