Bonnie Lynch — Community
It would be unfair to assume that any industry is fair. The music industry is no exception, built upon a foundation of racism, nepotism and deceit. It then comes as no surprise that the industry has had a long history of misogyny, as countless female artists have suffered from notable accounts of abuse. While the political climate of the United States has now started to shift against abuse and abusers, there is still an incredibly long way to go before the industry can become a safe place for women. But, in order to right the wrongs they need to be seen, and here are three cases that definitely show how awful those wrongs can be.
Back in 2021, the world was shocked by the New York Times’ release “Framing Britney Spears,” an hour long documentary that explored the life and conservatorship of Brittney Spears. Prior to this she had been known as a rogue child star, a girl who grew up in Hollywood, starting using drugs and destroying her own career. However, the documentary proved that this could not be further from the truth, as Brittney fell victim to an abusive court system utilized by her father. A single breakdown from the loss of her child was used to entrap her into an agreement that cost her 13 years of her life, as her father forced her to record more music, attend events against her will, and even get an IUD in order to prevent future pregnancies. Brittney may be free in 2022, but she will never get the years back she lost both to an abusive father and an abusive industry.
The artist Ke$ha was an icon to many back in the late 2000s, but people would not know of her suffering over the course of the decade. In 2005, a young and prone Ke$ha was signed under the notorious producer Dr. Luke, known for working with artists like Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry, to launch her music onto the public stage. However, her later success came at a very powerful cost as Dr. Luke sexually abused her at a young age, leading her to suffer from severe trauma and mental distress. Dr. Luke would then go on to ruin Ke$ha’s artistic vision in her future works, as well as void her from the creation of new music once she saw fit to sue him for his mistreatment. The years 2014 to 2016 would see Ke$ha engaged in a harsh legal battle to produce her music independently, and eventually, even though her record label did not release her, she was permitted to release her third album, Rainbow, without his involvement.
Looking back further at America’s musical industry, Billie Holiday’s career was targeted for speaking out against racism. In 1939, Billie Holiday was performing regularly in New York City’s clubs midway through her career when she first sang her most notable tune, “Strange Fruit.” The song carried a powerful message that still resonates with many to this day, detailing the revolting lynchings that reguarly still took place in the South. While the song did serve to gain her notoriety, it also eventually led to her death, as she was targeted by Harry Anslinger, who was ranked highly in the FBI at the time. He took note of her past struggles with drug addiction and went out of his way to make sure she would become addicted again, which ultimately succeeded. Holiday’s drug use would not only land her time in jail, but also led to her eventual death at the hand of liver disease. Anslinger’s men even went as far as to handcuff her to her hospital bed, if only to make sure that the disease would be fatal.