The acclaimed singer-songwriter opens up about her theme song to the poignant documentary Audrie & Daisy, rape culture in America, and much more. “>
The first time Tori Amos watched Netflixs documentaryAudrie & Daisy, about two teen rape victims driven to suicideone completing her attempt, the other a survivorit left her numb. Its a call to arms, she told The Daily Beast from Los Angeles, emphasizing the urgency of the eye-opening film about rape culture and how America is failing to educate young people of both genders on consent, with devastating results. Because these are our boys and our girls. This issue is important, because its not going away.
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenks alarm bell of a documentary tracks the parallel stories of two teenage girls from opposite sides of the country who shared an unconscionable trauma. Audrie Pott, 16, was a bubbly California teen from the Silicon Valley-adjacent town of Saratoga when she was sexually assaulted and defiled by three male classmates at a party while she was passed out. The boys took pictures and shared them on social media. After eight days of harassment from classmates over the photos, Pott hanged herself.
Daisy Coleman, 14, was living in Maryville, Missouri, in 2012 when she and a 13-year-old friend sneaked out to drink with an older senior boy. She blacked out at his house party and had to be carried out, crying, and woke up hours later in her own front yard in below-freezing temperatures, her hair frozen to the ground where she had been dumped. Despite a rape kit that tested positive and cellphone footage of the crime recorded by another boy, charges were dropped against Colemans well-connected alleged perpetratorthe grandson of a four-term state politician.
Coleman, like Pott, found herself deluged with cyberbullying threats. Other kids taunted her openly and slut-shamed her, and the harassment extended to her family. Her mother was fired from her job at a local veterinary clinic because her daughters case was causing conflict within the small towns petty politics. Coleman, like Pott, attempted to kill herself twice. Months later, her family lost their house when it mysteriously burned to the ground.
Grammy-nominated musician Amos, a longtime activist and rape survivor herself, threw her support behind Audrie & Daisy after watching the film. Twenty-five years ago, Amos blazed a trail for sexual-assault survivors when she wrote her own rape, at the age of 21, into the song Me and a Gun, and became a national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) in 1994. When she watched Audrie & Daisy for the second time, she found the inspiration for Flicker, an original song of survivorhood, empowerment, and collective responsibility that became the films stirring theme song.
In Flicker, Amos outlines the bigger picture at play in cases like Potts, Colemans, and that of Delaney Henderson, another California teen whod survived a similar assault and dedicated her life to reaching out to other girls like her. Amoss lyrics acknowledge pain, loneliness, and traumabut they also empower, celebrating the strength within these young women. Heroines, they are not born they are made, she sings.
Much of the discussion around rape culture and consent in America revolves around sexual assault on college campuses. But Audrie & Daisy makes a chilling point of showing how rape culture among men starts even younger, with boysand its the parents and adults who fail to educate their children on consent, rape, and bullying who need to hear stories like Potts and Colemans just as much.
When you think about how the teenagers in the Audrie case were defining abuse, saying, Well, we thought it was just going to be kind of funny Kind of funny, to assault her and draw on her and then put those photographs on social media? said Amos. On one hand, it seems to me that we as Americans can be very puritanical about talking about sexuality with our teenagers because maybe if we dont, it will just go away. Maybe we dont have to deal with it, because thats happening outtherewith somebodyelsescommunity, somebodyelseskids. And its like, No, guys. This is happening.
These kids know how to operate technology, she said, but theyre emotionally dangerous.
She pointed to the case of Emily Doe, the woman whose powerful victim-impact statement to her convicted rapist, Brock Turner, went viral this summer and underscored the systemic failures that resulted in a relatively light sentence for the former Stanford University swimmer. Turner served only three months behind bars.
Id argue a lot of people out there want to control women through these policies, Amos offered. Thats what I think is driving it. These people want to control our being. The source of that drive? Fear. The patriarchy has had power for so long, and its only recent that its been shifting.
To those voters still on the fence between voting Hillary Clinton vs. Trump, she says: Keep watching. Keep thinking it through. Keep thinking about what constitutes presidential behavior and how they handle themselves. To become president of the United States, I do believe you should have experience. You cant just go operate on someone without being a doctor.
Everybody needs to be present right now, Amos continued. Im not going to tell another person how to vote. I dont think that thats fair. I think what we should all encourage each other to do is before we press send, metaphorically, we need to think about the consequencesreallythink about the consequences. We have a responsibility to really think about what this could mean.