Conor Oberst, known mostly for his crooning as lead singer of Bright Eyes and star of our teenage angst, is pursuing a lawsuit regarding comments on a xoJane article that directed allegations of rape and sexual assault at Oberst.
The XO Jane article told the story of a woman who was abused by a rock-star boyfriend, and author of the comments felt comfortable sharing her alleged experience with Oberst, claiming she was raped by the singer at the age of 16. Oberst is, not surprisingly, denying everything, including ever meeting the woman.
Here's the Oberst camp statement on the allegations and the lawsuit:
"Today Conor Oberst filed a libel lawsuit in a New York federal court against Joanie Faircloth, a resident of North Carolina, who falsely accused him of rape in the comments section of the xoJane website in December of 2013 and again, some days later, on her Tumblr page. The suit counters Faircloth’s baseless allegations and states that Oberst never had any physical contact with her, either at the concert in Durham, NC at which she claims the attack took place, or at any other time. The only connection between Oberst and Faircloth was one of artist and fan – a fan who has posted laudatory comments about Oberst elsewhere online, including describing attending his band's concert as the "Best memory ever!"
The lawsuit filed today outlines Faircloth’s history of inventing stories and personalities online in order to gain attention. Although her false statements about Oberst have since been deleted from the locations where they were initially posted online, Oberst's suit alleges that her malicious lies spread across the Internet and are archived by multiple blogs. Through his attorneys, Oberst requested that Faircloth recant her false accusations, but she ignored the requests. Oberst has thus been forced to proceed with this libel suit in order to set the record straight and to clear his name.
Oberst is seeking to promote the truth and repair the distress this has brought upon him and his family. Oberst intends to donate the proceeds of this suit to charities benefitting the victims of violence against women."
The statement is hard to read, knowing we live in a victim blaming rape culture that always silences and de-values survivor allegations, statements, and stories, and devalues survivors in general. Harkening back to Dylan Farrows recent very public allegations of her sexual abuse, and the completely predictable rejection of her story as false and attention-seeking, this case feels like the same old shit. While no one can verify the truth of the situation besides Oberst and Faircloth, the story is almost always the same; the famous white male is protected against the attention-seeking wishy-washy woman's story. Let's just wait for the fail-proof dredging-up-of-her-sexual-past tactic, and defamation of her character.
Author Allie Jones writing for The Wire shares a great point about the assumed safety of speaking up on websites like xoJane for women who are looking to break their silence:
"xoJane's editors encourage readers to share — and they do. Articles rack up hundreds, even thousands of comments, which is good for page-views as much as it is for feminist community. Commenters up- and down- vote each other in a battle for visibility, and the discussions often deviate wildly from the topic of the original post. Some commenters say they've found true friends in this online community. But Oberst's lawsuit shows that while the system may be helpful, it isn't failsafe. Women may feel like they can talk freely about sensitive experiences, including rape, incest, and assault, but xoJane doesn't protect them from being accused of libel."
Thanks to The Wire and Pitchfork