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Blaming assault victims of celebrities is part of the problem

Oct 27, 2022

In the last few weeks, news of sexual assault accusations facing rising artist Rex Orange County, otherwise known as Alexander O’Connor, has come as a shock to many fans. 

The six accusations of assault that happened within a period of two days came from a woman in London. It was claimed that the first two instances happened on June 1, then the following day in a taxi, and three more times in O’Connor’s home.

The woman who came with these accusations took a legal team to court on October 10 to which O’Connor would deny all accounts. A trial is set for next year on January 3. 

O’Connor has provided no further evidence or comment on the situation, besides deciding to cancel his world tour. 

This news has led to controversy among fans of Rex Orange County. Many opinions have begun to spread. The sides on the topic have split between those who do not believe the claims, those who chose to no longer support the artist, and those who ”support the art but not the artist.”

This final stance is an easy defense for people who do not believe the accusations or respect the victim and their trauma but also don’t want to receive backlash. In my experience, though I had enjoyed his music, it was easy to remove his songs from my library knowing what kind of person they are associated with. The art is the artist and continuing to play and listen to this art will still support them, financially and mentally. 

As someone familiar with Rex Orange County, I was also surprised to hear the news. I was more shocked to see the response coming from social media. 

The number of fans who quickly accused the woman of lying was startling. It’s no surprise that coming out about sexual assault/harassment takes courage and strength, but with so many cases in the entertainment and music industry, it’s understandable why people fear coming out knowing the stories of others who were so quickly shut down.

There has yet to be much evidence shown to the public, but until proven otherwise, showing respect to the victim is a top priority. 

Keep in mind there is a trial being held on January 3, meaning there must be some form of evidence to keep the case going. Though O’Connor claims to be canceling his world tour for personal reasons, those reasons are the law, as he is not allowed to leave the country until the case is closed. 

Videos of people expressing their sadness about losing their favorite artist have become somewhat of a trend. Many fans have responded on TikTok, showing themselves folding away merch and playing different songs of Rex Orange County in the background with text such as “I don’t know how to process this” or “I can’t believe this.” 

In a way, these responses seem backhanded. 

Some fans seem more upset about losing their favorite artist, rather than the fact that a woman is going through a traumatic event and receiving backlash from those trying to suppress her voice. 

It’s fans like these that miss the main message or don’t see the issue. 

Things like this have been appearing frequently within the female side of the music industry. Indie artists Mitski and Clairo have used their influence to bring attention to things like fetishizing race and sexualizing women. In response, moments have been recorded during live concerts of fans shouting sexual comments, completely ignoring the entire point of the previous song. 

These fans are just as insensitive as those who continue to support Rex Orange County. 

Sexual assault victims’ words can also be easily used against them. An example of this is Taylor Swift’s sexual assault case against DJ David Mueller. She was blamed for not coming out with her story sooner, not fighting against Mueller’s groping, and ruining his career. 

During a meet and greet for Swift’s Red concert in Denver, the singer posed in a photo with Mueller in which she stated the man groped her while reaching underneath her skirt. The photo shows a clear image of Mueller’s hand resting way below Swift’s waist. 

These few stories show a clear example of how easily a man with high influence can get away with anything, how victims are always the first to be blamed or framed for lying, and how those reacting are quick to focus on the wrong issue. 

If people were quicker to listen rather than to judge, supportive rather than discouraging, and mature then dealing with sexual assault could be an easier topic to be open about and address. 

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