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A Polemic.
by E. Conner and Beck Levy

Trigger warning: abusers, apologists, rapists.

There is a show happening tonight. It's happening across the country and all over the world. One of the bands has a member or members who have been publicly outed as perpetrators of sexual violence, or who have publicly spoken out in support of an abuser. You may be playing this show. You may know someone in the band. You may want to go to the show. No matter what, you are complicit. This violence was rape. This violence was stalking. This violence was harassment. This violence was emotional. This violence happened. You may be wondering what you could do in the face of this violence.

We have witnessed call-outs. We have witnessed call-ins. We have participated in safe spaces, and safer spaces, and the naming of spaces that are unsafe. We have survived violence and we have survived survival, or maybe we have not survived. We have been told there are no options and at times we ourselves have felt that there are no options. We are fed up and bored with what feels possible and we are determined to expand the possible. We are hysterical.

We have shared the most painful intimate details of our lives with a cruel and indifferent public. We have had our traumas vetted by show bookers, record labels, and other cool guys. We have been told that we were complicit in our own harm. We have had our injuries pitted against the injuries of others and our injuries have been found LACKING. We have been told that our suffering was not severe enough. What rape will be gruesome enough to cause you to act? What will it take?

This is merely a list of options. Some of them are illegal. Some of them are violent. Some of them are weird. Some of them may confuse you. You can do your own research. Some of them won't apply to you. Some of them will. Some of them happen a lot. Some of them never happen. Some of them are all too frequent and inadequate - or harmful - responses in the face of an epidemic. They are options and they are observations. We are naming them. If you want to do one of these things, do one of these things. If you want to do a combination of these things, do a combination of these things. If you don't agree with an option, don't do it. If any of these options make you feel unsafe consider also the feelings of those who are made to feel unsafe every day by the perpetuation of rape culture and patriarchy.

This list is an intervention, an interruption in the endless and self-perpetuating loop of betrayal in which we find ourselves mired. This list will not have the same fate as other lists: lists that guard the entrance of a decaying facade of communal space. This list is your finest opportunity.

[A note on language: When we refer to women and girls in this text we absolutely mean both cis and trans women. We sometimes refer to trans women specifically because they face violence and challenges that cis women do not.]

- Do not play the show.

- Make a public statement about the events/actions that transpired and how you feel about it. This could be something on social media or it could be in person at the event. Or it could be spray painted somewhere fun.

- Spray paint it somewhere fun.

- Donate all of the money you make from the show to a worthy organization/person.

- Steal all of the money from the show and give it to a worthy organization/person.

- Take the money you would have paid to go to the show and give it to a worthy organization/person.

- Physically block anyone from entering or exiting the venue at any time.

- Actually try to find out what the survivor(s) of the sexual assault(s) or rape(s) wanted to happen.

- Attempt to talk personally with the perpetrator(s)/apologist(s) about seeking restorative justice.

- Make a public statement about how you feel BEFORE the event. Regardless of if you play the show or not. See above for ways you could do that.

- Co-opt any conversation about an abusive situation and make it all about you, whether or not you have personally been impacted by sexual assault or abuse.

- Ask the people in your life who are most closely impacted by sexual assault what to do and make them hold your whiny shitty baby hand through all your complicated feelings about it.

- Use this opportunity to engage in an ongoing community dialog about sexual assault with those that aren't always or as drastically impacted by it.

- Speak nakedly with your closest friends about the times you feel you may have crossed other people's boundaries, thus demystifying harm.

- Own up to your discomfort about confronting rapists/rape apologists, particularly when they're popular, and be willing to pick that apart openly as a public service.

- Get defensive when someone asks you why you chose to play the show anyway.

- Defend the complicated and nuanced perspective of the rapist(s)/rape apologist(s)/sexual assaulter(s).

- Think about that one college student who is carrying her mattress everywhere. Her name is Emma Sulkowicz. Can you imagine what that is like? It's a well publicized piece of performance art that you may have heard about a zillion times. Can you read about that without crying? Inhabit a reality where you literally cannot think about this without crying, do it for just a little longer than you can tolerate.

- Anytime someone brings this up change the topic from sexual assault to how annoying it is when people, particularly "girls," say "literally" or "like" too much.

- Anytime someone brings it up change the topic from sexual assault to how you or someone you used to know used to chase Nazi skinheads out of shows in the 80's.

- Decide it's not your problem and make the people who always deal with these sorts of things deal with this thing, because the role of some people in their communities is to be a vessel/receptacle for trauma and you're not willing to problematize that in any way.

- Talk to the person in your social group who you consider the most politically correct until you feel personally absolved of any responsibility. Sublimate your discomfort into forcing another human being to act as a rubber stamp approving you and your positions.

- Piss on the personal effects of the perpetrator(s).

- Instead of playing your set perform an all male (nude?) stage rendition of Lizzie Borden's 1983 film Born In Flames.

- Slash your body on stage and write I WISH ANA MENDIETA WAS ALIVE in your blood.

- Perform a public hex against all perpetrators of sexual violence and rape culture.

- The moment someone even brings up the phrase "false accusations," close your eyes and begin to chant, "Survivors get nothing for telling the truth. Survivors get nothing for telling the truth." We will join you and raise our voices together.

- Don't say something during your set. Don't play your set. Just set up your gear and use yourself and your band to maintain the stage as an open space for people to grab the mic and speak out about their experiences of violence and erasure.

- Read a list of the names of every woman ever found dead in the streets of Juarez, Mexico out loud. If they do not have a (known) name give them a number.

- Have you reposted articles about Michael Brown or Freddie Gray? Do you want to acknowledge the overwhelming systematic police violence against Black people in America (and beyond)? Do you know the names of Rekia Boyd, Kayla Moore, or Nizah Morris? Why not?

- Upon playing your set introduce every song with a paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Corrective Rape.

- Your entire set is replaced by a prayer to St. Diana of Juarez. You self-flagellate during it. There is a burnt offering. The burnt offering is the merch of the problematic band.

- Draw a connection between sexualized violence and cultural economy by enforcing a redistribution of gear from those who benefit from rape culture to those who are hurt by it.

- Play the show and say nothing. Put 30% of your earned income every year towards funding safe and secure housing for trans women of color as penance.

- Play the show and say nothing. Offer free childcare for the rest of your life to women with children who have to go to therapy for trauma for the rest of their lives as penance.

- Recognize that many of the ways in which punks are performatively "edgy" are powerful because they are appropriated from people of color, black people, trans queer and gender non-conforming people, which is to say people who are likely more impacted by or vulnerable to sexual violence than you. The power might lie in the irony of who speaks.

- Advocate for your decision to go to the show by mentioning that the other guys in the band are actually really cool.

- Call the perpetrator(s) family and ex-partners and talk to them and listen to what they have to say.

- Distribute literature about the perpetrator(s) and ending rape culture at the show. Regardless of if you play or not.

- Decide that there's a statute of limitations on being called out for violent behavior and that it has passed and so the violence doesn't matter anymore.

- Suddenly decide that you're pro-cop and that if there was no police report filed or conviction handed down the violence never occurred.

- Accuse the people who are invested in ending rape culture of being cops. Never admit how many times you have ACTUALLY called the cops.

- Read every article about how rape kits are mismanaged all over the country, don't stop, just picture those rape kits sitting in a warehouse outside of Detroit for decades and decades and think about all of what that means.

- Realize that most violence occurs not at the hands of strangers but at the hands of people known to the victim/survivor. Become emotionally raw for the rest of your life because of that knowledge.

- Sneak 500 women in to the show, give them all candy and other drugs, and let them tear the entire place down with their bare hands.

- Think about this list and how it makes you feel every day at work, while you are shitting, while you are on facebook, while you drink a smoothie, and while you walk your dog. Decide to still do nothing except for occasionally talk shit about the people who made it but pretend it's for other reasons.

- Refer to any people who asked you why you decided to play or go to the show anyway, and/or anyone who looks at you weird for the next 3 months as DRAMATIC, despite the fact that they are, in all actuality, very fucking bored and sad to talk about this shit all the time.

- A few years ago a band from Florida thought it would be cool to name a tour they did "Raping the East". Citing an antiquated definition of the word RAPE they defended their decision and did not change the name when called out about it. When they played a show in Raleigh, NC on that tour their tour van was vandalized. That was cool. They spelled apologist wrong but who cares. It was cool. WE ARE EVERYWHERE.

- Beat the fucking shit out of the perpetrator(s)/apologist(s).

- You don't care. Play the show. Go on, fucking do it. Don't say anything . Share a beer with the perpetrator/apologist. However the next time you decide it's a good idea to trust a girl enough to get naked in front of her consider this: BAD GIRLS HAVE EACH OTHERS BACKS.

- Start a social club bent on inaccurately defining what accountability looks like. Reel in the social capital and all the new friends. Don't think about how terrible it is to base your popularity on a flawed philosophy. Never cop to it when you are criticized by survivors of sexual violence because how could a nice guy like you be criticized. Write about being a feminist ally on your blog and receive kudos for redefining masculinity. The world keeps turning and the black hole that is your mind never changes.

- Become a part of the international vigilante feminist network that fuels lists like these.

- Blame the actions of the perpetrator/apologist on a "generation" thing. As though not being into rape is a NEW thing.

- Seek out the endless libraries of literature already written about sexual violence, systemic support of that violence, healing from that violence, and advocacy for those that experience that violence. Listen to people who are tired and sad and angry. You might be doing this for years so buckle up.

- Consider that this list could be endless. Make your own list.

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