In case you'd forgotten, the patriarchal Internet hive-mind loves to send rape threats to women who try to take a stance against rape culture ("Rape culture is not a thing! I will threaten you with rape until you agree with me!" is the sickeningly flawed mentality here, more or less). The latest example of this soul-crushing tendency comes in an op-ed written by Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer of the band CHVRCHES.
Last week, CHVRCHES posted a screengrab of a Facebook message sent to the band's fan page, in which a complete stranger asked to take the "cute singer" out to dinner and posited that they'd "make superior love together." "Please stop sending us emails like this," the post read. "This is one of the more polite ones. Other recent classics include 'I'm going to give her anal' and 'I'd fuck the accent right out of her and she'd love it.'" It's gross and ridiculous that someone would feel entitled to a public figure because he finds her attractive: I like plenty of bands without sending them personal messages demanding that the drummer have dinner and sexual intercourse with me, and I know of plenty like-minded humans out there!
Writing in the Guardian, Mayberry says:
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 she learn to deal with it? The attitude of "oh, well, you put yourself out there; get used to rape threats, then" is regressive, harmful and silencing. "Just dealing with" online sexual aggression and harassment is accepting it; accepting it is allowing it to continue unchecked.
[A]fter a while, despite the positive messages in the majority, the aggressive, intrusive nature of the other kind becomes overwhelming. During this past tour, I am embarrassed to admit that I have had more than one prolonged toilet cry and a "Come on, get a hold of yourself, you got this" conversation with myself in a bathroom mirror when particularly exasperated and tired out. But then, after all the sniffling had ceased, I asked myself: why should I cry about this? Why should I feel violated, uncomfortable and demeaned? Why should we all keep quiet?
Addressing the sexist abuse hurled at female musicians and public figures is important, as Grimes did earlier this year. We need to keep having conversations about why so many people think it's acceptable to threaten women over the Internet precisely because we shouldn't have to accept rape threats and aggressive solicitations from strangers as the status quo. The music industry isn't going to change overnight (nor will any other industry in which women are harassed, objectified, intimidated, told to keep quiet), but raising awareness of the specific problems women face is an important first step.
Image via the Windish Agency.