Lauren Mayberry, the lead vocalist of Scottish electro-pop band Chvrches, has written a poignant Op-Ed in the Guardian that's all too relatable for women: the misogyny of the Internet. The band's Facebook page has more than 100,000 "likes" on Facebook, and Mayberry, out of a sense of loyalty to her fans, personally reads every single message. For a long time, she ignored the sexist ones -- until last week, when she posted this on Facebook, asking fans to "Seriously. Stop."
While she received many comments of support, Mayberry's post also resulted in ... you guessed it ... further misogyny:
"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"? asks the singer, who has decided that it is not "all right for people to make comments ranging from 'a bit sexist but generally harmless' to openly sexually aggressive." In other words, rape jokes aren't "just jokes."
"That it is something that 'just happens,' she explains. "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.'"
Cyberbullying, even in the form of anonymous comments on the Internet, has a real impact on real people and these messages undermine the hard work that Mayberry has prided herself on -- messages that, by and large, her male peers don't have to deal with. She writes:
And, after 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?
Women are spoken to like this every day, and not just those deemed to be in the public eye. The depressing reality is that campaigns like the Everyday Sexism Project would not need to exist were casual sexism not so startlingly commonplace. I should note here that I have never said that men – in the public eye or otherwise – do not receive such comments. I can, however, only speak of what I know, which is that the number of offensive messages directed towards me, "the girl singer," compared to my bandmates is undeniably higher. I should also clarify that this has nothing to do with hating men, as some have suggested. I identify as a feminist but subscribe to the pretty basic definition of a feminist as "someone who seeks equality between the sexes". I am now, and have always been, in bands with smart, supportive guys, and have many amazing men in my life as family and friends. For that I am incredibly grateful.
Amen, Lauren Mayberry.