OPINION: It’s time to #CutTheCrap on sexual harassment Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and Natalie Conway   
Sunday, 19 November 2017 04:20

It seems that every time you turn on the news, or open a ‘paper, there is yet another string of accusations and allegations about sexual misconduct being broadcast/published about yet another high-profile media “personality” or other public figure. From Hollywood figureheads such as producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey to Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey, reputations and careers are being destroyed by alleged past misnomers, resulting in trial by media, even before a single criminal charge has been levied.

 

This latter comment is not in any way intended to belittle the seriousness of the situation in which the victims, on both sides, find themselves. Far from it. Sexual harassment, to use the modern vernacular for such behaviour, has been endemic in society, and the entertainment industry, since the earliest of days. The “casting couch” has been a staple of the Hollywood scene since the cameras first started turning. And, it has been prevalent in the music industry as well – as recounted, albeit in a way which could be regarded as glossing over the truth in order to protect the reputations of some of those involved, in a recently published autobiography by heavy metal’s most famous female guitarist.

 

The rock ‘n’ roll business has always been male-dominated. And it has always been sexist. Women have, more often than not, been sexualized and belittled. How many times have we read of male rock stars boasting about how many female groupies they have slept with during the course of their careers? But, the boots can be worn on both feet on the other hand, how many of said groupies have we seen just as equally bragging about how many male rock stars they have bedded? It’s an insidious relationship, with guilt often attributable on both sides of the debate.

 

But, there is a very thin line in such affairs, and especially in these days of social media, where everything is broadcast to the world within seconds of the depression of a laptop key. The question is that as to where the line is crossed. And when. And by how far. C’mon lads (and ladies), we all admire a cute bum – but is it permissible to reach out and touch it?

 

This past week, music publicist Natalie Conway received an unusual message over her private Facebook feed. It was from someone she (thought) she knew and respected. And, to her, it crossed that line. So much so that she felt compelled to vent her feelings online, to stand up and be counted and say what many women in the music industry have been thinking, and hiding inside themselves, for a long time… This is what she had to say:

 

Today, something happened to me on Facebook that is a far too common of an occurrence for women on social media.

 

Being a music publicist, having unsolicited messages sent to me is quite a common thing. I don’t mind at all and think nothing of it. So, when I was approached by a musician and asked for advice, I replied that I was happy to offer advice where I could.

 

Imagine my surprise when he asked me how he should get rid of his erection. True to my word, I offered the following advice: “Cut it off, and then it won’t bother you again!”

 

This behaviour is NOT okay!

 

I decided to take action and speak out about it on my wall. So I took a screen shot and posted it with a warning to other males that may ever have the same idea, that I would post a screen shot and name them publicly! What was my other option? To block him. That stops him bothering me again, but will it stop him doing the same thing to another women? That seems to be the only option we are given to deal with this kind of sexual harassment on social media.

 

What has amazed me is the sheer amount of messages I have had from women commending me for taking this stance and the vast amount of women that have also experienced something similar.

 

 

I am happily married and have been for seven years, my husband is my world and I idolise him. My public profile clearly states ‘Married’ and I thought that I wouldn’t have to worry about sleazy men sending me messages. Sadly, this doesn’t deter them - and some even have girlfriends! It’s shocking, right?

 

I’d like to state at this point that this isn’t a man hating post. There are a lot of great guys out there. This is specifically targeted at the ones that like to send ‘penis pictures’ or harass women online. Speaking of penis pictures: why, just why? Has any woman in the history of photos ever looked at a picture of the ugliest part of the male anatomy and said to themselves “Wow, what a great penis! I’m so glad I was sent this picture. It’s so beautiful to look at and instantly makes me so incredibly horny for this complete stranger!”

 

NO!

 

It’s one thing sending a genital picture to a partner (although not really my thing) and it’s something completely different sending it to a stranger online. It’s not a numbers game guys! The more penis pictures you send to women will not increase your chances of finding a woman willing to participate. It’s a pretty collective thought amongst women everywhere when I say WE DON’T LIKE RECEIVING PICTURES OF A STRANGER’S WILLY!

 

I understand this happens both ways, and I’m sure somewhere there are men being accosted online by women (not the click bait porn profiles, real women) who don’t appreciate it. But I’d bet it’s on a much smaller scale than what we receive.

 

This made me think about all the other times I’ve had to stand up for myself and the amount of times is shocking. Here are a few examples.

 

At one point, I was looking into learning how to be a tour manager. I got talking to a tour manager who had seen me post about it online in a group. He told me that he was a tour manager for a high profile European label and asked if I would be attending Download festival that year, with an offer to teach me what he knew. I replied that I was and then the conversation took a dark turn. His response was, “Well, I know a few guys that would like to meet you backstage. What are you willing to do to learn?”

 

THANK GOD I’m not that foolish. I already knew that this particular label didn’t have designated label tour managers and he was full of shit. He didn’t even know who the MD was. When I mentioned I knew ‘Mr X’ at the label already, I was asked “Is he the A&R guy?”.

 

Another time, a different tour manager was chatting to me. He was out with a very high-profile mainstream band. We discussed tour production, upcoming dates, and then he said, “Would you like to see what I’m doing now?” BOOM – Penis picture! I wish I had taken a screen shot and tagged him in it!

 

One friend told me that after interviewing a high-profile band, she was asked “Let’s cut the bullshit, are we going to fuck now?” Needless to say, she didn’t publish the interview and walked away disgusted.

 

How do certain guys think this behaviour is ok?

 

Don’t get me wrong... I have a strong circle of male friends! Some are publicists, managers, musicians, tour managers, booking agents, label owners and managers, festival directors/organisers and school friends. All of whom are amazing and lovely guys that I can trust and care for deeply. Again, this isn’t a post hating on men, it’s a post bitching out the sexual harassing creeps that are floating around in cyber space prowling for women.

 

So, I have decided to start a movement to fight back against these idiots and publicly shame them for their behaviour. I’m calling it #CutTheCrap and I urge other women to do the same. If we show that we are willing to post screen shots of these guys to our walls, maybe just maybe they might think before doing it again.

 

Although I’m going to go a step further, I will also be sending screen shots to their mothers and where applicable, their partners.

 

Women tear each other down so often, fat shaming, skinny shaming, dietary shaming (vegan vs meat eaters, etc.) and it’s about bloody time that we realise that in a world that is often male dominated, we could stop all the needless bitching, stand together on an serious issue and overcome it together. How many actresses recently admitted to being raped in Hollywood? How many women each year suffer in silence? Did you know, from a recent study of only 1,553 women, more than half of them have been subjected to sexual harassment at work! Bloody work! Not some nightclub you’ve found yourself in at 2am. The place we go to earn money to pay our bills and be a normal member of society!

 

In this study, one in eight women reported unwanted sexual touching. Again, at work!!

 

It’s worse if you actually want to leave your house to socialise! Even I’ve been on a dance floor and had a guy dry hump me and try to pass it off as dancing. Or been at a show and had a guy stand too close behind me so he’s rubbing up against me.

 

To those guys – We will let you know if we want to be touched by you! Women are pretty good at letting a guy know if we are interested in them. By touching, talking ‘dirty’ to us or sending us unwanted photos, you are committing a form of abuse and harassment. You are violating our personal and cyber space!

 

You are also conditioning a lot of us to think a large percentage of online men are only after some form of sexual gratification and force our guards up. So when poor Mike from the office finally gets the confidence to tell Sarah from HR that she’s beautiful, nine times out of ten, Mike will get told to bugger off and it’s all your fault! You’re ruining it for the nice guys!

 

So, ladies, let’s stop silently taking this crap from online perverts and real world asshats! Stop the silence and call them on their BS. Post screen shots, talk to work mates, tell your bosses or call over the bouncers. We are not here to be subjected to this kind of behaviour and by saying nothing; we are enabling them to do it again.

 

Stay safe you lovely lot!

 

#CutTheCrap

 

Über Rock applauds Natalie for her stance. She is voicing opinions, and experiences, held by many women, not only in the music industry but in wider society. It highlights an endemic problem – one which has been experienced at the most personal level by the ÜR team. The Dark Queen has had her bum and boobs groped as she has gone in and out of photopits: in Dublin earlier this year, she was subjected to verbal denigration by the male photographers just for the fact that she’s a woman in a predominantly male world. Fuck, she’s even had guys try to full on grab her while I’m standing right beside her!

 

It’s genuinely time to #CutTheCrap. Rock ‘n’ roll is about having fun. It is not about making other people, no matter their sex (or sexuality), feel uncomfortable in an environment we are all supposed to feel completely the opposite. So, guys, the next time you see a pretty woman at a gig, smile and say hello – but keep your hands (and your dirty thoughts) to yourself.