Swedish music festival bans men in fight against sexual assault

Earlier this month a new Swedish music festival, Statement Festival, was successfully crowdfunded, and just like its name suggests, it was looking to make a statement.

In direct response to the high number of cases of sexual assault at concerts and festivals in Sweden, Statement Festival will only allow cis, non-binary, and trans women to attend; in short, no men allowed. This comes after Bråvalla 2018 was cancelled following 23 cases of sexual assault that were reported from the festival in 2017.

The concept for Statement Festival came from a viral tweet from comedian Emma Knyckare that read: “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?”

The tweet quickly led to the creation of a successful Kickstarter that raised 500,000 Swedish Kroner, or more than £46,000, for Statement Festival’s inaugural event in 2018. Acknowledging that “year after year,” concerts in Sweden are unsafe for women, they noted that Statement Festival would help “create a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.”

 

While news broke of the  festival’s successful funding earlier in the month, its timing is particularly relevant now. Over the past week, people on the web have become very familiar with the #MeToo movement, which encourages individuals to share their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse.

The #MeToo movement hopes to end the stigma around speaking about sexual harassment and abuse. Since going viral in recent days, it also has shown just how prevalent these negative experiences are for certain subsets of the population – placing real people in the centre of conversations about sexual violence, rather than abstract numbers and statistics.

In August, Sam Carter, frontman for British metal band Architects, stopped his festival performance at the Lowlands Festival in Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands, after seeing a woman being sexually assaulted in the crowd. After noting that he wasn’t sure whether to say anything about what he witnessed, Carter called out that he saw a man grope a woman who had been crowd surfing and made clear that it was not acceptable at his shows.

Viewer discretion advised, strong language.

Video: Mister Buzz

In any case, while concerts are generally a place of escape and a safe space for many music lovers, it’s important to lift up and protect all members of the scene.

Practice consent and insist those around you to do the same, act when you feel that something isn’t right, and listen to those around you when they say they feel unsafe.

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