With all of the chaos swirling around the PWR BTTM controversy, one key fact seemed to be missing – what exactly was the alleged abuse that guitarist of the queer-punk duo perpetrated? The band has already been dropped by their management, kicked off a festival, had four bands that signed on to tour with them drop off, and lost two touring members. All of this, in what amounted to only around a 24 hour period. Today, as more information comes and the story begins to focus on the details, we have the first information about how and what exactly the abuse that occurred manifested as.
Noted feminist publication Jezebel, like just about every other media outlet with an interest in counter culture, has been following the story closely. In their feature on the alleged sexual abuse, they had the chance to speak with one of the victims. Understandably, she chose to keep her identity under wraps, and is referred to in the piece as Jen.
To set the scene, these events occurred after a PWR BTTM show, and Jen is intoxicated. Referring to Hopkins, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, she said they seemed “like an okay person… because of what they preach.” She explains that Hopkins brought her home and became sexually aggressive. She says that led to them having sex with her without permission (meaning: raped her) while refusing to wear protection. Later that evening/morning, after she had fallen asleep she awoke to him attempting to have sex with her again.
As she told Jezebel: “I just felt totally powerless in the situation, first due to physicality because they are so much bigger than me in size and also social status. I was trying to be okay with whatever was going on.”
According to the victim, it goes on from there. Hopkins allegedly continued to send Jen nude photos; she hesitated to come forward, citing an experience as a high-school girl in which she was blamed for her own sexual assault. In fact, she says it took some time for her to even really process what happened that night with Hopkins as rape.
Back to the letter that PWR BTTM released yesterday, in which Liv and Ben stated they were shocked and surprised by the allegations.
The problem with this letter? Jen claims to have been approached by Liv Bruce (the band’s drummer) some time ago after he had heard some stories about her experience with Hopkins. Liv explained to her that Ben likely did not know what they did was wrong (kind of a tough sell considering the band’s activist aesthetic) and that Jen should reach out them. Jen says that was the last time she ever heard from the band.
“The statement that they made, I know for a fact, is an actual lie because I know they did know. The statement they made is 100 percent false.”
UPDATE (5/13): According to Reddit, PWR BTTM’s new album Pageant (which came out yesterday) is no longer listed on the Polyvinyl site. In fact, heading to https://www.polyvinylrecords.com/artist/pwr_bttm simply takes the user back to Polyvinyl’s roster of artists (which is conspicuously missing PWR BTTM). The label left a statement on Facebook earlier this morning:
Throughout our 20 years, Polyvinyl has purposefully operated on the core principle that everyone deserves to be treated with fairness and respect. There is absolutely no place in the world for hate, violence, abuse, discrimination or predatory behavior of any kind. In keeping with this philosophy, we want to let everyone know that we are ceasing to sell and distribute PWR BTTM’s music.
If you have ordered PWR BTTM products from Polyvinyl and would like to receive a full refund for your purchase, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask for your patience as we work to quickly process all requests.
We will be making donations to the following incredibly important organizations: RAINN (rainn.org) to support its efforts against sexual violence, and AVP (avp.org) to aid its programs against LGBTQ violence.
Our hearts go out to all victims of discrimination and all survivors of sexual violence.
Pitchfork reports Father/Daughter Records (who released the band’s debut LP) will remove all PWR BTTM music from streaming services and digital retail outlets. This comes after the label released a statement on Twitter and will no longer sell the band’s music (they released PWR BTTM’s debut LP):
UPDATE (5/15): According to Pitchfork, PWR BTTM’s music has now been removed from iTunes and Apple Music. The removal of the music from Spotify is also expected.
Watch this space for more updates on this evolving story.