“The producer just said, ‘this is the deal, you sleep with me and then you get on the show.’”
It’s a haunting reality Liona Boyd faced for years during her career as a musician.
She says sexual harassment and abuse was prevalent in the ’70s and ’80s but no one talked about it.
In an interview with Global News, Boyd spoke openly about the many encounters, propositions and opportunities lost over sexual advances over the years. She writes about them in her first book, In My Own Key… My Life In Love and Music.
One excerpt from the book reads:
“I felt furious at all the sleazy executives who related to me only as a single woman, and then remembered a New York lawyer taunting ‘Why do you need royalties? You’re a woman!’ Once again, a man in the music industry was trying to take advantage of his position of power. There had been too many times when business managers, agents, and producers dangled career offers before me while making suggestive overtures. Already I had forfeited television opportunities and concert bookings by withholding sexual favors. I had no doubt that had I stroked his puppies, or whatever else he had in mind, the executive would have assured my record distribution in Greece, but I was becoming tired of the games men play in their attempts at exploitation.”
This was not just what she experienced while working in the U.S. Boyd says even while Europe, she was treated as a sexy, pretty thing, not as a professional musician who deserved respect and dignity like any man in her line of work. She recounts a time when she met with one French film director:
“A silver haired French film director struck up a conversation in the hotel lobby and claimed to know Alexandra Lagoya. ‘Would you join me for breakfast tomorrow, so we can discuss using your music for one of my films?’ he inquired. Always enjoying the chance to speak French, and ever hopeful for this type of opportunity, I agreed to meet him in the coffee shop. The next morning, he phoned to ask if I would come over to his hotel bungalow instead. ‘I have already ordered breakfast from room service,’ he insisted. As soon as I entered I realized I had made a mistake. A heavily perfumed monsieur, making what he had calculated to be a dramatic and irresistible impression in a black silk robe, lunged towards me in greeting while his lecherous hands slid below my waist. Angrily extricating myself I told him I was expecting a business meeting: he laughed sardonically ‘Cherie you look so sexy when you are angry. Let me tame you, my gorgeous lioness.’ After a few barbed exchanges, I stormed out…”
Boyd told Global News sexual harassment and abuse exists everywhere, and women need to be aware. She says the Harvey Weinstein case is an example of how prevalent it still is today and says women need to stand together and “be on guard.”
“It’s not just in the entertainment or in the music business… it still is a chauvinistic world in many ways. I was in the guitar world and it was all men,” Boyd said.
Boyd says in order to see change, men and boys need to be educated. She says men need to understand how this type of behavior affects women and how it defines them as men.
“They should know how harmful it is to us. I am sure we are not going to stop it altogether but women need to be on guard. I certainly was, the red flags went off,” she said. “But it’s not just in Hollywood, I had an experience in Toronto and nobody has come out and reported this particular person.”
But her strongest advice is to women and girls: telling them to watch for those red flags, stand together and speak out.