Sadcore Sundays: Sarah May Discusses the Frustrations That Come with Harassment in “Because I Turned You Down”

For this week’s Sadcore Sundays, we get to know Sarah May and her song “Because I Turned You Down.”

With the rise of our voices in the #MeToo movement, it’s always empowering to come across an artist who uses their talents and platform to express the perils of sexual harassment, and who exemplifies strength through demanding respect. In “Because I Turned You Down,” we’re met with blunt lyrics about having to face the cold, and often dangerous responses we receive when rejecting someone with ill-intent.

What mind obstacles do you deal with and in what ways do you cope with them?

I have suffered from depression for most of my life and have had bouts of anxiety too, I’ve had really low self-esteem, anger, panic attacks, and self harming and suicidal tendencies. Growing up I didn’t quite understand (and was also ashamed of) all the pain that was going on inside, and was therefore unaware of how to cope with it in a healthy way, this affected so many areas of my life and I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, which would make me feel worse, and I was frequently being hospitalized for it. It was a real struggle, like everyday was a battle and honestly I just wanted to stop fighting it and just end it all. Luckily, I am well and truly blessed to have such a strong and supportive network around me, and my dog; they have been my backbone, but sadly when you’re drowning and hating yourself you can’t really appreciate how much love and beauty there is around you, so there came a point when I needed to start going inwards and try to heal the problem internally rather than relying on outside factors to fix or distract me. Music has always been a savior for me, particularly songwriting. It has always been a way for me to release and share my vulnerability. I find practicing spirituality, meditating everyday, and appreciating living things and nature does absolute wonders, too. Also having a therapist that I can connect with when I’m feeling overburdened. Though I feel the worst of it is over, it does creep in every now and again, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve accepted that it is, and always will be a part of me. However it is not all of me, and it is definitely not my identity, if I feel a wave coming over, I’m more self aware and able to recognize what is happening. So I allow myself to just address it and feel it for a day or two, but then I have to force myself to take measures to prevent it from hitting a danger zone and consuming me like it used to.

Why did you decide to tackle this topic in your music?

I’m generally quite open and honest about my experiences, and I try to portray that in my music. This topic in particular is something that I have dealt with so much that most of the time it just goes over my head, but there was one occasion when it happened that really affected me. For days after, I felt sick to my stomach and ashamed. I actually felt guilty, too, like maybe I had behaved in a way that lead him on or maybe if I’d just slept with him, he wouldn’t have become so angry and verbally abusive. That’s typical though isn’t it? I’ve seen it happen to other girls and I also studied Criminology and it’s usually the victim that feels like they’re to blame, as well as outsiders blaming them, too; they shouldn’t have drunk so much, they shouldn’t have been wearing those clothes, they shouldn’t have been so friendly to the guy etc. Some people genuinely believe that they are entitled to have any woman they want and that our bodies are fair game, and if we dare stick up for ourselves and say no, then there must be something wrong with us.

I wrote this song years ago and have been performing it live for some time, and it seems to be the song of mine that tends to sticks out the most, I have had so many women come up to me saying that they relate, but I’ve also been told by many men how much they appreciate it. So I decided to release it as I think it is a very important and relevant issue to address.

How have those close to you reacted to your song? How has their overall response made you feel?

Those close to me aren’t particularly shocked with the lyrics, because they know me. A few of my male friends have actually themselves had to step in on several occasions and fend off men who have gotten a bit too handsy with me, and my female friends have all experienced something similar themselves at some point, so they’re all very aware of how real the situation is.

What change do you hope to bring about with this song and your music in general?

If someone feels like they can relate to any of my songs, then I hope that it can give them comfort in knowing they are not alone, and also make them talk about those feelings to someone else, but also I’d like people to think twice about how they treat others. We sometimes cause a great deal of hurt to each other and may not be aware we are doing it. I hope that me singing about some of these painful situations make people think about whether they may be doing something similar to someone.

What message do you have for anyone who has had similar experiences with sexual harassment?

This is tricky because of course every individual has their own perception and personal limit of when a boundary is being crossed, but I guess I would say don’t blame yourself. It is your body and you have a right to speak up when you don’t feel comfortable and also remember that you are more than just your body. Don’t let someone objectifying you take away your power as a human being. Don’t keep it to yourself either. Talk to someone you trust about it, you’d be surprised how many people have experienced this. Also if you have male friends, talk to them about it, the more we all communicate openly about this topic, the more we, as a collective can recognize and tackle the problem.

“Because I Turned You Down” Lyrics:

Can you try to understand
I don’t hate you just cause you’re a man
I just hate the way you think
And the way you treat women
Yeah, you’re simply a d**k
To you it comes as a surprise
That a girl can go out drinking with the guys
And end the night in her own bed
Without giving you head in the taxi ride
Do you think that’s how you pull a girl
Buy her a drink and throw your cliche lines at her
Just cause I’m drunk, doesn’t mean that its okay
So take your hands off me, please pull yourself away

And because I turned you down, you say that I’m a b***h
I must be a lesbian or some kind of hardcore feminist
I should feel lucky that you showed interest in me
Cause I’m ugly, I’m not worthy of your time
I’m some kind of hippie freak

Yeah you need to stop the game
Cause not everyone is the same
One day you might fall in love
And you’ll realise her worth
But she’ll leave you because
You’ve treated women like dirt
Your black book is about to burst
You really think you got this right
And that you’re mighty fine
Watch when you get hurt

Do you think that’s how you pull a girl
Buy her a drink and throw your cliche lines at her
Just cause she’s drunk, doesn’t mean that its okay
So take your hands off her, please pull yourself away

And because she turned you down you think that she’s a b***h
She must be a lesbian or some kind of hardcore feminist
She should feel lucky that you showed interest in her
Cause she’s ugly, she’s not worthy of your time
She’s nothing more than her skirt

And because I turned you down, you say that I’m a b***h
I must be a lesbian or some kind of hardcore feminist
I should feel lucky that you showed interest in me
Cause I’m ugly, I’m not worthy of your time
I’m some kind of hippie freak

What is Sadcore Sundays?

We’re defining “sadcore” as anything you listen to when you’re sad. Sadcore Sundays is meant for you to set time to indulge in your sad feels and find relief <3 We encourage you to set an intention after listening to do one small goal such as showering or taking a walk <3 <3 <3

Where can I listen?

You can listen on our Sadcore Sundays blog features and interviews or Sadcore Sundays Youtube playlists.

Sadcore Sundays Blog

We feature a Sadcore Sundays song or music video on our blog each Sunday, some of which are accompanied by interviews of the artist. Below are our most recent Sadcore Sundays posts. Click here to see them all xoxox.

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Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
Follow her here: InstagramSoundCloud.
See her latest posts here.

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