You’ve got that one song that I like
By Kennedy Enns, Web Editor
It’s been a long, hard year with #MeToo taking over social media. Positive change is happening and it seems that people have begun actually listening to survivors. But that doesn’t weaken the blow of waking up every morning to a new harrowing account of sexual assault. Or, seeing a band you once cared about being held accountable for abusing their position as a musician. Accountability should remain at the front of our minds as we move forward. For survivors of sexual assault, to lose bands that you cared about can be an incredibly difficult experience. But for many survivors, what is nearly impossible is separating art from the artist. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of songs that I’ve often turned to this past year. If you’re hurting, I hope they help you release your anger and find solace too.
Melbourne trio Camp Cope wrote “The Face of God” about their own experience with sexual assault in the music scene. The song feels especially relevant when “former-fans” still cling to bands like Brand New, Pinegrove or PWR BTTM. Proclaiming that maybe they didn’t do anything wrong, or maybe #MeToo has gone too far, or that we’re only hearing one side of the story. Lead singer Georgia Maq encapsulates this hurt perfectly, while her voice cracks, “Could it be true? / You don’t seem like that kind of guy / Not you, you’ve got that one song that I like.” The least music fans can do is listen to survivors and stop letting bands who have been brought forward continue to profit off of their music.
Grimes’ song “Oblivion” is based on her own experience with sexual assault. She is referencing her own legacy with trauma after her assault (“And now it’s gonna be, tough on me / But I will wait forever / I need someone now to look into my eyes and tell me / Girl you know you gotta watch your health”) and dismantles the idea that people somehow ask to be assaulted based on their clothing or them walking home alone.
“January 10, 2014” by The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die narrates the story of “Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers” (the name of the episode of the podcast This American Life that also tackles the crime). The true story of an unknown woman in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico who shot and killed two bus drivers as a response to more than twenty years of rape, homicide, and disappearances of women in the area. The song climaxes with the lines, “We are brave and strong, but you don’t quiver / Let’s write this down together / Our hands on the same weapon / Make evil afraid of evil’s shadow.”
It’s completely acceptable to be angry. Riot Grrrl band Bikini Kill harnesses this anger perfectly in their song “White Boy.” Lead singer Kathleen Hanna confronts her own listeners with, “I’m so sorry if I’m alienating some of you / Your whole fucking culture alienates me / I can not scream from pain down here on my knees.” The track “Chest” by Toronto band FRIGS channels a similar anger. “Am I safe? / What would you do if they said they found me / Lying out back with my legs around my neck?” Written in response to the coverage of the Brock Turner rape trial, you can feel the frustration channelled into the lyrics discussing victim blaming and cisgender, white, male privilege.
It’s easy to feel alone in recovery when the music scene is rife with misogyny. Songs like “The Opener” by Camp Cope (“It’s another all-male tour preaching equality / It’s another straight cis man who knows more about this than me”) and “Title” by Sonder Bombs (“I don’t wanna be your merch girl / I wanna be your goddamn idol / And I don’t wanna have to work twice as hard / For the same mother fuckin’ title”) address some of the many issues prevalent for women working and merely existing in the music scene.
Sometimes it’s best to respond with laughter too. Twinkly and angry “R U a Feminist” by Glasgow band Breakfast Muff (“You’re a feminist until I won’t fuck you / You’re a feminist until I talk to the other guys’) comes to an end by chanting “You’re not a fucking feminist / If you don’t act with kindness / If you treat women with violence / You’re not a fucking feminist.” “Clever Girl” by Prince Daddy and the Hyena (“These douchebags and tough guys are the fucking worst / I’m biting my tongue and it’s starting to hurt”) calls out the bros that are far too prevalent in the music scene, while still maintaining their sense of humour.
It’s easy to feel isolated if you constantly feel the need to defend yourself or your experiences. Bands like The Shiverettes, Mademoiselle, Slut Prophet and Too Attached, are all incredible local musicians working towards making the music scenes safer and more inclusive. Hopefully, we can all move towards healing together.