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The Warped Tour 2018 lineup was announced tonight, which is super exciting! It’s especially exciting for AVFTI, because several bands we have worked with are on the bill.

One of these bands is Makeout. As many of you know, their single “Secrets” contains offensive, abusive lyrics, including calling an ex-girlfriend a “bitch” and a “whore”, and they caught a lot of heat for this on social media. Because of this, Kevin Lyman directed the band to AVFTI so they could learn more about why this is an issue and how they can be better.

In February, I conducted a Skype training call with the band explaining who we are and what we do, statistics and facts about sexual violence, how to support those affected by it, and how to use their platform to address the problem. After the standard training, there was a conversation about their lyrics and why they are problematic. The band acknowledged they had been oblivious to the pain language like this can cause, and they agreed they would not include “Secrets” in their set this summer. I used my own personal experience as a means of explanation: the man who raped me called me a bitch and a whore. He used that language to demean me and make me feel insecure, and therefore easier to manipulate. These aren’t “haha angry breakup song” words to me – and I know for many survivors of abuse, particularly women, they aren’t either. In this way, language can be a form of violence, of abuse, and normalizing that kind of behavior onstage is not acceptable.

During this conversation, the band was receptive and engaged. They asked questions. They listened actively. They said they want to show people that although their lyrics were not okay, that is not what they are about. I do not tell you this as an excuse – there is none – I tell you this because these are the types of musicians we want to reach most. The people who are unaware they are contributing to a bigger problem, but once made aware, have a desire to change. By teaching those people why things that seem innocuous to them are harmful to others, we can drive change within the music community.

That said, tonight we saw on Twitter that survivors were hurt to see us partnering with the band. As an organization, survivors come first. Always. No matter how educational a partnership may be, nothing is more important than the feelings and experiences of those affected by sexual abuse and rape. As a victim myself, I understand this hurt and I respect it. I recognize that others do not know the ins and outs of why we agreed to work with them, and therefore, it looks like AVFTI decided it was perfectly fine to promote a band with “casually abusive” lyrics – and that is not okay. The Twitter users who called us out were absolutely right. In this vein, we have decided we will no longer promote Makeout or their work.

To every survivor, listener, and volunteer out there – thank you. If you have suggestions or ideas about how AVFTI can better engage with and educate others, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You are the most important part of our organization, and we will try our best to make sure you are always heard.

-Kristen, AVFTI Promotional Director

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