When Meghan Linsey competed on The Voice Season 8, eventually placing second to Sawyer Fredericks, she was already a Nashville veteran, having won CMT’s Can You Duet? in 2009 as one half of Steel Magnolia and scoring a top 10 album with Steel Magnolia’s 2011 debut. And along the way, she experienced firsthand the sexism and misogyny that has long run rampant in the music industry. Now — prompted by Donald Trump’s latest scandal involving leaked, lewd 2005 audio of the Republican presidential candidate bragging to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush about sexually harassing women — she has taken to Facebook to reveal her own brush with an unnamed abusive man in power.
Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks is re-running Linsey’s shocking post, which originally appeared on her private, personal Facebook profile, with her express permission.
“This is lengthy. And as much as I have tried to not talk about the election the last few days, I feel like this is important enough to share. To my friends defending Donald Trump’s disgusting comments about women,” Linsey writes. “When I was touring with Steel Magnolia in 2010, a very powerful man in the music business grabbed up my skirt. He was groping me and proceeded to try to pick me up by my ass on a bus in front of a lot of important people.
“I was mortified and told him not to touch me and to put me down. It caused quite a scene and I could tell that he was embarrassed and angry. The next night he came up behind me and whispered in my ear, he said, ‘I have boats bigger than you could ever imagine, and I could put you in the middle of the ocean where no one would ever hear from you again. Just remember that.’ He laughed and walked away.
“I stood there still with chills running through me. I couldn’t believe what he had just said to me. I knew I had to tell someone. I called my manager and she told me to never breathe a word of that story to anyone ever. I told the head of my label and he told me the same thing. They both said if I wanted to have a career in country music then I could never say anything about it out loud, to anyone.
“Men have done far worse things to me in the past, but this was the first time I was told I couldn’t say anything because of how it would affect my career. Because of how powerful he was, he could do anything he wanted to me. If I wanted to have a singing career, then I had to let him grab me wherever he wanted and he was allowed to threaten me. It was only I who had consequences to pay if I didn’t comply.”
Linsey then explains: “THIS is why Donald Trump’s comments are so upsetting. This is why it’s not just ‘locker room talk.’ Because at the end of the day, it’s NOT just talk. This is rape culture, where powerful men sexually assault women and get away with it because of ‘who they are.’ Donald Trump is one of those men. At first I wasn’t voting for him because I love my African American friends, my LGBT friends, my Muslim friends, my Hispanic friends… But hearing his comments in that tape started to make it even more personal for me. It made me feel like I wanted to vomit, because it reminded me of the many times I’ve been compromised as a woman.”
Linsey concludes by saying “rape culture has to stop… If you are calling it ‘locker room talk’ or ‘just what men do’ or saying ‘it was 11 years ago’ or ‘he was just trying to sound cool while talking to a young reporter,’ then YOU are a HUGE part of the problem. I want to live in a world where women don’t have to be quiet anymore. I’m tired of living in a country where 97 out of 100 rapists walk free. I don’t want a president who perpetuates rape culture and sets the already skewed standard for how men are allowed to treat women. Real men don’t talk like that, real men don’t sexually assault and rape women. Period.”
Linsey agreed to let Yahoo Music publicly post her Facebook essay, but said she’d “rather not name names” regarding the identity of her groper on the bus.