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Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches takes on Internet sexism in op-ed

October 01, 2013|By August Brown
  • Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches performs on stage at Village Underground on April 29, 2013 in London, England. The Chvrches singer has written a Guardian editorial decrying internet misogyny.
Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches performs on stage at Village Underground on… (Caitlin Mogridge / Redferns…)

The Internet has transformed the ways we find new music and interact with artists. Some of it's been for the better, but a lot of it's been for the worse -- especially for young women in rising acts.

Lauren Mayberry, singer of the popular Scottish electro trio Chvrches (who just released their excellent debut LP "The Bones of What You Believe"), is on the front lines of the ways the Internet enables men to harass women who are in the public eye.

She just published a moving op-ed in the British newspaper the Guardian about the real and frightening impact that all of the abuse -- some obnoxious, some overtly threatening -- can inflict.

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"I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism," she writes. "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.' "

The editorial came after she posted a screen grab of a sexually harassing message she received from a "fan" (warning, it contains some examples of the really ugly threats she receives) and she sarcastically noted that "This is one of the more polite ones." What followed was, in her words, comments that "range from the disgusted and supportive to the offensively vile."

While she keeps her composure and knife-edged wit about her in most of her responses, she admits that "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."

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But then, she wonders, "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?"

The whole essay is a deeply felt indictment of the day-to-day harassment that female musicians go through, and how the anonymity of the Internet amplifies it in ways that can crack even the most composed public figure.


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