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1 August 2019
Music and #Metoo
After a series of public revelations about sexual assault perpetrated by powerful men in high-profile industries, culminating in October of 2017 with multiple accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to share her own experience and to encourage other women to tweet #MeToo. Quickly disseminated by social media, the hashtag #MeToo eventually was used millions of times by women in more than 85 different countries. A number of famous men, including Weinstein, comedian Louis CK, and TV journalist Charlie Rose, were toppled from their highly visible perches within media culture. The CEO of the ride-sharing company Uber was among the business executives who lost their jobs after women stepped up to report the harassment and abuse they had suffered in the workplace. Although the movement seemed to have sprung up overnight, it was fueled by decades—and centuries—of enforced silence endured by women, whose vulnerable positions within power structures have made them fear the consequences of speaking up: from simply not being believed, to losing professional standing, employment, material support, and even their lives. As society as a whole must now address the widespread prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment, and the futures of both victims and perpetrators, it seems time to address the skeletons in our own closet.
Historically, the musical world has been no less susceptible to those who have taken advantage of positions of status and power to inflict sexual abuse and harassment upon those—both women and men—whose voices were unlikely ever to be heard. Moreover, the circumstances of artistic representation, performance training, and access to professional opportunities have meant that music is a particularly fertile place for such behavior.
The Journal of Musicological Research is planning a special issue in Volume 39 (2020) devoted to issues raised by the #MeToo movement as they apply to musical culture and history across the ages. Possible areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:
- curating musical programs and narratives for today’s audiences in light of the #MeToo movement
- dealing with problematic works and composers in the canon
- reevaluating the presentation and teaching of music
While we are placing no limits on time, place, or sex, we are particularly interested in work relating to music and culture from the Medieval to early modern eras.