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Ex-Babes In Toyland bassist says rape essay got her fired

Maureen Herman claims a personal piece she wrote about being sexually assaulted led to her being kicked out of the riot grrrl band

In 1975 Jackie Fox, bassist of The Runaways, was allegedly raped by her manager, Kim Fowley, in front of a room of people, all high on drink and drugs. Her story came out last year and touched a lot of people, starting conversations about misogyny and sexual assault in the music industry, as well as victim blaming and “bystander syndrome”, which explains how people can witness a rape and not act.

One person moved to action by the story was Babes in Toyland bassist, Maureen Herman. She now claims it was this response that got her kicked out of the band.

The longtime band member wrote her own piece in July last year about her personal experience of sexual assault. She said, “Ignorance about rape can tragically mute any instinct to protect or tell. I know firsthand the devastating and eviscerating impact it has on a victim, and the damage it does to the public’s understanding and acceptance of rape and disclosure.” She added, “As a rape and incest survivor myself, it matters to me how victims are perceived and treated in the press and public. In cases where they come unapologetically forward, as Fox is doing, they win my deep admiration. I never reported them to police, in one case because I was an active addict at the time, and, following the script of fear I had learned growing up female in America, I partly blamed myself for the turn of events.”

By August, Babes in Toyland announced Herman’s exit from the band, citing “personal differences”.

“Despite the severe fallout from my own bandmates about writing the article, and it being the catalyst for me getting kicked out of my band, I regret nothing”

However, following the recent publication of a personal essay by Fox, Herman wrote a Facebook status shedding more light on the dismissal. She claims that it was her personal essay that got her kicked out of the band.

She wrote: “My very brave new friend and fellow bass player, Jackie Fox of the Runaways, wrote a piece about life after her Huffington Post rape disclosure. I'm honored beyond words that she mentioned me and my article in Boing Boing as being a support to her. It was her bravery in coming forward that forever changed my perspective of my own sexual assaults.

Despite the severe fallout from my own bandmates about writing the article, and it being the catalyst for me getting kicked out of my band, I regret nothing. I will never be silenced, by ANYONE.”

In a phone conversation with City Pages, Babes in Toyland drummer Lori Barbero denied these claims. “She’s so toxic, I couldn’t give a fuck what she says, to be quite honest,” Barbero said. “It just pushes my buttons, I guess. Over all these years I’ve realised the only thing I can do when anything is negative and toxic, you have to let it go. And that’s the reason we have to have a new bass player. It has nothing to do with rape. The relationship didn't work out and we moved on, and that’s really the bottom line.”

“What I did not apologise for was the article, because there is nothing to apologise for”

In the comment thread of her Facebook post, Herman suggests that Barbero was uncomfortable with the essay in part due to her production work for Fea, a band signed to the label owned by former Runaways singer Joan Jett. Barbero says Herman taking issue with that arrangement “caused a little problem,” but ultimately was not the reason she was fired. 

Herman then followed up Barbero’s comments with defiance. “(At the first show back in LA in August) Kat gave me a list of seven grievances that Lori had for why I should be kicked out of the band,” says Herman, calling the list “ridiculous”. “The catalyst, Kat told me, was writing the article about Jackie Fox, because (Lori) felt that me being critical of Joan Jett threatened Lori’s business relationship, which I had no idea even existed. With Kat’s help, I wrote a response to her grievances, trying to acknowledge my part in any of these things, and a willingness to try and work it out. What I did not apologise for was the article, because there’s nothing to apologise for.”

Dazed has reached out to both Herman and Babes in Toyland for further comment.