The Safe Gigs for Women team emerged from December, very tired, disheveled but feeling positive after four weeks working around the country, speaking to gig goers at dates with The Levellers, Sean McGowan and Frank Turner, giving us amazing access to be able to talk directly to gig goers, and planning for what we do next.
In that time, we met some great people, had some serious conversations, gained a whole lot of interest in what we do, and what is still to be done. It was showed just how difficult, financially and logistically, working in music can be (a blog for another time). It also confirmed that women are still finding it hard to be taken seriously in music. Since starting Safe Gigs for Women, we have witnessed and heard of gig and festival goers, venue and tour staff, DJ's and musicians who are still experiencing harassment, abuse and misogyny for being a woman in a music scene.
I've had a friend, whilst tour managing, tell of a man walk right up to her, shouting at her, because he disliked her music. I've had another friend of mine, a DJ, tell of how she received abuse after refusing to play a song for a man asking for a song that didn't fit the club night's genre. A friend of mine working in social media and fan engagement for a record label, a job meaning she often has backstage access at gigs has been asked on occasions "who are you shagging to be backstage?" And another friend of mine tells of the time she had a guy try to question why she would be on the barrier of a gig, cause, "you know it can get rough".
But along with the above stories, that four weeks out and about confirmed something that I had always really known. Women, like me, are serious about the music they love, despite still not receiving equal treatment, as detailed above. But in spite of it all, they travel miles and miles, spending money, not just on gig tickets, but on accommodation, travel and food. They spend weeks and months online supporting other fans from other countries to travel to gigs. They spend hours dissecting new albums, artwork and set lists. They influence our music whilst you grow up (fingers crossed!) They write dissertations and conduct research on the topic of sexual harassment and assault in live music. They give hugs and make you feel welcome. They spend time talking with me about how we might one day put a club night play list together. They put together fundraising pages for organisations like ours. They crowd surf in the name of awareness. They become my right hand women in running Safe Gigs for Women. They drive our music. They manage tours. They are one half of one of the best club nights I know (and reform Sleeper - so much love for that!) They work at the record labels responsible for the music we love.
They have each other's backs. And the music scenes and the fandoms I know and adore are so much the better for them. Cause we all need Jill, Val, Mel, Rachel, Sarah (many Sarah's!) Helen, Laura, Sophie, Arabell, Astrid, Tre, Hannah, Dana, Lorraine, Lou, Katie, Anthea, Ellen, Jovka, Alice, Yvonne, Dani, Amanda, Julie, Anna, Marilyn and Esme.
And it is for that reason that this year, on International Women's Day, we got together at the Tooting Tram and Social to celebrate women in music, with a line up including, MIRI, Guise, special guest Misty Miller and Mishkin Fitzgerald. We'd love it if you would come join us, come find out what Safe Gigs for Women is all about and mark International Women's Day.