Safe Gigs for Women
Somewhere back in the mists of time I wrote this article. It was a ranty yet lighthearted list of the people who get on my nerves at gigs, from the talkers to the fuckers who watch the entire show through the screen on their phone. It got a pretty overwhelming response (thanks, in no small measure, to a reposting on the Roadrunner Records Facebook page), plus it also prompted readers to suggest offenders who I may have missed. Prompting me to start compiling a second list for later publication.
In the interim between articles, my girlfriend at the time went to see a band with her sister. At some point in the night she was groped by an arsehole in the crowd. On confronting him she was greeted with the usual “I was only ‘aving a laugh darlin'” sort of response that has sadly become so expected from this type of prick. So she threw her drink at him, at which point he pushed her quite hard, and if it wasn’t for the intervention of his slightly less meat-headed friends, I dread to think where it would have ended up.
Guess what landed the number one spot on my second article?
I was supposed to be at the gig with her that night but was feeling unwell so stayed at home. I was beside myself with anger and guilt that I wasn’t there to protect the woman I loved, and to this day I regret not being there to punch that little weasel in the face.
But that is not the point.
A woman should not need a burly protector in order to enjoy a band. In the same way that she shouldn’t have to dress conservatively or stay sober. And what this highlighted to me personally is how easy it is to enable sexist behaviour through ignorance. Let me explain.
Firstly, I sincerely hope that everyone who reads my humble blog thinks it’s wrong to feel up an unwilling female at a rock gig. If you don’t then please leave…have they gone?….good. I’m sure you were all appalled by the behaviour of the ‘gentleman’ in the above story, and would have been apoplectic if that happened to your friend or partner. I was livid. Beyond livid. I wanted to strangle the fucker to death….and yet I had recently written a list of eight types of people I considered to be the top ‘persona non grata’ of a rock concert, and he wasn’t on there.
Why? Well two reasons. Firstly, I am a 6’3″ tall man who, despite truth to the contrary, looks a bit scary. The closest I’ve come to getting sexually assaulted at a rock show is accidentally getting elbowed in the bollocks in the moshpit of a Wildhearts gig once. The article I wrote wasn’t ‘The 8 Worst People To Meet At A Rock Gig’ as much as it was ‘MY 8 Worst People To Meet At A Rock Gig’.
The second reason is really the main point of this article (see, I do reach the point eventually), and that is that most of us have a tendency to assume that everyone else follows the same moral compass that we do. Sure we know there are rapes and murders and wars but we like to think (or maybe ‘hope’ is the better word) that the person next to you in the supermarket, the bar, or the gig, is generally decent. It’s this thinking that probably prevents us all from being hopeless agoraphobics. Terrified of the outside world. I assume that the person next to me at a gig wouldn’t grab a strange girl’s behind for no other reason than ‘it’s a bit of a laugh’ because I know I would never do that, and as a result it has made me blind to the fact that it does go on. A lot!
Through my incredible female friends I have had my eyes opened to the sort of shit women put up with on a day to day basis. It is through them that I have gone from being someone who respects women to someone who proudly labels themselves a feminist (it turns out there is a massive difference). One of those friends has recently launched an awesome campaign called Safe Gigs For Women which aims to bring greater awareness of the sort of acts mentioned at the start of this article. One point she brings up again and again is this is not about separating the sexes (like some sort of junior school disco), it is about uniting everyone who thinks this sort of behaviour is unacceptable as this is the best way to filter out the small but persistent element that’s trying to ruin it for the rest of us.
So, if you believe that gigs should be a unifying and inclusive place for people of both sexes to enjoy then click on the logo below, share your stories, show your support, and let’s help make the mosh pit a more beautiful place.