Chvrches, photo by Danny Clinch
Seeing a band you love perform live can be an overwhelming experience. In fact, that’s the entire point of the whole operation in the first place! Often these emotions are channeled into expressions of romantic longing. But while it’s somewhat understandable that you might find yourself compelled to vocalize these feelings and hurl them stageward, like a flailing quarterback lobbing a last minute Hail Mary of thirst, it’s almost always crass, and no one wants to hear it, least of all the singer in question, who probably has to deal with this sort of thing all the time.
One such musician is Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, who, at a show this week in Philadelphia, offered us a another timely reminder that you should always keep that desperate nonsense to yourself. During a pause in the music, a man in the crowd screamed, "Marry me!” while Mayberry was telling a story. “Pardon me?” she asked. “Marry me!” he repeated. “Now.”
"Oh, come on,” Mayberry said. "What’s the hit rate on that? When you go to public places and ask women you don't know if they want to wed you. Does that work out well for you, sir?” she asked, to laughter from the audience. She was trying to make a firm, but at least somewhat lighthearted response, but you could tell that it had irked her, and rightfully so. “Also, I assume that because you're here, that you know about our band?” she added. “I'm very grumpy, and I don't want that shit.”
Setting aside the fact that this there’s never a good time to scream at a stranger that you’d like to marry them, Mayberry, who’s been very vocal about her frustration with the type of misogyny women in music deal with on a daily basis, seems like a particularly ill-advised target of this sort of proposal. She continued: "Thank you everybody else. Sorry for shaming that one person, but if nobody tells you, then you're never going to know. Luckily for me right now I have a microphone, and you don't, so it works in my favor at this particular juncture.”
Mayberry has written about the type of sexualized aggression she’s had to deal with as a woman in the public eye. Criticism is part of the game, she explained in a piece for The Guardian, but that doesn’t give people carte blanche to treat women with blatant abuse. “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,” she wrote. “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.’”
You will in no way be surprised to learn that she’s already getting some of that in reactions to this video. “Bitch detected,” said one astute gentleman on YouTube. “Oh please, it was a sweet request not to be taken seriously," added another. "I make it a point not to listen to bands who have sticks up their asses." And just like that, a woman explaining to a man demanding that she give him attention, and, in fact, that she become his wife sight unseen, is twisted into being the aggressor here. Mayberry and Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney recently talked about some of these issues in a conversation for Interview Magazine. (Not even Broadway shows are immune.)
Toward the end of the video, another male fan shouts out to Mayberry, "Why are you grumpy, Lauren?” The implication here being, of course, that a woman must also now apologize for being angry about being harassed. In response she flipped him the middle finger. The crowd cheered.
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