With an increasing amount of sexual harassment exposures happening all over the media currently, it’s no surprise that the music industry hasn’t escaped from the accusations. Over the last year, sexual harassment incidents during gigs has been on the social media radar, with bands and fans becoming more vocal about how not ok this kind of thing is at gigs.
From personal experience, I can say this happens all the time. From an unwanted touch to an ongoing grind on the back of you, sexual harassment at gigs takes many forms and each one just as unacceptable as the other. A band that has recently come forward to expose this behaviour at one of their gigs in an attempt to stamp it out at any future gigs was the Irish group Otherkin. They released a statement after their gig at the Camden Assembly (formally known as BarFly) after a young woman had approached them in tears informing them that she had been groped in the moshpit. The group stated, “This is completely not on; not at an Otherkin show, not anywhere”, they went on to say to anyone considering this kind of behavior at their gigs “[they] best fuck back off to the basement [they] came from because [they] are certainly not welcome at an Otherkin gig.”
An argument I’ve seen presented is that there is no way of stopping this from happening without the victims coming forward and reporting the incidents to a member of staff when it happens, or after the gig. While this is true, imagine how it would feel to have this happen to you. I am sure shock would prevail over any other thought. The argument that you cannot stop these people from buying tickets is also true; while these predators can be ejected from a venue, there’s little to stop them from entering. There are ways that staff could identify certain people from previous reports, but this would involve victims reporting the harassment they had been faced with, so this becomes a sensitive area.
“The idea of people behaving like animals in that context is just really upsetting to me” – Frank Turner
Some positive things are being done about these terrible incidents. On social media, a group called Safe Gigs for Women (@safegigs4women on Twitter) receive daily Tweets from women sharing their stories and as a result getting the support and help that they need. This group gives women a platform to report harassment and for it be taken seriously. Frank Turner works with SGFW closely after a case of sexual harassment happened at one of his gigs. Turner says, “The idea of people behaving like animals in that context is just really upsetting to me.”
It is clear that this is a major issue at gigs. People taking advantage of the proximity of other people needs to be cut out of the experience of seeing live music. It is encouraging to see groups like SGFW offering support to those who have fallen victim of sexual harassment in these environments. It is even more encouraging to see bands and artists calling out people for ruining another person’s experience of their live show. Hopefully we’re moving in a direction where it is made clear to anyone with bad intentions that they will not be tolerated within the music scene, a community built on unity, not intimidation.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues covered in this article, please reach out to Safe Gigs for Women at: https://twitter.com/safegigs4women
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