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DISxEASE sexist attitude controversy

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South American Feminist Front has fired its guns against a member of Sao Paulo straight edge hardcore band DISxEASE and a number of other members of the local hardcore scene. A series of open letters and official replies by the band’s vocalist have been posted online. Read up and decide whether or not you should see these guys live on their upcoming European dates, presented by Refuse Records, including a Fluff Fest performance (all shows are listed below).

First Open Letter , by Feminist Liberation Front – posted on 01/12/2013 at 16:57

The aim of this letter is to expose the discrimination against women that is kept in the so-called hardcore punk scene, exposing the hidden sexism in it, which should theoretically believe in equality, but in practice disseminate the opposite. We expect this letter to work as a self­defense tool against the actions of a group of people. We also intend to make visible that we are not gonna feel intimidated by sexist attitudes. It is a step to end the domination that affects us.

A group was created in Whatsapp, composed entirely of men calling themselves KINGS(?).They exposed women in their intimacy through photos of their ex girlfriends or girls that they had some relationship. These women were there against their will, being exposed like objects and their “subjects”. This and other humiliation of women, usually tend to be seen in a distorted way, people tend to blame the women, keeping a continuous playback of violence against their freedom.

Considering that all these men are part of the straight edge hardcore scene of São Paulo, is expected a posture of these who preach a horizontal and egalitarian vision on stage and on tour as well as in private spaces. It is also expect that egalitarian values postulated on stage would put in practice into their everyday life.

We assume that everybody reading this letter choose not to ignore such unacceptable attitudes that consequently silence women. Since there are oppressors among us, it is a public interest to fight in every way possible.

It is with great concern that we chose to ask to BOYCOTT not only these people but also their attitudes and projects, like bands and groups, in order to ensure safety of women in hardcore scene.

Here is the members list of  “KINGS” group:

  • Xavero Coast (Iran Costa) ­ Still X Strong, La Revancha, Duo, Coletivo Verdurada, Coletivo Não somos os primeiros. Não seremos os últimos” Dirt webzine, DisXease;
  • Bruno Lourenço ­ Direct Shot;
  • Athos Machado ­ Still X Strong, Inner Self, DisXease, Discipline Crew;
  • João Pedro Zeitlin (Jaypee) ­ Direct Shot, Coletivo “ Não somos os primeiros. Não seremos os últimos”, Stand Hard, Calças de veludo, Coletivo Verdurada;
  • Noel Cabrera Medeiros ­ Coletivo Verdurada;
  • Julio Novaes (Julio Gordo) ­ In Your Face, Inner Self, Discipline Crew;
  • Bruno Augusto (Bruno Maromba) ­ The Only Way, Coletivo. ” Não somos os primeiros. Não seremos os últimos”
  • Bruno (China) ­ Days of Sunday;
  • Daniel Lopes (Azeitona) ­ In Your Face, Baiano Loko (crew / recs), Discipline Crew;
  • Willian Lima ­ Days of Sunday;
  • Jao Teixeira ­ Werewolf, Discipline Crew.

The information shared here is extremely serious and we must not restrain us.

Initially, their group was created to discuss routine issues, schedule meetings and disclose personal projects. However, after some time, the content started to change, instead of discussions about scene, the biggest part of the content started to be pictures of girls that they had some kind of relationship or even ex girlfriends naked or semi naked and picture of sexual acts.

This situation came out when Marcelo (member of STILL STRONG) was looking for a video in the cell phone of one of “KINGS” members, and then he found a satirical photomontage of one of their friends. After some weeks Marcelo finally decided to tell this friend about the photomontage. Of course she felt really disappointed but decided to not take any attitude till knowing better about what else was posted in the Whatsapp group.

On September 14th 2013 in a party, in which most of the group members were present, the girl in the photomontage was alone with the cell phone of one of the members, and could see enough to confirm some previous suspicions and still found more satirical content regarding other friends and several intimate photos of girls. Based on these findings, she decided to talk to those involved in the situation. Basically, the reaction of most of them was to justify their actions with her boyfriend. Then scheduled a meeting between them (which she had not been invited to attend) to solve and discuss how would they act now that people knew about the group and photos.

We don’t know exactly what happened in this meeting, not even if it was only 1 meeting, but since it happened, things changed a lot. Contrary to our expectations, this meeting was enough for this girl to think that whatever kind of action against it would sound like “extreme” or radical. What means that for them, all those pictures and gender discrimination were just a joke, ignoring in this way, the fact of many women being oppressed, exposed and mocked by them.

After many of the victims were alerted, members of “KINGS” decided to act in order to stop this situation. In the 23rd of October 2013 in a show called “Political SxE” the KINGS threatened Marcelo for exposing the group. Thus, we can see the oppressor attitudes of these guys, which consider themselves powerful enough to hide their mistakes and take the right of victims to understand what was going on.

One month after, in another show called “hardcore na USP” (University of São Paulo) a band called “Deaf Kids”, gave space for one of the victims to talk in public and tell what happened. Later on, there was a vague and weak rectification from “KINGS”, via Facebook. All those involved posted the same content that was nothing but saying that they did something bad but not apologizing or explaining what happened.

An important thing to weight in this letter is that some bands of which member of “KINGS” were part of, have songs pro­feminist, about women’s liberation, right to abortion (that still is illegal in Brazil) and about women’s social oppression (some of the bands are: Direct shot and Still Strong). Therefore, is clear that discourses and practices are contradictory. If they build up an image of politicized men, how can these guys destroy and humiliate women in private spaces as soon as they have the opportunity?

There is some urgency in show our position in relation to attitudes that we see and the environment in which we live, to not be impartial with sexism and other forms of violence against minorities, as previously stated, collude with such attitudes and strengthen what is extremely oppressive. Thus, it is interesting that debates and actions are promoted that focus on sexism in libertarian subculture, the importance of independent participation of women and gender oppression.

Feminist struggle is based on mutual respect between beings, and the end of men’s manipulation over women. It is about the right of come and go in safety, without be abused by men. It is based in equal participation in social activities and the value of woman’s individuality recognized by her own will and not as a partner of a man. It is necessary to fight against patriarchal society that wants to judge and stipulate with whom women should have relationships, and how women have to behave to be accepted by men. Feminism is for DO NOT accepts sexist jokes and to NOT accept his idea and his band if it doesn’t represent women.  It is to destroy whatever barrier of man’s approval. We women, we do not need approval for nothing. When you human being, believe in equality there is no judgment about who is better and who is worst, superior and inferior. We are talking about human being; about women that do not exist to men’s satisfaction and that was not born with the privilege of being a man.

Parallel to this case in the subculture, it was reported by the media two suicides of women exposed through revenge porn, in the same situation as the ones in this letter. Then we question: how far the lack of common sense, disrespect, the lack of concern for the freedom and basic rights of every human being? The aggression we have suffered is not only due to ownership of our images, but also psychological and moral.

Open letter addressing sexism in the straight edge scene of São Paulo:

As people connected to the hardcore punk scene of São Paulo know, in late 2013 one of the most shameful episodes happened in hardcore punk scene of São Paulo. It was discovered that a group of friends, all connected to hardcore/punk scene and some of them even straight edge were sharing naked pictures of girls, with whom they had sexual encounters and\or a relationship with. Among the content were not only naked pictures, but also photos of their sexual acts. The big problem was that these girls didn’t give their consent. These acts are commonly known as “revenge porn”.
The group referred to themselves as “KINGS”.
An anonymous open letter was posted about the issue at the time, which can be read with all the details “below” (You have to consider that the first letter was addressed to the people of São Paulo, but translated now, so it is for who’s really interested to have a better overview of the case). Original post in Portuguese: Denúncia de machismo na cena Straight Edge de São Paulo

Almost one year and a half after the incident, we see that not only nothing happened, but one of them (Athos Santiago – vocals) will be touring Europe with his band, DisXease.

Before getting deep into the subject, let’s put the whole thing into context. Brazil is one the biggest countries when it’s about killing women. One woman is raped every 12 seconds, one woman is killed every 2 hours and every 4 minutes a woman is assaulted. Of course, when we talk about hardcore punk scene we know that it is affected by the society around it, but it should NOT keep reproducing the same structure of power and privileges of that society. That is just not what punk is about.

So let’s stick to the facts:
Straight edge and punk kids were doing Revenge porn. After their victims and the rest of the hardcore scene discovered, they addressed the issue posting a letter saying nothing but “we did something wrong, but we can’t say what we did because it will incriminate us”. A week after everybody knew and the open letter was released, people asked for boycott and, of course, they hit back. Their friends hit back. Their band supporters hit back.

After the girls spoke out, formed collectives, a lot of people “chose sides”. Instead of the guys saying that they were wrong and do what we expected as part of hardcore punk scene, they did the opposite. They started intimidating girls at shows, threatening not only the victims, but their friends and supporters.
Right after the letter, one of the collectives made a t-shirt with the writing “This is feminism”. Which leads us to a specific episode: Athos, one the members of DisXease, during a show of his band “Inner Self”, made a speech about the issue. The speech was about him considering himself as a long term member of the hardcore scene and that no one could take him out. Then, he finished the speech saying that these girls should shove their feminism up their arse. (video below / Vimeo with English subtitles).

The result was girls moving away, girls being hit in hardcore shows, girls being threatened, girls being humiliated when in the same room as them and, of course, girls feeling intimidated not to participate in hardcore punk anymore. Suddenly, in an environment where victims of sexism and violence should feel welcomed, it was happening exactly the opposite.

Since the tour is in a few months and they’re playing in festivals and with bands that are known for having anti-fascist and pro-feminist attitudes, we feel that it is our responsibility to make everybody aware of what happened. And considering what was exposed in this letter, we also fear for the safety of the girls that might find themselves in the same environment as Athos.

If you are somehow engaged in punk subculture, I assume you know that sexism and fascism sometimes go hand-in-hand, and shouldn’t be accepted in those spaces.

Official statement by the band:

My name is Athos, I sing for the band DisXease. It has come to my attention that an open letter has been posted about myself and the band:

As I’m the member of the band who’s been involved with this whole situation, I feel it is only fair that I tell my side of the story and respond to the points that are incorrect.

A couple of years ago me and some friends had a Whatsapp group in order to talk and have fun. One day, one of the guys in the group (Bruno) posted intimate pictures of a woman he previously had a relationship with.

We know that in Brazil many people would just have cut him a break saying “boys will be boys” because we have a huge problem with sexism in our culture, particularly when it comes to immature 18 years olds like he was at the time.

However, contrary to what has been claimed, none of the other participants in the group supported his behavior or did the same with other women. Actually, we were bothered by it told him what he did was wrong.

Bruno wrote a statement in February of 2014, which can be found here:

~ Translation in English ~
“Approximately a year and a half ago I, Bruno, made a mistake acting by impulse and immaturity, and ended up harming and betraying the trust of someone  I had lived something important with. I’d never done anything of the sort, as it does not suit my nature. Therefore, I regret it deeply and take the blame for said act.

In a group originally made for chatting and online conversation between friends, and not just for pornographic and/or intimate content as has been claimed, I shared a photo that exposed the intimacy and privacy of the previously stated person. Once again, I deeply regret for having done it and accept all of my consequences for it.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this act came to reach people who had little or no involvement with it at all- people who saw the picture, people who play in bands with me, or even simply people who are merely my friends. I’d like to clarify that I have never backed away from having to deal with these consequences, for the responsibility of the act is mine and my own to take, and that I understand the pain I’ve caused in the person exposed, as well as the ones around her that felt affected by my actions. I hope that this pain can be cured, or at least, minimized. I have been and will continue to learn and grow with this.

I understand that I might not be the best person to speak in this matter, but I feel that sexism does not cease to exist with my or my friends’ expulsion of the scene we’re part of, as much as that may frustrate people seeking immediate solutions. Because it is to say the least a limited conception, if not an illusion, to think hardcore is completely detached from the environment and society around it and therefore any individuals who eventually reproduce its defects internally, deserve to be banned, purged or boycotted. The best way to combat the sexism enrooted in all of us ever since we were born is to understand it as a problem of our scene as it is of our society, and thus seek to eradicate of our small daily actions.

It simply does not make sense to abandon what we know, and give up the learning and maturing experience we gain from our mistakes. The expulsion of those who fuck up does not fix and does not address the problem at hand. I believe the most progressive, constructive, sensible and mature measure is to continue our efforts as a band, and that’s a long way’s from “getting off with a slap on the wrist”. Quite the contrary- we all recognize the seriousness of my mistake, have and are learning from it, and seek redemption; and the best way we know to bridge these gaps is to never commit the same mistake again and to continue doing what we know best. Direct Shot is not over, we still have a lot to say. We will remain with this band and other projects, promoting and producing things in the way that has helped us grow, hoping that the people around us are able to do the same.”

As said in Bruno’s statement, my involvement in this event was being in the same group, and having seen the picture when he sent it. Although I told him it was fucked up to do such a thing, perhaps I made a mistake by keeping it private and trying to make him understand what he had done instead of going public at the time and exposing the whole situation.

I believe most people can understand how difficult it is to make this kind of decision when a friend does something wrong.

I have never shared any picture of any girl I’ve been with, never threatened to do such a thing, never assaulted any woman, as some people accuse me of having done. Again, my mistake was to remain quiet about it.  If people want to judge me as guilty by association, that’s up to them. Just do not judge me for things I haven’t done.

As for the video posted, I had actually just replied to a particular feminist collective based in São Paulo, that had made a t-shirt with a Baphomet stamped with the following phrase “This is Feminism” as their collective sign. I was angry at the time and referring to their claims that we should all be banned from something we had dedicated our lives to, while keeping a blind eye towards people who had done worse. Therefore, in a moment of emotional distress, I said mean, rude words which weren’t particularly smart or thought out.

However, my rant was either misunderstood or deliberately distorted, as if I had said something against feminism. What I said, however stupid, was not against feminism, but against that particular people and the t-shirt. This can be understood by anyone who understands Portuguese. I corrected it at the time and transcribed my actual words when people posted it on Facebook. I do not, nor have I ever had any problems with feminism.

I am not claiming to be a saint, or anything close to a perfect individual (who is?). But I’m not blind to the issues of sexism, and problems women face every day that are addressed by feminists. Since these episodes I have been through a lot, my life has changed very much and I have worked hard on myself, trying to better understand questions of gender, sexual orientation. If this whole mess has brought one good thing, it was that it made me develop a more critical outlook on myself and my environment.

Nobody is born a feminist – and I, too, needed time and opportunity to understand what feminism really means. Luckily, my partner and female friends teach me about it every day. I support, and always will support their struggles and I am fully aware I will never be able to understand what it’s like to be a woman in our society nor will I claim to know how these struggles should be fought.

This however, doesn’t mean I will condone people spreading lies and distortions about me. I fully admit what I did do wrong, but reserve the right to correct lies and distortions about myself and what actually did happen.

These words were written about me as an individual. However, I feel safe to say DisXease, as a band, has the same ideas concerning feminism, equality and respect for other people. This is a misrepresentation of us as people and as a band.
If anyone wants to talk about it with me, I’m open for dialogue.

Thank you all for your time.

GO HERE to read an interview with Athos, commenting on the controversy.

South American Feminist Front’s reply to the band’s statement:

Since a reply to this open letter was posted, it seems necessary to reinforce and clear some points:

The group “Kings” was created not only for the purpose of revenge porn. It was created as a group to share information, but after a while the content changed. This has already been established in the first letter.

Even though the response that has been offered at the time was cited, it is still far from the truth – despite any attempts to overshadow it. As it was said in the last letter, they made a post after the first letter was released. They pasted it on their own Facebook profiles and all of them used the same text. This is the text translated:

Considering all that happened in the last few days, I think we owe an explanation to ALL PEOPLE involved and the ones that we offended somehow. A group, that initially was created only to exchange some ideas between friends, but ended up getting out of hand, which didn’t match our regular attitudes. First, we should apologize. We feel sorry for all of you that are engaged in hardcore punk scene, for all those who noticed OUR mistake. We are sorry for not having seen what we were becoming. Moreover, we not only recognize our mistake, but also realize the importance of your warning and for the scene we are part of which, to give us the chance to expose our explanation, not only about our attitudes in the past but how we must act from now and on. We do not see feminism in such a comic view, our ideas must be consistent with ideas in the punk movement, without sexism, racism or whatever other kind of discrimination. We know we have committed mistakes and we are prepared for future consequences, we are open for dialogue with people that somehow felt offended. About the aggression in the show on Friday, we make clear that we do not agree with that. Due to the lack of pronunciation in last few days, many different versions of the episodes has emerged, and we want to listen to all of you, so we can make clear some unclear parts of this story.

Please notice that plural was used in this text. They changed their story right after, when they noticed that people were shocked with their behavior and boycotting. Bruno was chosen because the girl who discovered was the only one who spoke out. But we shouldn’t get caught up by only one fact of the matter. The second letter is not only about slut-shaming or revenge porn. The second letter is also about their threatening behavior towards girls who raised their voice.

It was claimed that those who speak Portuguese would understand the video in a different way. One day after the original video was released it was discussed by parts of the Brazilian hardcore community (native Portuguese speakers). The question that remains is: If one isn’t bothered with feminism, why would that person make such a statement about a t-shirt and feminism? Why would that person not use his voice on stage to spread something good instead of hate towards these girls?

Girls SHOULD speak out, girls SHOULD address sexism. With this statement he not only tries to silence them, but also shows that he does not care about one of the victims, who was part of this collective. The collective and the t-shirt was her way of speaking out against sexism, against the violence she suffered. So he just told the victim to shove the act of raising her voice into her arse. He calls it rude. I call it dangerous.

It should also be said that it wasn’t the only so called “mistake” people in this group made. It is not a case of a one-time thing. Things like catcalling, public humiliation of transgenders and constant slut-shaming are examples of the group’s regular activities. But they seem to not see a problem there as “boys will be boys”, right?
Yet again it is interesting to notice how easily some are being granted the benefit of the doubt. The story of another man is being favored over the story of women being subjected to harassment, assault, and violent misogyny. This pattern is repeating itself over and over again. The story of the victims is not being taken seriously.

We would like to believe that in this one year Athos has changed for the better, but since recent threats were made to those who didn’t give credit to their story and we can’t afford to risk our or any other girls’ safety.

Athos must have really thought about it, but it seems that he put more effort into his image and how the world might see him rather than showing concern to those who were damaged.
Contrary to Athos there is no reason for us to distort the truth. Our image is not on the line. We only reinforce the legitimate demand for safe spaces.
If punk taught us something, it was to boycott things that are extremely wrong.

DISxEASE commentary, part II:

Just as was quoted on the first statement that was shared once the story became public, when we admitted OUR mistake we were talking about the fact that we saw the pictures and although we spoke to Bruno when he did it, we never brought this outside that group.

Also, we sometimes sent each other porn stuff (from porn websites/tumblrs/instagram/etc) – whether one approves or not of porn itself, it was all consented material that was available to the public, nothing like “revenge porn”- so we might have created an environment that could’ve induced Bruno to share that picture. We were witnesses and somehow we, the rest of the group, made a mistake, not exactly the same one as Bruno’s but still a mistake.

Once we were supposed to fight sexism and we didn’t when he sent the picture, we felt like we should’ve apologized for our failure as people inside the hardcore scene, and we did, even though our original letter was not very well written. It took some time until Bruno could process what he done and write his own statement. But he also did and he admitted with his own words what had been done.

About that video I will only quote what I wrote on the interview given to DIY Conspiracy:
“As I said on my statement, the speech was for the collective that used the shirt and that only. I know I didn’t choose my words wisely and they sounded angry and stupid. But what made me really upset was that this one collective would claim we should be kicked out of the hardcore scene, and what Bruno did was unforgivable, but at the same time they would be silent about other people who did the same or worse.
There was a guy who I know shared nude pictures and videos of girls he talks to but was always ok with this particular collective because he had a personal relationship with a member. It obviously doesn’t redeem us in any way or change what happened on our side, but it made me really mad to be attacked so hard while others were given a second chance or were seen as saints. For this reason I felt it was a personal issue and not a feminist fight, otherwise the rules would have been valid for everybody, not just for us. I don’t believe the guy should be kicked out of the scene (as they would claim we should) but I found it hypocritical that they hid what the other guy did while pointing fingers at others as it was the convenient thing to do.”

I just pointed out why I said that and I also pointed out another case on the same level as Bruno’s. And the person who wrote the answer to my statement seems to not have read this let alone question it or anything like that. I’m not here to attack anyone, but as people can see the facts above are being distorted again and I just mentioned one episode that those people didn’t care about clarifying or denying which is similar to what I’m being accused of. Again, the facts are only being distorted.

DISxEASE European dates:

DISxEASE tour dates

26.07. Czech Republic, Fluff Fest, Rokycany
27.07. Czech Republic, Prague, After Fluff Matinee w/ xIronx (S), Hall Del Akta (S) and more
28.07. Poland, Kraków w/ Anchor (S), Iron (S) TBA
29.07. Germany, Berlin @ Kili w/ KDC (Puerto Rico)
30.07. Germany, Plauen w/ Anchor (S) TBA
31.07. Germany, Altenburg TBA
1.08. Austria/Germany/Czech Republic (AVAILABLE – GET IN TOUCH!)
2.08. Hungary, Budapest TBA
3.08. Slovenia/Croatia (AVAILABLE – GET IN TOUCH!)
4.08. Italy, Bologna @ Freakout
5.08. France, Marseille
6.08. Spain TBA
7.08. Spain TBA
8.08. Portugal, Lisbon
9.08. Spain TBA
10.08. Spain TBA
11.08. France, Nantes TBA
12.08. France , Nevers TBA
13.08. France, Paris TBA
14.08 Belgium, TBA
15.08 Belgium, TBA
16.08 Belgium, TBA

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