By Katerina Romanides
Violence against women in the music industry has been an ongoing problem for decades. Although musicians in relationships put up a facade that they are perfect and in love, there is a dark side that fans do not see. Ever since the #MeToo movement was coined by Tarana Burke in 2006, it has given women the platform that they need in order to speak out against the domestic violence they have faced. The opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront is now.
One of the most notable cases of domestic violence in the music industry was Rihanna and Chris Brown in 2009. Rihanna spoke out about the abusive relationship she had with Chris Brown and became the poster child for survivors soon after. According to an article from Grazia, one of the most notable incidents between the two musicians was when Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna in a Lamborghini the night before the Grammys. This assault left her with a black eye, a busted lip, and bruising on her face. Chris Brown was sentenced to five years of probation, one year of domestic violence counseling and six months of community service. The pictures that Rihanna shared of her assault spread like wildfire across the internet and brought the needed attention to domestic violence in the music industry. While this case is one of the most notable, there have been many others such as FKA twigs and Shia LaBeouf, Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottala, and Emo Baby and Octavian. Domestic violence against female musicians has been prominent throughout history and shows no signs of stopping.
Music Industry’s Response
The music industry has been called out numerous times for not taking enough action towards domestic violence. Although this is not anything new for women, the #MeToo movement has not infiltrated the music industry quite like it has with the film industry. In many instances, when women speak out against the domestic violence they faced their careers were hurt or they were issued a non-disclosure agreement in order to silence their voices. One of the most notable cases of a woman being silenced by the music industry is Kesha’s lawsuit against Dr. Luke, who is her former producer. According to an article from Vulture, she accused him of rape and emotional abuse. This has been a legal battle for over five years with no end in sight, and even a new legal ruling that she defamed Dr. Luke. The music industry has done little to nothing to protect women.
Domestic violence against women in the industry is nothing of the past, as there have been many cases of it within the past year. One of the most publicized cases in 2022 was the trial of Meghan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez. According to an article from the New York Times, on July 12, 2020 Meghan Thee Stallion was shot multiple times in both feet after leaving a party with Tory Lanez. She needed surgery to remove the bullet fragments from her feet. Three months later, Meghan Thee Stallion spoke out about the incident and claimed that Tory Lanez was the one who wielded the gun. Rather than being supported and believed by the internet, he was met with a large amount of criticism from his fans. The trial ensued during December of 2022, where Meghan Thee Stallion took the stand and testified about how the controversy over the encounter had made her depressed and hurt her career, as she was the target of many hateful comments on social media. The jury found that Tory Lanez was guilty on three felony counts and he faces more than twenty years in prison and the possibility of deportation. No matter how successful a woman is in the music industry, this case proves how they are still not safe from domestic violence.
Future of the Issue
Although people have become aware of the domestic violence women face in the music industry following the #MeToo movement, there does not seem as if much will change in the future. Women may be able to speak out against violent incidents, but they are not shielded from the incoming flood of hate from the internet and are still silenced by powerful executives. There are no laws being put in place by anyone in the music industry in order to protect women either. According to an article from Gem, his kind of violence is an issue across the globe for women of every race, age, and background. With the amount of domestic violence accusations within the past decade, musician FKA twigs begs the question, “How long can the music industry go on without a #MeToo style movement?” and “How will the industry enact positive change and tackle the larger problem?”