THE DAILY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: What difference does it make?

“MoPOP’s Pop Conference talks about #MeToo and the future of the music industry”

American-Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela speaks at this year’s Pop Conference held at the MoPop Museum, where a diverse range of women spoke about their experiences in the male-dominated music industry. Photo by Jayna Milan.

 Since the recent news outbreak of the explosive revelations of sexual assault charges against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, women from all walks of life are coming together to break their silence to share their experiences with sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination in efforts to gain justice for all sexual assault survivors.

The trending #MeToo movement, created by Tarana Burke, gained worldwide traction and support after being popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, urging every woman who has encountered sexual harassment or assault to include the hashtag as a response to Milano’s tweet to give a sense of magnitude to the problem that has been circulating for years with little to no justice served.

The annual music-nerd conference, Pop Conference held by the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), kicked off their 2018 conference with a summit on music and activism in light of the escalating efforts from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement with this year’s theme: “What Difference Does It Make? Music and Gender.”

The highlight of the conference was Thursday’s keynote panel, “A Summit on Music, Activism, and the #MeToo #TimesUp Moment” moderated by Ann Powers, critic and correspondent of NPR Music. The summit featured Jackie Fuchs, better known as Jackie Fox, who is the bassist of the all-female rock band, The Runaways, and also a Los Angeles attorney, writer, and activist. It also featured Kiran Gandhi, a former drummer for M.I.A. and electronic music artist who usually goes by her pseudonym Madame Gandhi. Paloma McLardy, also known as Palmolive, who galvanized the punk energy with her influential punk band, The Slits, was there; Megan Jasper, CEO of Sub Pop Records was there; co-founder of the punk band Downtown Boys, Victoria Ruiz, was there; and Francisca Valenzuela, American-born Chilean poet and Latin Grammy award nominee, too.

The strong female energy emanating from the panel had a hugely empowering effect whilst keeping a safe space that welcomed an array of perspectives and narratives from the audience. Topics like men-hating and creating new alliances to be a part of the movement were brought into discussion.

“One of the things that I hear a lot from men is that they are afraid in creating safe spaces for women that they cannot be themselves anymore because they’re afraid,” Fuchs said.

Powers mentioned that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement has caused a positive shift in internalized beliefs and conversation when compared to the nostalgic seventies punk rock scene that was deemed to be sexist despite claims that it was a gender equal music genre during that era.

“Why does the conversation always go to hate?” Powers asked.

“Maybe propaganda?” answered MacLardy as she laughed along with the crowd.

Critics, academics, artists, and pop fans united at the conference to engage in conversations and discussions led by influential panel speakers from different generations, backgrounds, and music perspectives. Touching on topics about everything from “Gender and Power in Interracial Music” to “Rethinking Lesbian Sound” to “Mansplaining,” and from “Hip-Hop For and By Women” to “Black Male Interiority,” audience members seemed to enjoy the event.

More information about the Pop Conference can be found at the MoPoP website,