The past year or two have been filled with 10 year anniversary tours from pop punk and emo bands, celebrating specific albums. It started out with favorites from the scene, like Taking Back Sunday and Motion City Soundtrack, but has expanded to be something that ALL pop punk/emo bands from the 2005 era are doing - including ones that shouldn't reunite at all.
Take Cute Is What We Aim For (CIWWAF), for example. First off, the band name was ridiculous in 2006, and is even more ridiculous now. Not to mention, this band never had a massive following like other cult favorites. The album that sparked the anniversary tour, The Same Blood Old Rush With A New Touch, is the only album of theirs that got any traction.
Admittedly, I got caught up in the excitement of bands I had never seen live during their prime time reuniting, and purchased tickets to their show at Webster Hall's Marlin Room as soon as tickets went on sale. The other week I began prepping myself for the concert, and found myself very distraught.
I did not notice when I was a wide-eyed teenage who casually liked this band, but the lyrics from their debut album are dripping with misogyny and rape tendencies. The most offensive song, I find, is "The Fourth Drink Instinct," where the singer, Shaant Timothy, relays a story of an underage girl sneaking into a bar with a fake ID, having too much to drink, and being coerced into a one night stand by a stranger who has no regard for her level of intoxication.
Other songs on the album include lyrics such as, "In every circle of friends there's a whore..." and "her bone structure screams 'touch her!' 'touch her!,' and more than I can't even stomach to write down. Needless to say, I regretted buying those tickets.
Then matters got worse. The day before the show a friend highlighted this article to me. Shaant had taken to Facebook to comment on the Brock Turner case, and said "rape culture isn't a thing." He went on to victim blame and say he's never encountered anyone who has ever set out with an intention to rape another human.
Alright, bro. Listen carefully:
Rape culture is real. Very real.
His post is enraging and wrong on every possible level. Most people, even if they are unaware of it, know rapists. Someone in your community has forced someone else into a sexual act they did not consent to - I can name far too many friends this has happened to, and name men who have assaulted a woman.
And news flash Shaant, victim blaming is at the core of rape culture and perpetuates the notion that the man committing the rape is not in the wrong. Blame it on the victim's intoxication level, attire, or attitude, and you're part of the problem.
Rightfully so, Shaant was met with an onslaught of backlash after his post broke. He later apologized and said his eyes had been opened and blah blah blah followed by some more bullshit.
Fast forward to the night of the show. I decided to go because I didn't want to leave my friend I had made plans with hanging, and was curious if this incident would be addressed at all. It was.
In the instrumental break of "The Fourth Drink Instinct," Shaant made a statement about predators. And told the audience, which consisted overwhelmingly of young girls (where did they come from, this was a 10 year anniversary tour?) to be on their guard at all times because "there are people out there looking to hurt you." It was the most insincere, back handed, textbook PR speech I have ever heard. It was obvious he did not have any good intentions behind his words, and his words were STILL flawed. He still put the responsibility on the women in the room to make sure they didn't get raped. My skin was crawling and I began screaming towards the stage in response (mostly "F*** you!"), and was given death stares and attitude from the girls in front of me in the crowd.
The next night, CIWWAF played Union Transfer in Philadelphia. A friend of mine was at the show and relayed even worse events to me. A fan had made it up to the front of the crowd and Shaant noticed her, allegedly from her screaming that she was a rape victim and flipping him off. Shaant pulled her on stage and he said into the microphone that she was "disrupting and ruining the show for everyone."
Let me repeat that: he pulled her on stage and publicly shamed her for being raped.
Why is this band still backed by a label? Why is their tour selling out? Why do they have another album being released?
No one should support musicians who make women feel at best uncomfortable, at worst unwelcome and threatened, at their shows. Live music should be a safe space
Please speak up and let others know when they are supporting an artist who perpetuates rape culture. Please stop supporting artists who victim blame and preach sexism and misogyny. Please help create safe spaces for women and victims of sexual violence.