I've written here briefly about Lauren Mayberry's steely, refreshing resistance to objectification, and now she's gone full steam at the Guardian, explaining plainly and powerfully how objectification leads directly to sexually aggressive threats. She talks about being in a band "born on the Internet" (the dear Hairpin pals at Neon Gold get a shout for premiering CHVRCHES' first single "Lies"): a band whose success is due almost entirely to online circles, and who consequently tries to stay in good touch with their fans by managing all their social networks themselves. This method, of course, has its drawbacks.
Last week, I posted a screengrab of one of the many inappropriate messages sent to the band's social networks every day... At the time of writing, Facebook stats tell me that the post [has] 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?
She reads all the band email herself, she says, on her phone during down-time, between stops on the tour. "I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism," she adds:
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".
Her whole post is intelligent, humble, and reasonable to a degree that feels painful when you realize she's probably going to get a thousand extra rape threats today because of it. "I'm only in a band, not one of the many wonderful people in organisations striving for change," she says. But there are so many corners for sexism in every industry, and she's uniquely placed to talk about this one.
Of my numerous personal failings (perpetual lateness; a tendency towards anxiety; a complete inability to bake anything, ever), naivety is not one. I am often cynical about aspects of the music industry and the media, and was sure from the off that this band would need to avoid doing certain things in order for us to be taken seriously as musicians – myself in particular. We have thus far been lucky enough to do things our own way and make a pretty decent job of our band without conforming to the "push the girl to the front" blueprint often relied upon by labels and management in a tragic attempt to sell records which has little to do with the music itself.