opinion

'I left the music industry after years of harassment. Rancid Eddie is just the start.'

In the last few weeks, even if you’re not very plugged into the Australian indie music scene, you might have seen the name Rancid Eddie come across your timelines. 

They’re a Melbourne band who have received some criticism from both the public and people in the music industry for their lyrics. According to them, they believe "music and lyricism cannot itself be harmful, because it is diffusive in its expression". 

Many of us disagree.

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Video via Mamamia.

The lyrics in question are from several of their songs, most notably from their single 'Dry', which has gone viral on TikTok. 

Some of the lyrics include:

Sex doesn't feel very nice no more.

And our kiss don't taste like it did before.

I can't get it up when I'm all out of love.

And I'm always drunk 'cause I hate you so damn much.

When I heard the lyrics, I was not surprised, but I was still disappointed. 

Disappointed that the Australian music industry still seems to have an undercurrent of misogyny, one that made me want to separate myself from working in music years ago.

As soon as I left school, I knew I wanted to work in local music. I wanted to work in radio specifically, as I hosted a community radio show where I had free rein playing all the up-and-coming bands I wanted. 

Turning 18 opened up a new world to me of being able to be immersed in the culture I loved. I went to gigs three or four times a week, approaching bands I liked to interview them on my community radio show.

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Image: Supplied. 

But as I soon learnt, being a young, enthusiastic woman amongst a bunch of musicians could lead to some really uncomfortable situations.

Situations, that I can see looking back on, were blatant harassment.

While I was also often flirting and interested in meeting people who liked the same music as me (I met my partner through seeing his band play many, many times), I was so often treated with complete disrespect.

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When out dancing, I once found myself on the dance floor with the lead singer of one of my favourite Sydney bands. 

When we went outside to get some air where a bunch of his friends and bandmates were hanging out, he used the opportunity to say something so demeaning and grossly sexual to me, while all of his (male) friends laughed and shuffled their feet. 

I was never able to listen to their music again after being so humiliated. It was clear to me I was not welcome in this group of musicians as an equal; I was simply a punchline or a plaything.

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Another time I was at a gig I’d organised, speaking to someone who is now very high up at a major Australian label. 

My friend joined our conversation, who was also fronting one of the bands I’d booked that night. 

When she walked away, he enquired about her relationship status. "Somebody’s got to f**k her," he casually mused. I was shocked. If this is what he was comfortable saying around me, I can only imagine what he said around men.

Image: Supplied. 

What Rancid Eddie don’t seem to understand, based upon their responses to the outcry, is that women are crying out to be able to listen to songs they like, and go to shows, without being reminded, and it being reinforced, that we are on the outer in this industry. And that some men consider some women to be 'sluts'. And that they can blame their heavy drinking on hating a woman. And that that heavy drinking can lead to them wanting to 'punch a c**t'. 

Rancid Eddie might just be singing what they know and reflecting Australian culture back at us, but their lyrics don’t include anything that demonstrates that they might be being subversive, or that they don’t agree with a culture that approves of drinking until you consider yourself blameless for being belligerent.

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They had an opportunity to reflect on why their lyrics had people so mad. 

Yes, being at the bottom of a cultural pile on is not fun, especially if you were just a local band playing in your backyard a few months ago. 

But contrary to what they seem to believe, we’re not angry because we love to cancel people and are looking for our next victim to tear down. 

Personally, with Rancid Eddie being a new band, if they’d shown some remorse, I’d have no problem with them continuing on and releasing music. But they’ve doubled down on their lyrics, releasing a lengthy statement on their Instagram, where they said they "do not accept the notion that we need to explain or justify our lyrics". 

Contrary to this belief, art is in the public sphere, and is therefore open to scrutiny.

Myself and many women watched the videos of those boys playing guitar in a Melbourne backyard, singing in unison lyrics like, "Stupid bitches and them bum bag lads", and it felt very familiar.

If you’re a female fan of music, you often feel like you’re just there for decoration.

No one asks your opinion like they do the other men, or what you think of the lyrics to a song, or whether you play an instrument yourself. 

If you’re 'pretty', you might get an invitation to these inner circles. If you’re not, well good luck getting a second look. 

It’s why women have started creating their own music publications, labels, radio shows and podcasts, and of course, bands.

We want a seat at the table, and we want men to listen to us. And we’re saying no to supporting bands who don’t give a second thought to the damage their lyrics are doing.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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