The Vagenda

When Iggy Azalea Doesn’t Crowd-Surf, There’s Something Very Wrong With Pop


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.


13 thoughts on “When Iggy Azalea Doesn’t Crowd-Surf, There’s Something Very Wrong With Pop

  1. Poor gal, gross how not only girls are being groped in crowds at gigs and festivals but so are the artists who have security!

    “I’m here to see the music mate, not spend 45 minutes with your crotch pressed up against my ass and your hands trying to grab my boobs”

  2. I watched most of that interview but had to turn it off. These guys think they are so “in there” being open and chatty with her like that, but the look on her face said that she wasn’t happy at all.

  3. I had to stop that interview halfway through too. I was pretty shocked to hear that apparently the women at her concerts are worse than the guys and more likely to assault her. I’m not quite sure what to make of that… How can they not put themselves in her position and see how horrible it would be? Do they not see that she’s an actual human being with feelings?

    • I heard that too (about the female fans being more likely to grope her) and I find it really disturbing. As a bisexual woman, I encounter straight women quite a lot (in nightclubs, mainly) who, after finding out that I sometimes sleep with women, think that it’s a great idea to come up and kiss/grope/grab me, whilst clearly 1) not caring that much whether I’m into it or not and 2) not being interested in taking it any further than kissing and dry-humping in public. This display seems normally to be carried out in order to show to the men in the nightclub how ‘open-minded’ they are when it comes to sex, thus making them more attractive to men.

      Whereas some people might argue that the fact that female fans are as likely – or more – to grope Izzy during a gig is a sign that women are just as much a bunch of awful bastards as their male counterparts, I would tend to argue that it has a lot more to do with women not feeling in control of their own sexuality. As women, we are told that our sexuality exists to be a vessel for men’s sexuality, and that the more sexually available we are, the more sexually attractive we will be (obviously until we start being branded sluts, in which case nobody will want us). I think a lot of the groping by women is to do with this fact – they’re not used to thinking of themselves as sexual subjects, only as sexual objects and so therefore don’t consider that their actions might actually be harmful and upsetting.

  4. On a side note, I imagine one reason as to why Beyonce would appear on the front cover of Time magazine to be objectified is because that’s what the majority of her career is about. Just search her name in Google images and that’s the majority of what you’ll find.

  5. Fail to say that the artist said it was mostly girl fans doing the fingering, thus only blaming the “guys”. At least tell the whole truth if you want to demonstrate the problem. Go to a metal concert which is full of guys and girls croud-surfing. Why is it that nothins like this is ever heard in metal concerts? Because most metalheads are not shitheads, obviously unlike pop concerts

    • As appealing as I find the idea that certain subcultures might be entirely free of misogyny (and other forms of social injustice) I doubt that any are. I’m glad to hear that you haven’t experienced/witnessed this sort of thing at metal concerts, but it probably happens there too. Not because metalheads are shitheads as well, but because people are shitheads! In this case, I’d say, they’re shitheads because of pervasive ‘rape culture’. (This is by no means just a ‘pop culture’ thing.)

      I’ve heard that a similar thing happened to Courtney Love at a Hole concert, in the early 90s/late 80s – before they were famous, anyway. They were touring with Mudhoney, I think… I really don’t know, I probably would have been one at the time. But I’ve been led to believe that the experience of being sexually assaulted while crowd surfing – at her own concert – was what inspired Love to write the song ‘Asking for It’. (Grunge isn’t exactly metal, but it was pretty alternative to the mainstream.)

      I kind of wish I could take from this that things are just as bad (for Iggy Azalea) now as they were (for Courtney Love) then. You know, that nothing’s changed. But it sounds like it’s only gotten worse. I can’t imagine there were many Female Chauvinist Pigs at Hole concerts – looking to grope at the frontwoman! And were interviewers just as overtly and unapologetically scummy back then? (Not that the past was any better for women, mind. Just asking.)

  6. This article neglected to mention how racist Iggy is. Not only are her lyrics gross (“slave master”) but she also openly bashes races on Twitter. She is scum.

  7. While I of course agree that no one ever has the right to stick their finger in Iggy while she’s crowd surfing, I’m not sure she’s exactly a feminist icon… Half the tunes she “sings” are about porn-type-sex: She sings about strippers, giving blow jobs in parking lots, and orders men to “open their mouths to taste her skittles”. While I have not listened to the interview you referenced, it doesn’t sound to me like the interviewers were out of line by discussing the same subjects she covers in her songs. If I don’t want to talk about something, *I DON’T BRING IT UP IN PUBLIC*. Iggy is an active contributor to rape culture, she presents herself as a sexual object and refers to women mainly as “bitches”. While I agree it is terrifying that she is being fingered while crowd surfing, I think we need to talk about how she is victimizing others as well – any person, man or woman, who is engaged in activities that promote the perception of women as “objects” is a threat to me and endangers my safety.

  8. It’s the result of people seeing you as a product rather than a person, they don’t know you, you’re no more personable than an action figure or doll that is there for entertainment. However when Miley Cyrus performed at GAY she rode in on/sucked/simulated sex with a massive inflatable penis and then encouraged people to touch her in all sorts of intimate places while she sang, obviously if she’s ok with it then that’s one thing, but it simply exacerbates the problem for other artists and leaves herself incredibly vulnerable. It’s sad that the music industry focuses more on selling the artist than the record.

  9. oh, this comes right at the time i find myself sitting all bruised in front of the computer after a heavy metal gig. in my experience i can say that the safest i’ve ever felt as a woman is in metal gigs. i like to mosh big time, and i normally end up being the only woman in the pit, and never have i been singled out, groped, or felt any kind of sexist attitude towards me. in fact, i tend to take my shirt off right away, and mosh wearing only a sports bra. even when i’ve stayed shirtless after the concert ends i’ve found myself in crowds of men without being leered at, or had something said to me, at all. (and it’s not because i have “a man” beside me, i’ve always went alone)
    i can say that i’m really (and very pleasantly) surprised at this. in fact, this dude in the last concert i went to saw me mosh in my bra, and told me “hey, i wouldn’t go into the pit like that, it’s not safe”. i went anyways and had a great time.
    most of the activities i tend to engage in are normally places where women are in the minority (i like heavy metal music, i study engineering, etc) so i’ve gotten (sadly) used to people pointing out my gender as if it was a miracle of god that my vagina allowed me to have such “male” interests, or having to endure microaggressions in my everyday life (co workers telling me to go back to the kitchen “as a joke”, professors singling me out because i was “the only lady in the room”, a big list of etc im sure many women can complete) . so to me it feels incredible to finally be in a space where my gender really doesn’t matter at all. i recognize though that this is just my experience, i’m from argentina, so i don’t know exactly if culture plays a big part, and of course different music attracts different crowds. i feel really sad for iggy and for florence, and as someone commented above misogynistic aggression is not entitled exclusively to men, we all know women can and in many cases contribute to this culture of violence against women.

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