When “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” turns into “eat, sleep, rape, repeat,” it becomes incredibly hard to deny that the music festival scene has a huge sexual violence issue on its hands.
I think that I speak for many women when I say that I’m so tired of dancing along to my favorite song in a crowd of people and feeling someone grab my thigh or my ass. I’m disgusted by the amount of times my female friends and I are catcalled by groups of male concert goers. And most of all, I am done with everyone who tries to play down the severity of sexual harassment at music festivals and concerts.
Like most people, I attend concerts because I genuinely love music and I want to sing along with my favorite bands. Like most people, I attend concerts because I want to escape reality for a day and spend my time surrounded by a crowd full of fellow music lovers. Like most people, I attend concerts because music is my release, my detox, my safety net. And no one has the right to take that away from me.
Yet, lately when I have attended a big concert or music festival, I have been appalled by the blatant disregard for personal space and the amount of disrespect towards woman. I completely understand that in a crowd of hundreds of concert goers, people are bound to bump into each other, to step on each other’s feet and to occasionally elbow each other in the side. But being in close proximity to another person is not an open invitation for anyone to grope or even think about touching someone else’s body.
So here’s my challenge to all of you. Next time you see someone being harassed at a music festival or a concert, I want you to allow yourself to feel shocked and outraged. Don’t brush it off like it’s no big deal. Take a stand, speak up and be the change. Just because someone’s body moves through public space does not mean that their body suddenly becomes public space.
The music scene should be a safe place for all people. It’s as simple as that.
Let’s not forget that any and all forms of sexual harassment – both verbal and physical- are intolerable. It has become very hard to attend a festival or concert without running into an instance of harassment, whether it be a degrading comment about someone’s body or a physical act of violence. When no one calls attention to the issue or makes any real attempt to prevent it from happening in the future, sexual harassment at festivals turns into something that is both expected and accepted.
If we ever hope to put an end to violence against women altogether then we need to start talking about sexual harassment at music festivals. Festival organizers must recognize and acknowledge the problem at hand in order to dismantle this growing rape culture at music events.
Paul Wertheimer, the founder of the public safety awareness organization Crowd Management Strategies, believes that the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault at festivals is due in part to the lack of qualified security or crowd managers. In an interview with Fox News, Wertheimer stated that the understaffing of security at festivals “is a cost-cutting trend that impacts the safety of the public, and often specifically women. I, like so many other concertgoers, have witnessed women attacked, have intervened at times and seldom seen security in the area come to the aid of the victims.”
Regardless of the reason, I want to be able to go to a music festival and enjoy it for what it should be — a crowd of people enjoying good music.
Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.