Speedy Ortiz, the Massachusetts band whose singer Sadie Dupuis has become a young feminist icon, begins a worldwide tour Tuesday night; in tandem, it has launched a “help hotline you can text if you are being harassed or feel unsafe at a Speedy Ortiz show.”
“Texts will go to us,” their Facebook announcement continued, “and we will work with venue security to try and get you out of harm’s way. It’s a new system we’re trying out and we’re sure it will require tweaks along the way, but we hope in the long run it can make our shows safer and more fun for everyone. We love you all.”
The band, which is currently touring off its third album Foil Deer (Carpark), has written songs addressing rape culture and violence against women in the past. In April, Dupuis spoke to Noisey about the inspiration behind the song “My Dead Girl,” a foreboding, minor-key rattle that features the chorus, “I go riding in cars, but I’m not the driver/ riding in cars/ now I’m the dead girl you wanted.” Dupuis said that initially, she was writing a song “in a park in the middle of the woods” with her friend about her independence as a woman, but was interrupted when a group of “fratty looking bros” accosted them and started harassing them.
So the song sort of took this different turn, basically while I was sitting in the backseat of my car with these dudes shining their flashlights into my car. I wrote, “If these are my last words, guess you found me” because I was literally afraid I was going to get kidnapped, raped, murdered, and this little notebook with my song scrawled in it would be the only evidence anyone would find.
So the song sort of turned from an ode to independence into a mourning of the depressing footnote that comes along with female independence, which is that we always have to be on guard against assault and harassment and violence, always. And that’s a direct result of rape culture. You can go from feeling like the most powerful person in the world to feeling terrified just because someone is walking too close to you. And I guess that’s what the song is about—the simultaneous freedom to be whatever you want, to do whatever you want, coupled with the unfortunate reality that there’s always someone trying to take that power away from you.
In the band’s missive to its fans, it offers the number (547) 404-SAFE and iMessage/email account firstname.lastname@example.org. They encourage all fans subjected to “prejudicial, oppressive language and aggressive behaviors of any kind” including “racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism,” to contact them and speak out.
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Images via Life or Death PR/Facebook.