It was a quick rise and an even quicker fall for new pop-punk trio Tramp Stamps. After releasing their third single, “I’d Rather Die,” TikTok, Twitter, and even Tumblr showed up and showed out to do what social media does best: expose, ridicule, and shame. If you sift through the bullying, dogpiling, and trolling, you’ll get to the roots of the matter—which has nothing to do with three women trying to make it in the punk industry and everything to do with selling harmful ideologies of white feminism for capitalist gain.
The Tramp Stamps’ first song, “Sex With Me” was catchy, fun, and interesting enough to listen to after I closed TikTok. However, I probably only listened to the song a handful of times before my For You Page became overrun with call-out videos. It truly felt like one moment the Tramp Stamps were just a burgeoning band using TikTok like any other small artist. Then I blinked and they became mouthpieces for something far more insidious.
On April 9, 2021, the Tramp Stamps released “I’d Rather Die.” While the title might read aggressively to those unfamiliar with internet culture, I’d argue the title doesn’t give listeners enough warning about its content. The second verse is what led TikTok user ‘furbyrights’ to sum up perfectly: “Assault is not punk.” I’ll let them explain in the following video.
Another user ‘blacksupremac1st’ pointed out that the lyrics sexualize and fetishize people of color and queer women—because what else are you implying when you say that straight white men are boring to have sex with?
Then, internet users discovered that one of the band’s members, Paige Blue, is married to a— wait for it —straight white guy! So, on top of being incredibly problematic, the song is also hypocritical.
The band made a video clarifying “I’d Rather Die” is based on the fact that each member has had a bad sexual experience with straight white men who coincidentally had the same name. But intention versus impact is real. Just because the Tramp Stamps never intended to come off a certain way doesn’t mean that wasn’t the impact. Their video is pretty similar to a common strategy white people use to wiggle out of acknowledging white privilege, systemic racism, and internalized white supremacy.
No matter how the Tramp Stamps tried to defend themselves, TikTok, Twitter, and Tumblr were not having it. They were essentially bullied off of every platform.
On April 17, the band released a statement on their Twitter. In addition to refuting cancel culture, the group also decried the industry plant accusation as sexist and ageist. But you might be wondering, what’s an industry plant?
Complex defines industry plants as typically obscure artists who are signed by record labels, given a new sound and aesthetic, and then “jammed down the throats of consumers.” Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Post Malone, and more have all been called industry plants by various deep corners of the internet. However, I’m not a big enough music snob to care whether the Tramp Stamps are an industry plant or not. I’m more worried about how the Tramp Stamps and their label are trying to use white feminism as their ticket to song sales.
Koa Beck, in her book White Feminism, defines white feminism as “an ideology and a very specific approach and strategy toward achieving gender equality that focuses more on individual accumulation, capital, and individuality—accruing power without any redistribution or reconsideration of it.” NBC’s Marie Solis echoes this definition, describing white feminism as a fundamentally exclusionary ideology with a goal “not to alter the systems that oppress women—patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism—but to succeed within them” and exploit women and marginalized people in the process.
If white feminism and the Tramp Stamps were two concentric circles, their annulus is why many internet users have dubbed the band Riot Grrrlbosses, a play on Riot Grrrl and Girlboss. But, the Girlboss era ended – for good reasons.
White feminism—and the girl bosses it created—has not prioritized intersectionality, inclusivity, or even real feminism. Even though multilevel marketing (MLM) companies still try to use this two-dimensional brand of feminism as a profitable strategy, today’s consumers are savvier than that. Today’s consumers know social justice work like feminism doesn’t mesh with capitalism because capitalism is still used to exploit so many communities. For the Tramp Stamps to think they can apply #girlpower to their songs and then pat themselves on the back for being “progressive” and “feminist”—it just doesn’t work. And it’s quite lazy.
The Tramp Stamps situation is also frustrating because there’s plenty of pop-punk and punk bands who are actually doing more for the genre than just posing as do-gooders. Contrary to what Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine believes, there are so many bands, like Meet Me @ The Altar and Magnolia Park, keeping the punk genre alive for a new generation. And, if you scroll through the replies under the Tramp Stamps’ latest Twitter post, you’ll see even more bands like Pinkshift and Hoity-Toity making it known that punk is for literally everyone.
Should the Tramp Stamps continue their career, I hope they realize that so many music listeners want to support women in music. But it isn’t 2017 anymore, and the white feminist schtick isn’t going to cut it. Let this debacle serve as a reminder for any other girl bosses coming up in the music industry.
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