If you have been following rock music news recently, you’ll have found it impossible to miss punk band The Dickies’ abusive rant at a women in the audience of one of their shows on the Warped Tour. If you haven’t, I’d advise you not to look for it, unless you have the desire to get really angry, really quickly. Many people have come out to defend the band, but let me make this clear to you. What the band did was unacceptable, and anyone defending them or what they did should frankly be ashamed of themselves. The band were immediately banned from performing at the Warped Tour, and rightly so. No one should have to endure this level of sexism at a show, but sadly, it happens more than you’d think. This chain of events got me thinking about the problem of sexism and sexual harassment at concerts though, and I got to writing a post about it, but it quickly struck me that I was completely unqualified to talk about this, having never been a woman at a concert. However, I know many people who have, and have reached out to someone who has been to many concerts over the course of her life to get her perspective on the matter:
After watching the video of The Dickies’ abusive rant at a woman in the crowd, what are your reactions?
‘Firstly, I think it’s completely unacceptable. I believe that they were reacting to a sign that read ‘Punk Shouldn’t Be Predatory’. The thing is, nowhere should be predatory! I don’t know why anyone would be bothered by that. A lot of fans have defended them, going on about people being ‘triggered PC lefties’ who need ‘safe spaces’. The fact is, if you’re the one who has to go on an abusive disgusting rant like this over one sign, maybe you’re the one that needs the ‘safe space’. People have also been calling this ‘real punk’, but I’ve always seen punk as fairly progressive. It’s certainly never claimed to be misogynistic. I think it’s awful that men there are laughing along; it’s never acceptable to say things like that to a woman, or anyone in general. You don’t need to be a feminist to see this man has no respect for women, and I think the reason he got so defensive is that he saw a bit of truth in the sign.’
How big a problem do you think sexual harassment is at concerts?
‘I think it’s much more of a problem than people think. A lot of people have brushed it under the rug since it wasn’t really their main focus that night – they were there to see a band after all. The reality of the situation is that most women either have been or know someone who’s been harassed at concert. It seems almost too normal since the possibility is always there for a woman to be harassed, and with concerts being such a crowded environment, it’s easy to do. I think the targets are mostly teenage girls that are there on their own. They’re seen as an easy and vulnerable target.’
Do you have any personal experiences or stories of sexual harassment at concerts?
‘You’d expect these harassers to be older men, but they actually seem to be the most respectful. In my experience, it seems to be people closer to my age  that have been a problem. I’ve had a couple of experiences of sexual harassment, but not as much as some people that I know. I’ve been groped before, and some people have pushed their bodies inappropriately into me. Some people would blame this on being in a crowded space, but you can feel the difference, trust me. Two girls I know have been fully harassed, and not left alone by the offender, and I’m pretty sure most people I know have had some sort of similar experience. Some men think that this sort of behaviour is okay, and it is just flirting, but that is no excuse. It is unacceptable no matter the consequences. For me it also varies with the type of concert I’m at; I’ve had more bad experiences at pop-punk concerts than solely pop or solely punk concerts. A pop audience is usually made up of mostly women and young fans, and punk fans seem very respectful. There’s a strange divide in pop-punk though, as most of the bands seem fairly progressive, but the fanbase can sometimes be the opposite.’
Why do you think sexual harassment happens at concerts?
‘Well firstly, it’s such a crowded environment, with so many people there. This makes it really easy to do when there’s not a lot of security around. It’s basically a perfect environment for predators, which is quite terrifying when you think about it. And I’m talking about people who know they’re doing something wrong here. They’ll see young girls on their own, often with no parents around. It’ll be dark, and if no one notices, which most of the time they won’t, there’ll be no consequences. Not only this, but some girls aren’t educated enough about sexual harassment, leading to many people thinking that this is normal behaviour, and can even be seen as a complement. Not that I’m blaming the girls; you can’t blame someone for not knowing, but it should definitely be taught to them.’
What measures can be put in place to protect people from sexual harassment at concerts?
‘As I previously mentioned, education to all genders on what sexual harassment is is vital. I think it’s important for people to learn both what it is, and what to do if they feel threatened. People can also be discouraged from unacceptable behaviour, and learn not to do it from a younger age. There should be more security at the sides of concerts, as not only is it easier for them to see what’s happening, they’re easier to go to if you need help. It should also be encouraged to go and talk to security after something like this happens, as there seems to be a stigma about this. It’s important to note that there are several sexual harassment and abuse charities around the UK, and if you have any concerns or want any more information, then you should definitely go to them.’
So there you have it, an important insight into the world of sexual harassment and sexism at concerts. I feel that it’s important for the music world to really take a deeper look at this issue, and do a lot more than is being done at the moment to really combat the problem. Concerts should be a safe space for music fans, and anything that threatens that should never have a place in the music world. If you have been or know a victim of sexual harassment at concerts, or just want to learn more or donate, I have included some important links from various charities below.
(N.B. While I have based this article on sexual harassment to women, it is important to note that this can happen to men as well. If you are a man and have been a victim of this it is important to speak out and seek help)