Glasgow based band Chvrches. Singer Lauren Mayberry is pictured center.
Female musicians have always been forced to put up with all sorts of objectification that their male counterparts are not as frequently subjected to. Some, like Rihanna, Britney, and Miley, submit to it and turn it into a part of their image and marketing strategy. Others are less inclined to embrace it.
Such is the case with Lauren Mayberry of Scottish synthpop group Chvrches. In an editorial published in The Guardian, Mayberry addresses the online harassment, misogyny, and sexism she puts up with on a daily basis.
Chvrches has the buzz of the internet to thank for their existence as a band; without the support and word of mouth advertising from their fans, Chvrches wouldn’t have reached the level of success they currently enjoy. Because of this, the group makes an effort to connect with their fans in a very direct way.
However, Mayberry does not appreciate the comments posted on social media platforms from men who reduce her to a sexualized ideal, free for the taking.
Fed up, she recently posted a screenshot to the band’s Facebook page of one of the many inappropriate messages she receives on a daily basis. The responses she received in turn were just as horrifying as the comment that sparked the discussion in the first place:
"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."
“Easily offended” and “tired of sexist objectification” are two very different things. Chvrches has been able to avoid the stereotypical “push the girl to the forefront” marketing ploy, getting by on their music rather than selling sex, and yet, Mayberry still receives the brunt of the Internet’s negative attention.
“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,” Mayberry said in her Guardian article.
“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.’”
This sentiment echoes a post made by Grimes—BUST’s April/May 2013 cover girl—on her Tumblr account earlier this year. She listed several grievances she’s come to know during her life on tour, including:
“I’m tired of creeps on message boards discussing whether or not they’d “fuck” me.
I’m tired of people harassing my dancers and treating them like they aren’t human beings.
I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is interpreted as hatred of men, rather than a request to be included and respected.”
Grimes in BUST's April/May 2013 issue
Both women are successful, professional artists making an impact with their music, and yet their talents are being undermined by sexist attitudes and commentary. I’m uncertain as to why female artists are forced to put up with this sort of sexual harassment, and why it is not taken into consideration that they possess feelings and a desire to be treated with respect.
“During this past tour,” Mayberry wrote, “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?”
This is not an issue that should be kept quiet. Hopefully, the words of Mayberry and Grimes will inspire others to speak out, speak up, and draw attention to the unwelcome harassment female artists face, in hopes that someday, the only thing they’ll receive attention for is their music.