Chvrches’ Frontwoman Writes Op-Ed On Internet Misogyny

Chvrches

One of my personal favorite bands, Chvrches, is fronted by a female vocalist. Women in the music industry face a unique challenge that men usually don’t have to deal with: sexist and misogynistic comments directed at them. The band recently shared a screenshot of a disgusting text sent to them referencing Lauren, the vocalist of the band. Shortly after she wrote an op-ed about misogyny on the internet, and how she refuses to deal with it. It’s a great piece, and you can expect us here at UTG to write something up of our own in the near future.

Instead of trying to sum up what she said, and adding my own comments, I’ll just let you read it for yourself. You can read what she had to say below.

I am in a band that was born on the internet.

Although Chvrches formed and began writing in October 2011, we made our first wobbly steps into the public realm by posting a song on Neon Gold music blog in May last year. Since then, the blogosphere and social networks have arguably been the key reasons anyone knows about us at all – labels, media and members of the public included. For that reason, it has always been important to us that we communicate directly with people who care about our band through the social networking sites we run.

There are, however, downsides to being known on the internet. Last week, I posted a screengrab of one of the many inappropriate messages sent to the band’s social networks every day. After making the post, I sat back and watched with an increasingly open mouth as more and more people commented on the statement. At the time of writing, Facebook stats tell me that the post had reached 581,376 people, over five times the number of people who subscribe to the page itself, with almost 1,000 comments underneath the image. Comments range from the disgusted and supportive to the offensively vile. My current favourites from the latter category include:

“This isn’t rape culture. You’ll know rape culture when I’m raping you, bitch”

“I have your address and I will come round to your house and give u anal and you will love it you twat lol”

“Act like a slut, getting treated like a sluy [sic]”

“It’s just one of those things you’ll need to learn to deal with. If you’re easily offended, then maybe the music industry isn’t for you”

But why should women “deal” with this? I am incredibly lucky to be doing the job I am doing at the moment – and painfully aware of the fact that I would not be able to make music for a living without people on the internet caring about our band. But does that mean that I need to accept that it’s OK for people to make comments like this, because that’s how women in my position are spoken to?

I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism. There will always be bad reviews: such is the nature of a free press and free speech. When you put your work out there, you are accepting the fact that people will comment on it, but it is your choice whether you read it or not. (Kathleen Hanna sums this sentiment up nicely in this interview.)

What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from “a bit sexist but generally harmless” to openly sexually aggressive. That it is something that “just happens”. Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”.

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