Is Katy Perry’s “Roar” an anthem for victim-blaming?
Katy Perry released the first single from her upcoming album last week and already it’s become a worldwide hit. While some people might find the song self-empowering and inspirational, by taking a closer look at the lyrics, it appears to be an anthem for victim-blaming.
The first verse of the song shows the singer in what would presumably be an abusive relationship. “I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I sat quietly, agreed politely.” Here she is displaying the number one classic symptom of being a victim of domestic abuse: fear of upsetting one’s partner for fear of repercussions.
She begins to show signs of victim-blaming with the lyrics “You held me down, but I got up. Already brushing off the dust. Get ready cause I’ve had enough.” Domestic abuse is incredibly difficult for victims to overcome. Most of domestic abuse is psychological and that’s what makes it so hard for victims to break free from, even with a support system in place. For Katy Perry to simply “brush off” her abuser and leave the abusive relationship is insulting to victims of domestic abuse and puts the responsibility and blame on them.
In the second verse she sings “stinging like a bee, I earned my stripes” Do victims of domestic abuse who leave with the help and support of others not earn their stripes? Must you leave on your own to earn these stripes? She continues with the most insulting line of the song “I went from zero to my own hero” stating that she was a “zero” before because she was a victim of domestic abuse. Nobody who is in an abusive relationship is a “zero”. It’s this kind of self-blame that keeps so many victims suffering alone in the dark.
While people everywhere sing along to the song on the radio feeling empowered, they are contributing to a victim-blaming culture that keeps domestic abuse victims silent. Now that’s something to “roar” about.