Being a woman in music is… a challenge, to say the least. This isn't new and it's almost infuriating to keep having to point it out. Actually, it is incredibly frustrating and boring, so much so that recently St. Vincent, during her MASSEDUCTION album promotion, poked fun at the trope, emphasizing just how dumb it is to continuously talk about being a woman in music in a way like they are unicorns in the wild. Do you know what the rarest thing actually is when it comes to being a woman in music? Getting any sort of automatic respect like their male peers—still.
A couple days ago, Toronto based dream pop band Alvvays played a show in Antwerp, Belgium and some piece of entitled shit decided to come onstage and try to kiss the band's lead singer, Molly Rankin. There is truly no other way to describe this drunken human who leans in for a kiss. The unbelievable part is that he actually looks bewildered she would recoil in the way that she did. Is he embarrassed? Quite frankly he should be but I don't really care how he feels because we've been too long conditioned to give a shit about how men appear in these situations and only slightly touch upon how obnoxious it is that it happened at all. He won't really see any consequence; that there is video evidence of his fuckery is good but not enough. It might be dismissed as an incident of "being too drunk" or some other kind of excuse that has been long peddled, so worn down to a point where words feel like they have no meaning anymore.
Rankin and the rest of the band were performing their job. This is her job. Because her work is public, things get hazy in the brains of some people when it comes boundaries—or an absolute lack of them. This is not just relegated to fandom. This goes so far beyond fandom or fan behaviour. It's unsafe and there is no consent. It has been historically difficult for public figures who are women to navigate certain spaces and not be treated respectfully for their work. Even for women who aren't onstage, this is a very real and ongoing concern. Women are harassed at shows, whether they are performing or not, and that is simply (and painfully) not new as well. It has been very well documented and catalogued to a point where I find myself, as I type this, trying really hard not to scream into the void what the fuck is wrong with you to anyone who would behave this way and think that it is okay. The void here, I guess, is the Internet. A few years ago, when Britty Drake was still part of the punk group Pity Sex, she and Tigers Jaw member Brianna Collins had a similar situation happen to them as well: a drunk, entitled male fan tried to kiss them onstage. Collins released a statement urging the importance of safe spaces for performers and how vital consent is. It seems as though that we still need to keep reminding people of that (like right now) with every new instance this happens.
There are genuine rewards, though, when it comes to the music women make, engineer, mix, promote, write, report, and perform. It further encourages other women and non-binary people to take up these spaces like their male peers, demand respect, and then achieve it. But it is a battle. Being in music as a woman is extremely shitty most of the time. And I say that as a woman in music. They are constantly undermined for our contributions; that what they are doing is questioned in a way no other man would do to his male peer or objectified and placed as visual fixtures who hold no real merit and are simply beings who look nice while holding a guitar or singing to you. Trying to kiss a woman onstage, while she is performing and doing her work, is mind-bogglingly dismissive, harmful, and fucking nonsense.
Sarah is tired of this shit. Follow her on Twitter.