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Within the fall of 2016, nation singer Meghan Linsey got here ahead on social media with a sexual assault allegation towards an unnamed trade heavyweight. Disgusted by Donald Trump’s angle towards girls — particularly, his remark that he would “seize ’em by the pussy” — Linsey wrote of her own experience with groping. The Voice star mentioned that, in 2010, “a really highly effective man within the music enterprise grabbed up my skirt. He was groping me and proceeded to attempt to decide me up by my ass on a bus in entrance of a number of essential folks.” She rejected him, and the subsequent night time he instructed her he might drop her into the center of the ocean the place she’d by no means be heard from once more, she recalled in a Fb publish.
When she publicly instructed her story final 12 months, she acquired some assist — but additionally appreciable scorn. Commenters criticized her for not naming the person she mentioned assaulted and threatened her; some questioned her choice to attend six years to say something; and others instructed her that this sort of abuse must be anticipated within the leisure trade. “It was very combined critiques a 12 months in the past, and a part of that was the explanation I didn’t come out with the title,” she mentioned, days earlier than the discharge of her new album, Daring Like a Lion. She declined once more to call him to BuzzFeed Information this November.
Linsey has watched with curiosity because the surge of sexual misconduct allegations towards movie producer Harvey Weinstein prompts public allegations towards a collection of highly effective males, lots of whom work in different industries. However she’s undecided whether or not that can occur for nation.
“I hope that individuals begin to open their eyes to it and see what’s happening.”
“Nation music is so hush-hush about every little thing,” she mentioned. “It’s a lot tougher to talk out.”
Linsey was insistent that, though nation music has largely averted the fallout of the Weinstein revelations, it does have an issue with harassment and assault. In line with her, there are abusers within the trade whose misdeeds are open secrets and techniques. She pointed to Kirt Webster, the highly effective nation music publicist whose purchasers included Dolly Parton: Simply this week, Austin Rick, his former shopper, publicly alleged that Webster molested and sexually assaulted him. Webster denied the allegations, however his agency, Webster Public Relations, was promptly renamed, and a spokesperson introduced Webster had gone on go away.
“When you will have an individual like [Webster], everyone form of is aware of, and no person says something,” Linsey mentioned. “Folks do dismiss it, and so they go, 'properly, he’s so essential, he works with all these folks.' I hope that individuals begin to open their eyes to it and see what’s happening. … This enterprise is so small — it’s such a small city.”
For actual change within the nation music trade to occur, she mentioned, “Extra persons are gonna have to start out talking out.”
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She mentioned that after she wrote in 2016 about being groped, a number of girls got here to her and instructed her they’d been harassed or assaulted by the identical man, too. However all these conversations occurred “beneath the desk … a number of girls in nation music really feel like they will’t say something, and so they can’t discuss,” she mentioned. Privately, they instructed her “he’s handsy and grabby and thinks that he can do no matter he needs.”
There’s an expectation within the nation music trade that performers ought to by no means handle something which may provoke their followers: “You’re alleged to sing and shut your mouth,” Linsey defined. As she understands it, that features a code of silence on allegations of sexual harassment or assault. She recalled each her supervisor and the top of her label on the time telling her she mustn’t pursue any motion or make accusations towards the person she mentioned groped and threatened her, as a result of it might be detrimental to her profession. Neither Large Machine Label Group nor Linsey’s supervisor from 2010 responded to BuzzFeed Information’ request for additional remark, though the label denied her account final 12 months, saying that it might “by no means” condone such harassment and would by no means advise an artist to not complain about it.
Linsey shouldn’t be afraid of controversy: She took a knee after singing the nationwide anthem throughout an NFL recreation in September, exhibiting her solidarity with protests towards police brutality confronted disproportionately by black People. On the time, she wrote within the Washington Post, “My choice could damage my profession, nevertheless it was the one alternative for me. This trigger is extra essential than my report gross sales.”
Regardless of her demonstrated moxie, the chance in naming her alleged assailant is just too nice to bear alone, she mentioned. She famous that as influential girls comparable to Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Rose McGowan instructed their tales about Weinstein, it made it appear safer for others to come back ahead. Linsey mentioned, “As girls, you actually really feel like you possibly can’t say something till you get to a spot in your profession the place you’re successful, and also you’re empowered.”
Till girls within the nation music trade band collectively, Linsey believes silence will prevail. “While you’re the one one, it’s onerous,” she mentioned.