Braids' Raphaelle Standell-Preston on How the Steel Panther Campaign Opened a "Pandora's Box of Misogyny"

"I quickly became the focal point of an online hate campaign"
Braids' Raphaelle Standell-Preston on How the Steel Panther Campaign Opened a 'Pandora's Box of Misogyny'
Photo: Luke Orlando
Earlier this month, Braids were one of the many artists who spoke out against the sexist language used to describe and promote TC Electronic's "Pussy Melter," a guitar effects pedal made in collaboration with glam metal band Steel Panther. Now, the group's Raphaelle Standell-Preston has elaborated on the backlash she received after speaking out against the pedal.

In an essay for Pitchfork titled "Why I Fought the Sexist Gear Community (And Won)," Standell-Preston writes that sharing a petition to discontinue the pedal "inadvertently opened a pandora's box of misogyny."

She detailed her experiences as follows:

As musicians like Japanese Breakfast, Ted Leo, and Emily Reo reacted to or shared the post, I quickly became the focal point of an online hate campaign. Within hours, I was called a cunt, a whore, and a fucking piece of shit hundreds of times. Braids' social media accounts were hacked and targeted, with abusive comments left all over unrelated Facebook posts and Instagram photos. A prominent metal vlogger branded me a hypocrite (since one Braids music video is set in bed) and sold "it's far easier to sit around and bitch" T-shirts (and posters!) in my honor. Even the addresses and phone numbers of my bandmates were posted on Twitter, proving that doxxing can extend to male musicians if they're aligned with a publicly outspoken woman.

Standell-Preston wrote that "All in all, almost 1,000 people took time out of their lives to tell me that I am, in short, the reason people hate feminists, attempting to kill rock'n'roll, destroying free expression, and totally bereft of humor," adding, "while I've seen this kind of attack play out online many times before, this experience has taught me firsthand that women who fight against misogynistic language will be told their concerns are unimportant compared to everything else going on in the world."

She continued: "These folks claim that Steel Panther's exploitation of women is part of their parody of '80s glam-metal debauchery — all in good fun, they say. Their inability to even hear my critique suggests to me that the 'parodic' female degradation extends beyond the stage and into the behavior of Steel Panther's fans."

Standell-Preston concluded by noting that "Indie rock is now a genre dominated by women. We play more substantial roles than the stereotypes of eye-catching vocalist, mysterious muse, or star-struck groupie suggest. And the truth is, we always have.

"Speaking out against TC Electronic is not censorship — it is a reminder to the gear industry that it can no longer afford to leave women and non-binary players out of the conversation. We comprise a huge percentage of creators and consumers, and we deserve an industry that represents reality — not bad jokes."

You can read Standell-Preston's entire essay here.

Braids returned to action earlier this year with the arrival of two new singles. Last year, Standell-Preston revived Blue Hawaii to release Tenderness.