Paramore's Hayley Williams Says She Hopes No Young Woman 'Experiences the S--- I Experienced' in Industry

Hayley Williams recounted the misogyny she faced as a teenager during Paramore's breakthrough years in the early 2000s

Hayley Williams of musical guest Paramore performs on Thursday, November 3, 2022
Hayley Williams. Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty

Paramore's Hayley Williams is hoping that the emo rock scene has changed for the better since she first rose to fame.

Williams, 34, was just a teenager when Paramore broke through in the early 2000s — and the way she was treated resulted in a significant amount of internalized misogyny, which she "metabolized as a young girl."

"Oh my God. I hope no young female experiences the s— that I experienced," she told NME in a new interview. "When we were teenagers, the way forward was to be tough all the time. Our entire scene was contributing to s---ty treatment of women and anything that wasn't masculine. We were out on Warped Tour, this little Fueled by Ramen band acting like a hardcore band on stage."

The "This Is Why" rocker explained that she felt compelled to act a certain way or risk seeing her career disappear, saying "it was like if I didn't spit further, I felt like someone was going to throw me out."

In the years since breaking through, Williams is often cited as an influence for younger artists, especially among women. She told NME that inspiring those who have come after her is "the only reason I want to do anything," and that she's proud to have helped carve a space for others like her.

Paramore. Zachary Gray

"I still have that sense of competitiveness from where we first started. But if that was the only thing in the tank, I wouldn't care to do this anymore," she said. "Especially as a woman, I want people to see s--- we're doing and feel seen or welcome or the permission to do the same thing. It's a huge f---ing gift that that's the purpose I could serve."

Williams has been open about the "brutally misogynistic" conditions she faced while touring with Paramore in her teenage years, particularly on the now-defunct Warped Tour.

In 2020, she told Vulture that she took great pains to "never be high maintenance," and recalled a time in which a photographer insisted that she wear lip balm at a photo shoot, despite not asking the same of her male bandmates.

Williams also reflected on the 2006 tour, during which she had condoms thrown at her on stage (the tour was sponsored that year in part by Trojan), and the time a friend of a different band made a joke about her vagina, prompting laughter from others.

"I did not know how toxic that world could be. The pop-punk and emo scene in the early 2000s," she said. "A lot of internalized sexism, and even when you were lucky enough to meet other bands who were kind and respectful, there was other s--- that wasn't."

Paramore's current lineup includes Williams, drummer Zac Farro and guitarist Taylor York, whom Williams is dating. The group released its sixth studio album, This Is Why, on Friday.

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