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COLUMN: Fans don't make you impervious to sexual assault allegations



Melanie Martinez, pop singer and winner of "The Voice," is the latest artist to be accused of sexual assault.

An old friend of Martinez, Timothy Heller, released a statement on Twitter about her sexual abuse without mentioning a name at first, but later clarified that it was Martinez. 



Heller’s statement is heartbreaking, especially knowing that she had refused Martinez multiple times and even repressed it for years, thinking that this was a normal thing that occurred among friends. 

However, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is the response by Martinez’s fanbase. 

The victim was immediately ambushed by fans saying it was false and that Heller was doing all of this to bring Martinez’s name down. Some even questioned the timing of the statement, insinuating that this could just be a move to capitalize on other accusers being exposed.

There is a disturbing trend surrounding these recent accusations. Instead of supporting the survivors and victims, fans are turning these situations around and making them about themselves. 

Fans of various artists who have been accused claim that these accusations cannot possibly be true because of one case where a fan lied saying singer Conor Oberst raped her. These allegations have since been cleared and Oberst is still dealing with the repercussions. 

Martinez has responded to the accusations, saying that Heller “never said no to what we chose to do together.” This is only fueling the fire from fans. 

People have responded to Martinez’s statement by saying that “never saying no” does not imply consent from someone, which is an important fact to point out. 

Some have put together the different signals of no that are not explicitly saying no. On this list are phrases like “let’s just go to sleep,” “I’m tired” and “I have a boyfriend,” which are all statements that Heller said she used when trying to defer Martinez from sexual activities.

Fans have also brought up the unsettling argument that Martinez is a woman and, therefore, not as strong as a man, which means she is able to be easily pushed off by someone alleging sexual assault. 

This falls in line with the narratives that women cannot rape others in general and that women would never let themselves be raped by another woman, which are misconceptions. 

The fact of the matter is that these women have nothing to gain from their accusations. They lived through the assault, probably lived alone in their suffering for a long time and are now facing vicious backlash from fanbases. 

The only thing they should gain from these situations is support and the hope that these abusers may never abuse another person.

mmgarbac@indiana.edu

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