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Is There a Harvey Weinstein of Jazz? #MeToo

(Trigger warning! rape, child abuse)

The #MeToo movement has been bringing about changes in the entertainment industry, especially film. Many of us wonder "Is there is a Harvey Weinstein of jazz?"

The most significant difference between the film and jazz industries is that we no longer have influential gate-keepers in jazz. Record company executives, managers, booking agents, producers used to be extremely powerful. But today, they no longer make or break one's career in jazz. We have to "make it" on our own. Except for faculty members at educational institutions, nobody could take advantage of young female jazz musicians today.

But it doesn't mean that I have never been sexually harassed or made to feel uncomfortable on the bandstand or off. Until recently, many jazz musicians used to make inappropriate jokes and offhanded comments. But I always told myself to have a thick skin, and ignore the comments. I also used to receive unwanted sexual advances back in the days, and some musicians have tried to force themselves on me as well. But because I was able to successfully fight them off, these experiences didn't leave any psychological scars.

Today, no colleague of mine even compliments my looks no matter how much I try to look attractive. The Me Too movement has put a complete stop to compliments on my new dresses. And the best part of this movement is that very few men say "ko-ni-chi-wa" or "ni-hao" to me.  (At least none in the areas below 125th Street of Manhattan.)  Even when that happens, I can now speak back and tell them it is offensive without being lectured back with the usual "you should be proud of your culture" attack.

So overall, things have gotten better for me, and I am pleased about the crackdown on sexual assaults, unwanted advances, and exploitation, especially at educational institutions. However, the #MeToo movement is not without a downside.

When #MeToo movement had first emerged, I thought it was finally time for me to tell my story after waiting for over three decades. I decided to attend a meeting to discuss this topic, hoping I could unload my burden. But the meeting soon became about competing who gets the most catcalls. I was no longer able to share my story of being gang-raped at age eight and subsequent suicide attempts. Yes, I have experienced unwanted catcalls and sexual advances too, but these things don't compare to the trauma, pain, and suffering I have endured as a child. After that meeting, I could no longer genuinely relate to the movement, though I still support the cause. As a child, I always thought I'd write a book exposing the rapists and the teacher who enabled this horrible act. In fact, that used to be my purpose of living, keeping me from committing suicide. But in 2018, I no longer have that need because I have other responsibilities and goals in life.

This movement also reminded me of a few women falsely accusing men of rape. I also know people who were at the receiving end of a false accusation. Both accusers and accused are people just like us (university professors, violinists, music student, etc.) The thought of this happening to my family is beyond frightening. When this happens to someone, the whole family suffers including his wife, his mother, and his daughters. And we must always strive to reduce the suffering of all people, women, AND men regardless of what is considered a favorite position to take today.

I believe we need to use #MeToo with caution and thoughtfulness so we will not ruin otherwise a terrific cause.

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