Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac has told MPs that there is a “tidal wave” of sexual abuse cases in the music industry that have yet to surface.
The broadcaster and author has been providing evidence in an inquiry into misogyny in the music industry, chaired by a select committee of the House of Commons.
Mac – Annie MacManus – described the music industry as “a boys’ club” which was “kind of rigged against women” when speaking to the Women and Equalities committee, and suggested that many women have yet to come forward with their experiences out of fear for their careers.
“There needs to be some sort of a shift in women feeling like they’re able to speak out without their careers being compromised,” she told MPs (via BBC News).
“I feel like there are a lot of revelations that have not been exposed... It’s infuriating, the amount of women who have stories of sexual assault that just kind of buried them and carried them. It’s just unbelievable.”
She continued: “So I do think if something were to happen, like if one person was to speak that had enough profile where it got media attention, I think there could be a kind of tidal wave of it. Definitely.”
The DJ went on to explain that although she had not experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct personally, she believes her 19 years working at the BBC provide her with a “shield of protection” to talk about such issues.
“There are common threads that run through everything I’ve heard,” she said, “That is that women, especially young women in the music industry, are consistently underestimated and undermined, and freelance women are consistently put in situations where they are unsafe.”
Mac provided an example of one unnamed artist who went to the pub with a record label boss, and was sexually assaulted in the street after repeatedly asking to go home.
Singer Rebecca Ferguson also gave evidence to the MPs, BBC News reports, stating that “misogyny in music is the tip of the iceberg of the things that are happening behind the scenes.”
The former X Factor contestant went on to describe a landscape where “bullying and corruption is being allowed to happen“, and where men in senior roles had asked security staff “to infiltrate and purposely ruin my romantic relationships.”
“But as well as that, the thing that worries me the most is the rapes that are going unreported. That’s what concerns me the most – the fact that women feel like they can’t speak up,” Ferguson added.
“There are plenty of times when you’re placed in situations where you are being compromised and where people are abusing their level of power.”
“One lady contacted me and said, 'I've wanted to do this [speak out] my entire life. If I speak up against him, he's so powerful, I will never work in this industry ever again.’”
Last year, a foundation was launched to provide support for survivors of sexual abuse in the music industry. Founded by former Atlantic A&R executive Dorothy Carvello, the Face the Music Now Foundation is intended to work as “a trusted resource" and provide “a safe space for those who have experienced physical, psychological and financial harm.”
For more information, head to the Face the Music Now Foundation site.
If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, the following organisations may be able to provide help and advice:
In the UK
Provides help and information for anyone who has been affected by a crime, including a violent or sexual assault, or is wary about involving the police.
Helpline: 0845 30 30 900 (Seven days a week)
The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre
Support and information for women and girls who have been raped or sexually abused, however long ago and whatever the circumstances.
Helpline: 0845 1221 331 (Seven days a week)
In North America
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization
The National Sexual Assault Hotline (24 hours, seven days a week):800.656.HOPE (4673), online.rainn.org, rainn.org/es
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) is the leading nonprofit in providing information and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence.
Directory of organisations: https://www.nsvrc.org/organizations