Image for The Preatures’ Frontwoman Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment In ‘Me Too’ PostThe Preatures @ Sydney Opera House 27/05/15 / Pic Maria Boyadgis

The Preatures’ Frontwoman Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment In ‘Me Too’ Post

Written by Tom Williams on October 18, 2017

CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses sexual harassment.

Isabella Manfredi, frontwoman of Sydney band The Preatures, has spoken out about her experiences of sexual harassment in an open ‘Me Too’ letter to fans.

In her statement, which you can read in full below, Manfredi says most (but not all) of her experiences of sexual misconduct have been in the US.

“There was the touchy feely US booking agent whose behaviour became so inappropriate that the boys told our manager to keep him away from me (I felt embarrassed to do this myself),” she says.

“Or the head honcho who, when meeting the band, looked me up and down and licked his lips before turning to the guys to shake hands and talk ‘business’ (we were all stunned).

“Or the multiple executives at a corporate gig in Vegas who slipped their hands up my dress while taking a photo with the band.

“Or the New York Indie label head I had met through mutual friends in Australia who, after telling me he loved my band and songwriting, invited me to what I thought was a friendly business dinner with some publishing friends of his (He knew I had a boyfriend), and to see a new signing of his afterward.

“He introduced me to people and talked me up, telling everyone who I was and what I did. I felt accepted, excited; I was meeting artists I respected. I felt respected. Later, in a cab on our way to the next venue with another friend of his, he suggested we go back to my hotel and have a bath together.

“When I refused, politely and then firmly, he said my band was a joke. The gig we’d played at Rough Trade was mediocre. He snickered to his friend. He said other things I can’t remember. What I do remember was the dreadful, sickening realisation that I was a fucking fool.”

Manfredi says such experiences “tell you that, not only have you suddenly become part of the clichéd female experience you were raised to believe no longer exists, you ARE the cliché”.

“You are the woman getting your arse groped by a guy in a suit, too shocked to do anything about it, you are the woman holding an artist pass with tits on it,” she says.

“You are the woman whose violent ex-boyfriend is stalking you across your American tour, you are the woman doing the dishes in the studio, you are the woman nagging the guys to ‘help’ you, you are the woman being shushed in rehearsal, and you are the woman making yourself smaller and smaller so you don’t unsettle or disappoint the men you work with, rely on, and care so much about.

“I’ve never spoken about this because I thought the only way beyond it was to keep my head down, work hard and become a respected and powerful woman in my own right,” Manfredi says.

“I have worked hard to become untouchable. But in doing so I’ve also limited myself and kept a permissive silence on things that matter to me.

“I’m sharing this because I don’t want the next generation of women coming up in the music industry to face this kind of morally ambiguous, second-guess-yourself crap. It’s not on.

“On this album cycle I’ve been asked, does sexism in the music industry still exist, and what does it look like? I think it’s time to compile our experiences, however subtle, and give it a face.”

Manfredi has also shared her email address with fans, if they want to share their personal stories with her: isabellametoo@gmail.com

The singer’s statement comes after Australian singer and actor Natalie Mendoza claimed she was once groped by disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Read Manfredi’s full statement, below.

If you need assistance, 1800 RESPECT – the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service — can be reached on 1800 737 732, while Lifeline can be reached on 13 11 14.

Gallery: The Preatures @ Sydney Opera House, 2015 / Photos: Maria Boyadgis

Isabella Manfredi Statement

My heart has been breaking for all the women who have had to deal with Harvey Weinstein’s total degradation of their talent, drive and worth as artists and human beings over the course of his career. Of course this sickness is not confined to the film industry. Perhaps the greatest clarity this unfolding story has given me is some persperctive on my own experiences in the music industry, mostly in, but not confined to, America. There was the touchy feely US booking agent whose behaviour became so inappropriate that the boys told our manager to keep him away from me (I felt embarrassed to do this myself). Or the head honcho who, when meeting the band, looked me up and down and licked his lips before turning to the guys to shake hands and talk ‘business’ (we were all stunned). Or the multiple executives at a corporate gig in Vegas who slipped their hands up my dress while taking a photo with the band. Or the New York Indie label head I had met through mutual friends in Australia who, after telling me he loved my band and songwriting, invited me to what I thought was a friendly business dinner with some publishing friends of his (He knew I had a boyfriend), and to see a new signing of his afterward. He introduced me to people and talked me up, telling everyone who I was and what I did. I felt accepted, excited; I was meeting artists I respected. I felt respected. Later, in a cab on our way to the next venue with another friend of his, he suggested we go back to my hotel and have a bath together. When I refused, politely and then firmly, he said my band was a joke. The gig we’d played at Rough Trade was mediocre. He snickered to his friend. He said other things I can’t remember. What I do remember was the dreadful, sickening realisation that I was a fucking fool.

What do these experiences do to women? Well, they tell you that, not only have you suddenly become part of the clichéd female experience you were raised to believe no longer exists, you ARE the cliché. You are the woman getting your arse groped by a guy in a suit, too shocked to do anything about it, you are the woman holding an artist pass with tits on it, you are the woman whose violent ex-boyfriend is stalking you across your American tour, you are the woman doing the dishes in the studio, you are the woman nagging the guys to ‘help’ you, you are the woman being shushed in rehearsal, and you are the woman making yourself smaller and smaller so you don’t unsettle or disappoint the men you work with, rely on, and care so much about.

I’ve never spoken about this because I thought the only way beyond it was to keep my head down, work hard and become a respected and powerful woman in my own right. Like Jia Tolentino says in The New Yorker “This makes for a false but often convincing narrative—you are prey only when you are not good enough, and so you must not have been good enough if you were prey.” I have worked hard to become untouchable. But in doing so I’ve also limited myself and kept a permissive silence on things that matter to me.

I’m sharing this because I don’t want the next generation of women coming up in the music industry to face this kind of morally ambiguous, second-guess-yourself crap. It’s not on. On this album cycle I’ve been asked, does sexism in the music industry still exist, and what does it look like? I think it’s time to compile our experiences, however subtle, and give it a face.

If you want to share your stories with me, send me an email:
isabellametoo@gmail.com

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