Teenage girls are a large driving force behind the DIY music scene. They spend countless hours listening to and promoting their favorite artists solely because of their love of the music. Yet these same girls are seen as “lesser” fans, sometimes even abused by the band members directly. Recently, multiple girls have come forward about times they have faced sexual assault at the hands of band members. We need to talk about this and stop it from happening again.
Teenage girls with “stan” Twitter accounts do more publicity for bands than their actual publicists. These girls dedicate such a large portion of their time to listening to their favorite artists and sharing their music with others, constantly flooding hashtags or comment sections with links to official band media on trending topics. A large amount of musicians essentially owe their success to them.
While teenage girls are certainly not the only listeners of music and people of other demographics also partake in promoting them, it’s not on par with the way these girls promote their favorite artists. Why, then, are these girls treated so poorly?
A lot of times when a band has a large female-led fanbase, they are labeled as bad or less than simply because their fans are young girls. This is especially the case in pop music, where bands like One Direction and BTS are considered music for the tasteless. Again, teenage girls get the short end of the stick. They build these musicians from the ground up and are talked down upon by music gatekeepers for simply liking a certain genre.
While teenage girls give these musicians careers, they also fall victim to abuse by these same musicians. Recently, a girl has come forward to say that she was assaulted by a member of the band The Growlers. Soon after, other girls began to share their stories on social media about having been assaulted by other band members as well. One band in particular that was called out, SWMRS, has previously branded and prided themselves on creating “safe spaces” for women. They created a “safe space for women at shows” zine to hand out at concerts all while they knew one of their band members was assaulting a 16-year-old. They tell these young girls they’re on their side, that they love and support them, yet actively contribute to their abuse and exploitation.
The glorification and idolization of band members needs to stop. It’s dangerous and actively harms the girls who idolize them so much. It puts them in a position to make themselves vulnerable to these musicians because they believe they do no harm – especially in the case of SWMRS, who promoted themselves as being allies to women. Seeing someone as larger than life, as musicians often are, allows them to get away with a lot more than everyday people. They have power over their audience, most of whom are underaged, and use that to exploit them.
If we truly want to create a safe space in music for women and girls, we need to stop painting artists as being above everyone else and call them out when they do harmful things. Glorifying them only leads to harm, especially to those who love them most.