Having a platform is a privilege, and Richie Hardcore has a platform. He’s a DJ for bFM, a motivational speaker, a personal trainer and a writer. He seems to do some really good stuff around mental health, addiction and the prevention of gendered violence. Hardcore is also part of the #mybodymyterms campaign, which states in their about section:
In mid-2015, a group of people came together to talk about the hard stuff. Revenge porn, sexual assault, victim-blaming and consent. They’re difficult issues to understand and engage with, and that’s why we wanted to start the conversation.
That’s an awesome kaupapa and important work.
Then a few days ago Kim Kardashian posted a throwback photo of her censored naked bod on twitter and Instagram, and Hardcore weighed in.
Considering that #mybodymyterms seems to be about people, namely women, deciding their own ways to express self worth and refusing to be vilified for it, Hardcore’s comment was swiftly called up by women on twitter.
Hardcore wasn’t called up because he’s never allowed to make a mistake. He wasn’t called up because people decided he was deliberately pro-rape culture or slut shaming. He was called up because it’s possible to buy into, and contribute to, rape culture and slut shaming without even realising it. It’s why it’s so insidious – people often have no idea they’re feeding it.
In response, Hardcore tried to justify his thinking, retweeted supporters, thanked people for engaging with him constructively and blocked everyone else who’d been trying to speak to him.
Lizzie Marvelly, manager of #mybodymyterms posted a really lackluster statement which instead could have been used to talk about how campaign members are going to mess up sometimes and that’s ok, but they’re expected to do better. Instead, the statement reads as an all-eyes-on-you invite to Jess McAllen who wrote about the fall out.
Then Hardcore apologised.
I saw it, exhaled, and thought ‘Ok, well that feels a bit fake considering all those women are still blocked, but at least it’s an apology.’
And then I saw this.
I’ve seen Hardcore tweet at a woman and ask if she’d taken her meds, I’ve seen him fancy dress as an ‘esse‘, and most of his fitness stuff makes me wince. He reminds me of a straight edge cool youth pastor and his name drives me nuts, but his work on mental health and getting more men to talk about gendered violence is genuinely important. So I’ve continually put him in the ‘more good than harm’ category of male allies.
But COME ON.
If your going to be a spokesperson against gendered violence, you’re responsible to the communities you’re advocating for. And when you mess up, as everyone does, you need to be humble and genuine in making amends. Not apologise in one medium then call people unsuccessful cunts in another.
Here’s a tip:
Most women are DEFCON 1 exhausted by men who get platforms in social justice. Imagine having someone say they’ve got your back and then letting you down constantly. Like one after another, just when you think you can trust someone – BAM. Every single time.
Then imagine those people get societal kudos for applying the bare minimum of decency to marginalised groups they don’t belong to. Imagine they get listened to about issues that affect those marginalised groups more than people who actually experience those issues. Then imagine every time you feel frustrated or publicly despair about the situation, people tell you to stop turning on your own and be thankful for people who want to help.
Richie Hardcore is that guy with a platform, whether he means to or not. Many women are going to enter the conversation with him already exhausted and burned. He has the choice to lament the unfairness of that and divide people speaking to him by who’s nice and who’s “attacking” him, or he can be a point of difference.
Anger isn’t an attack. Strong emotions aren’t an attack. And as a woman who’s existed online through harassment orders, threats to my family and a constant avalanche of hate from weird US anti-choicers, it’s frankly offensive to call something an “attack” when it isn’t.
Crying “attack” when women are mad is a tactic to silence them into being even more generous with their time, emotions and unpaid labour in order to foster a better, more educated male spokesperson who reaps the rewards of that effort and then expects it all over again next time he fucks up.
Hardcore may have only made a small comment in a friend’s Instagram feed, but people are reading his stuff, big and small, because he cultivated a platform as a woke dude with good politics. And part of living up to that is not being a two-faced dryballs about the criticism that comes with the platform, it’s not very hardcore.