I was the lead singer of a band in high school. I was the only girl in the band. At the time, that aspect was something I really enjoyed. All my idols were the only girls in their bands, and they were lead singers, so that's how it worked with female rock stars, right? I had my encounters with sexism in being the only female in a male dominated scene, but at the time, I never connected it to the greater scope of women in the music industry. As a naive high school kid in my first rock band, all I cared about was playing music and getting our name known. Sexism wasn't on my radar, but little did I know, I was dealing with an issue that women in the industry are constantly battling, and this fight is one Chvrches
' singer Lauren Mayberry has publicly taken up arms against.
When typing "Lauren Mayberry" into my Google search, I thought the first suggestion Google would come up with would be "Lauren Mayberry singer" or "Lauren Mayberry chvrches." Instead, the most common words paired with "Lauren Mayberry" using Google were "age, height, married, and trolls." I realized these results were sadly unsurprising once I thought deeply about it. The fact that the Chvrches lead singer is most commonly searched in regards to her age, height, and marital status is actually common in women in the media. Television broadcasters and often female politicians are typically discussed because of their appearance, as we've seen with women like Katie Couric, Sarah Palin, and Hillary Clinton. Despite the fact that female musicians are usually heard before they are seen, the objectification is still rampant. These Google results are just another subtle indicator that women in the music industry are subject to sexism, and Mayberry makes a point to tackle this issue head on. It was only about a week ago when Mayberry was essentially catcalled from the audience when playing NYC's Central Park Summerstage [Ed. Note: A moment we were shooting and have on camera]. During a quick quiet moment, a man yelled to Lauren "marry me," and she made it clear she was not at all cool with that. "Oh, come on. 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?" she asked him. "Does that work very well for you sir?"
My guess is no, and my second guess is he's never tried that on a woman like Lauren Mayberry. Her reaction to this cheap proposal probably stirred some dormant feelings that Mayberry had experienced with vicious online trolls who have harassed her in the past. Mayberry has even written a piece for the Guardian about her bouts with misogyny in leading Chvrches. In the article, she described the perks of belonging to a band that was born on the Internet, but a recurring downfall of this Internet-born stardom is the Internet trolls who flood the band's inbox daily. Because Chvrches was born on the Internet, Mayberry told the Guardian that she feels it's important to maintain a close, interactive bond with her fans. To do this, she checks the band's inbox countless times throughout the day. Although there are many messages of support, there are always messages of misogyny.
The most shocking to me of the few she mentioned in the Guardian article was from a man who wrote to her, "This isn't rape culture. You'll know rape culture when I'm raping you, bitch." I don't know about you, but the "r" word is already unsettling enough, I can't imagine how it feels when it's actually being directed at me. But Mayberry is too smart, and strong to let these comments control her. Though she admitted to the Guardian that she's had her little break downs, her take away from all this is the necessity to create a conversation about rape culture and misogyny towards women.
"I can, however, only speak of what I know, which is that the number of offensive messages directed towards me, "the girl singer," compared to my bandmates is undeniably higher," she told the Guardian.
Though the number of offensive messages towards Mayberry are higher, her reaction to the goes to show that she's creating the conversation that extinguishes the fire before it can spread. Or body language, which you can see as she flips off another man who should have thought twice before testing her patience that night in Central Park.