Athos Machado of DisXease on Accusations of Sexism and Misogyny

After reading a tumblr blog signed by an anonymous feminist group in Brazil where they were expressing their concern on a revenge porn incident that happened in 2013 involving a straight edge hardcore crew based in São Paulo, I’ve got in touch with Athos Machado, the singer of DisXease who was personally affected by the publication. Here’s his answers to some of my questions.

Please, introduce yourself and the bands/projects you’re involved in and what kind of values do you think are important to build an inclusive and non-violent DIY hardcore punk scene?

My name is Athos. I sing for DisXease and in the past I was a member of Still X Strong, Inner Self, Stand X Hard and the Verdurada Collective. I believe that some people can be afraid of being rejected from any social circle. Hardcore is not free from that. Although it should be a place where you feel free of every kind of prejudice, unfortunately we all grew up in a world with fucked up values and we need to be re-learning everything day by day.

That being said, I believe that we should motivate people to start doing things. Women, gay and transgender people, people with skin colors other than white (yes, we still have not much black or brown people in the European hardcore scene) should be encouraged to make things happen. To start a band, to learn how to play an instrument, to voice their opinion through a zine, an online magazine, to enjoy social struggle and help each other out. It’s not easy at all, but that doesn’t mean they should give up and they need our support to make things happen.

I believe that it’s good when people who are “part of the problem” decide to stand side by side with others in struggle. Men should support women on feminist issues, white people should support black people on racial issues. Everybody should support LBGT people over their fights to have the same rights as everybody else. Obviously that doesn’t mean leading their fight, but supporting them can only help.

Have you been involved in any bands or collectives with female, genderqueer or trans* participants within them? What’s the gender ratio within the hardcore/punk and straight edge scene in São Paulo?

The Verdurada Collective (which I’m not part anymore) had genderqueer members in the past (I don’t know now) and there’s always been women in it. Although women and specially genderqueer/trans people are a smaller number in the São Paulo hardcore scene. In later years the number of participants has been growing. But there’s still a lot to improve when it comes to that.

What is “Kings” and what kind of values do the members of the crew share between each other? What’s the purpose of this group and is it male-identified members only, as the name might suggest?

“Kings” was the name of a chat group me and some friends had on Whatasapp. The group was just the way we found to talk to each other faster. We were/are really close friends that travel, hangout, go grab a coffee together every weekend, some of us would organize shows every other month, basically stuff that close friends do. We are all hardcore kids, some really young, some a bit older.

It was never a revenge porn group. The intimate pictures that were shared were something that Bruno (one of the younger members) did, probably to feed his ego, as I explained in my response to the open letter. At the time I told him that what he did was fucked up and the picture should never be shared anywhere else and (I thought) that this was the end of the story. Afterwards the group just remained as before, a Whatsapp chat where we used to talk to each other.

Although there was never a female member on the Whatsapp group this was never a rule or something we ever thought about. We just added people who used to hangout with each other, same as other chat groups. We’ve always hung out with women as well, they just weren’t in this particular group.

The name “Kings” was actually “Kings at Crime”, which is the name of a song by NYHC band Skarhead. It was never supposed to mean we were “kings” of anything, we just used this name as a joke once (as we’re obviously not criminals as well) and then turned out that the name remained as the chat title.

Does anyone else from the “Kings” crew (or any other group you’ve been allied to) ever been accused of sexist, misogynyst or any other harmful behavior except Bruno Lourenço, who has been accused of showing revenge porn in an internet chat group?

No, that happened only with Bruno.

To be more precise, the open letter denouncing the whole thing accused everybody who was in the group and the other open letter obviously accused me as well. But it was the pictures he sent that detonated the whole thing.

One important thing: as I said in my statement, I don’t claim I’ve never done anything wrong in my life and as I said, I’m still trying to learn with my mistakes and improve as a person.

I am not pretending to be a saint or the most politically aware person ever. But the fact is people are accusing me of things that make no sense. If I did all these things I am being accused of, then where are the victims, who I did it to?

How did you react to the revenge porn video and is there some kind of accountability process that Bruno is engaging with to change his behaviour and to be accountable to the survivor?

It was pictures, not a video. Not that it makes much of a difference anyway.

Like I said above I wasn’t cool with it. I talked some sense into him, as other members did and that never happened again.

I know Bruno tried to apologize to her around then and she didn’t accept it. Which in my opinion is 100% understandable. It was not a surprise that she was really upset and wouldn’t want to talk to him.

What I know is that since then Bruno learned a lot, he seems to have grown as a person, mentally speaking. The whole thing was a huge deal in Sao Paulo at the time and affected a lot of people in many ways, so it had a huge impact on all our lives, and especially his. He has been into reading about more about what women go through every day in our society and I’m pretty sure he is practicing what he’s been into.

Unfortunately nothing will ever erase the mistake he did and the least he can do is try to become a better person and support the women struggle.

Have any girls, women, queer or any kind of person been threatened, abused or intimidated by a band member, friend or supporter of your band, crew or a group of male hardcore/straight edge people after the revenge porn incident? Is there any truth that the hardcore scene became a more hostile place for women after the incident? What about the time frame after The Open Letter was written by an anonymous feminist group?

Definitely not. That was never a thing. No women or queer people have been threatened or abused by any of us at all. Since it happened we have seen women who were supposedly involved in this open letter in the same venues and shows as us a bunch of times and no abuse or threats like that ever happened.

About “the scene” becoming “hostile” for women, I don’t think so. If someone gave examples I could comment on them, but if anything I think this whole thing made the scene in general more aware of these issues.

You would have to ask women though, not me. Obviously I can’t speak for them. But probably different women would have different answers.

Have you ever received any other accusations of sexism, misogyny and violence? Have you ever been accused from any other feminist group or activists besides the anonymous group who wrote the two open letters published on the internet?

Definitely not.

At least nothing before or unrelated to this situation. After the letters of course we were demonized and people would accuse all of us of many things in anonymous comments, but those should not be taken in consideration.

Do you think that revenge porn is a serious problem in Brazil in connection to all other kind of problems that women are facing in Brazilian society? Do you believe that sexism, shaming and macho pride exist in the São Paulo hardcore and straight edge scenes you are part of? Do you think that the “Third World” and poor favelas background of a lot of men in the hardcore punk scene is an explanation for some kind of thug, macho and violent behavior some of them might have?

Revenge porn is present everywhere and it’s still a big issue in Brazil. Women have been victims of it everywhere and I think it’s unfortunately still far from the end. But at least now there are laws concerning those who violate the privacy of women so maybe things will start getting better. We’ll see.

And yes, I do think sexism, shaming and macho pride still exist not just on the São Paulo Hardcore scene but everywhere in different forms. Even in the most PC scene inside the punk culture you will find that. As I said, it’s a process of reconstruction and we all need to re-learn every value we were taught. None of these actions can’t be unseen though.

And yes, I also think the third world and the all the misery behind the third world helps this whole behavior to be built and sustained. Not particularly in the scene, where there are people of every kind of background. From personal experience, I came from a place where women, black people, foreigners, genderqueer and transsexual people are automatically judged by who they are.

I was always taught that I was uglier and worse because of my skin color. That I wouldn’t go anywhere being a “negro” and I didn’t deserved better. Same about women, which in society’s view should be housewives forever and attend to all demands their husbands’ request. I believe that everything I learned about equal rights I owe to hardcore-punk.

I’m still learning a lot about everything including feminism and gay rights, but I’m glad for I’ve been taught by my female and gay friends.
And I believe that if more females, genderqueer and black people are introduced and better accepted in hardcore there will be a bigger chance for people in the scene to learn how to change for the best than in the “real world”.

Please, elaborate on the video posted online where you’re reacting to a shirt saying “This is Feminsm”.

As I said on my statement, the speech was for the collective that used the shirt and that only. I know I didn’t choose my words wisely and they sounded angry and stupid. But what made me really upset was that this one collective would claim we should be kicked out of the hardcore scene, and what Bruno did was unforgivable, but at the same time they would be silent about other people who did the same or worse.

There was a guy who I know shared nude pictures and videos of girls he talks to but was always ok with this particular collective because he had a personal relationship with a member. It obviously doesn’t redeem us in any way or change what happened on our side, but it made me really mad to be attacked so hard while others were given a second chance or were seen as saints.

For this reason I felt it was a personal issue and not a feminist fight, otherwise the rules would have been valid for everybody, not just for us. I don’t believe the guy should be kicked out of the scene (as they would claim we should) but I found it hypocritical that they hid what the other guy did while pointing fingers at others as it was the convenient thing to do.

Did you tell Robert Refuse or any other person who is booking your European Tour about the revenge porn incident and the open letter issued by a feminist group year and a half ago? Do you feel worried about your European Tour or any of the shows being canceled because of this story? Did you try to hide it?

Robert knew about the whole story since the first letter was published in Brazil. He wanted to hear both sides of it and then have an opinion about it. I never tried to hide, never lied and I accepted all judgment when based on the truth and not on these lies being spread.

I’m worried about the tour of course. But once people read my statement and try to understand both sides of the story, it’s up to them to do whatever they think it’s right.

Thank you for your time and explaining the situation from your perspective. Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for the chance to explain the situation with my own words and I hope people will start judgments after knowing both sides of the story.

Mittens XVX

Positive person bringing a small fragment of warmth and light in a dark and cold world. Editor of Tigersuit Zine. Founder of DIY Conspiracy webzine. Contact him at: mitkoxvx@gmail.com