Emma Stoskopf–Ehrlich, former Communications Officer, celebrates Drew Dixon as part of Equality Now’s 30 for 30, featuring 30 women and changemakers who have played a key role in making equality reality as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.
When I think about what it means to speak truth to power, I immediately think of Drew Dixon.
As a young woman, Drew was raped by her boss. Her boss also happened to be one of the most powerful men in the music industry. To say there was an unequal power dynamic between them would be an understatement. Like all powerful men, Drew’s rapist was able to use his influence to silence, sideline, and shame her for decades. In spite of this, Drew chose to speak out and shared her story with the New York Times and with filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick in their 2020 documentary, On The Record.
Drew knew she would encounter backlash for accusing a beloved figure in hip-hop music of sexual assault. And, sadly, she was right. Powerful names in entertainment tried to discredit Drew and her story, but she never backed down.
I saw firsthand the toll that coming forward took on Drew, but what I also saw was a woman fierce in her commitment to standing up for herself and for other victims of sexual violence, especially Black women and girls who are further marginalized when they come forward with allegations of sexual violence.
In coming forward with her story, it was clear that Drew was not only on an important journey of self-healing but that she was also on a quest for systemic change. It’s difficult not to be in awe of that type of tenacity, selflessness, and bravery.
At one point during On The Record, Drew shares the complicated dynamic of being a Black survivor of sexual violence in a society built on the logic of white supremacy and misogyny. As a white woman, I am so grateful for Drew’s willingness and generosity, and that of the other Black women featured in the film, for sharing their experiences navigating the double bind of racism and sexism. I know that I am constantly working on integrating these learnings into my own feminism and reflecting on my positionality in the movement for women’s equality.