A CALL TO ALL GIRLS: TAKE BACK OUR FANDOM!
I’m about to rant. I’m about to be politically incorrect. I’m speaking with no filter, irreverently, and without a reasonable editor at the back of my mind. So know this as you read this. I don’t know how many of you will actually read it. Please spread it, not so I get attention, but so that the message is heard.
All these brave women coming forward to tell their stories about how YouTubers/Wizard Rockers have abused their status and power to manipulate and take advantage of girls, both underage and adults, makes me want to make a call to arms.
CALLING ALL GIRLS, WOMEN, FEMINISTS (both female and male), MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS, SISTERS: TAKE BACK OUR FANDOM!
In the past three years, I have not been involved in the Wizard Rock community as deeply as I had been, say, 7 years ago, because I decided to focus on my family and other creative pursuits. So, perhaps I don’t have a right to make this statement. But I was in pretty deep, as a performer, an event organizer, and as a fan for a number of years.
From what I remember of 2007 on, is that wrock events were populated almost entirely by female fans. When I entered the community, there were not many prominent female fronted wrock bands. The Parselmouths and The Moaning Myrtles were two shining examples of females holding their own on the stage shared with all male bands.
It has already been said that this fact (lots of girl fans, lots of boy bands) was a contributing factor to creating the atmosphere in which abuse could take place. I don’t need to go into that any more than I just have.
But it was not THE reason it happened. The majority of the males in wizard rock did not manipulate girls and were just there to make music and perform it for their friends and for their extended wizard family. What drew me into the wrock community in the first place was the fact that there was no distinction between bands and fans. We were all fans of Harry Potter. There was no fourth wall; no barrier. What these douchebags did was take advantage of this lack of a barrier and the willingness of others to elevate their status to “famous”. Nobody is to blame but the douchebags themselves. I don’t blame the fans. I don’t blame the openness of the community.
The first fandom show I attended was Evil Day in NYC back in 2007 and I walked right up to Brian Ross and told him how fucking awesome he and Brad were. Brian gave me the first of what would be many of his famous bear hugs over the years on that night. And it wasn’t creepy. It wasn’t inappropriate. Brian’s hug had welcomed me into a loving family called Wizard Rock.
I have been in bands nearly my whole life. Played lots of shows in NYC. Seen more concerts than I can count. Let me tell you, THIS IS NOT WHAT THE REST OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS LIKE. We are extremely UNIQUE and blessed in the wizard rock community.
I could never go up to Morrissey, hug him and say, “Hey, man, love your stuff. Wanna hang out?” without bouncers and handlers pulling me over the barricade and kicking me out of the venue (I totally tried back in ‘94). If I had succeeded in getting within talking distance of Morrissey, conversing with him would have been an awkward social situation for him and for me.
In wizard rock, it is perfectly OK to interact with the bands because they are fans of Harry Potter just like you are. They are not above you. They can be your friend, and you can be their friend.
It is extremely unfortunate (and pisses me the fuck off) that this openness is the main contributing factor that lead to the manipulation of girls by male wreckers and YouTubers.
But this openness is also what will save us as a community in this time of adversity. We NEED to prevent this barrier between bands and fans from ever going up. There should not be separation of fans and bands. Bands should not be hoisted on the stage and elevated to the status of untouchable celebrity. Yes, they deserve to be heralded as talented musicians. Yes, they deserve fame by way of having their art recognized around the world. Yes, they deserve to have people who love them. And by they, I mean wrock bands in general.
When Star Kid came along and changed the face of HP fan conventions, the barrier was officially installed, thus creating the distinction between famous uber fan and standard fan, elevating said famous uber fans to untouchable celebrity. However, we NEED to make sure it doesn’t make ripples throughout the fandom. The lack of a barrier is what makes wizard rock special. It is what makes it accessible to all, as music enthusiasts and as music writers. We are truly a family. I have always felt this way - the wrock family embraced my family and loved us as much as I loved everyone. I will not let a couple of self-important womanizing douchebags destroy my family!
So listen. This is what we need to do. Keep the dialogue going that has been opened up by so many people. And take these words to heart…
GIRLS, TAKE BACK OUR FANDOM!
Here are some things I want all girls and women to keep in mind, not just in regards to fandom, but to life in general:
- You are valued as women and as the people who support the music. We, as wrockers, couldn’t do what we love without your support. Don’t forget that.
- Never let the wizard rockers forget that they are on that stage because of you. They are not better than you. They are not above you. They are part of this family along with you.
- Your voice is valid. We want to hear it. Make wizard rock. Put on shows. Organize concerts and festivals. There are probably more female wizard rockers now than male wizard rockers. The dynamic has greatly shifted.
- Never think that your voice is less valid than the voice of male wizard rockers. (This is a biggie for me personally. I said hurtful things because I felt my voice was valued less than that of, say, Harry and the Potters and it made me lash out in anger. It made me look like a diva or a jealous bitch. It made me look like I felt I was better than everybody else. But the truth was the opposite. I felt like I didn’t belong on stage at Leaky or Wrockstock with all these amazing bands. (So there’s my bit of disclosure, I guess.)
- Remember that we, as a family, need to look out for one another. Take that literally. We are sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. If you see a sister getting perved on by a guy who seems to be manipulative, (even if he’s close in age and she’s over 18), don’t be complacent.
- Because there is this lack of separation between bands and fans, then theoretically, it should be okay to date a wrock musician, or flirt, or hook up, or what have you. But the same rules apply to when you’re dating, flirting, hooking up with any guy outside of fandom. Don’t let him play you - be in control of what you want, who you are, and where you want things to go. Your worth and value as a person doesn’t hang on validation from this guy. If he doesn’t respect you, peace out. This is what the scandal is really all about. Not just abuse of power, though there was a lot of that, but complete lack of respect and resultant abuse.
- No matter what a guy tells you, you are valuable as a person, not because of what you can give him, but because of what you can give the world. Maybe you think that all you can give the world is making this one dude happy. Okay. But you’re selling yourself short of your potential. Don’t let guys hold you back. We all have potential. When I was a teenager, I attempted suicide because my boyfriend dumped me (disclosure number two). I thought my value as a human was completely dependent on validation by a guy. Look at the potential that would have been snuffed out had I succeeded. I am an accomplished musician and writer, I have a husband who never held me back, and I have two amazing children and a great career working with animals. At seventeen, I thought I would never live a fulfilled life unless I had the love of this one dude. I have my wonderful life because I took control and sought out what I deserve. Not because I married John. He is icing on the cake. I could have done it all without him, but it would’ve been different. it still would have happened, though, because I would have still been in control of my destiny and valued myself regardless of what a boy thought of me.
If you’re a cis-woman or trans woman or gender-queer woman, all of the above apply to you. It applies to the women who are self-identifying as women just as much to the women who were born women. And the proverbial “guy” in the above statements can just as easily be another girl.
To Kristina, Sarah, Rosi, and all the women out there who came forward with their Truth. You are strong. You are powerful. You are an inspiration. I’m sure you know this, because to speak out shows us you have realized your inherent value and your inherent worth as women.
Remember… THIS IS OUR FAMILY. THIS IS OUR FANDOM. WE WILL NOT LET ASSHOLES DESTROY IT.