I'm in Iowa City at FARM-Folk, the Folk Alliance Region Midwest music conference, to screen The Shopkeeper and do some showcases, and I thought to write a post about the music I'm hearing and the nice people I'm meeting and the drive from Kansas City yesterday through the cornfields of Missouri and Iowa. But the thing I've been thinking about the most - and posting on social media about the most - is "#MeToo." So that's what I'm going to write about today, but it's going to work its way back to music at the end of the post.
In case you missed it, which is unlikely if you're online at all, the Harvey Weinstein accusations - just like Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape before it - set off a spontaneous outpouring on social media of women, and men too, sharing their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. It's been like a dam breaking, as women post either the simple hashtag "MeToo" or, as I did, a list of traumatic events from childhood forward.
In addition to heartfelt conversations with friends I interact with online all the time, this outpouring has led to some incredible moments. I had a big heart to heart with my mother-in-law about sexism through her lifetime. I had a lovely and sad exchange with a onetime sister - the daughter of a longtime girlfriend of my dad - who suffered terribly at being disbelieved when she told family members of abuse, but who has been managing to work her way to healthy adulthood. I think of us as confused kids in the 1970s, children of parents whose attempt to navigate the battles of the sexual revolution left their kids, far too often, as collateral damage.
Two male friends reached out to me in private messages about horrific abuse they each suffered, confused about how they ought to try - or not try - to fit in with the "MeToo" conversation. The guy to whom I lost my virginity sent the sweetest note about how sad my posts had made him and how sorry he was that I and other women he knew had experienced the things we'd experienced.
I had the most wonderful conversation with one of my daughters about how it took years for me to understand that I was raped.
(And I also saw some women online call people who were posting this stuff "whiners" who need to be "tougher." I'm not even going to comment beyond saying they are wrong.)
So much pain poured out on Facebook and Twitter in the past week, but I think it's wonderful, and here's why. All this public acknowledgement of trauma is SUCH A GOOD THING in the long run, despite the pain in the short run, because it depletes abusers of their #1 weapon, which is shame. It was a blow to see an abuser elected President even after the Access Hollywood tape. But seeing this outpouring happen again since the Weinstein story broke shows that there really is a revolution happening in women's hearts. They are ready to talk, and the men around them are learning about their experiences, and that's good. It's a process - sexual harassment is not going to end soon - but these are big steps.
Okay. And now the part about how all this ties in to music. When I looked at the men in my life who were good and supportive, so many of them were in the world of music. Music has saved me in many ways, and it turns out this is one of them too. So, to sum up, here's my post on that topic.
* * * * *
If #MeToo = poison, let me acknowledge the powerful anti-venom I've received.
1. The friend of my dad who let me play his pianos anytime I wanted, and asked me serious questions about what chords I was choosing.
2. Another friend of my dad, a professional musician, who also took my earnest guitar songs seriously even when I was young as 13, Including the gift of thoughtful & supportive critique. I thought he was super cute and he probably could tell, but he was never inappropriate.
3. The two guitar playing friends both named Danny who spent a summer with me as their musical sidekick. No shortage of raunchy humor but never at my expense, and I wrote a song about them called "girl in the boys room."
4. My dad was on the other list for not understanding me when I was raped, but he has to be on this list too because he was fundamentally there for me as a kid as best he could be, and he gave me true encouragement to be a musician.
5. My sweet and wonderful producer for singing back up vocals so powerfully behind me on my song about that rape, and in general giving me the space to be as vulnerable, powerful, sensual and whatever I needed to be to make the art the way I wanted to make it - and providing the skill and talent to make it even better.
6. Of course number one is my husband for being utterly nonsexist, supportive of his daughters, willing to question himself and being just an all-around stellar human being.
7. And all of my male friends whom I LOVE, who have shown in likes and posts over the past few days that they get it.