Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino Pens Essay on Sexism in the Music Industry
When Dirty Projetors’ Amber Coffman accused Life or Death PR founder Heathcliff Berru of sexual misconduct, Best Coast frontwoman Bethany Cosentino expressed her support for Coffman and affirmed her allegations. Now, she has opened up about the experience and, more broadly, sexism rampant in the music industry.
In the essay -- which appears in Lenny Letter, the bi-weekly newsletter helmed by Girls showrunners Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner -- Cosentino address her motivation behind coming out in support of Coffman and the impact of sharing their experiences with Berru:
When I saw these tweets, I knew I had to speak up, because Heathcliff has sexually harassed me too. I had never shared my story publicly because I was afraid of the backlash that I might receive or that I would come across like some kind of wrathful bitch. After I read Amber’s tweets, I decided it was time to tweet in support of her. I wasn’t just one of his victims — I knew plenty of other women who had their own “Heathcliff stories.”
After I supported Amber, the floodgates opened. Women started writing how they had felt personally victimized by his actions. By the following morning, Heathcliff had stepped down as CEO of his PR company, which has since become defunct. As much as it pains me to see these stories from so many women, stories that go back as far as ten years and are as recent as only a few months ago, I am so glad that this situation was finally brought to light and that these victims now have a supportive bond and can provide strength to others who may want to come forward.
Cosentino goes on to recall abuse she’s encountered both online and on stage and the backlash she’s received for raising these issues.
“We live in a world where a man can yell at me while I’m onstage, ‘Bethany, I wanna f--- you!’ and I am supposed to not only stand there and take it but also digest it as a compliment to add to my fierce arsenal of sexy confidence,” she writes. “Not only should I take it, I should be smiling and excited to be sexualized by my audience. If I’m not, there’s something wrong with me.”
But a line needs to be drawn. People need to stop calling women “bitches” because they’re strong and empowered. People need to stop calling me a “slut” for my public support of Planned Parenthood, an organization that has saved my life as well as many other men’s and women’s lives. People need to stop calling me a “whiny baby” because I write songs about heartache and my feelings. Did anyone call The Beatles “whiny babies” for singing the lyrics “This boy wants you back again”? Did anyone call them “desperate” or “needy” for singing “Oh please say to me / You’ll let me be your man / And please say to me / You’ll let me hold your hand”?
Read Cosentino’s complete essay by subscribing for the Lenny Letter right here.