Nearly every one of the communities in which I participate has been rocked by a serious allegation of sexual abuse during the past couple years. For more than a year, I’ve been processing how the Ashtanga community has dealt with or gaslighted abuse victims and the implications of those actions and inactions for its practice culture. This week it’s the Americana music world with the NYT expose of Ryan Adams’ shitty behavior.
I was a fan for years until I got fed up with having tickets to shows that got cancelled because of his meltdowns or addiction problems, and began to surmise for myself that the fuel for his songs was unsavory. So it didn’t surprise me, this latest news. But I did get that sinking feeling, that sadness for we women, as the floodgates open anew for more stories of sexual harassment and casual misogyny in music and how those have played out on our lives and opportunities.
I came to music ‘late’, not anywhere near a dewy 19 or 20, and a lot of the isms I’ve felt as a woman have been about double standards around age. It was already “too late for me to ‘make it.” And without even getting into my personal life’s #metoo moments (which aren’t unrelated to me being late to the music party in the first place), I have my own stories, of multiple musicians who I thought played with me because they liked the music then quit when they realized I wasn’t going to sleep with them; of the poetry teacher who thought “my work was strong” then hit on me during our one-on-one; or the writing professor whose angry critique seemed triggered by my subject so that I never knew how the actual piece held up; or the esteemed songwriter who I was excited to share a show with then started texting me inappropriate questions....(a lot of this samsara is what led me to take so much refuge on a yoga mat over the years!). I know well why people, women, quit long before they’ve even really started. At the same time, as all these ugly stories are brought to the surface, I feel empowered, vindicated and hopeful for women’s voices in general. Finally, old paradigms are shifting, finally, we’re starting to be heard.