It’s impossible to ignore all the news about sexual harassment in the movie industry. It’s impossible to ignore it in the world of politics as well. And schools. Don’t forget the schools … and the reprehensible behavior of teachers who abuse their students. But of course it happens everywhere, and I think everyone knows that.

The “#metoo” movement started a fire. Women have been telling their stories. Women have been naming names. And men are also telling stories of abuse, because it is not something that women alone have endured, although I dare to state that women have endured it far more frequently.

Does it happen in the classical music world? Oh you bet it does. There are people in power that have taken advantage of their positions. There are people who want jobs so badly they will acquiesce to advances. And yes, there are some who will offer themselves in order to advance. I’m grateful to have avoided the damaging sexual abuse that some have endured, but I certainly have had improper advances in the past. Fortunately those are now in my distant past and no, I won’t name names at this point. (Had I been physically assaulted I do believe I would, especially if the perpetrator(s) have continued assaults. Heck, I might even if they haven’t continued.)

Names have been out there for eons … so-and-so isn’t to be trusted. Maestro X is a sexual predator. Be very careful around [insert name here] and never be in a room alone with him. Keep your boys away from that guy! So far it appears most of these people aren’t being named. Some won’t name names: they still work with the person and fear for their jobs. Some don’t think it’s the right thing to do: they think that it’s just a part of our world and so be it. Others say we shouldn’t “out” someone because, well, how disappointed will the public be to learn their idol is a sexual predator? (Um. Really?!) Most of us don’t name names because, for us, it’s a rumor that has gone around for decades and a rumor is a rumor — we don’t know that it’s true, even while we might suspect it is. We dare not say the names, though, as there is always that possibility some slighted or vengeful person started the rumor to damage the person’s career. It’s tricky, to say the least.

IF some of the rumors are true, though, there are people who should have been jailed long ago. And that’s incredibly troubling.

Again, I don’t have first-hand experience. Naming names in my case would be wrong. I’d only be naming a rumor.

But then there’s the difficulty of the spoken word. The sexual innuendo in the workplace seems to run rampant. The mutterings I hear during rehearsals are annoying. The loudly spoken words by a player or conductor that then most people laugh at are, to me, inexcusable. I’ve had colleagues say things to my face that make me shudder to think about. Honestly? You say that to me as if it’s normal conversation?! It’s the start of the “all of it” to me … if speaking those words is funny or cute and fully acceptable, I do believe it can lead to more. In any case, it is offensive.

I am hopeful that, with all that has now been revealed, we will stop tolerating these often juvenile and usually blatantly sexual and offensive remarks in the workplace. I’m hopeful that we will all think more carefully about what we say and how it might come across to others.

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