Photo by Nainoa Shizuru on Unsplash
Trigger warning: this article will contain sensitive content including discussion of sexual assault, mental illness and substance abuse.
A Canadian rock band has disappointed millions of fans after their latest sexual assault allegation, just a few days short of their upcoming tour for their newest album, “WE.”
The lead singer and multi-instrumentalist of Arcade Fire, Win Butler, has recently been exposed for alleged sexual misconduct in an article posted by Pitchfork on Aug. 27. The article dove into the testimonies of four alleged victims of sexual abuse and coercion at the hands of Butler.
Pitchfork independently investigated the sexual misconduct allegations made by four individuals who came forward with stories and evidence regarding traumatic interactions they had experienced with Arcade Fire’s frontman, Win Butler.
The victims spoke to Pitchfork pseudonymously, but their and Butler’s ages at the time of the alleged abuse were revealed to the public.
The survivors of alleged assault were all between the ages of 18 and 23 when their interactions with Butler began, while he was between the ages of 34 and 39 when the instances of abuse allegedly occurred.
The youngest identified victim, Stella, was only 18 when Butler reached out to her on Instagram, and at the time he was 36 years old. In Butler’s response to Pitchfork, he admitted that he sent sexual messages to Stella while under the influence, but that he wasn’t aware that these were not welcome, or worse, that their 18-year age gap was concerning. She also reported that in many instances, Butler would demand sexually explicit images from her, and he also sent her unsolicited graphic pictures.
Another victim, under the pseudonym of Lily, reported that Win Butler kissed them, and repeatedly touched them without their consent. At the time, Lily had a partner, and they were only interested in Butler as a friend, but in Win Butler’s response to these claims, he wrongly interpreted that Lily had been flirtatious towards him. Both of them described the times they met up almost identically, except for the fact that Butler thought of these interactions as romantic.
Unsurprisingly, all the victims that came forward were committed fans of Arcade Fire before they had established any interactions with the frontman, which complicated the situation further. The unbalanced power dynamics from such wide age gaps between the victims and Butler, and his status as a celebrity, made it overwhelming for the victims of sexual abuse to cope with their trauma- leading them to suffer from mental struggles and even suicidal ideation.
Win Butler’s Apology
Nearing the end of Pitchfork’s article there is a section that includes Butler’s full statement on the allegations, as well as a statement made by his wife and bandmate, Regine Chassagne.
Notably, Butler maintains that all interactions he had with the victims were strictly consensual; however, he brings up the substance abuse issues that he had at the time when the alleged instances of abuse occurred. Despite claiming that he did not engage in non-consensual sexual activity with the victims, he still felt the need to explain that he “fucked up” and that “[he] will continue to look forward and heal what can be healed, and learn from past experiences.”
His long-time partner Regine also put out a statement in support of Win, claiming that “[she] know[s] what is in his heart, and [she] know[s] he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent.”
Despite there being a statement from Win Butler regarding the allegations, many fans of Arcade Fire feel devastated over the alleged sexual abuse that the four victims were subjected to.
So far, fan requests for tour cancellation or ticket refunds are being ignored by the band. In fact, the band has already begun their world tour in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 30. Unsurprisingly, those who attended the show claim that the band did not mention the allegations during the show.
Moreover, the opening act for Arcade Fire’s show in Dublin, “Feist” has shown a larger degree of accountability than members of Arcade Fire itself. At the very least, Feist donated all proceeds from their merch to Women’s Aid Dublin, and ultimately decided to cancel her engagement in Arcade Fire’s tour.
Moving Forward The allegations against Arcade Fire’s frontman, Win Butler, are crushing for many long-term fans of the musical group. Despite many fans on social media completely boycotting the band, or demanding refunds for concert tickets, there are still many others who will decide to disregard the allegations and continue their loyal support to the band – as seen at their concert in Dublin, Ireland.