Finally fed up with over 15 years of harassment at gigs, I hit breaking point. But it seems I was not alone. Sharing my experiences with other music fans - woman after woman has expressed their awful experiences of harassment at gigs. In the time between my last blog and this one, there have been more reports of rape at big name festivals. Music, it seems we most definitely have a problem.
So now it's out there, how do we achieve Safe Gigs for Women? Writing this in the week we've seen debate on whether women only carriages on the tube, it feels like the debate around achieving safe spaces for women is difficult at best. But here's my ideal.
Firstly - by talking to venues, promoters, festivals, those responsible for putting gigs on. Discussion is needed to ensure they are taking the matter seriously and know how to respond appropriately. It makes sense to think that if women equal 50% of target audiences, and women are boycotting gigs (as I have been told) as a result of harassment, venues should surely be responding. There are many small things venues might be able to put into action to help promote a safer environment. Gigs and festivals appeal because they are escapist. However, this should not exempt venues and festivals from taking an interest in the safety of their audience.
Secondly - gig goers. Over the years I have been gigging, my friends and me have said repeatedly we should write the ultimate guide to gig going etiquette. And maybe this is the time. It's not about preaching, disapproving or spoiling fun. It's not about ending mosh pits (not on my watch!) It's just about getting a greater understanding of how an individual's behaviour impacts on others. Serial offenders and those affected by such people need to be aware that where venues support our aims, they will take harassment seriously and can expect the venue to take swift action. Furthermore, if we want to encourage younger people to festivals, discussions about how to stay safe and have fun are imperative.
Lastly - talking to music press, bands and artists. After what happened to me, one of the thoughts I struggled with most is feeling that the Manic Street Preachers would not condone what happened at their gig. If artists like the Manic Street Preachers, Frank Turner, who this week has given his support, and others that share these aims and feelings speak up, speak out to their audiences, then we get the debate really moving. Bands can speak to a bigger audience, than I ever can. Men especially - you are our biggest ally in this. As men, you can and set an example, call out those who maybe don't always act in a way you consider appropriate.
Not one of these aims can work without the other. It is not man hating, not woman blaming. Just a belief that there is a better way of doing things, men and women, all together so we can all have a good time.Suggest a correction