It’s been a pretty good month for Iggy Azalea. Her album was released this week, her single Fancy is irritatingly catchy, and she’s lived the dream of a thousand nineties girls by starring in her own version of Clueless, donning Cher Horowitz’s outfit and hair flicking her way around a high school. She looked so good doing it that a whole new generation is seriously considering whether white knee-high socks teamed with bright yellow tartan is a viable fashion choice. That’s one hell of an achievement.
However, a couple of dark clouds hang over all this pop star perfection. Firstly, Iggy revealed that she’s had to stop crowd-surfing, because when she does, fans try to sexually assault her. She isn’t the first female performer to do so: a crying Florence Welch had to be rescued by security after being allegedly groped at a concert back in 2010 – and Lady Gaga reportedly screamed at an audience after being grabbed while stage-diving at Lollapalooza.
Iggy commented that now, in order to stay safe, she has to put up barriers even at small gigs. She also wears two pairs of pants, followed by tights, followed by another pair of pants (which if anything, sounds like a serious recipe for yeast infections.) There’s something incredibly sad about a female rapper having to be surrounded by layers of security and barriers and, y’know, knickers just to feel safe at her own gig. This is Iggy’s show, it’s her fuckin’ party. You might (perhaps justifiably) think that stage-diving is more the move of an overexcited member of McBusted, but Iggy should be able to connect with fans in the way she chooses. Funnily enough, buying a ticket to someone’s show doesn’t also buy you access to their vagina. And just because Iggy has a song called Pu$$y, she’s not inviting you to touch hers. Revolutionary, right?
Where groping someone is concerned, there’s not a lot of grey area: it’s uninvited, it’s non-consensual, and therefore it’s wrong (C’MON GUYS WE’VE BEEN THROUGH THIS.) And yet a quick trip into the murky world of internet comment sections reveals that a lot of people seem to think that not only is it okay to attempt to finger female artists who stage-dive, they were probably secretly asking for it anyway. Comments from the kind of men you hope rarely leave the house and never ever manage to get girlfriends say things like ‘fair game, no?’ and ‘well, what did she expect?’ Not only do these kinds of comment suggest that women who stage-dive or express themselves in certain ways should expect sexual assault, but they also suggest that men suddenly relinquish all control of their limbs when confronted with a woman and accidentally find themselves attempting to finger her. It doesn’t make any of us look good.
So far, so icky. However, it’s not only what Iggy had to say in her most recent interview that was the problem, but the interview itself. Iggy made the crowd-surfing comments in an interview with American radio show, the Hot 97 Morning Show. It was the kind of interview that makes your internal organs cringe and your brain want to hide under the duvet. The DJs could have asked Iggy her opinion on that morning’s weather and it would have genuinely made a better interview. Instead, they contented themselves by mainly asking her about her basketball player boyfriend, and what she’s like in bed. Charmingly, the DJ linked Iggy being ‘intruded’ by fans with being ‘intruded’ by her boyfriend, because being sexually assaulted by a stranger is the same as engaging in consensual sex with your boyfriend, amiright? HIGH FIVE. No? Guys?
DJ Ebro then went on to ask: ‘You hear women talk dirty in songs and you don’t know, is that just an act? They only like missionary? You like your ass eaten? What do you like?’
Caitlin Moran gave us a pretty good way of recognising sexism when she told us to ask, ‘Well, are the boys worrying about this?’ 2014 has given us an even better way: imagine the boys doing this. When comedy duo Bondi Hipsters recreated Miranda Kerr’s GQ photo shoot, it became ridiculous – and hilarious. Simply put, we’re so used to the objectification of women’s bodies that we’ve simply stopped seeing it. It takes putting a male body in the same situation for us to think, woa. That’s kinda weird.
Guardian writer Leah Green did a similar thing when she catcalled men with the kind of comments women hear walking down the street every day. Imagine a man appearing, as Beyonce did last week, on the cover of Times magazine’s ‘most influential people’, in his pants.
Sexually assaulting female performers says: ‘Stay in your place, or I’ll make you. Don’t do anything fun or unpredictable or a bit out-there. Stay safely on stage, wearing multiple pairs of knickers.’ Women not stage-diving is another example of women having to make themselves and their lives smaller, because apparently teaching people that sexual assault is not ‘just to be expected’ is too difficult.
Now imagine Eminem or 50 Cent being asked in a radio interview, ‘You like your ass being eaten? Do you just like missionary? What are you like in bed?’ Neither would put up with that kind of question – but it’s irrelevant, because they wouldn’t be asked it anyway.