With the latest old-school icon from the hippy era crumbling under accusations of serious misconduct, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile expectations with responsibility.
The #MeToo movement continues to reach deeper and deeper into society, and classical music is clearly not exempt.
Now that Placido Domingo, one of the original Three Tenors, is under fire for sexual harassment since the 1980s, to be perfectly honest with you I am utterly shocked at three things…
Actually, they are the same three things I have struggled with over the past few years as these various stories come to light.
And what shocks me may surprise you:
- I am shocked that anyone is surprised by these post-hippy-era stories,
- I am shocked that anyone would consent to any form of what is now considered gross misconduct under any circumstances (let’s explore that in a moment), and
- I am utterly shocked and saddened that there are STILL people in the classical music industry who use these very painful experiences as a hook to promote their services!
Yes, I just received an email from a cheap, multifarious classical music “coach” who launched an unsubstantiated attack on Domingo and then spent the second half of her missive justifying an upcoming event and incorporating the Domingo story into descriptive links for her coaching programs and social media accounts.
That makes me almost as sick as when hearing about the original story itself.
To me, it signifies just how low our industry has stooped – that it’s become OK to sell our wares on the backs of those who endured absolutely awful experiences with lifelong impact.
It is, perhaps, one of the most underhanded, despicable and unprofessional selling tactics anyone could possibly imagine.
Aren’t we better than that?
Why aren’t we better than that?
Now, I am not diminishing anyone’s victimhood AT ALL, but I am saddened anyone thinks it was ever ok to either ask for sexual favors or that actually giving or engaging in such behavior was ever necessary.
It doesn’t take a degree to understand right from wrong, yet for whatever reason so many of our peers seem unaware of the impact of their words and actions.
What may be said in jest by one person could actually be very harmful for another. Stack such comments on top of each other over time, and a mindset of self-worth and wanting to make our world a better place through music may be damaged beyond repair.
There is ALWAYS a way out, but many times it is REALLY DIFFICULT to see it, act on it, or prioritize it. Especially when a primary income is at stake. So we put up with the comments and taps and slaps not realizing just how bad our situation is.
LET’S BE CLEAR:
We are NOT talking about rape.
We are discussing harassment.
Why would anyone think there is no alternative?
We live in an era in which sexual freedom is popular, that followed an era in which sexual experimentation was popular.
On top of which classical musicians are ensnared in an industry that promotes one way of thinking, one way of doing, and only one possible path… a path that was created 100 years ago and is no longer suitable for the real world.
Well, no matter how many options and opportunities there may be to get out of a potentially sticky situation, it doesn’t surprise me that sexual harassment is rampant in the established classical music industry. I witnessed it many, many times in my college days.
But it shocks me when others declare surprise.
And although it doesn’t surprise me that talking about such important topics occurs within our circles of influence (it’s what we’re doing right now), I DO remain SHOCKED TO THE CORE that some of our classical music peers ride on the lifelong pain of others in order to make a buck… and woe be coming to those who get swallowed up by such cheap Machiavellian antics.