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WHY DO I HAVE TO WRITE THIS IN 2023?

Ausland181
Ausland181

According to the person with the Facebook profile, Wayne Walt-Jabsco, Around The Sound and, by default me, have a ‘known agenda’.

It’s an astute comment given that the first piece I published on bringing back Around The Sound laid out my agenda for the website in some detail, including saying with reference to one local industry identity and self-appointed mental health campaigner, “…you and the people like you, are part of the reason I’ve decided to return, to challenge the hegemony you represent, your grip on the industry.”

I have said this time and again. It’s idiots like this guy who throws these remarks around about women, and it’s him who should be ashamed, because he’s the one keeping this bullshit attitude and mentality alive in an industry where no one should be called out for their gender, sex, orientation or otherwise

Melanie Flynn, Songwriter, Vocalist and Frontwoman with Ashes of Autumn

So, yes, Wayne, I do have an agenda and it is clearly and publicly stated. If you don’t like that, go tell someone who cares.

Today’s agenda is pushing back against the sexism and misogyny that remain rampant in the music industry. It’s so disappointing to be having to write this right at the beginning of a New Year when we’re all filled with hope that things will be different this time around the sun.

A few days ago one of Around The Sound’s contemporaries, a website called Ausland181, run by a local photographer and reviewer called Brian Higgins, published a Facebook post presenting what they called the ‘Prestigious Ausland181 2022 Awards’. It included an award for ‘Best Cleavage in Rock, which was given to Melanie Flynn, singer with local band Ashes of Autumn. I sent the post to Flynn, who is a good friend of mine, because I felt uneasy about it and I wanted to get her view on it before deciding what course of action to take.

Here’s what Flynn said:

“I am mortified. I actually can’t articulate properly how I’m feeling right now. It doesn’t matter what stupid things he ‘awards’ me, he has reduced me to being a cleavage and that’s what people remember, because it’s ‘funny’. It’s embarrassing. I’m already uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time. I do not ever try to sexualise myself on stage, I’m just not that kind of performer. Not that I have a problem with women owning that, I just don’t do that. I’ve always thought of myself as more of an asexual performer. My focus is on delivering, and singing, and power and passion. Not my fucking cleavage. I’m actually really embarrassed because people reading that will have a laugh at my expense and forget about how serious I am about what I do. In one stupid minute this man has reduced me to being nothing more than a pair of tits. I am so angry.

“I have said this time and again. It’s idiots like this guy who throws these remarks around about women, and it’s him who should be ashamed, because he’s the one keeping this bullshit attitude and mentality alive in an industry where no one should be called out for their gender, sex, orientation or otherwise. Why did he have to sexualise me like that? It’s not Penthouse. It’s (Ausland181) not anything! It’s just a stupid post where he chose me to make fun of and draw attention to me by making it about something other than music.”

Hopefully, Brian, Flynn’s words make the impact of your sexism and misogyny very clear. Words have a deep impact. They hurt, they exclude, they drive us back into our shells and all so you could include a cheap little joke in your list.

When I challenged you on it you tried to pass it off as art, beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that. What arrant nonsense, Brian. There was no art to your lame little joke. What you did was punch down from your mountain of cis male privilege, taking advantage of what you perceived to be a power dynamic that gave you the upper hand. In your mind, female musicians are worth less than their male counterparts, otherwise you would have been inclusive in displaying your prejudice and made some of our city’s male musicians feel equally creeped out. But it doesn’t work that way for you, does it, Brian? Flynn is a woman so you thought she was fair game.

And then to top it all off, you edited your post, blaming the ‘political correctness police’ and their ‘one negative comment’. Calling out sexism and misogyny is not politically correct, Brian, it’s simply the right thing to do. What is the wrong thing to do, in an industry where women still struggle to be taken seriously and to be valued equally to their male counterparts, is to heap sexism and misogyny on any female musician. It doesn’t matter what your intent was, the impact of your prejudice and the words you chose to publish was significant.

Hopefully you will be able to reflect and reach out to the people you have hurt, make amends and use your platform to overtly support equity, inclusion and diversity in the local music industry from now on. I would admire you for that. Right now, if I saw you in a venue you’d just be one more male I wanted to avoid.

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