YOU are responsible for sexual abuse in the music industry
‘And if we do believe them, we don’t do shit about it’
by Una Dabiero
Cardi B, rapper and sole savior of "Finesse," starred on the cover of Cosmopolitan's March Issue. Instead of using every precious second of her feature to discuss her blossoming career or the small things that make her one of the most lovable musicians on the scene, Cardi took time to address sexism in the industry.
When asked about #MeToo, she said she was excited about the strides being made against sexual assault in Hollywood. But she also expressed doubt that the movement would translate to music. Why? Women have been speaking out about harassment and assault in hip-hop for years and no one has listened to them.
She told Cosmo, "A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck. When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, ‘You want to be on the cover of this magazine?’ Then they pull their dicks out."
But assault and harassment aren't just an issue in hip-hop or among girls trying to make it into a music video. It's a systemic issue that hasn't been answered with it's own Time's Up-type movement. It affects even recognizable women — women with multiple record deals, millions of dollars, and world tours.
Kesha, the pop princess who brought us Tik Tok and a record-breaking debut album, accused her producer of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and employment discrimination in 2014. She sued him, alleging he drugged and raped her twice. He filed a countersuit her for defamation and breach of contract.
Their legal battle is still ongoing, and she's been denied the ability to break her contract by Sony Music. Her new album, Rainbow, which was literally about Dr. Luke's abuse, was released on his label. It's making him money.
There's such a lack of accountability for abusive producers, directors, executives, and other men at the top that they're willing and able to abuse a bright young woman with fan clubs and world tours. What are they doing to girls you'll never hear of, who will never be able to become a Cardi B or a Kesha?
We can't be shocked that this is happening. And we can't pretend it isn't our fault. We’re constantly celebrating abusive artists. We choose to love absolutely horrible people. Why would an unnamed producer be too nervous to hurt someone when Chris Brown punched one of our most beloved pop stars in the face and still has a successful career?
Why would an unknown music video director be too scared to whip his dick out on an unnamed woman when R. Kelly was touring for years after he allegedly abused kids? And you think we've changed because it's 2018? Really?
Last week, XXXtentacion was the first Soundcloud rapper to have an album debut at number one on the charts. But in 2017, around the time #MeToo was catching speed, X was accused of beating and imprisoning a pregnant woman. Her harrowing testimony describes the rapper threatening to shove a fork up her vagina, wanting to kill her, holding her head under water.
Despite being an accused abuser whose damage the general public can see and understand, X has seen major musical success. And it's because we don't hold ourselves or our communities accountable for supporting abusive musicians.
The music industry may not be democratic, but listeners have influence. Streaming numbers and record sales are incredibly influential in who gets deals. Record labels are trying to make money, and they aren't going to keep producing people who sell like shit.
But if we aren't willing to do something about the abusers we know and understand as abusers, why should faceless higher-ups at record labels be scared of us? They won't be. They'll pretend to be woke, like Cardi B says they do, for love. But they know when push comes to shove, we won't believe the women they hurt. And if we do believe them, we don't do shit about it. No one takes action. No one stops listening. No one tells people on Twitter tweeting about Lil Dicky and Chris Brown to shut the fuck up. And no one demands change from people who make such an influential part of our culture. That's how systemic sexism persists in the industry.
Is it ultimately the shitty guys who are doing bad things? 100 percent. And is it ultimately their responsibility to be good people? 100 percent. But in a reality in which people are bad and we can do something about it, we absolutely have to.
An opinion on Noisey suggested You Don't Have to Listen to Abusive Rappers, telling people who face a moral dilemma about whether or not they should listen to shitty musicians that it's probably best to just stop listening.
But I'm going to take their point a step further: Don't listen to abusive rappers. Don't listen to abusive anyone. Not just because you can't separate art from the artist or because it's immoral to support bad people, because you are actively hurting women. This isn't an abstract issue about whether or not to reward some shitty man. It's a real difference between a life or death.