Bethany Cosentino - Speaking Up About Sexism in the Music Industry

May 4, 2016 - Bethany Cosentino 05/04/2016 Views: 20,323

Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino describes how she helped spark a national conversation about the prevalence of sexism and sexual harassment in the music industry. (6:06)

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My guest tonight is a musicianin the band, Best Coast,

whose latest album is called California Nights.

Please welcomeBethany Cosentino.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)


Thank you.


Thank you so muchfor being here.

Thank you for having me.

Beth-- do you go "Bethany"all the time?

Um, "Bethany" was sort of, like,when my mom was mad at me.

She would be like, "Bethany!"

But then it kind of became the,like, professional known name.

-For short. Oh,-You can call me Bethany--

-I was gonna go with "Any."-I know you're not mad at me.

-Beth. Beth. I didn't know-And Beth, Annie. Whatever.

which part to go with,the "Any" or the "Beth."

-That's cool.-Annie.

-Yeah. Annie.-Fanny?


-Fanny.-Fan, maybe.

-Fan is a nice name. Fan.-Thank you.

-Pleasure to meet you, Fan.-Yes. Thank you.

-Thank you so much forbeing here. -Nice to meet you.

-Thank you. -Now, you have a lotof fans in the music world,

because you are,indeed, a musician.

Uh, but recently,there was something

that really thrust youinto the spotlight

for a different reason,and that was the story

-with Amber Coffman.-Uh-huh.

And, uh,just to catch anyone up,

for those who don't know,Amber Coffman tweeted

about having, incident with a music...

-I guess he was a producer, yes?-Publicist.

-Publicist.-Music publicist, yes.

And... he hadsexually assaulted her,

and you came out,and your voice made it heard.

It-it was really...

a tough conversation to have...

I mean, it seemslike an obvious thing,

but why did you feel likeit needed to be amplified?

Well, I mean... let's be real.

Like, sexismand sexual harassment

and sexual, you know...

this idea of womenbeing sexually assaulted,

it's everywhere.

It doesn't exist justin my industry, which is music.

But as a womanI felt it was so important

to support my peer,my female peer,

and I didn't realize

that it was going to becomesuch a huge thing

-You genuinely didn't?-when I... I really didn't.

I thought, like, you know what,I'm gonna back Amber

because that's whatI feel that I should do.

I... This is an incrediblyimportant conversation

that needs to be had.

And the next morning,I woke up, it was huge,

and all of a suddenI was like, okay,

I'm a spokesperson for this now.

But I'm so happy for that,because...

it's a huge,important thing, so...

It really is.Here's a question I have.

As somebody that comes outin that circumstance,

it's not the easiestconversation to have.

-Yeah.-How did you feel when people,

uh, chimed in onlineand-and trolled you on Twitter

and people saying things like,

"Oh, why didn't youcome forward earlier?

Why do youonly come forward now?"

Well, I mean, that is something

that I think happensto a lot of women,

and I think the reason why a lotof women don't come forward

is because of that.

And I think thatwhen somebody like me

or somebody like Amberor any woman out there

comes forward and says,this is the situation,

I am not okay with it,

the worldshould not be okay with it,

that gives other women braveryto come forward

-Yeah.-and stand up and say,

I've experienced this,

we really need to put an endto this kind of behavior.

And so when it happened,

I didn't really answerthe question.

I was just like,hey, I did something,

I hope that there isone woman out there

that is nowstanding up to her boss

or standing up to a manin the world that is

making her feel "less than"because she's a woman,

because that shouldn't happen.

It definitely shouldn't happen.

Talking aboutstanding up to your boss,

a lot of, uh,musicians have come out,

female musicians especially,who have said

it is a top-down problem.

They feel like the bosses inthe industry turn a blind eye.

They feel like... Is thissomething you would agree with,

or is iton a case-by-case basis?

I mean, I think it-it...

it... yeah, I thinkit is a case-by-case basis.

I mean, I work with a ton of menthat are incredible.

Um, I work with a lot of,you know,

men that arevery sympathetic to it,

but there is a lot of peoplein the industry

that do shady things,that treat you differently

because you're a woman.

If I play a show at a venue--everybody else in my band

is a man--you know, there's a sound guy

that's like, "You don't knowwhat you're talking about,

you're a woman," and maybehe doesn't necessarily say that,

but the way he portraying that idea.

-Whereas...-Just a general dismissal

-Yeah. It's, like,-of who you are because of that.

"You don't know how to workan amp, you're a girl."

It's like,"No, actually, I do. Watch."

-And then you turn the amp on...-I love that that's all it was.

-Well, honestly, it's like...-I love that that's...

like, that's all it was,and he's like, "Whaaat?!

-What?" -Let me show youhow to work an amp.

You turn a switchand you do this.

Man, woman, probably dog,cat could do that. You know?

Cats, maybe-- I've seen themon the Internet-- but not dogs.

Um... in music itself, though,this is a question

that people often ask.

They go, "Oh,but then if you don't want

"these sexual themes in music,

"then why do you havefemale artists singing songs

about their bodies, they'resinging songs about..."

How do you find the balance?

How do we respect Nicki Minaj

but then also find outwhat her...

her... an anaconda needsto do with her?

-(laughter)-I mean...

what Nicki Minaj doeswith Nicki Minaj's body

-is Nicki Minaj's choice.-Yeah.

What Nicki Minaj sings about,

how she portrays herselfsexually,

what she chooses to wear,that's her business.

And you know what?I think that people

are intimidated by it.

They see a confident woman,and they think,

you know,she's this or she's that,

and that'snot necessarily the case.

I think it's really just, like,Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé...

so many women out there thatare just out there being like,

I am a strong,empowered woman--

that does not make me,you know, promiscuous,

that does not make meany of these things

-Yeah. -that peoplejust assume you are

because you're wearinga crop top or booty shorts.

It's like, girl, you look good,

and you should be proudof yourself,

and you're smartand you're beautiful.

-Go for it. -And you knowhow to work an amp.

-Yes. Yes. Yes. -Thank youso much for being here.

Thank you so much for having me.

California Nights is available now.

Bethany Cosentino.We'll be right back.

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