Over the past few months, the true scale of sexual assault within Hollywood has been unearthed – thanks to the continued efforts of the #MeToo movement, the catalyst for what is now an ongoing conversation across the entire entertainment industry. Sexual harassment and assault are not only endemic, but an epidemic across all industries, entertainment or otherwise. And the continued revelations from well-known women has shown that, regardless of how high-profile a victim is, there are several methods in place set to ensure their silence.
Lily Allen is the latest woman to share her story in a frank interview with the i paper, where she outlined an incident of abuse and the fact that she has been unable to cut ties with her abuser due to her work. She described her situation as “inescapable”, as she was locked into a lengthy contract that meant she had no choice but to remain associated with them.
“I’ve had things happen that I would feel uncomfortable talking about because they’re linked with lots of people I work with. People who are in control of things that affect me,” she said, adding that the “things” in question referred to sexual abuse.
“But like Rose McGowan, I reported it to people around me – women! – and no one did anything.”
Her story, while disturbing, isn’t new. It has been told several times before from the mouths of different women, in different ways, at different dates; women who have sought help from other women within the industry, only to be rebuffed because they are either complicit or in a position that means they feel unable to help. It’s a tale as old as time and no coincidence – rather, a pattern of behaviour that ensures their silence, at whatever level they are at.
As one of the more outspoken and vocal women in the music industry, one can only imagine how many others out there are silently suffering
“My record label have a list of priority acts, pretty much all of which have a link to the person who did something to me. I know what will happen,” she continued. “They’ll say, ‘Let’s try and get rid of Lily because this person is worth more to us because he makes us lots of money.’”
In the interview, she also described a marked difference between the music and film industry – that the lengthy, often exploitative contracts musicians sign (usually when quite young) make it even harder to get away from predators in positions of power.
“In film and TV, you can choose not to work with any of those people again. You can move country, move out of London to LA. You can’t do that in music. It’s the same bunch of people on both sides of the Atlantic and it’s inescapable because it’s 15-year-long contracts.”
Allen remains not just a prisoner in a lengthy label contract but, because of it, she is beholden to a man who abused her, too. And as one of the more outspoken and vocal women in the music industry, one can only imagine how many others out there are silently suffering, as well.