Coachella reminds us of a lot of things: new music, old music and that there’s no shortage of floral head garlands in California. But for some reason, festivals like it have become synonymous with co-opting cultures. Past installments have seen women wearing bindis (see: Vanessa Hudgens), men and women wearing native headdresses (see: Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio) and some girls making the choice to wear Nathni nose piercings (see: Kendall Jenner). There’s no real reason this should be happening, and yet it’s become part of “festival fashion.”
That is, it seemed that way until this year, when, for the most part, the fashions were quite tame. An onslaught of pre-Coachella stories online warned guests to skip the patronizing and offensive displays, and Noisey even provided would-be Coachella-goers with a handy flowchart on when it is appropriate to pack a native headdress for the weekend. (Spoiler: it’s never.) But then of course, it happened anyway. Someone spotted this:
Just when I think that this year’s Coachella is Free of Native American headdresses, I see this guy. pic.twitter.com/IfL6UN1hdA
— chloedancer (@chloedancer) April 18, 2015
While going from hundreds of poor choices to tens of bad decisions is definitely a good thing, their existence is still indicative of a larger phenomenon. And one headdress was nowhere near the most offensive article donned by festival-goers. Because one man chose to wear this:
— Jemayel Khawaja (@JemayelK) April 12, 2015
The t-shirt reads “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat,” and after much sleuthing online, we can’t seem to find the company that makes it. There are plenty of “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” t-shirts, but as it stands, the shirt in question seems one-of-a-kind. So, this man actually went into a store and got it made, or perhaps the wearer made it himself. Whatever the case may be, it’s a horrific statement to be making.
Sure, there may be naked men and women mucking about in the mud, and that might not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s nothing entirely offensive about the freedom to be able to do that. And while Coachella may be witnessing an easing up on the vaguely – and overtly – racist fashion statements, the impulse to push boundaries hasn’t let up entirely. Shirts like the “Eat Sleep Rape Repeat” ones aren’t edgy, and they point to an illusion that rape culture is something that exists and therefore should be accepted – in the case of this man, he seems almost proud of it.
Perhaps someone should brew him a tea and explain to him what consent means and why his t-shirt belongs in an incinerator.