The body of rhetoric surrounding sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct has been expanding over social media in a huge way in the wake of numerous allegations against movie magnate Harvey Weinstein. What has captured the most attention is the #MeToo conversation, in which those who have experienced sexual assault and harassment come forward with what they have been through.
Allegations have also been made against numerous musicians in the midst of all this, showing that the music world and local scenes are not immune to darkness and poor behavior. Between my own experiences and conversations with my friends and peers, it’s clear that a lot of that poor behavior occurs as we are standing in the crowd.
I put out some feelers on social media to collect and tell the stories of people who have been on the receiving end of creepy behavior as they were trying to just enjoy concert. These are the stories that were shared with me. They require no analysis. The words of those who had the experience and the number of stories that I was told say enough about the way we view and talk about sexual misconduct. These stories do cover a sensitive topic and might be difficult for some to read.
“My butt was groped at the Lolla Arcade Fire show! A guy stuck his hand up my skirt during “Wake Up” and when I called him out and said “Don’t touch me there,” he pointed to his wife as if it would excuse his behavior.”
Festivals really seem to bring out the shittiness in people. Something about being in the sun all day and using port-o-potties tricks people into thinking that nonconsensual touching, sexual advances, and other violating displays are okay. The line between assault/harassment and hitting on someone is NOT a thin one. All it takes to navigate that thick, thick line is common sense and human decency.
Women overwhelmingly bear the brunt of creepiness at shows, but it is not exclusive to women:
“I once had a milf grab me by the dick at a Steel Panther show, pretty awesome but still unacceptable behavior.”
There is a gendered skew in the experience of harassment and the discussion of harassment. Music scenes tend to be a little more egalitarian and progressive, but it is still a medium where machismo is a sometimes a necessary practice, making it difficult for men’s experiences with issues like harassment and sexism to be taken seriously.
“So basically last night I was literally followed around a venue by a photographer who had been sending me messages in the middle of the night. My friend kept moving in front of me to test if he was targeting me, and sure enough he kept moving around us!”
Harassment is usually thought of as overt physical touching, but words, online behavior, and following someone from a distance can carry just as much weight.
“Also, I was at a different venue once, and was confused about who to show my ID, so I walked past the guard and he grabbed me from behind, while he grabbed my boob!”
These incidents often occur within a power dynamic. Most women I know have experienced inappropriate touching by a security guard. It is utterly humiliating to be touched by a stranger in the name of “security” in front of your peers, no less.
If you’ve ever been made to feel unsafe or violated by another person at show (or anywhere), then speak out to your comfort level. If you’ve ever made someone feel unsafe or violated another person at a show, stay home next time.
by Hayley Robertson