The Internet is talking this week after a prominent female rapper said she’s going to stop crowd-surfing at her concerts – because her fans try to sexually touch her while she’s in the crowd.
Iggy Azalea, who was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, is a 23-year-old Australian rapper who’s become known for her sexual lyrics and vivacious stage presence at live performances. Azalea’s debut album, The New Classic, was released this week and is currently number one on the Canadian iTunes chart.
During an interview with Hot 97, an American hip-hop radio station, Azalea said not only had she stopped crowd-surfing, she’d also started wearing an extra pair of underwear and a pair of tights that matched her skin colour to avoid being assaulted.
Azalea said she’s even gone on Twitter to find fans who publicly broadcast their plans to touch her at shows before they happen. Perhaps most interesting about the interview, Azalea says it’s mostly women who attempt to do this.
“Girls do it more than guys because they think it’s cool,” she said. “It doesn’t make it okay.”
Fans on Twitter reacted strongly to the interview, calling it an example of “rape culture.”
“Iggy Azalea should not need protective clothing and crowd barriers to avoid sexual assault at her shows,” one user wrote. “Gross.”
While it’s usually men that are brought up when we discuss rape culture, this time, it’s Azalea’s fellow women who are being blamed.
This isn’t the first time women have been called out for sexually assaulting a rapper while the performer was trying to do their job.
Last year, Detroit rapper Danny Brown had a female fan pull down his pants and perform oral sex on him during a concert in Minneapolis. Reddit users who were at the show, and other male rappers like Kendrick Lamar, applauded Brown for what had happened, but not everyone thought it was impressive.
Rapper Kitty Pryde, Brown’s friend and then-tour-mate, wrote on her blog that Brown had been sexually assaulted, despite some people’s claims that what had happened was nothing short of awesome. She says both what happened to Brown, and the lack of outrage in response to it, can be blamed on misogyny and racism in hip-hop culture.
“Somehow nobody gives a f--- about that but me,” she wrote. “It’s obvious that the reason nobody cares is because a girl did it to a boy.”
Pryde said many people thought that Brown’s vividly sexual lyrics, similar to Azalea’s, were an invitation to sexually violate the musician. She said that these types of fans “take everything Danny raps about 100 per cent literally.”
“Everyone wants the option of blaming it on Danny, because people can’t accept the fact that a white girl raped a black dude in front of a bunch of people.”
Azalea, who still insists on wearing beige nylons under her shorts, sends a strong message: She still wants to perform the way she wants, but she doesn’t want the threat of being sexually assaulted.
Both Azalea and Brown have the right to perform their art in whatever way they want, without having to worry about what might happen to them onstage. Azalea shouldn’t have to change her performance style, and Brown shouldn’t be worried about what messages people are taking from his racy lyrics.
Fans of these artists – regardless of their gender – need to take a step back and figure out how to separate performance and performer. More importantly, they need to understand what their favourite artists’ rights as human beings are before taking fandom to inappropriate extremes.
As Azalea told the hosts of Hot 97, “buying my album for $12 doesn’t mean you get to [touch] me when I come to your city.”
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