A survey aimed at UK gig-goers has revealed the shocking extent of sexual harassment taking place at British gigs.
The survey of 100 gig-goers saw 37% of respondents, both male and female, consider themselves to be a victim of sexual harassment at least once, with 17% stating similar incidents had taken place on more than one occasion.
Anonymous responses referred to inappropriate touching, sexist comments and unwanted advances.
The following quotes describe genuine experiences taken from the survey:
“A man stood next to me and ogled me until I felt very uncomfortable. I asked to have him ejected but he was just moved and grabbed me on the way out.”
“Someone behind me kept touching my bum. I told them twice to stop and eventually had to move myself away when they decided not to listen to me.”
“Some guy was trying to dance with me and tried pulling me away from my friends by my arm. I repeatedly refused and in the end actually ended up hitting him to make him leave.”
Click the image to listen to more responses:
The subject of sexual harassment at gigs has recently been spotlighted by both the media and social media after reports claimed that Lee Broadment of indie rock band Cabbage sexually assaulted a female fan – which the frontman has denied.
Safe Gigs for Women (SGFW) is an initiative established by regular gig-goers with the aim of creating a safer environment for women in particular.
The organisation’s website simply states that their aim is to “make gigs safe.”
Sarah Claudine, from SGFW, says examples of incidents noted by the survey are very common.
“It leaves me saddened, but not at all surprised.
“From my own experience and the experience of others, I believe that it may be a problem for more people [than the survey shows].
“When we first started out, it was a big eye-opener as to just how little people knew about the topic.
“Even though almost every woman we spoke to had had some kind of negative experience, it seemed like none of them had considered just how universal the problem was.
“The survey’s results and our experiences working for SGFW have taught us that it does happen, and a lot more than people realise.”
Alongside the sheer amount of reported incidents which are taking place, the survey revealed that nearly a third of victims felt unable to tell anyone about what had happened.
Social media contains references to a number of otherwise unreported incidents which take place at gigs.
“Victim-blaming is unfortunately so embedded into western society that some women may feel that they are in some way at fault for their own assault,” says Sarah.
“The associated shame that comes with that would prevent them from talking openly about things that have happened to them.”
Since being established in 2015, the group of volunteers regularly meet with artists in order to create awareness of the support available.
Frank Turner took to his blog after playing a gig in Brixton last year. He explained that he had received “more than one email” from women who had experienced harassment from males in the crowd.
Sarah says that the singer-songwriter, who reached out to SGFW after reading about their work, is one of the group’s biggest supporters.
“Working extensively with [Frank] has brought us into contact with a ton of other musicians and people working within the industry.”
Despite support being offered by organisations such as SGFW and Girls Against, the majority of survey respondents feel that music venues need to take more of a responsibility.
Freelance writer Lorna Gray believes some security staff at music venues can often have different priorities.
“While most do an excellent job of keeping venues safe, others don’t view sexual harassment as a big issue.
“That’s a societal issue, and it’s why the passing off of this behaviour for ‘banter’ or ‘a compliment’ or even ‘tongue in cheek’ is really dangerous and harmful.
“Where do you draw the line?
“I hope that more can be put in place to encourage those who experience harassment to come forward.
“More venues and musicians joining forces with the likes of SGFW and Girls Against is a positive step and hopefully only the beginning of a movement that will help fight this.”
Security employee Matt Cuthbert has previously worked at Manchester gig venues such as the Albert Hall. He believes that more safe spaces for those affected should be made available.
With SGFW attending gigs around the country and even hosting their own day of live music in Bolton last month, more venues have started to show support by offering a safe space.
Music festival organisers also took part in a similar campaign by conducting a 24-hour web blackout on Monday 8th May to increase awareness of sexual violence at their events.
The festival websites were simply replaced with a page that displayed the hashtag #saferspacesatfestivals.
With support steadily growing, Sarah says that those behind SGFW plan to continue reaching out to as many individuals as possible in order to diminish the shocking statistics.
“Music is our community and SGFW strongly believes in the power of gig-goers themselves to play a key role in preventing assault.
“Women are educated from a very young age to ‘not make a fuss’ about such situations, but organisations like ours are here to say no, we will not tolerate this any more, because why should we?”
Featured image credit: Pexels