Love, baby, love. It’s written all over your face.
Updated: Jan 27
Friends! Mary here. Happy 2021! I know the new year has brought new hope and new uncertainties for all of us. But we’re trying to get back into the swing of things post-holidays. We even have some new music coming out! Our newest collection of tunes, playlist. #notarecord will be streaming everywhere this Thursday, 1/21/21. Obviously, this release has not been at all what we planned. And while we have to wait to celebrate with all of you in person, we hope you’ll enjoy the tunes in the meantime!
Before I get to anything else, I want to talk about something that happened recently, something that’s happened countless times to countless people. Something that has to stop.
Last week, during our livestream, a person we don’t know joined the video and sexually harassed me in the comments.
This person, Nelson, had first requested a song. I welcomed him — it’s always exciting to see new folks watching! — and explained that I already had a setlist planned for our SpotiFriday theme, but that maybe we could find a future theme that matched his request. He asked me again to look up the song and try it, then told me to “show my kneecaps.”
It was so strange to read it. It didn’t make sense. Our SpotiFriday shows have become a refuge for me, a safe place with a consistent community full of love and support for us and for each other. It’s been a blessing during this pandemic. How could someone who would say something like that show up here?
But of course, that’s what I’ve thought any time it happened at in-person shows in The Time Before, too. Gigs are my happy place; live music gives me life. I feel so safe there, so at peace, so myself.
And then some gross dude will come along and catcall or grope me or ask me for a ride while staring at my breasts or follow me to my car as I keep my keys tight in my hand.
And like so many people who are not straight cis men, the first thing I think is not, “How dare you violate my safety?” The first thing, gut-reaction-style, is, “Well, what does he mean by it? Maybe I’m exaggerating this. Maybe it was an accident.” Disbelief. Gaslighting.
The second thing, gut-reaction-style, is, “What have I done to bring this on myself? Is it the makeup? The clothes? Am I too pretty? Not pretty enough? Too sexual? Too queer? Too boring? Jesus, I’m so stupid for even being here. It’s so late. It’s so dark. I don’t belong here.”
I don’t belong here. Blaming myself. Shame.
So here I was, in my OWN space physically and virtually, and some STRANGER comes in with a weird gross comment. And those thoughts of disbelief came in, followed by the shame and self-blame. “Ugh, people said my hair looked nice. I did my makeup. I thought I looked pretty and that’s what I get for being so vain. But they come for you anyway, whatever you look like. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. I don’t belong here.”
I DON’T BELONG HERE. IN MY OWN SPACE.
All of this flashed through my mind very quickly while I was still live and seeing people I love and care about watching. And suddenly it wasn’t about me; it was about them. It was about that community that I love so deeply and the violence being inflicted on all of us in that moment.
We are all in this pandemic, and have suffered innumerable losses. We all witnessed the attack on the Capitol by white supremacist domestic terrorists. Many of us are regularly harmed by systems of injustice and oppression — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, religious intolerance. The world is hard.
And with all of that on my heart, with a community to protect, I wasn’t afraid anymore. There is not space for even one more small violation of safety. My community didn’t deserve that. Neither did I.
While Dann deleted the comment and muted and blocked him like the badass ally he is, I stopped, spoke to Nelson by name, and scolded him like I would my kids. I told
him his behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated here or elsewhere. He cannot demand to see people’s bodies. He has no right.
Friends, it felt GOOD. It felt empowering. It felt like the right thing. And it meant so much more because I wasn’t just standing up for me but for everyone watching.
The next day, I cried a lot and doubted myself a little. I felt that victim piece that was really important to feel. And when she showed up, I was embarrassed of her, especially after feeling so on fire. But then I softened, because I know she has had to protect me. And now I have one more small place in my life where she doesn’t have to work so hard to apologize and hide me from the world just to keep me safe.
I hope to bring that small experience out into the world when this pandemic ends. I’m not naive enough to think it won’t happen again, to me or someone else. But maybe this time, I’ll feel braver and more ready to do something about it when it does.
And that’s in large part due to all of you. You all make me braver. You all make me stronger. You all support me when I sing or cry or yell from the mic. You all have loved me, and I’m going to keep working to love you back. Thank you, a million times over, for helping me heal just by being yourselves. - M
And here are three steps we’re taking this week to dismantle systemic injustice. We invite you to join us.
Read Burnout by Emily & Amelia Nagoski (aimed at women but an important read regardless).
We say it all the time, because it’s true: you’re all amazing. Stay as safe as you can, and reach out to someone you trust if you’re hurting. It’s a tough time out there. ❤️ See you Friday at 6 pm ET for SpotiFriday LIVE, with songs about places we want to go.
Mary & Dann