“Best Friend” Turned Into Assaulter

Singer-Songwriter Rex Orange County Charged With Six Counts of Sexual Assault and the Harmful Repercussions of Performative Feminism


Maggie Phelps, Writer, Editor-in-Chief

During the beginning weeks of October, news broke regarding popular indie singer-songwriter Alexander O’Connor, professionally known as Rex Orange County, charged with six counts of sexual assult. Fans across the globe were heart broken, shown destroying their new merchandise, grieving over the the loss of their “safe artist,” and disassociating from O’Connor’s discography in its entirety. 

O’Connor has a tentative trial date of Jan. 3, 2023, after being accused of assaulting a woman in London’s West End, three times at his home, once on the following day, and once in a taxi. 

O’Connor has painted his image over the past six years as a “soft boy,” a term used to describe a man who is respectable, loveable, in-touch with his emotions, and more importantly, respects women. 

“And that’s because I wanna be your favorite boy/I wanna be the one that makes your day/The one you think about as you lie awake,” and “You need to be yourself/Love someone for loving you instead of someone really cool/That makes your heart melt/Who knows what you truly felt,” are lyrics from O’Connors hit song “Best Friend.”

The lyrics reveal a tender, genuine love that he shares with a partner. Many of his fans found comfort in knowing that there are men that have intentions of sharing a real love with a significant other, and O’Connor’s music was proof that emotions and vulnerability deserve space to exist in romantic relationships. 

However, behind the black nail polish, pearl necklace, and inviting lyrics, there are layers of dark, conniving, and awful intentions that a man can get away with under the facade of a “performative feminist,” a term used to con women into trusting someone to benefit their agenda. 

The unvailing of the news regarding O’Connor has lead to many women opening up about their experiences with domestic abuse, particularly by men who proclaim themselves to be a feminist. 

Women on TikTok are sharing their scary realities of when they dated a man who painted his nails and wore jewelry, saying it was the “most abusive relationship” they’d ever been in. While this isn’t a universal experience and certainly not every woman has the same story, the stories that have been expressed carry great weight.

It’s okay to wear a necklace and to paint your nails if that form of expression resonates with you, but when it comes at the expense of women in an attempt to hide negative behavior towards women, it no longer becomes an accepted practice. 

Despite his catalog of music upholding the warmth of women, his double life came to a crashing halt. O’Connor has broken trust between him and his fans, altering their “comfort artist” forever. 

Don’t paint a fake life to get women to trust you. Performative feminism only benefits the abuser, never the abused. Don’t treat the livelihood of women like a game.