Stop Defending Pop Punk

Stop Defending Pop Punk
Stop Defending Pop Punk

By Maryam Hassan

Aug 25, 2015 12:44

The pop punk scene is having a bad time at the moment. It seems we can’t go very long without someone coming forward saying that a band has been abusing or mistreating women and it always seems to be the same cycle. Someone opens up about an incident, lots of people call her an attention whore, lots of people say to her “well why haven’t you gone to the police?” and lots of people then discuss what is going wrong here that this thing keeps happening.

The punk scene, no matter which branch of it you’€re in, should be a safe space for everyone involved and Hayley Williams is right: no more excuses for people who threaten that safe space.

This thing of instantly throwing “œWhy don’™t you tell the police?/Why didn’™t you tell the police?” at someone who has just opened up about an incident infuriates me. 68% of sexual assaults go unreported. Women are made to feel ashamed and they are scared to open up when things like this happen to them, mostly because society still paints them as responsible for their own downfall. How often do you see people reply to these posts and call the girl an attention whore or say she was asking for it? It’™s not surprising they don’™t go to the police. There’™s also the issue of how opening up about a band being abusive can turn a whole fanbase against you. Social media makes it so easy nowadays to bully, insult and shame victims.

It’™s also complicated because of the band/fan dynamic. If you read a lot of these stories, the women in them trust the band members. We are talking about teenage girls here, and I don’™t want to generalise teenagers at all, but do you remember idolising a band when you were a kid? I know that if any of the bands I loved when I was 14/15 had been texting me I would have been super excited and knowing me, done most things they would have asked. You’™re young, a little naive and you don’™t expect people to use you for things. So to shout at them for going along with sending nudes, or having sex with men in bands isn’™t right.

A lot of these girls admit they were doing things consensually and now looking back on the situations see what was wrong. They choose to talk about what happened to them to help other girls who might be in that situation today. They open up, face the harassment and condemnation of fans, to try and make the scene safer.

Stop Defending Pop Punk

The notion of groupies and the fact that this stereotype of women at shows being there for sex with bands is so dangerous and damaging. Young guys in pop punk bands with a massive female following and no guidance are treating women like they’™re groupies. It always seems like they think this is part of what they deserve for being in a successful band. The “we have female fans, they want to send us nudes” attitude is harmful because the guys in these bands are in a position of power. They are idolised and screamed after and the “œboys will be boys” mentality in the pop punk scene that Hayley Williams talks about is why they have no guidance and treat girls like groupies.

I’ve talked to friends and peers before and had the idea put to me that a lot of the young bands are just emulating what they see older bands do, what the stereotypical “œsex, drugs and rock’n’roll” teaches them to do. Sadly mistreatment of female fans isn’t a new thing, it’s always been around but isn’t it so shameful that we’re in 2015 and some bands are still treating their female fans the way bands did in the 60’s or 70’s?

The idea of a groupie as a sexual object is dangerous to young women in this scene. We need to be breaking these stereotypes and changing these attitudes to make the scene a safer place for everyone in it. Being in a popular band does not entitle you to sex, nude pictures or anything remotely sexual from your female fans and is not an excuse for you to get away with treating female fans badly.

It’s so easy to paint this as black and white, that the girls are sluts and attention whores and bands are just being bands and that’s not only not true, it’s so dangerous. Young guys in bands need to be educated on how to deal with young fans, or any female fan for that matter because getting your band to harass a girl for nude pictures is terrible behaviour in general.

How do we do this? We start by breaking this boys club attitude the pop punk scene seems to have. We don’t let people like Front Porch Step play Warped after it’s discovered he’s been abusive and manipulative to young fans. Ignoring negative behaviour shows both fans and other bands that serious mistreatment of others is acceptable and forgivable.

If you’re managing a band, a tour or they are on your label talk to them about how to treat their female fans. Bands, it’s really simple. Treat your female fans with respect. They are not there for you to get nude pictures from, to make sexual advances at or abuse. They love your music, respect that and them. Being in a band means you put yourself on a platform and you should know not to abuse that.

I realise that it’s sad that we even have to say we need to teach these men to not mistreat women, but alas what recent events have shown is that it’s something that is lacking. What also needs to happen is taking action towards people who treat women badly, rather than writing it off as boys being boys. There is a lot of calling out but also so much acceptance of things still goes on in the industry and blind eyes are always turned to things.

What we also need to remember is that it’s important to talk to someone. We all have a right to be safe in our music scene. Going to the police is a hard thing to do, but there are places where you can talk to someone who can help you confidentially. Head to The Survivor Trust (UK) and RAINN (US) to get advice on what to do and what steps to take.

Music is what brings people together. When you’re growing up it’s what makes you feel less like a weirdo outsider, it helps you make sense of all of your feelings and it provides you with a cathartic way to deal with things going on in your life. Hell it does that throughout life actually. Something that provides so much shouldn’t be a place where people are mistreated, hurt and abused. “Defend Pop Punk” is a slogan we hear all the time, well it’s time to truly defend the pop punk scene and start to address and solve these issues head on through dialogue and action against bands.

This opinion piece was written in light of a multitude of recent accusations, personal testimonials and convictions. It is not related to any specific incident or incidents.