It’s creeping up to being my 4th year in music journalism. 4 years that have, quite literally, changed my life, both for the better and for the worst. This past 4 years has seen me become the victim of blatant sexism and sexual harassment, from those who I’ve worked with, bands, male fans and fellow music journalists.
I had only just turned 16 when I got my first journalism job, I was young and naïve, and as somebody who was new to the music industry, I didn’t really know what to expect. When I started writing, I was a contributor for a heavy rock and metal online magazine, upon having my first review published, the band (who at this point, shall not be named) contacted me directly to tell me that a woman “should not be writing about heavy rock music” as it was “clear to see that I couldn’t grasp the concepts in their music”.
The same role saw me interviewing some huge stars, both in person and over video call. I was tasked with interviewing the lead singer of a pretty big band (who again, will not be named), over Skype. As a young girl who was, understandably, really excited, I made sure that I had my questions ready and that I looked presentable. What followed and what was said to me was far from professional, within 10 minutes of the interview commencing, the man (in his late 20s), was already making comments about my body, the “juicyness” of my boobs, and diverting his eyes to my chest. I was 16.
I have often been told that I was not allowed to comment on the, unfortunately, common issue of sexual assault in the music industry. Editors have constantly told me, even when the proof was there, that we should “believe the band” as they have a “bigger platform than us”. However, once, I did release an article (for the same online magazine), about a case of sexual assault. The comments that began to flood in on social media were horrendous, middle aged men felt the need to attack me, for being a woman, and believing the victim. It wasn’t long before those same people had found my Facebook and preceded to send me messages about how I was a “fat, attention seeking whore” for speaking up on issues that everybody should be made aware of. Days had passed before my editor batted an eyelid and apologised for everything that had happened. I shrugged it off, at this point it was one of the comical and surreal moments in the life of a female music journalist.
These experiences never stopped however, a member of a band sexually harassed me for 8 MONTHS, after being made aware of a positive review I did on his work. I was 17 and at this point, I felt as if I should be flattered, now at 19, I know that this was wrong. I shouldn’t have had men in a higher position than me, begging for sex in exchange for a “copy of the latest album”, this should not have happened. I shouldn’t have had him and one of his fellow band mates putting me on to the guestlist, for shows that I didn’t even go to, and using that against me as a way to get nude photos from me.
In the past year, I have been studying at a music college / university in Manchester, and the sexism there is untrue. I almost failed a module because I didn’t write in a “masculine” tone, apparently the vocabulary I used was too feminine and “girly”, and without “writing in a masculine way”, I apparently “wouldn’t progress”. The same tutor wrote in my feedback that I was “too self absorbed”, and made personal attacks on my personality rather than my work.
I have always been a feminist, I have always been loud about my political opinions, on the days that followed from the release of the Reading & Leeds lineup for 2020, I wrote one of my favourite articles to date. This seemed to be overshadowed, in my head, by the fact that one of my tutors at the time said to me that “womxn aren’t talented enough to play a dominant role in the music industry”, a comment that felt directed at me.
The comments that have been made against me in this past 4 years could be said to many female music journalists, and that’s scary. I get at least one man ask me, every day, if I’m in the job that I am in because I “had sex with somebody in the music industry”, I get too many people messaging me asking if the reason that I’m a music journalist is so I can have “sex with the members of my favourite bands”. This should not be the case, I do this job because it is something that I’m passionate about.
In the past few weeks, it has been made clear to me that the things I have faced, shouldn’t have happened. It appears that I have brushed everything off because I feel as if I should be grateful to be a woman who’s a music journalist in the first place.
It’s not all bad news, I have made some of the bestest friends possible since becoming a music journalist, friends who have encouraged me to write and publish this. I have worked with some of the nicest bands possible, and I will forever hold those memories close to my heart. It’s just a shame that it’s like a needle in a haystack trying to find the “good guys”.
These have been just a handful of my experiences as a woman in music journalism, I hope that me publishing this helps other women come forward about their experiences. This shouldn’t be the norm anymore.