This past month has seen the topic of sexual harassment and the mistreatment of women flood the headlines of every major news outlet worldwide, managing to shine a light on some of the entertainment industries biggest predators no matter their stature or public appeal, finally getting the coverage it rightfully deserves. Upon reading about all these cases though, my mind instantly went back to this summer, I was at Glastonbury enjoying the wonderful First Aid Kit when with just one song they managed to grab not just my attention but that of the entire audience, everyone was utterly captivated by the song “You Are The Problem Here” and the harrowing true to life story behind it.
Sonically it’s a sharp departure from First Aid Kit’s usual bright folk, it swaps their pleasant almost soothing acoustic guitar sound, opting instead for sharp almost stabbing electric guitar riff’s, their beautiful vocal harmonies are swapped out for grunge styled shouts of defiance, it’s produced with such care and precision that they’re really able to emphasise the meaningful and significant lyrics that comprise every verse.
After every live performance of the track, Klara and Johanna (First Aid Kit) pause and describe what enraged them to create such a passionate and fired up track, ‘You Are The Problem Here’ is a direct response to one man, Brock Turner, in 2015 then 20 years old, he assaulted and raped a defenceless, highly inebriated young woman behind a dumpster at his university campus in Stanford, the act itself is completely horrifying indeed but what made the case stick out so much more was the events that followed, Brock decided to shift the narrative, he refused to admit to his awful crimes instead writing a letter blaming his assault on alcohol and the party culture that comes with university, in his statement he said; ”I want to show that people’s lives can be destroyed by drinking and making poor decisions while doing so”, The jury, on the other hand, didn’t buy it and he was unanimously voted guilty, when it came to the sentencing however, the case took another disappointing turn, the judge sentenced him to a mere 6 months in jail for his crimes (of which he only served 3!), but why? because according to the judge “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”
It’s that story, more specifically the words of Turner that brought out the lyrics of 'You Are The Problem Here', Klara and Johanna make a point of saying after every performance, it’s not alcohol, it’s not peer pressure, it’s not anything to do with the woman, it’s you! you are the problem here Brock Turner!. It’s not just the chorus of the song however that focuses in on the case, If you take a minute and really listen to the lyrics, you’ll find the whole track is written as a counter-argument to that Stanton case, The girls have managed to take that feeling of anger we’ve all felt learning about this case and combined it with their passion and natural talent for songwriting, in turn creating some of the most thought-provoking and powerful lyrics written this year, it picks apart Brock Turner’s pitiful excuses and turns the questions on him for a change, take for example that first verse;
"When did you come to think refusal was sexy?
Can't you see the tears in her eyes?
How did you ever think you had the right to
Put your entitled hands up her thighs?"
And then later on in the second verse….
"Do you really expect anyone to feel sorry
That you ruined your own life?"
As you can see, throughout the song they are refuting his ridiculous statement and pitiful excuses, instead asking him the difficult and unanswerable questions that the judge never did, I hate to admit it but I was completely unaware of the entire trial back in 2015, I imagine so were the rest of that crowd back at Glastonbury, like I said previously though the pair managed to capture the ears of everyone in that large audience, we were all completely heartbroken and the utter silence that covered the thousands of people during Klara and Johanna’s speech has and always will be etched deep in my mind.
Right now, I imagine that you’re feeling just like how I was, deeply curious to find out more about this harrowing case, not because you have some sort of a morbid curiosity but more out of the sheer disbelief at how inept the justice system can actually be, That's why I implore you to read the young woman’s victim letter in full (which you can find here), It’s a very in-depth and at times distressing read, it is, however, an important one, not just for you to hear this brave woman’s tale but to really take it on board and to realise just how big of a struggle she and many other women have to go through every day because of predators like Turner.
It’s a shame that this fantastic song hasn’t sparked the conversation it deserves, only now when Hollywood icons or more aptly titled cockroaches like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are shoved into the bright spotlights of the press are we finally having the discussion about women’s welfare and just how present the issue of harassment and rape is, may I add, not just among famous people but as you’ve now discovered everyday women as well, I’ve read many disgusting comments online about the metaphorical bandwagon that so many victims are apparently jumping on to prosecute these vile men, but look at Stanton and ask yourself from the perspective of the victim, is it worth a year of reliving all that pain just to see the person who caused all this to get an insubstantial sentence? Is it worth people throwing the doubt back at you, dissecting every decision you’ve made to reach that point of speaking out, looking to find any way to cheapen your character? When you think of it like that, it’s easy to see how much a victim will internally struggle with themselves before deciding to speak out, that’s why “You Are The Problem Here” is the most important song of 2017, First Aid Kit have created an empowering song for women which showcases that no matter what anyone else says, the crime itself is the problem here, not you!
The single “You Are The Problem Here” was released on March 10th in conjunction with International Women’s Day, as well as this all the proceeds are going to the charity Women for Women International.
Article written by Philip Giouras