The Boy That You Loved Is the Man That You Fear – When The Mighty Fall
TW/CW: mention of abuse, victim blaming
I have been wanting to write this post for a while but I just couldn’t get myself to actually sit down and think about the mess that was going on in my head, and the feelings that come along with it. What I am about to discuss might not be something that many can relate to and it is only tentatively linked to sex but I still feel that my blog is the right space to express my thoughts around this topic. It just touches upon so many subjects: abuse and trauma, sex, BDSM, consent, music, idolisation, cancel culture and the importance of art.
This post is going to be about Marilyn Manson and the abuse allegations against him that have come to light in the last couple of weeks. I have just seen a lot of bullshit articles and opinions out there and I feel like I am sort of the person whose thoughts might matter: as a fan of 25 years, actively involved in the kink and BDSM community, and a trauma survivor with a vast knowledge of how abuse works.
Marilyn Manson and My Life
Let me start with something very important: I believe the women who have spoken up. Marilyn Manson is an abuser. I have been reading in a lot of subreddits, Facebook-groups and forums the last two weeks. And there are many fans who are in total denial. We all deal with terrible news in our own ways. And for some reason, I managed to keep a clear head and make decisions based on what I saw and not what I felt. Others were not able to do that, and I respect that. I don’t respect hurtful behaviour though and whenever I see victim blaming, victim shaming or misogyny I speak up. And oh boy, did I have to speak up a lot lately. But I will get to that later.
Most people who are in my life are very much aware of the influence that Marilyn Manson and his art had on me. I became a fan in my teens and the music accompanied many sleepless tearful nights, got me through mental breakdowns, suicide attempts and abuse. My best friend (who lost her battle to cancer a few years ago) and I went to the concerts together, we met him together, a lot of our best adventures are related to Marilyn Manson.
I met my first husband on a Marilyn Manson forum and we were both heavily involved in the whole online community around the music and art for almost a decade. You can say that a lot of my life has been intertwined with Marilyn Manson and his music. Strangely enough, I lost interest in the music from about 2010 up until his latest album. And it is during the years I didn’t really get what he was doing, that he seems to have been the most abusive, and it is also shows in his art. I wonder if there was some instinctive rejection of anything that likens abuse.
When the news hit, I wasn’t shocked, nor surprised. I was sad. I was sad because my life had been tainted. And I don’t know how to explain it differently. A lot of the positives, a lot of what got me through the most vile things, had been created by an abusive monster. And I am not talking what social media seems to be suggesting. Just because someone looks goth, or has certain antics, doesn’t make them an abuser, nor dangerous.
That is just judgmental bullshit. No. I see art as art. You can make the most disturbing things into something beautiful. But it comes from somewhere, from something, some sort of truth hidden within the artist’s being, soul, or whatever you want to call it. I was always aware of that Marilyn Manson was a pained and hurt man. I just didn’t necessarily make the connection to him being an abuser. But it makes sense: hurt people hurt people. And it comes to no surprise that his addiction to drugs and alcohol had deteriorated when the worst abuse started. He had lost control.
So it fucked me up. The news made me sad and I had to deal with that something that has been very important to me, now was somewhat different. I tried to talk it over with my ex but he was very focused on pushing Manson out of his life, deleting everything, basically cancelling him. I respect that, but I really needed someone to talk to, someone who understood. It is just a very particular situation that not many people can relate to (well, unless you are a Michael Jackson fan, I assume). I knew that social media wouldn’t give me much because people were just yelling over each other: what were we expecting, the Christian right had been correct, cancel this, cancel that. I wanted some real conversation. So I sought out Marilyn Manson groups and subreddits.
I found a few people who take a similar stance than me but what kept me engaged was the total lack of respect and understanding from the group of fans who vehemently defended Marilyn Manson. They went into victim blaming and shaming, they showed terrible misogyny, ignorance when it comes to BDSM, and ableism. It was all just a shitshow (I think it is still is but really, who has the energy to say the things over and over).
Let me just quickly explain what he got accused of. His ex-fiancé Evan Rachel Wood spoke in front of congress a few years ago, to get the so-called Phoenix Act through. It was to extend the statue of limitations for domestic violence survivors. Many survivors need years before they are ready to report, and feel strong enough to go through a trial, and the statue of limitations wasn’t taking that into consideration. The Phoenix Act got accepted, which is a great success. But what I want to focus on is what she testified in front of Congress. She described the hell she went through in a domestic violence relationship that included psychological terror, physical torture, sexual assaults and later turned into blackmail and threats. She is diagnosed with CPTSD and is mentally ill because of what she had to suffer through. But she didn’t name her abuser.
But in the beginning of February she named the man that many had already suspected to be the abuser: Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson. Boom. The news broke, it was chaos. Then other women followed, describing similar ways in which Manson lured them in (lovebombing, isolating them, normalizing abuse, taking total control of their lives) and the consequences they have to endure (many diagnosed with CPTSD or PTSD). Some were just short flings. One very credible accusation comes from actress Esme Bianco who basically described almost the same sort of torture that Wood had spoken about in front of Congress. Only, she also added the accusation of human trafficking as he lured her from London to LA with a visa and then used that visa to control her.
At the moment about twenty women came forward publicly, many more have made police reports. Several senators got involved, calling on the FBI and the General Attorney of the USA to start federal investigations due to trafficking accusations, minors being involved in some cases, and abuse having happened in many different US states.
Marilyn Manson has stayed mostly silent. He published one statement saying he is innocent, it was a witch hunt and everything that happened was consensual. He is apparently suicidal (the police was sent to his house for a welfare check), he got dropped by his manager, by his record company, from two shows he was acting on. It seems like for now, his life has pretty much fallen apart. Rightly so. Of course I hope that he will get help for his mental health problems and his addiction.
As I said, I believe the victims. But many Marilyn Manson fans don’t. Instead, they question the validity of the trauma. They don’t try to gain some knowledge about how trauma works, but they come with all kinds of statements that are very much victim blaming, often coloured with terrible misogyny as well. The most common things I have read are:
- it can’t be true because Evan and all the other women took so long to talk about it and name the abuser
- many of the survivors were in long-term relationships with Warner, so they could have left if it really had been that bad
- everyone knows that Marilyn Manson is an addict and a bit out there, what did they expect?
- it was consensual BDSM and regretting it later doesn’t change that fact
- they just want their five minutes of fame, and want his money
- it is all just the liberal movement of cancel culture that is at fault, just ten years ago, no one would have cared if women shared such things
- women who accuse men of rape often lie, especially if they are mentally ill. Just look at Amber Heard.
I can’t believe that some of these things are even floating around as “truths” in today’s society. Let me start with discussing a few simple ones here. False rape allegations are very rare. Statistically, 63% of all domestic violence and sexual assaults aren’t even reported. And of those that are reported, about 2% are estimated to be false allegations. So the possibility of all the allegations being false, coming from over 20 women, is very very slim.
And on a side note, mentally ill women are the most likely ones to be raped and end up in domestic violence relationships. It is absolute ableism to say that they are all liars who are out after ruining men’s lives. I can’t even. *throws hands in the air in frustration* Amber Heard and Johnny Depp were in a toxic relationship, both were abusive. And there was exactly one person accusing Johnny Depp of abuse, not several like in Manson’s case. It is not the same thing and that is why #IStandWithMarilynManson is not trending. Most people see the difference between the two situations.
They want money and fame
Another statement that is easy to disqualify is the idea that the women, and especially Wood are out after his money. She has a networth of about 8 million, he has a networth of about 10 million. She doesn’t need the money, nor the fame. And there are, to my knowledge, not a lot of cases of abuse victims who got famous or rich after speaking up. Rose McGowan even got fired from “Charmed” and had a hard time getting new roles. A lot of abuse survivors among the rich and famous get blacklisted and silenced. Just read up about Brendan Fraser’s case if you need an example.
There are a million reasons why abuse victims stay with their partners. Most abusers isolate their victims and gaslight them. They don’t know who to turn to, and even believe that they are at fault for what is happening to them. Statistically, a victim of domestic violence needs about seven tries to get out of the abusive relationship.
Because they are threatened (many feminicides when the woman tries to leave the relationship), because they suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, because they have been broken so much that they don’t believe that they deserve better. Unless you have been in a situation where you had nowhere to turn, and the abuser has total control over your life, you might not be able to relate. Good for you, but maybe you are not the best person to voice an opinion about it either. “Well, I would have just walked away” – how do you know?
Denial and Fear
Many survivors of trauma do not acknowledge the trauma for many years. It is first when the flashbacks hit, when the nightmares start to take over, when you can’t move because you are in utter panic, that you seek help. And a professional will help you name what you want to deny, ignore, push away: you have been abused. It takes years upon years to process trauma that has been complex and long term. You can’t heal from it because it has altered your brain. You can just learn to live with it. And to go from totally broken to having the strength to publically talk about what has happened? Of course it takes years. Especially if you have to expect that people will attack you, not believe you, and the abuser might even return and blackmail and threaten you. Anyone with common sense would understand that.
Talking about expectations: no one should expect to be abused. And being naïve, young, gullible? Those are not crimes. Saying that someone should have expected abuse when going into a relationship with Brian Warner, is absolute victim blaming. It belongs in the same corner as: she shouldn’t have worn a short skirt when walking down that dark alley, what did she expect? Women should expect to not be raped, hurt and abused. It is as easy as that. The fault is always the abuser’s.
Which brings me to the BDSM references that have been made. Evan was really clear about that they were not in a consensual D/s, nor did they have kinky sex, nor did the torture involve sex. She says there was no consent. She says there was no BDSM sex. Sure, they could have been in a consensual D/s without the sexual part, it is not an uncommon form of D/s. But wouldn’t someone like Manson, someone who has lawyers who routinely advice him, draw up a proper D/s contract then?
Evan described being tied down and being tortured with a violent wand (something that Esme also discussed), she said that the whole time she felt like she was going to die. She was scared for her life. He locked her into a glass room where he didn’t allow her to sleep or eat. He raped her when she was unconscious. The list goes on and on. Unless they have specifically and safely discussed those things beforehand, none of this is BDSM or D/s. Is Marilyn Manson a sadist? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that he is into BDSM. There was no informed consent according to Esme in her case either. So explaining everything away with “it was consensual BDSM” just doesn’t work.
Cancel culture then. I am not a huge fan of cancel culture. I think it is a tool of power and can be used in an abusive and manipulative way too. It is a dangerous tool. I do not believe there is some weird conspiracy behind the allegations to get Manson cancelled. He did that to himself. If or if he doesn’t deserve to get cancelled is up to every individual for himself. “Innocent until proven guilty” does not work in the court of social media. That is the way it is. There is not a single celebrity who lost their career because they got cancelled on social media. It is the industry that matters, and the actual fans. Manson lost the support of the industry, and the support of many fans. That is going to hurt him way more than “woke Karen” clicking the unfollow button.
He Embodies The Dichotomy of His Name
Yes, all this has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks. As you can see, I am really not in the denial corner. But I am also not someone who just engages in cancel culture. I am trying my best to separare the artist from the art. I mean, I still listen and love Morrissey, don’t I? And he is a racist twat.
I have made the decision for myself that I can’t deny the positive influence that Marilyn Manson has had on my life. At the moment, I have a hard time listening to the music, but I am sure that some of the old stuff I will still turn to in moments of turmoil. I will not financially support his art or music anymore. I will not proudly wear the T-shirts anymore, they will stay in the back of my closet. He doesn’t, and can’t, mean to me what he once did. As a survivor of abuse and trauma myself, he has really become the kind of man that I fear.
It is ironic, really. His artist name consists of the good and the evil in society, the ugly and the beautiful. A dichotomy he seems to embody perfectly. He has changed lives for the better, and he has ruined lives. I hope the survivors will get justice. And I hope that those of us whose lives he has had a positive influence on will learn to cope with the terrible truth of who he really is.