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Advice to Freshmen
June 12, 2024

The hypocrisy of Anti-Flag


Anti-Flag is the iconic punk band formed by Justin Sane in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1988. Their debut album “Die for the Government” from 1996 and later albums of Anti-Flag like “Underground Network” (2001) and “For Blood and Empire” (2006) feature political lyrics, like any punk band. They were the first punk band consisting solely of men who declared themselves feminists and would often critique nonfeminists in their songs. Their anthem “Feminism is for Everybody (with a beating heart and a brain)” released in 2005 has the iconic chorus: “This is what a feminist looks like/This is what a feminist sounds like!” in the song they announced their affiliation and support for women and the movement, and trashed the patriarchal, toxic masculinity, homophobic, women-hating men. This was big for its time, even for a punk band. Many men agree with the ideas of the feminist movement but don’t want to identify with it due to the stigma around the label. The fact that this band, which is all men, was announcing that they were feminists was very powerful, especially for the time. Justin Sane openly shared his political views during a 2012 interview with City Paper. He supported President Barack Obama and criticized Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum for his insensitive remarks toward rape victims. 

On July 19th, 2023, in the middle of a European tour, Anti-flag disbanded without warning. Allegations against Sane had emerged after Kristina Sarhadi alleged the singer of a political punk band raped her on the podcast “Enough.” on July 19th. Sarhadi did not name the singer who assaulted her in her account, but it was later released that she was speaking about Justin Sane. 12 other victims came out and shared their stories with Justin Sane, one woman–who says she was 17 when Sane took her virginity, accuses Sane of lying about his age, saying he was 19 when he was actually 30. Another victim says she was 12 when Sane was 17. Another woman in the UK accused Sane of sexual assault in 2020, but the police didn’t pursue it because she never audibly refused. Justin Sane denied the allegations on Instagram.

“Recently, there have been claims of sexual assault made against me and I can tell you that these stories are categorically false,” Sane wrote. “I have never engaged in a sexual relationship that was not consensual, nor have I ever been approached by a woman after a sexual encounter and been told I had in any way acted without her consent or violated her in any way.”

The other bandmates (and ex-bandmates) came out and wrote A core tenet of the band Anti-Flag is to listen to and believe all survivors of sexual violence and abuse.” and subtly defended him by saying that they had never seen Justin be violent or aggressive with women. Their immediate response to the allegations was to disband; Many feel betrayed by this band and how hypocritical it is that they preached open-mindedness just to act selfish in the end, and do something against their own movement they preached about.

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About the Contributor
Molly Graham, Writer
Molly Graham is a sophomore whose interests include; ugly cars, welding, fireworks, punk shows, nature and boxing. I can play banjo and am in a band called civil disobedience.

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