Jewel questions why Me Too hasn't hit the music industry, hopes more women will feel empowered
LAS VEGAS – As women continue to share their stories of mistreatment as part of the Me Too and Time's Up movements, Jewel would like to start a new hashtag: #NotMe.
The Grammy-nominated singer doesn't mean the phrase as a denial of allegations of misconduct — the way Russell Simmons used the hashtag in December — but as a way to say, "I will not be victimized."
The 43-year-old songwriter, who's getting ready to star in a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show about her life in One Night for One Drop, has faced her fair share of mistreatment. In a conversation with USA TODAY ahead of the show, Jewel said she was propositioned as a kid at the bar where she performed.
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"I had a man, when I was 8, putting a dime in my hand and folding my little fingers around it, saying ‘Call me when you’re 16, you’d be great to (sleep with),' " she tells USA TODAY.
So yes, she has said Me Too, though compared with how many actresses have come forward in recent months, not many women in the music industry are coming out with their stories. Experts say the hesitation for female musicians to speak up could be due to several factors. Among them: The music industry's history of sordid behavior characterized by the slogan "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll"; the sexualization of females entering the industry; the competitive nature of pop music; and a lack of females in leadership/mentoring positions.
"I think that what happened to Kesha (and her alleged mistreatment from Dr. Luke), that was just a little ahead of its time. If she had come out now, it would be a very different thing. But I don’t know why there aren’t more musicians coming forward, quite frankly, because I’m sure the stories are there. I’ve certainly had them," Jewel says. "But I’ve never felt like it held me back. I always felt like I was able to go, ‘How about F you?’ And I’m going to find a way (forward).'"
More:News & Views: Why Me Too hasn't taken off in the music industry
Jewel says one instance includes a boss who threatened to fire her if she didn't sleep with him. The musician left the job and dealt with the consequences of losing the paycheck: homelessness.
"No matter what someone throws at you, you are strong enough to do without it, even if it means losing your job. You will find another one, and you will believe in yourself. Your power will grow, your currency will grow, you just become more valuable, more potent. Even if it looks like you have something to lose, you have something bigger to gain," she says, allowing that for "rape and those types of things," it's impossible to avoid being mistreated.
"I hope this (movement) turns into hashtag Not Me. I hope we can turn this into ... 'Not me. Look somewhere else. I’m not the weak sheep that you’re going to pick out of all these people here.' "
From 2016:Jewel roasted Rob Lowe with a parody of her own song