One month after the New York Times first reported on the allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein, women continue to come forward and add their stories of abuse to mainstream cultural conversation. On Friday, November 17, an open letter against the unimpeded sexism of Sweden’s music industry ran in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
The letter (which was published in Swedish and English) includes signatures from women working across the country’s music industry—not just artists but producers, managers, booking agents, music students, industry executives, and many others—including the names of musicians Robyn, Tove Lo, Seinabo Sey, and Zara Larsson. Originally, the letter contained 1993 signatures, but according to an update on the DN’s website, more women have added their names since Friday, bringing the total to 2192 signatures at publishing time.
The letter takes aim not at specific men, but at the culture of the country’s music industry as a whole, which allows the abuse of women to continue without consequences (via the DN’s English translation):
The people who reproduce the culture of silence, and make sure it is kept in place, are the same men who sit in TV-programmes, in t-shirts with feminist aphorisms written on them, or who set quotas for how many female artists should be booked to play at big festivals.
The discrepancy between words and actions is enormous, and the values and policies, which are decided in the industry concerning sexism and equality, are all nice words on blank papers.
While all the women who signed the letter have used their names, the real heft comes from anonymous reports detailing specific instances of sexual assault and harassment, including stories of rape and attempted rape. The letter ends with demands for change from the signees’ colleagues:
We clench our fists in our pockets and seldom talk about this topic, not even with each other. The culture of silence prevails.
But we will no longer be silent. We demand zero tolerance for sexual exploitation or violence. Sexual assault or violence will have consequences in terms of terminations of contracts.
The people in power in the industry – it’s your responsibility to make sure that no one is sexually vulnerable at the work place, and you have failed.
According to Billboard, the letter has already provoked responses from representatives from the three major labels. “We have a responsibility and we must act now!” said Per Sundin, head of Universal Music Group Sweden.
Sweden is consistently ranked among the top countries for gender equality by the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report.
You can read the full open letter in English here.