The “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat” Coachella Shirt Controversy Is Stupid
Of all the shitty sartorial choices that took place this Coachella weekend, this article of clothing is upsetting people the most. Jemayel Khawaja, managing editor of THUMP, Vice’s electronic music blog, originally tweeted a photo of a guy at the festival this weekend, wearing a shirt that says “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat”. On Monday, THUMP followed up with an article, addressing the “nauseating celebration of rape culture” at music festivals: “What the “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat” Shirt at Coachella Says About Rape Culture at Music Festivals” Since then, the image has been upsetting on a viral scale, and reported on by multiple outlets. The Twitter response has been enormous, and no one is amused by the play on Fatboy Slim’s “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat”.
No matter how lax public response to rape culture may be, it’s difficult to imagine that this guy got dressed unaware of how his shirt would be received. More likely to me is that he knew he’d get plenty of attention from wearing this shirt to Coachella, the music festival known for the various fashion crimes that take place—denim shorts, fringe on any and all items of clothing, neon tank-tops, and bright bandanas are the established uniform. Now, the guy has his face plastered all over Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Jezebel. Buzzfeed’s headline reads “This “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat” T-Shirt Is The Worst Thing In The World. Yes, THE ENTIRE WORLD. Not just at Coachella.”
Understanding why this shirt is idiotic is not addressing rape culture. It’s just an example of how the media blows certain events out of proportion in order to foster reactions to symptoms of an issue. It’s frustrating to read the same articles written about this guy and his shirt over and over again, rather than actually engaging with tough topics like rape culture.
“I was en route to grab a drink at the Sahara Tent beer garden when I saw the guy. I did a double-take and figured I had to document him somehow. He seemed really stoked about it when I asked to take a picture, thus the peace sign and cheeseball smile,” Khawaja said. I’m a staunch feminist and a sensible human being, and maybe I’d wear the shirt too, if it meant I’d get a ton of attention.”
I’m not saying Khawaja should have ignored the shirt. There’s no question that public response to rape culture is generally disgusting. But until the media conversation surrounding this guy’s shirt generates a real conversation about rape culture at music festivals, I don’t feel there’s much of a point of featuring this guy on a website (am I a hypocrite for writing about it? I’m not sure). It would be cool, though, if somebody included this in a “Coachella Style Sucks” listicle instead—there’s a lot of material to be discussed on that front.