Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante: “I want to hold every human being accountable to actively fight for equality”

Spiritbox vocalist Courtney LaPlante muses on International Women’s Day’s ‘Choose to challenge’ campaign, and what it means for a white woman in heavy music.

Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante: “I want to hold every human being accountable to actively fight for equality”
Courtney LaPlante

Choose to challenge.

My first thoughts are a bit cynical: 'Choose' is an interesting verb to use.

Challenging the status quo doesn't really feel like an action within my line of work, I feel like by existing within the heavy music world that I don’t get to choose. My existence itself makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and often people avoid or scorn what makes them uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel like I am an intruder into a world where my presence makes others have to re-evaluate their lack of empathy towards women. Sometimes I feel like my very position in this music world relies on the fact that I am in a band with other men, validating me and showing other men that they can listen to and relate to my music. Sometimes I use my voice for dissent, and it makes for a lot of tension within the ecosystem of a tour. Someday I know I am going to have to pass on a tour because I do not feel safe around one of my peers. Someday I am going to have to justify why I chose to wear a short skirt onstage.

It's a strange feeling to have your existence – or how you choose to present your existence – become inherently political. How feminine you are, how masculine you are, all these presentations are subject to a higher standard of critique than my male counterparts experience. I could complain about it for a few thousand pages. It’s exhausting.

I believe this is typical in any male-dominated industry. I didn’t sign up to play ‘identity politics’ but I do not have a choice. I am not the one making the rules of the game. I would prefer to call it ‘reality’ instead of identity politics.

Things are changing, but I think the choice of challenging is a lot more difficult that it seems.

I want to hold every human being accountable to actively fight for equality. The onus needs to be put on people of all genders to nurture our girls and keep them safe. Men need to learn to empathise with us, just like we are expected to default to their experience in every aspect of society. I feel so much hope here, though. I see the new generation of boys growing up and treating our women with the most equality we have been allotted yet. I see all genders rejecting any norms that get in the way of them feeling like themselves. It’s beautiful.

Here is where we must actively choose to challenge, and what I understand this call to action to really mean.

The passivity of white feminism; the lack of intersectionality must be challenged. How can I expect my fellow men to stand up and challenge those that harm me, if I do not do the same for women of colour? Or our LGBTQ+ siblings? The civil rights movement of 2020 did create a dialogue about the importance of feminism being accessible to all of us, but should it take that for us to start living in reality? Again, it should not be a choice to learn about this, it is just inherently the truth – the reality that inequality runs rampant through all communities with many intersecting layers of oppression. I feel like we white women are cosplaying solidarity warriors, posting infographics on Instagram to display our wokeness. We demand it of our siblings that encompass the umbrella of feminism, but then we let it snap shut when they need solidarity in return. We feel sorrow for the lack of empathy we find from men, yet we let the intersection of racism and misogyny conveniently fade away.

We all must choose to stand as a unified front and challenge all oppressors. Stop dismissing and gaslighting women of colour when they explain the experience that their existence has given them. Listen. Signal boost. Stop talking over BIPOC. Actively seek out experiences from all women. Let us choose to challenge ourselves to stand up for our people, even if they are not around to hear it.

This sounds a bit angry – I am angry – but I have also a lot of hope. Again, I look to the next generation of human beings and they fill me with so much hope for the future. We need to learn from them and choose to challenge our out-dated self-serving ways of thinking.

If we do this, we are going to be okay. If we do this, we can truly reach ever closer to the goal of equality. We choose to become something great. I choose to listen and I choose to act. That is the choice of challenge, in my mind.

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