Friday, May 1, 2009

reponses to sexual abuse debate

For the record, what IS your reason for discussing "awful shit" like
sexual abuse? What are you trying to acheive? and if you are trying to
bring justice, closure, understandinging, or warmth to these events,
how is dwelling and giving so much negative energy to these topics
helping anyone at all? I can totally see why someone might be upset (
if they weren't aware of the lyrics prior to seeing the show) who has
been sexually abused. I think when you are dealing with these issues in
such a manner, and then turning them into pop songs, there might be
some confusion amongst listeners w/ understanding the merit behind xiu
xiu's message. Overall, I don't think peoples negative responses to
the content should come as a surprise.

YES these issues can be hard for people to deal with, but you have nothing to do with their experiences aside from reminding them.
&& even then: what about the internet, video games, EVEN television. how many episodes of Law&Order are played each day. && with that in mind: im sure a few episodes have tackled the issue to.
its not like jamie stewert is the cause of all your pain. he (you/jamie) are only trying to express yourself && your experiences. PLUS: you HAVE had these things happen to you. so why the F*@k cant you sing about it. if you cant then WHO

Xiu Xiu is notorious for its very up front and blunt lyrics dealing
with sensitive topics, so I see no reason why a warning would be
necessary - even if you've never heard the band, you've most likely
heard of them, which would probably mean you might have some idea of
what to expect. Whatever, there are exceptions, but it's not like the
band's lyrics are there simply to push peoples buttons, so to speak.
They're at least intended to serve a purpose and, as far as I know, are
about personal experiences had by members of the band or by the band's
close acquaintances. While I can sympathize with someone who may have
experienced some kind of trauma due to the band's lyrics at a live
show, it's a little obnoxious to be so self righteous and entitled and
act as if the band has done something wrong. The use of "us" also seems
rather obnoxious because it seems to a degree to assume that this is a
mutually held feeling by all who have been sexually abused, or that
Jamie Stewart has offended all victims of sexual abuse: It turns what
is essentially a totally subjective issue that seems to mostly be
centered on one person into some kind of universally felt problem or
big, terrible issue. (Although they could, in theory, be speaking on
someone else's behalf.) Lastly, sexual abuse is not the only
potentially touchy topic addressed in Xiu Xiu's lyrics, so if you're
going to make a complaint like the one that was apparently made why
don't you also include those who may have lost loved ones to suicide,
been in a relationship that was abusive in a way that was not sexual,
experienced social alienation, had serious issues with their sexual
orientation or gender, experienced war, or lost a parent (I'm sure lots
of people have lost parents)? This just doesn't seem like a
particularly well thought out or reasonably presented complaint,
although I suppose the offer to Jamie of discussing it with him
deserves a nod of acknowledgment. I really hope this isn't phrased in a
way that comes off as obnoxious or pretentious.


I read your most recent post on sexual abuse and wether or
not it should be talked about.

Aparently 'we' live in the age of conscious blindness
and 'we' choose to ignore subjects instead of dealing with them.

Sexual abuse is one of those common things and it should be presented
and dealt with as such. The most traumatising part is the lie
A reason for listening to music or well.. in general..
consuming art is to be touched.

If people don't want to be confronted with the subjects you work with
and can't stand the mirror you provide in then they should simply
be elsewhere consuming other art.

An artist should never trade integrity for pornography.


are you kidding me
shows are for shows
not directed group therapy
if you can't deal
leave the building
or take another xanax


You and Xiu Xiu do something that is very very
rare and that is to talk about things honestly and bluntly.
No, you do not need to engage in a discussion or give a warning
about songs before shows. What would the point be? In my
experience the ONLY thing that has helped me work through
my sexual abuse is to talk about it. My experience with
your band, for what it's worth, disagrees with the note-writers
interpretations and concerns.

When I started listening I had never spoken about or even
considered working through my sex abuse. The bluntness of
your songs did not offend me, but rather let me know it was
possible to talk about these things. Also, by the time I did deal
with my sex abuse through therapy and talking to my friends and
listening to your music, I never once felt that you or Xiu Xiu
did not have a right to talk about sex abuse, even though I was not
aware of your past. I was just glad someone was saying something.
If there is one thing I believe in, it is talking about what people
think you can't talk about. I wish more people talked about sex abuse,
actually, because I know, believe me, how horrible it is to think that
sex abuse doesn't actually happen, when it is sadly somewhat common.
I guess what I'm saying is that you do not need to make excuses for
talking about sensitive subjects and any kind of discussion
what would that look like? who would have the right to
talk then?) would be a kind of excuse.

So, anyway, that's been my experience, and actually the experience
of a few friends as well, so I think the sentiment of the note may
have been something of an anomaly? But I guess you'll see what the
response is.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you for what you do, it has
been unbelievably important to me.


The person's request was in my opinion.. ridiculous. There is no reason
any artist should feel responsible for 'warning' people of the content
of their work beforehand.
Who hasn't heard this before: Any good
artist will create based on what they know, and that is what they will
do best; that which draws from their own experience. I believe to a
great extent that what an artist creates is done out of a necessity, at
least I feel that it is in part a self-medicating act. Whatever
experience inspired a particular song, etc, is inevitably going to
relate to someone else in the world. There are a hell of a lot of
people on this planet, and even drawing on the most personal of
experiences, it's impossible to make something that is exclusive to
that one individual. So from this (as some would argue)
selfish.."masturbatory" act of self-medicating comes an immense web of
people who realize this shared experience and are able now to perceive
it in a different way. It might still be a very painful way. But it's
someone else's. I don't know what other reason there is for art that is
as wonderful as that.
Imagine every artist who dealt with
difficult topics had to put a cautionary label on all of their work.
Do we really want to close ourselves off from all issues that may
affect us? Maybe that individual simply isn't ready to see their own
experiences reiterated, and that I completely understand. But to
suggest that art, writing, songs, or whatever it may be, should warn
the viewer of any content that might personally touch them, is such a
denial the very act of shared experience. It diminishes it somehow.. I
feel like I'm writing you an essay but I really feel strongly that you
shouldn't feel guilty about this.

Even if you don't buy all
that, what the hell does one expect in coming to see a Xiu Xiu concert?
Chicken soup for the fucking soul?


Where do I even begin? I suppose I will preface my view on this by my
own personal story, which I don't think I've ever told you, because to
be honest I've never told anyone for fear of it being my fault, or fear
of you, or anyone thinking less of me, and rejecting me because of
things that happened when I was a kid. I read the blog today while I
was at work and my co-workers would not leave me alone long enough to
gather my thoughts and write you an e-mail. So, my thoughts have been
going back and forth for six hours now, so hopefully I can write
somewhat constructively.

My father was a Locomotive Engineer for the Burlington Northern
Santa Fe for the first ten years of my life, and for the only solid ten
years of his "clean" life. My father is a drug addict, and so knowing
him for the first ten years was like knowing a different person
entirely. My Dad didn't relapse until I was ten years old, which
coincidentally was the same point in time that he took over full
custody of me. I actually had a dream about his relapse before we moved
into our new house, and I remember it being one of the most vivid and
frightening dreams of my life. The dream it self wasn't even that
scary, but for some reason in the dream felt loss, and I told my Dad
and he assured me that everything was fine, and that he had not even
considered using in ages, and I was safe with him. I still feel like a
liar every time I think of it, but the dream did happen, and my Dad did
relapse. It started with his pain pill script, and eventually he
slipped back into the awful world of stimulants. Don't get me wrong,
seeing someone snort coke at a party does not frighten me, what does
frighten me is a used syringe floating in my bathroom toilet, and a Dad
that has not slept for over two weeks trying to convince me that my
decade old stereo is the source to all of the problems "they" are
causing our once safe family. It was about this time that I started
noticing Danny, my dads co-worker and trusted friend who began spending
all of his time off from the railroad in our swimming pool wearing a
thong and paying a lot of attention to my ten year old body. To be
honest, I don't even remember how developed I was at that age, but
enough for this person to take what I assumed to be innocent interest
in me, and my swimming and diving talent, since my dad was always
entirely too busy "fixing" his recording equipment, or securing all
possible entrances to our home. At some point the line of the
speedo/thong was crossed to entire nudity. Mind you, Danny always
seemed to be nice, and he was very open about his nudity, but at ten I
just thought that his nudity meant he was different and unique like me,
not that he actually wanted me in a way I was not yet developed enough
to accept. But now that I am 22 I think that main thing about Danny was
that he paid attention to me, as soon as my Dad stopped, Danny started.
In my mind my Dad wasn't watching me swim four laps with out coming up
for air anymore, but Danny was, so this was entirely cool with me at
that age. It got to the point where we didn't even keep groceries in
the house anymore, and my Dad would send Danny and I to pick up dinner,
or Danny and I would go out alone, because my Dad was not eating
anything, because he was fucking high on meth, which at the time I
didn't even think of. These car rides eventually turned into him not
wearing anything, and me discussing how I wanted to travel, see the
ocean, the world, etc. So, Danny would even bring me literature about
becoming a flight attendant and things that made me sincerely believe
that he was interested in me, and the furthest though from my mind was
that this dude is jerking off in presence because it gets him off. I
knew what sex was, but masturbation and orgasms were not yet in my
vocabulary. When my Dad stopped working regularly and giving me my
allowance, Danny stepped in and took me for more car rides where he
normally gave me things, like C.D.s, or he took me to put a really nice
camcorder on layaway once, which the layaway lasted all of one week and
later turned into $500 bills, but it made me think this guy is really
into me, my interests and my future. My dad couldn't even keep
groceries in the house, and this guy was buying me all of these nice
things, and all I had to do was sit in the car and listen to him talk.
Him touching himself didn't even alarm me at the time. It wasn't until
I actually started taking interest in boys that I realized the point in
him touching himself. By this time our home was pretty much tweaked
apart from the AC and Heating unit to the wiring in all of the walls.
My dad was searching for whatever "they" were causing. At one point
there was a crack in the glass of our garage window and he asked me to
confirm that I too could see the hidden video camera (which wasn't
there). I can even remember waking up in the middle of the night with
my dad under my bed with a flash light, looking for something "they"
did. Even the electric guitars were taken apart as if they were somehow
bugged. This Danny thing went on for years. It started feeling weird
when I was old enough to have a boyfriend that wanted to put himself
inside of me. My retarded logic could no longer accept that it was OK
to sit in a car with a weird old dude that happens to give me allowance
because my Dad is too strung out to pay any attention to me. When my
dad would "come down" from the meth he would get so mad at me, for
whichever reason and say things like "well, you're lucky I do not rape
you"! Which was sooo fucking confusing. My dad was my hero, my friend,
the guy I trusted for ten years, then he had turned into someone that
was measuring my luck to him not raping me? I remember when I was
fifteen I stayed at my aunts for a month or so, because I had the
fucking flu, and our heater didn't work at my dads, because he fucking
took it apart. When he finally came down he decided that it was time
for me to come home with him. My aunt told him no, and to get his shit
together first. He didn't like this and involved the police. On our
drive home he was screaming at me, and telling me how he would shoot me
right then and there if he had a gun, and that he couldn't even stand
to look at me. He hit my shoulder in some kind of manic rage, and I
told him never to touch me again, at which point he punched me in my
left jaw, which was the first time he'd ever physically abused me. When
we returned home to our mess of a house, he told me that I better fix
it all, and admit that because of my absence, and because I was the
woman of the house it was my fault, or else he'd take me to the youth
shelter. I told him I was done making excuses for him, and to take me,
because it wasn't my fault. This was also the same day he told me that
I was did not even believe in God, because he had gone through my
books, and found some fucking Wicca book, my ex-boyfriend had given me.
Shortly after my youth shelter experience I stayed with my other aunt
who had just recovered from breast cancer and was finally paying
attention to our situation again. I wound up at my mom's at some point
after all of that, and moved out of my mom's after my seventeenth
birthday. This is when I moved in with my first roommate Luke who was
totally attractive to me at that time, so I accepted his tendency to do
cocaine and watch porn in my presence. I can't say that I was ever
raped, or that anyone other than my older boyfriend I hung out with
when I was maybe fourteen, or fifteen put themselves inside of me
without my wanting. I was so so so self-conscious at fifteen that my
saying no would end with more loneliness and confusion, so allowing it
felt like the best choice, even though I gained absolutely no enjoyment
out of it. I suppose the peek of sexual abuse was Danny. I can't say he
tied me up or anything, but he definitely took advantage of my young
naive self. Even though I really need to finish College I am so
grateful that I have a job, and know better than to accept money from
people like Danny. I am so so fortunate that I live in a place where I
can earn my living with out selling my body.

It wasn't that long ago that I started really listening to Xiu Xiu.
I was 18... Yeah, 18. My not really boyfriend, but dude I was totally
in love with, and slept with regularly for two years, or more; anyway!
Matt (the same guy that made you guys those Henry Rollins? Fuck Henry
Rollins, I think CDs and brought them to the Consevatory). OK, it was
Henry Rollins, I just googled Bring us Henry Rollins and confirmed it
through the Xiu Xiu blog. Anyway, Xiu Xiu stood out to me, and out of
guilt I assumed Matt bought me a kill rockstars crate filled with Xiu
Xiu C.D.s and a t-shirt one christmas, and I totally fell in love with
Xiu Xiu, and have been hooked every since. I am 22 now. I remember it
was around the time that I moved out from living with Matt that I was
living alone, totally alone for the first time ever in my life I
listened to Xiu Xiu a lot, and at some point I sunk into a semi-deep
depression. OH! I remember why, Matt continued to fuck me, but stopped
actually doing things with me. Like, he stopped watching movies with
me, and hanging out. The only time I saw Matt for that period was after
the bar, which I was not old enough to go to yet. H

e would come by after the bar closed. I started cutting my wrists,
which when I first started seeing Matt we had a talk about, and he
determined I was better off not doing so, which I agreed to at the
time. Anyway, Matt lied to me one night, and said he was sick and going
to bed, so we would not be able to hang out. I found out otherwise and
got REALLY upset. My dad picked me up, and took me to dinner. See, this
was before I meet my current therapist, and this was after listining to
the honesty of Xiu Xiu. My dad said he had seen my Mom and I got really
pissed, because my mom and I had separate issues at the time, and so he
said some shit about her still being my mom, and I screamed oh yeah,
and are you still my Dad?! I then pulled up my sweater and showed him
my diced wrists, and said SO NO, DAD! I am not fucking OK, things are
not OK, and have not been for a long time. He asked me what I meant,
and how long have my wrists been that way. I told him how he never
noticed before when he was busy destroying our home, and that its gone
on for half a decade at that point. He contacted my aunt, who then
suggested I go to the mental health center I now go to, instead of the
current therapist I'd been seeing and getting no where with. It was
because of the bluntness of Xiu Xiu that I had the courage to throw
something so heavy out there to my Dad. If I didn't feel like I wasn't
alone, and that there were others out there with similar thoughts and
feeling to mine, then I would probably be fucking dead right now. There
is honestly no other release to me personally like the one that you
provide in your music. If it weren't for Xiu Xiu, then there would not
have been a release for me. When I slit my wrists for the last time in
2007 it would not have been the last time, and I would have pressed
deeper with the stupid exacto knife, but because of Xiu Xiu I looked up
at my autographed record, and I saw my silly polaroids and cats looking
up at me, and I stopped. I said to myself that the puddle of blood on
the ground was an issue, so I called my friend and felt OK talking
about it. Later that winter I admitted myself to a behavioral health
facility. I hadn't picked a way yet, but the thoughts were getting very
real, and knew if I didn't do something that I would end my life. That
was around the time I started e-mailing you.

Life can be so so messy. I think that my heart is fragile
sometimes, but I know that it isn't alone, and I do not think that you
are responsible for prefacing your performances with any type of
warning, or discussion. You are such a kind person, so I think is
someone really needed to talk to you, then at that time I feel you'd
try your best to help. It is that lack of a warning that makes Xiu Xiu
what Xiu Xiu is to me. No one warned me of all the hurt I'd feel in my
life, just like no one said Hey Alecia, this will help you cope, listen
to Xiu Xiu. Xiu Xiu stuck out to me, and it happened to, and happens to
still help get me through. I live in Oklahoma, I heard stupid shit
about Meth all of the time, and it doesn't automatically make me fall
apart thinking of how my dad abandoned his responsibility of being my
father, and totally left me as bait to his pedophile friend Danny. I
just don't get this person's point. Art should not come with a parental
advisory, or hey, if you were sexually abused this might bring up some
bad memories. The memories are going to exist one way or the other. My
opinion is that if someone has questions for you, then OK. But to hold
you responsible for walking people through a fucking tutorial of your
performance before, after or during, that just sort of irritates a part
of me. And Jamie, I am sorry if I am a bad person for it irritating me,
but it feels like this person is attacking what in my opinion helped
save my life.

I think I have expressed my point as much as possible, so I am
going to read over what I wrote, and click send. I hope you have the
time read this mess of an opinion. I know you said you would not reply,
but maybe we can talk about the secret I just told you when I see you
again someday. I never thought I would find someone I would tell, I
thought I was going to take this to my grave. I have not even told my
therapist about the Danny person from my childhood, and thanks for
getting it off my chest. I've been carrying it for more than a decade


My mom asked me as a teenager if I didn't think holing up in my room
all depressed listening to The Cure wasn't just making my depression
worse. Well, no... Someone else sort of got it, and seemed to be
doing something amazing with it.

I don't think you need to worry about triggering anyone, or to hold
some contrived K-records discussion circle in your sets.

Your work is to do what you do; to represent you and your experience.
People will relate to or be repulsed by that, but that's not your

You be you. Those of "us" with abuse history are well adept at
spotting signs and situations that make us feel uncomfortable or
unsafe, and avoiding them if we choose to. It's not your job to be a
shrink to anyone.

these are your songs that you wrote and recorded onto an album to perform in front of a live audience. the majority of attendees are aware of your music, both the content and style, before buying tickets for the show, and know what to expect, more or less. providing a disclaimer prior to the performances seems a little....tacky.
the music speaks for itself, it is not your job to lead discussions about songs that have not even been sung yet. i think it might be traumatic for the abused and non-abused alike, but you run the risk of offending someone with every song you perform.
all of our issues extend beyond our initial with the music - it is an avenue to become more aware of why we feel what we feel, the discomfort, how to overcome the past, and how to inspire others on the road to recovery. there is no need to hide behind notes here, i think you have created a safe place for us to share them without ridicule. there is always going to be someone wigging out at your shows, that is the beauty of it.
everybody i love you


the best you can do (as an artist) you already do : make people realise that there are ways for them to express how they feel and that it is OK to do it.


I read this before going to work and thought about it all day. I would go for "fuck you fucking arrogant wounded dumb shit". Why? Because I think that this person should see a psychiatrist instead of going to Xiu Xiu shows if this is such a big issue for him/her.
I also think that this person doesn't have a right to speak for "us" because there might be people (?me?) who've gone through this who find comfort in your music. Does this make sense? I don't know

In response to you being the right person to talk to about going through sexual abuse...through your music you seem to be. The blunt way you write your music has made me able to come to turns with certain sexual abuse that has happened to me. Not really coming to terms with it.......but really accepting that it happened and that it happens to people everyday all the time. So, um, this warning thing is ridiculous because you are totally capable of performing these songs at a show and the way it is performed allows people to feel the song to feel the emotion coming from the song and going into their bodies.

it's perfect.

no warning.

that is all.

I'm sorry this didn't make much sense, but it is how I feel.

wow, tough one.
as an artist, your trade is self expression. particularly given that the things you are singing about are coming from your own experiences, you are well within your rights as an individual to say what you want about how they've made you feel. if xiu xiu is your outlet, your way of addressing and coming to terms with these issues, you owe it to yourself to continue to do so. having said that, it can be a fine line between expression and exploitation, but only you can make that call; only you know what motivates you.

it is not your responsibility to do anything at a show other than perform. a show is not a support group, unless you want it to be such. you choose the direction your show takes the way a painter chooses what goes on his canvas. while it is admirable that you express concern for "being the right person for people who have gone through this," you cannot be everything to everyone. those same people must understand that the world is an unpredictable place, one in which we may be faced with challenges of all kinds--including emotional ones--at any time. it is the responsibility of the individual to anticipate and prepare himself for the world, not the other way around.

i think it's good to be sensitive to the feelings of others, but not to the point that you are forced to deny yours. i also think it's good to care a little bit about what other people think, because it gives you a broader perspective than just your own. but i've never met a great artist that didn't do something on the off chance that it might offend someone. cultures are shaped by the lines that are drawn in that very sand.


if you don't sing about it - who will? you ARE leading a discussion by creating this music. i respect you a lot for your willingness to dive into these topics. you're not a therapist and you should not feel like you need to hold people's hands through their experience.

maybe performance art would be better for him. consider being sexually abused on stage for your next act. your position will then be clear.

that's my opinion.

isn't the very fact that you write songs about abuse a way of engaging people in discussion?

if anyone arrives at a xiu xiu show not knowing that the music deals frankly about uncomfortable subjects... well, then either they didn't do their homework, or the friends who drug them to the show need to improve their descriptive ability

but ultimately, isn't jarring people part of what xiu xiu is about? dealing with honest issues in honest, often painful ways? my own story with xiu xiu involves recognizing something painfully similar to my own story in a xiu xiu lyric... yes, one of my first reactions was intense anger at jamie, but i quickly realized that was the wrong reaction, and that led to some self-analysis, which led to me growing as a person because it made my own fears/hangups/bullshit... and there's no way i could have done that in a conversation with an artist i admire a great deal and an audience listening in

of course, this guy has the right to get angry - we can't really control our initial reactions to things - but you also have the right to ignore what is a completely inappropriate expectation - if you were a riot grrl who has a history of this kind of give-and-take with the audience, i'd expect it, but asking you to lead a discussion in a hand-holding sing-along when your music has been at times confrontational... that just seems wrong