Originally published Jan 26, 2018
Milck, the 30-year-old Los Angeles-based Atlantic Records signing born Connie Lim, calls the #MeToo movement that’s gone global — and called out many high profile men for their inappropriate and often criminal conduct — “a very carnal way of us manifesting our resistance,” she tells Samaritanmag.
She bravely sang about her own experience of sexual abuse and harassment in the ballad “Quiet,” which fanned the flames of the #METOO Movement when she performed it at the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. The video went viral — and there were flashmob performances of the song in Sweden, Australia and Ghana — and led to her record deal.
To further her support of sexual assault victims, Milck also recently launched the #ICan’tKeepQuiet Fund, which supports three organizations: The Joyful Heart Foundation, Step Up and Tuesday Night Project. The title is based on her #ICANTKEEPQUIET movement.
Milck spoke with Samaritanmag about this outspoken movement, the shift in power, the healing, the triggering, the community, the inspiration, and involving men in the conversation and solution.
Nick Krewen: How do you feel about all these people coming forward and speaking out about sexual assault?
Milck: The #METOO movement is a really great sign that culture is shifting. I view it in a very macro way in terms of it being a couple of dichotomies: there’s feminine and masculine energies.
For the past hundreds of years, we’ve been in an imbalance of more of a masculine society energy and now the rise of the feminine is to really help that balance because I think we’ve crossed the line of imbalance. Even as a human with day-to-day living, I always come back to the concept of balance and I think this is the first step towards women speaking out against abusive power.
Sexual harassment is about power and we, as a society, watch all over the world with people abusing power and corruption increasing. This is a very carnal way of us manifesting our resistance. I may be wrong, but how I view it is that this is the first step of us moving towards cleansing abuse of power for sexual harassment, which is a very carnal and very basic human right.
So, as we learn to fight for ourselves in this way, the feminine energy will fight to cleanse abusive power in other levels of society – in government, in policy, in finances and stuff like that. I think this is the beginning of this rebalancing and I also think – the other dichotomy way I look at this – is that people who make decisions based off of fear and people who make decisions based off of abundance and love, I do see that there is this change and shift. I see people making decisions based off of abundance and love and walking away from fear-based decision-making because we’re watching leaders of countries and powerful people use fear tactics to control populations. I think that it’s a natural reaction to refuse and resist that. It’s pretty cool to see.
“Quiet” has taken you on quite a journey. What have been some of your more significant discoveries and surprises as people react to the song?
I have been undergoing this tremendous journey and it feels like a fairytale in many senses, of going from rags to riches in a sense – not literal, because I was born privileged – but to be able to watch my work pay off after such a long time.
It reminds me of the book The Alchemist. This book talks about this man who has this vision and this dream and everyone thinks he’s crazy. He goes through this journey and takes a leap of faith and, in the end, he reaches his vision. I remember reading that book when I was younger and thinking, “That’s a nice story and sentiment. I don’t know if that’s actually going to happen,” but something in me has driven me to stick with this experiment.
I view my life as this experiment and what if I don’t give up? What if I just put everything on the line and see what happens? And the reward has been tremendous and way greater than I could have ever imagined, because what is happening around the song is that communities are building and I think that communities are the antidote to violence. I feel really grateful that I was able to write a song that’s created a platform for people to form choirs around and build friendships and relationships with other people, but also for people to feel safe to share their stories with me and all the other “I Can’t Keep Quiet” communities.
It’s pretty extraordinary and I think that the stories that are being shared are like stuff that I can’t even make up on my own. It’s just endless inspiration and as a musician and a songwriter, I’m always looking for inspiration to create them. This almost feels like that now; we’re creating this really loving ecosystem where there are fans that are sharing the stories and then I can write inspired by their stories and we can just continually heal each other. So, it’s pretty magical, I’d have to say.
This song comes from personal experience. How has it helped heal you?
That’s a great question. Sharing this story can re-trigger my own traumas. I actually didn’t realize it, but the first few months when the song went viral and I was sharing my story and I was feeling peoples’ reaction and I could feel the audience and we were all healing each other, it’s almost like a drug, how good it feels.
Then a few months later, the good work continues, however, I slowly kind of sunk into my own depression and got re-triggered, because I’m talking about it all the time. And then what happened is that my mind starts playing tricks on me and starts saying really negative things like, “Why are you talking about this?” “How dare you!” That whole ugly side – the ugly voices that can arise in the mind – just started getting louder and louder and I had to catch myself.
Fortunately, because of everything that happened, I’ve been able to meet really experienced activists and mentors that are – I met this one woman who is the head of the Joyful Heart Foundation – her name is Maile (Zambuto) – and she actually came up to me after a concert and said, “Look, you have to be aware but what’s going to happen is that you’re going to get re-triggered and you may not even realize it.” When she said that, it was like, “‘Oh, this is what’s happening.” It’s very interesting.
I feel fortified by all the hope and all the people coming forward and I also feel so close to my own journey because everyone else’s stories also re-trigger mine too. So, it’s definitely a very full experience. There’s definitely a lot of vulnerability but there’s also a lot of rewards that come with being so vulnerable.
What are some of those rewards?
I would say the idea that I’m not alone and this huge injection of hope and motivation are very intrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards are what I should be motivated by – and the extrinsic reward is signing with a major label, which I really did not expect, because I’ve been a DIY musician for eight years before the song went viral. I was playing hotel lobbies and booking my own singer-songwriter tours around the country – playing to rooms of 20 and on a good night, maybe 130 people, so I was like hustling and just pulling myself up by the bootstraps and not sure if I could pull myself completely up. I was barely hanging on.
And it’s just that this song has allowed people to see what I can offer as a sonic healer, so Atlantic is behind me and they support my vision. I have way more resources to make my visions become reality, and I’m meeting songwriters and artists that are challenging me to be better and that’s all I could really ask for. So, they’re pretty great rewards (laughs).
In most of these cases, women are the victims. How can men help?
The fact that you’re asking the question is the beginning of a lot of healing. There was a prosecutor in Detroit (Kym Worthy) who helped reopen – I think it was like 11,600 rape kits [the actual number was 11,341] that were unopened. She thought this was blasphemy, so she singlehandedly recruited a group of people and they have now tested 10,500 of the rape kits. Through testing, they found 500 serial rapists [more than 800, according to the latest figures from Worthy].
If they followed one rape kit, they could attach it to many, many other rape kits. And so, my point is, obviously not all men are rapists and there are so many men – and a lot of rapists are serial rapists – so I think that’s important to remember. I think the lives of the #METOO movement is that I know there are always going to be people on the periphery who kind of taint a cause, but what my hope is that it’s not about women vs. men, it’s just really like, women have undergone some of these things that we’ve been afraid to talk about and now we’re finally getting that bravery to speak up. I think the best thing for men to do is to ask what you just did: “How can I help?”
I think we need men to be our champions because men do have the power currently and they are sitting in positions of influence. The more men can champion for a safe environment, the more effective this movement can be. And I think it’s really important at this point to involve men in the conversation. I’ve actually started asking my male friends, “How is this #METOO Movement affecting you? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Does it make you feel like you can’t express yourself? How is this making you feel?”
I think the dialogue is really important. I had a conversation with someone who was like, “I just feel I like I can’t touch anyone and I need to be super stiff and not express myself that way unless I might be accused.” And I said, “Well, I think the answer is just be more lovingness and respectful.” so I think we’re going to have to find a good balance. Because I know the movement: there is potential for it to go to a point where we’re not allowed to hug. I don’t think that’s the point. I think it’s just about empowering people. Not to trap people – just asking questions and starting conversations day-to-day is the best way.
For the rest of this interview, please visit Samaritan.mag