The "Mike Pence Rule" Won't Curb Sexual Assault in the Music Industry

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Mike Pence, vice president of the United States who, in his ideal world, would mandate strict laws about who should be fucking whom, lives by a counter-intuitive and roundabout code of conduct to avoid inappropriate sexual interactions with women who are not his wife, Karen. In a Washington Post profile of Karen Pence from earlier this year, it was revealed that her husband “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.” Instead of preaching virtues like self-control and, I don’t know, basic human decency, the Mike Pence social contract seems to place the burden of his actions on women for simply existing.

Ordinarily, our grown-up-Hardy Boy vice president wouldn’t be the subject of a music blog, unless he was getting booed during Hamilton. Unfortunately, some music industry professionals fear that his retrograde plan for curbing extramarital affairs could become the norm for avoiding sexual misconduct. In a new piece for Billboard, multiple attorneys predict that the #MeToo movement could have unintended consequences in limiting the number of job offers for women. One entertainment lawyer, Jeff Biederman, refers to it as the “Mike Pence effect,” which is already becoming a thing on the beltway:

Biederman says he’s already hearing about public officials in Washington, D.C. who are refusing to dine alone with female lobbyists — a trend he calls the “Mike Pence effect” due to the U.S. Vice President’s rule of not dining alone with women besides his wife — and some fear the same could bleed over into the music industry. Two male executives told Billboard they already are more cautious about having closed-door meetings alone with women.


Dina LaPolt, head of LaPolt Law, told Billboard that she thinks the fear of misconduct allegations could give male job candidates an additional leg-up over their female counterparts during the hiring process or when it comes time to consider promotions:

“I think people are going to think twice about hiring women and promoting women is going to be a big issue now,” says attorney Dina LaPolt, head of LaPolt Law. “If you have two people for the job — this guy or this woman — I just think the men are going to get more opportunities.”

From there, Billboard assembles sunny quotes from label executives and artist managers who believe the industry will do the right thing, many even citing diversity policies that are already in place at their respective label or agency. Lucian Grainge, the chairman/CEO for Universal Music Group, touts that the company is “demonstrating our desire, as the industry leader, to accelerate efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within UMG and the broader music business.” Rapper XXXTentacion, who is currently awaiting trial on a really disturbing sexual assault and false imprisonment case, is signed to Capitol Records, a member of the UMG family. Grainge’s son, Elliot, operates EG, formerly Strainge Entertainment, which is distributed by UMG and signed 6ix9ine, a rising rapper who pleaded guilty to the use of a child in a sexual performance.

In an industry that continues to provide a platform for its top-line stars who also happen to be alleged or confirmed abusers, it’s hard to have faith in its ability to fix its own problems behind-the-scenes.

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