Unfazed Opinions #2: Luke Rockets Sexual Assault
By Mary Perez
It was a regular Monday morning. I woke up early, groggily slipped into my clothes, headed to my bus stop, and found myself on my way to school. As I sat down in the cold seat of my bus, I opened my phone, checking my social media accounts. Hmm, nothing unusual. For the first time in a while, I opened the Snapchat story of my friend. The caption was something along the lines of “If you like With Con, you might want to check this out,” something that caught my attention pretty quickly, seeing that I consider With Confidence to be my favorite band. Sliding up on her story, I found myself following a link to a lengthy Facebook post from a girl whose friend had been sexually harassed by Luke Rockets, the guitarist from the band. In it, the girl attached numerous screenshots of conversations between her friend and Rockets. Her friend was only 14 at the time of the interactions; Rockets was 23.
The conversations escalate rapidly, and although it is implied that the screenshots are not the entirety of her messages with Rockets, it is easy to see how inappropriate the language he uses is. Her friend, Piper Vidler, said that Rockets was her friend’s favorite member and that she was absolutely thrilled to have a deeper connection with him. In the texts, Rockets asks her about her sexual life, requests that she sends pictures of her feet, and writes sexual imaginary scenarios between the two of them. According to Vidler, her friend was often uncomfortable and only replied back to maintain the friendship between herself and Rockets.
In 2017, this is not a new topic. Countless stories of celebrities and authoritative figures sexually harassing and assaulting others around them have flooded the news all year. What stands out to me about this story in particular is how many people considered With Confidence to be a band that they could rely on to stand up to this type of misconduct. Their songs have helped many to cope with tough situations in their lives, and they have a history of being kind to those they have met. Hearing this story was difficult for me. To find out that someone I considered to be someone I looked up to, as did many others, were given power and to have misused it so horrendously is just shocking. In no life should someone feel it okay to take advantage of others, especially minors. The victim, uncomfortable and scared to lose her “friendship,” allowed herself to be mistreated just to avoid displeasing her idol. Music should be a safe space.
This is seemingly an easy subject to understand. Regardless of whether or not a person is your idol, your favorite member, your friend, even your significant other, the perpetrator should be held accountable for their actions. There is no justification for being a sexual predator. There is no justification for pressuring minors into pleasing you. There is no justification for abusing your position in the lives of those who look up to you. If a victim of sexual abuse needs time to truly be alright before sharing their story, we should allow them that time. The strength any victim has to tell their story is so powerful and should not be taken lightly. I’ve seen people who think this is partly the fault of the victim. Who even thinks this is the victim’s fault? Why? Is it the victim’s fault for being underage? Is it the victim’s fault for being tricked into thinking this person was her friend, not a disgusting and manipulative creep? Is it the victim’s fault for not being able to fully comprehend the severity of the situation? Is it?
After the story surfaced, others began to bring their own stories about their experiences with musicians. To see so many musicians who many looked up to being exposed for their disgusting actions was shocking, but something I’ve come to know as normal. It’s horrifying to know that so many artists are abusing their fame to hurt those who love them. Thankfully, others are taking action against these musicians. Within hours, Knuckle Puck announced the departure of With Confidence from their current tour, and With Confidence released a statement about the departure of Rockets from their band. This is a step towards a safer musical environment, but there is definitely more to do. It’s also important to remember that the actions of one member do not define a band as a whole. I saw some people saying they were no longer going to support With Confidence, and yes, I understand why, but I don’t think that the other members should suffer from the actions of one of their now former members. They took proper action in removing him from the band, and I support that decision of theirs. I just hope that, one day, we can live in a world where we can find music as a fully safe space for people of all ages, genders, races, and sexual orientations. What do you think? Do you have any stories of your own experiences, good or bad, with artists? How can we move towards a safer future for fans?