It’s So Easy To Not Be An Asshole
Posted on October 20, 2015
October 20, 2015 | by Bryne Yancey
TW: suicide, transphobia
Whirr, an average shoegaze band full of privileged millennial cis males who over the past half-decade have turned that averageness into the closest thing resembling a career in underground rock music, are incorrigible trolls. They’re jocks in disguise, hiding behind guitars and pedal boards, working on their soft and “sensitive” music in between stuffing smaller people into lockers. They’re essentially the riff raff we got into punk to get away from, but as we all know by now, that riff raff has a tendency to infiltrate the scene anyway, no matter how clear we’ve made it that they’re unwelcome, that their words and actions make our friends feel unsafe in what’s likely the only place where they have ever felt safe.
Last night Whirr tweeted some transphobic bullshit about the band G.L.O.S.S.—who in one demo and eight minutes have already made more of an impact on independent punk culture than Whirr have in five years and ten releases—and were promptly dropped from one of their labels, Run For Cover Records. (I won’t post the tweets here; go find them if you really want to.) The band’s other and more primary label, Graveface, hasn’t followed suit just yet—but they’re aware of the issue and hopefully they’ll act accordingly. Of course, as many men do once their shitty, aggressive behavior has been put in its place to the point where their actions might actually effect their livelihood, Whirr have passed the buck.
Whirr’s regressively dangerous and mean-spirited social media presence is nothing new. They’ve been fast and loose with slurs for mentally challenged people, triggers for suicide, and the word “pussy” as a derogatory insult for a while now. For some reason, their fans, who appear to be numerous—Whirr have over 35,000 “likes” on Facebook—either haven’t realized that the band’s “edgy” social media presence is hurtful and hateful to groups of already-marginalized people, they simply don’t care, or worse, they think it’s funny. All three are problems, though it would seem that at least the first issue has come to light a little more in the last 24 hours or so.
Someone poorly attempting to play devil’s advocate might suggest that punk has more or less always been about railing against the establishment, that a lot of punk rock and many of its personalities have simply acted offensively for the sake of being outlandish and nothing more, that it’s an act, a costume people put on to convince others of how punk they are. Others, citing the “P.C. Police” culture to which places like Fox News Channel devote hours of programming every week, will simply state that people are too easily offended nowadays. Remember that anyone complaining about other people being offended is societally used to having their boorish behavior accepted or even validated, and now that being an asshole is out of vogue, they’re uncomfortable for the first time in their pathetic lives. This is a good thing. These types of people will always exist in one way or another, but calling them out on their bullshit, attempting to educate them about their language and, if that education doesn’t work, extricating them from our scene and our lives, is the way to go, here.
Because that’s just the thing: A lot of this behavior, poor as it is, is born out of a society owned and operated by cis white men, cis white men who have been in charge of everything since time immemorial, who’ve only very recently begun to realize society’s aggressive hyper-masculinity in its media, its sports, everything, is ingrained to some degree in all of us whether we want it to be or not. The important thing is to listen to someone when you’re called out. Recognize your failings and educate yourself on how to be better next time and from now on. Men like those in Whirr are quick to act overly defensive when their bullshit is pointed out, and to be sure, that’s perhaps a natural, primal, if perhaps unwarranted reaction. Men like those in Whirr are the men who use name-calling as a cheap, stubborn defense mechanism. It doesn’t seem like they’ll learn unless they’re completely extricated from the scene.
“Transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to report living in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year, a standing that sometimes pushes them to enter the dangerous trade of sex work. Nearly 80% of transgender people report experiencing harassment at school when they were young. As adults, some report being physically assaulted trains and buses, in retail stores and restaurants. Greater awareness has not yet translated into broad acceptance, says Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center: “The majority of society does not understand who transgender people are in ways that lead to the violence and the murder and the harassment that we’re seeing.’
The risk is even greater for transgender women of color, who often grapple with both transphobia and racism. Sixteen of the at least 20 LGBT people murdered in 2014 were people of color, according to the NCAVP; 11 were transgender women, and 10 were transgender women of color. ‘People who are marginalized both because of their race and being transgender, it’s like a double whammy,’ says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.”
Even as society has slowly begun to be more accepting, it is still extremely dangerous to be a transgender person. The numbers above are staggering. I’d hazard a guess that the men in Whirr aren’t aware of this, and that they don’t care, because despite their shitty behavior, they have fans. People go to their shows.
We shouldn’t go to their shows anymore.
It’s so easy to not be an asshole. Listen. Ask questions. Be mindful of your audience, whether that audience is a handful of strangers around you at a show or 35,000 Facebook fans. Watch your fucking language. Treat all people with respect. Keep your homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic bullshit away from us and away from our friends. Don’t get defensive when someone rightly calls you an asshole for being “politically incorrect.” It seriously could be a matter of life and death.