Conor Oberst’s publicist issued a statement in response to an anonymous comment left on an XOJane article about an abusive relationship with someone in a band. The person who wrote the comment claimed that they were raped by Bright Eyes musician, Conor Oberst, 10 years ago, when they were 16 years old.
Pitchfork published an article today titled “Conor Oberst Considers Legal Action After Anonymous Rape Allegation,” which included a portion of the publicist’s statement stating that Conor is “consulting with a libel attorney regarding this matter”. No one can say for certain whether the allegation is true or not, but the responses the discourse has triggered are very real.
Most people seem to be wondering why the comment’s author is posting her story anonymously in 2014, instead of going to the police in 2004. I ask them to consider the girl in Maryville, whose house was burned down after she reported her rapist. There is more pressure than just telling the truth when it comes to reporting a rape or assault.
How convenient that it’s so much easier for him to take legal action than it is for her! Sexual assault victims are questioned tirelessly about what they could have done to prevent the attack because it’s easier to believe that someone is lying than that someone is capable of rape. The truth is, only about 8% of rape accusations are false. Regardless of whether this anonymous commenter is telling the truth, the accusation should be taken seriously because MORE OFTEN THAN NOT the victim is telling the truth.
It’s easier to speak out about traumatic things when people don’t know your name and can’t talk down to you. In the case of someone who has fame, like Oberst, his talent will frame him as “the good guy”. However, being able to sing along to every song doesn’t mean you know everything about Oberst. Rapists are usually painted as the douchey frat boy, but they can also be the sad-eyed sensitive boy with the guitar. I’ve seen both.
It’s telling that someone would choose the route of anonymity instead of submitting a proper report. Assault victims are not treated well after they testify. I know friends who have felt much more comfortable sharing their stories anonymously because it offers some kind of release without having to personally face any of the backlash. It’s hard enough to deal with the trauma on your own without unnecessary harassment. It’s hard to find your voice once someone has taken it from you.
We can’t simply ignore comments like these just because they are anonymous. There is no way to prove the Emo songwriter guilty, so there is no way to prove the anonymous poster fake. There needs to be someone with a voice of reason for the other voices who are drowned out by waves misogynistic accusations. This isn’t just about some anonymous commenter. This is about every person who has been raped and too scared to report it. This is about every person who reported a rape and was harassed for it. This is for all the victims suffering because the world is more harmful after they have survived.