I really shouldn’t have to be writing about this.
“Our scene”, judging on many of the comments I’ve seen that came about from this, is anything but a safe space. We keep banging on about how friendly and inclusive our scene is, but then I see comments about sexual assaults at major festivals, violence towards women at gigs, to name but a few instances.
/Repeater/001.1/Experiences of Women at Gigs
/Repeater/001.1/Experiences of Women at Gigs
/Repeater/001.2/Experiences of Women at Clubs
/Repeater/001.3/Experiences of Women as Performers
/Repeater/002/Lessons and Questions from Twenty-Two Years of Gig-Going
/Repeater/003/Is Fan Entitlement a Problem?
/Safe Gigs For Women
/Girls Against on Twitter
One thing that was said to me – there has been a lot about tolerance from certain angles (the S.O.P.H.I.E. campaign being one in particular), but there appears to be a lot of the wrong tolerance, too. That of quietly knowing about certain people, and either what they do or are alleged to have done, but not calling them out on it. Why is that? Are we afraid to be the one to cry wolf (and if you’ve got the wrong person, you could ruin someone’s life or career for nothing)? In some respects, I can see that risk. But, at least a quiet word, surely? Or if it’s more serious, surely we have a duty to speak out and do the right thing?
The flood of comments that I got when I initially solicited responses, in conjunction with Rockstardinosaurpirateprincess, has been a sobering one. I’ve long been aware of the shit women have to put up with at gigs, but some of the stories that have come in…I really don’t know what to say.
When I asked Rockstardinosaurpirateprincess what she thought of the comments, her answer took me through sobriety and out the other side, to a point where tea can’t even touch the sides. She agreed they were awful, and even asked if I was OK after wading my way through them. But surprised or shocked she was not.
“I think the number of gigs I have been to where I haven’t had any issues are much rarer than where something has happened” she told me. “As a woman, you almost expect this. It’s so pervasive that it’s become background noise and sometimes we don’t even notice how messed up that is until we start talking about it, or someone actually asks us – the way you did. Often, we only talk about it with other women, because we know they’ll understand. All too many of us have had experiences of trying to talk about the sexism we experience at gigs or in public spaces only to be told by a man that “that’s just life” or “it’s not that bad, you’re exaggerating” or “men get hassled too” or “well, what about women on hen nights”.
So women stop telling men about it, because it’s bad enough to be harassed when you just want to hear some music; but then to be told your experiences don’t matter on top of that? You stop talking about it at all. It’s like you’re silenced twice. I know loads of guys who go to gigs alone; I won’t. A woman at a gig alone is a target. There’s a reason “I have a boyfriend” works better than “no thanks, I am not interested” when turning down a guy at a night out, and a lot of it is to do with this sexist idea a woman with a man belongs to that man. I’ve stories where the phrase “I’ve got a boyfriend” has led to the harasser apologising to the boyfriend. Like, ‘Sorry mate, didn’t realise she was yours’.
“Unwanted touching by opportunistic fuckwits at gigs is so common that it actually feels trivial to talk about it…”
Musing further, she added, “Perhaps the key difference between our differing reaction comes down to privilege. You were shocked, horrified, as were many of your male friends, at the sheer scale and number of stories you were told. I knew exactly what was coming. I felt sorry for what I knew you were about to have to wade through, that as much as you knew it might be bad, you probably would not be prepared for it. Privilege is often misunderstood – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person; it simply means you’re able to attend gigs alone and not be subjected to this behaviour, and therefore don’t have to think about it, worry about it, or even know it’s happening. Asking for the stories and raising the voices of people this does happen to is using your privilege to help; it’s acknowledging you have it and trying to do something about it. It would be great if more men like you stood up for us and next to us on this issue.”
So, as men with privilege, what can we do to stand up for our gig-going sisters?
“”Apologising” on behalf of men is not appropriate. You can’t change the past, but what you can do is change the future. And that means changing behaviour – yours or others – offering some form of understanding that women are simply not objects for you to touch (and more) whenever you feel. They have your space, you have yours, and unless you are given consent to do so, mind your own fucking business and leave them to theirs.”
“I don’t go to gigs where I’m not accompanied by a friend. Ideally a big friend who would kick the ass of anyone even thinking of touching me. This shit has to end, guys. Leave women alone to enjoy gigs. No you can’t kiss me. Get your goddamn hand off my waist. We’re there to watch the band. Not to feel strangers rub their erect penises against our asses from behind us in the crowd like that’s totally fine.”
There have been, too, bands who have long been aware of this. As an article on Vice last year pointed out, Fugazi made a point of picking out people who were behaving in unacceptable ways in various creative – and successful – ways, as part of their intention to make their shows inclusive to all. More recently, the Californian band Arnocorps are also surprisingly inclusive, as my wife pointed out when I was writing this – referring to their fans as “heroes and sheroes”, and women are just as welcome at their shows as men (and the gender balance at one of their gigs is noticeably different to other punk/metal gigs, that’s for sure). While Frank Turner was clearly upset and angry at reports he got at a show in Brixton last year (that I was at), and pledged to do anything he could to help and stop such abuse.
But not all bands – or venues – are taking notice, as is clear from the stories that we had submitted to us, and in some cases it is people working at these venues in some capacity that are part, or all, of the problem. One other thing that came to mind while reading these – ever wondered why less women attend gigs than men? These comments might help answer why.
“Someone masturbated on my shoes”
Anyway. The following comments were all submitted to the original request for comment, the various shares of it, or through rockstardinosaurprincess. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, and in some cases share some stories that are quite upsetting to read and may trigger other people’s unpleasant memories. We’ve made all comments anonymous here as there was no need to put names against them.
But these need to be told. They need to be out in the open, as an acknowledgement that the gig and club scene needs to clean up it’s act, and fast.
The comments that we’ve collated are spread across three pages (partly as there are so many of them). They are grouped by type, effectively, so there are comments from Women at Gigs, Women in Clubs, and Women as Performers. Obviously, please bear in mind that there are some pretty distressing stories amid this, and a number feature some fairly graphic descriptions of what happened – some of these stories describe serious sexual assaults and rape as well as sexist behaviour. Readers are advised to be cautious, particularly those likely to be triggered by such descriptions.
All comments have been made anonymous, and the only editing done has been to correct typos, remove names or to correct grammar. This website has a strict policy of quoting verbatim (aside from the provisos just mentioned) and that remains the case here.
The issues women experience at gigs was the original catalyst for this post, after seeing the furious response from Frank Turner last summer to reports of what was going on at his shows, and I decided that I had to do something to help – even if it was just simply bringing the issues to wider attention. It started out with a handful of conversations that confirmed things were bad, very bad for women at gigs, so I decided to ask the question online, and it rather snowballed from there.
Interestingly the Guardian had an article on the general issue, and what is being done just recently, and I must confess that I’m undecided on the best way to solve it. Outlawing moshpits is *not* going to solve the problem, that’s for sure – as the comments below confirm, inappropriate touching, abuse and worse does not just happen when people are slamming around.
It is a question of behaviour, and a number of people thinking about what the fuck they are doing. But with a nasty, quasi-libertarian streak pervading politics and culture at the moment (each for their own, distrust, victim blaming, etc), trying to get those that are the problem to take responsibility for their actions seems a busted flush.
Interestingly, the Association of Independent Festivals says “there is no evidence of any widespread problem“. Oh really? Judging on the comments we’ve had, there really, really is – and none other than Run The Jewels had words to say about it at Glastonbury recently, too:
“We got one big rule. All the ladies, that’s half our audience, if they didn’t come with you or invite you, keep your grubby hands and little dick off them. We want you to party and meet your future wife so you guys make a baby. But that’s a mutual decision, it’s not you deciding so if we see you do it, we’re going to punch you in your fucking face, over and over again”
“Guys thinking that it’s perfectly ok to move past me in a crowd by sliding their hands along my waist. And then they’re all innocent like “what? What did I do?” when you say something.”
All I can do from here, then, is to allow women to speak for themselves, and hopefully some people that read this will reflect on their behaviour and their views, and maybe do something about it.
Far too many instances. I’m finding it much worse at reunion gigs recently (like 20 years of Megadog) as men who clearly haven’t been out much get drunk, think they’re gods gift or something and then just try to man handle me like they’re doing me a favour. It’s why I much prefer hippy festivals and nights out with a very particular type of crowd now that are all loved up and super friendly, with no sexual intention. Drunk leching from men 30-50 is much too frequent even at alternative nights. And young men seem to also think they’ll be doing me a favour in some way. It’s hugely depressing….
I’m at a gig right now and already my male friend has been approached by the promoters, ignoring me and female friend as we couldn’t possibly know anything about music. I’m 35 and have been going to gigs since 13 and could rant about this subject for years.
I think you’ll find that gigs and festivals are actually almost worse for it as many people see it as an opportunity to “let loose” and this seems to drop barriers of common sense/decency that would normally be in place.
I know I’m not the only woman who’s had dreadful experiences at gigs, to the extent of now simply not going to gigs where I’m not accompanied by a friend. Ideally a big friend who would kick the ass of anyone even thinking of touching me. This shit has to end, guys. Leave women alone to enjoy gigs. No you can’t kiss me, you can’t hug me, you can’t tell me all about your 9 cats or that you’re so sad because you don’t have a girlfriend as you gaze at me grinning and wide eyed. Get your goddamn hand off my ass/waist/boobs. Please don’t shove your hand up my skirt without permission like that, get the fuck off me, pushing me against a wall and trying to kiss me is just WRONG, and please don’t punch me – split lips are ugly. (all that is based upon actual things that have happened to me at gigs… ) We don’t pay to go to gigs and get harassed and abused. We’re there to watch the band. Not to feel strangers rub their erect penises against our asses from behind us in the crowd like that’s totally fine.
Unwanted touching by opportunistic fuckwits at gigs is so common that it actually feals trivial to talk about it….
I had a guy come up behind me and grab my arse with both hands. The only reason I didn’t deck him was because he ducked. The thing was it was closing time and the place was nearly empty and he did it in full view of 2 bouncers. They were gobsmacked and he got a mouthful of abuse off me, as he denied doing it ffs, then got ushered out. My partner and I are regulars there and never cause trouble (as we’re middle aged lol) so the staff were on my side.
Guys thinking that it’s perfectly ok to move past me in a crowd by sliding their hands along my waist.
OH MY GOD I HATE THAT
And then they’re all innocent like “what? What did I do?” when you say something.
Wow, thinking back over the years I’ve had a fair few.
I ended up in hospital the next day after one because I got so angry after repeated gropes (“it’s the front of the gig, it’s why you’re here”) I shoved the guy four foot backwards and tore open all the scar tissue in my shoulder. They gave me oramorph for the pain it was that bad (I’d had an op a few years before). I had a great night after security threw him out!
Had to pretend to be going out with a mate as someone wouldn’t take “no” from me alone.
“We all know girls don’t like metal, they are just there to pick up guys” is a common one.
Had ice cubes thrown down the front of my corset as a “game”
Guys getting aggressive when at the end of the night I still don’t want to leave with them “you’re fat and ugly, I’m doing you a favour c***”
“Get back in the f***ing kitchen you fat bi*ch”
*sigh* still go to gigs.
I felt a hand on my bum when in the crowd in the hall between sets at an Eighties Matchbox gig at Heaven. In all my gig going years that’s it though.
I have gone to gigs a couple of times on my own in Brighton / London where there’s been a band I wanted to see and no-one else up for it, but I’ve stopped doing it as the utter tedium of being ‘fair game’ and chatted up all night kills any pleasure I get from seeing the band 🙁
There’s at least one band I never saw because I didn’t feel comfortable going on my own; despite not suffering the levels of harassment other female gig goers seem to. It’s still an uncomfortable environment.
That’s interesting – even not being subject to harassment often, the threat of harassment (having seen it/heard of it) still restricts our freedom of movement.
Yes, I don’t go to pubs or gigs on my own because I know from my experience and that of others that it isn’t worth the hassle. So my world is made smaller than a man’s.
I have been groped, had men grind their pelvis into me, and have been followed back to my car. I have had chewing gum rubbed into my hair,
I regularly go to gigs on my own (not so much now, as I tend to have someone as a gig buddy most of the time), and it is pretty rare that I get any hassle – same with street harassment, I tend to put it down to having an air of ‘fuck off and leave me alone’. or more likely that I am not the shape, size or age that attracts attention.
Or maybe it is leading the mosh pit…
Oooh, repeatedly being punched in the tits by someone who claimed that they were ‘just moshing nearby’
The most sexism I was ever subjected to when doing a gig at the Underworld. It put me off the venue which is a shame as it’s actually really fun to play there. Incidents included:
Being told how to use a microphone
Being told the difference between a speaker and a monitor
Being told I “sang too loudly for a girl”
And my personal favourite – being refused entry to soundcheck because “girlfriends have to wait for doors like everybody else.” I actually had to get someone to go find a male bandmember to vouch for us as he didn’t believe that we (me and the female bassist) were actually in the band.
Being groped between the legs and lifted of the floor at a Wurzels gig at the Bierkeller in Bristol. Grabbed the bastard hard on his midriff and swore like a very scared angry small thing.
Will not have shit like this get to me, was also the night where earlier in the evening I’d been curb crawled.
Always happened when there were no male friends in the immediate vicinity, though many awesome friends have jumped in and stopped shit happening. Hate having to rely on that, when it’s available, but I am a realist.
Guy kept feeling my friend up and grinding into her from behind at a gig. I stood in between him and her and gave him some sharp elbows until he fucked off. After the lights came up we noticed a sticky discharge on the arse of her jeans 😷
Oh and a good while ago, one of my friends had a guy full on grab her crotch while she was crowdsurfing at Ozzfest, this was in the late 90s and she was only 13. She had to para boot him in the face. It hardly raised an eyebrow for us at the time because getting groped and basically sexually assaulted while crowd surfing was a standard expectation for girls back then.
Yep. Used to happen all the time. As you say, it just becomes the norm after a while.
I also remember watching Marilyn Manson at Reading 2001. A friend & I were perched on some crash barriers with a gig tent behind us. This guy came up to us, tried to chat us both up (classy) & when we said no, he went round the back of the barriers and tried to grab us and pull us onto the floor. Fortunately we both got away but it was very scary at the time.
Lots of randoms physically picking me up and carrying me around/out. And someone masturbating on my shoes.
Getting slapped on the arse a lot by strangers.
But also getting so annoyed that the last time someone grabbed me I pinned him to the wall by his throat, so…some you win?
I remember a gig at the Purple Turtle on Halloween a few years back.There were a lot of pissed up straights that night, and one of them was making a massive nuisance of himself bumping into people (men and women) while dancing about while the bands were on. Once the bands were done and the club bit started, he started trying to get women to dance with him, with a supposedly friendly look-at-me-I’m-crazee non-verbal thing going on…but completely ignoring whether they were having fun or looking like rabbits in headlights. When he eventually actually put his arms round one of them, I went for security and they booted him out…but from what I saw of the carnage outside in Camden that night, I don’t doubt he carried on making a damn nuisance of himself on the street.
Got repeatedly groped by some twat at Infest during PWEI. Nearby girls tried to rescue me but he wouldn’t let us. He got a colourfully worded piece of my mind. One of the reasons I rarely go to the front at gigs.
Also, feel free to use the story about how I was catcalled from a PARKED CAR in Bradford at 2pm.
Let’s just say it’s unlikely they’ll ever do that again.
Sort of misogyny but really just grim, seeing bouncers pulling out very young looking teenage girls to go backstage at Wu Tang (this was only about 3 years ago and all members of Wu Tang are knocking 50 😷)
Watching Lush in Nottingham (a long time ago) and a guy sidled up beside me and slipped his hand round my waist. You know, like we were a couple. Fierce ‘fuck the fuck off look’ ensued. And a guy who just walked across the floor at Rock City to where I was sitting (with friends), loomed over me and grabbed and tried to kiss me. Had to be shoved off with force. Ugh. I’ve had good experiences too though, with random men looking out for me or checking I’m ok without being alarming sleezebags.
Oh where to start. I just missed my partner’s major gig because I didn’t want to go alone. Because previously I’ve been pinned against a wall and had a guy try to kiss me. I’ve been grabbed and had a tongue wiped across my mouth. I’ve had guys shove their hand up my skirt. Not cool. I got in a fight at a gig because a guy refused to let me get to my stuff. A full blown punch up. I split my lip when he punched me in the face.
Gigs are shit for lone females.
I’ve not really had any gender-based violence or hassle (other than the occasional crap attempts at flirting) but I’ve had to go to the back of gigs before because of pushy people, people trying to start mosh pits halfway down the hall, and people who think the right time to try to get down the front is as the headline band hits the stage.
Worst time ever was at a Dropkick Murphys gig where there had been two support acts and a long instrumental intro before the Dropkicks came on. You’d have thought that anyone with a burning desire to be at the front would have found time in all that to make a move. But apparently not – I got about one chord before a couple of dozen people tried to charge through me, someone dumped a pint of pissy lager on my head and I was knocked over sideways.
I’ve had strangers grinding on me from behind at gigs five or six times in the last few years. I always immediately leave the area. I dress in a very covered up way so I know people who have good figures and dress more revealingly have it worse.
I’ve also had that. I used to wear skirts and dress up a bit nicely for gigs. Now I wear jeans and t-shirt because I’m worried I’ll be groped. It’s just unacceptable. But I don’t particularly enjoy feeling guy’s boners against me when trying to watch the band.
This has happened to me at a lot of gigs- some jerk thinking it’s okay to grab my arse as they walk by. Only one that sticks out in my memory was the time at Wacken. My boyfriend and I were walking to the main stage to watch Iron Maiden, and it got so full of people no one could move. Literally, I was pinned between people. I couldn’t lift my arm. But one guy near me could, and proceeded to grope my chest just as the crowd finally started to shift. I got swept along with it before I’d even registered that it happened. My partner was standing next to me and had no idea. Every other time, I’ve spun round and hit them. This one, I was completely unable to do anything.
To this day, that wanker is part of why I panic if I’m in a crowded place and my ability to leave is cut off. I even up being incredibly rude and just barging through people to get away.
I guess the other fucking gross thing is the men who follow you around and keep just generally making you feel really uncomfortable, like they won’t stop talking to you and won’t go away. They follow you asking about whether you’re single and complain about not having a girlfriend and how much they’d like your number and etc etc and it’s just like WILL YOU FUCK OFF AND LET ME ENJOY THIS GIG.
Sometimes that feels worse than just having them touch you and get it over with 🙁
Agreed….if was touching etc you could do something about it hit them bouncers etc…but creepy etc is more insidious
Yeah. It’s making one feel extremely uncomfortable yet there isn’t much you can realistically do about it except get away and try to avoid them, or tell them no and risk violence and abuse. All whilst, hey I actually paid to be here and have a good time, not be hounded by creeps.
So many occasions and so many times but the one that I remember most vividly was at a Tool show when I guy came up behind me and tried to grab my waist, I said no and moved away and then he tried to pull down my jeans from the back so I ran into the slam pit and he followed me and I got out but he got punched in the face. Terrifying. I was about 19 at the time.
Liking for him getting karmic balance!
I don’t get much of this nonsense any more, but I put that down to being nearly 50 and overweight, so looking less attractive and less like a mark than someone half my age. But still, I routinely never look men I don’t know in the eye, change my behaviour and body language to avoid showing interest or looking open to conversation. The amount of unconscious work you end up doing to try to deter this sort of behaviour is ridiculous – plus it often doesn’t work.
o yes! the constant effort to avoid making eye contact or smiling at any male you don’t know because that often gets taken as permission or encouragement to be a complete nuisance!
I have been extremely lucky, but then I don’t go to many gigs and have always gone to club nights as part of a group. I’m probably forgetting loads of things tho, as I’ve just parsed them as ‘one of those things’ :/
When I saw Chvrches in Berlin I knocked a guy next to me as I took off my jacket. He proceeded to rave knocking my head with his arms in time with the music for the rest of the time I chose to stay there. At one point I turned to face him, watched him as he continued to bash my head, and sort of stop for a minute. Ended up leaving my spot for another, almost in tears, which is a rare thing.
I don’t even know where to begin, the amount of times has become a blur.. I’ve always been one that looks out for my smaller less dominant girls, especially in the old mosh pits back in the day.. I’ve had to do my fair share of slamming, kicking and pushing. The guys love throwing drinks on me when they can’t get their way, that’s happened a few times to friends too. Not to mention being yelled all manner of horrific insulting expletives a mere 5 cms from my face violently, after I asked for the guy to stop trying to dance in the the middle of the circle my mates had made for us and our bags… yawn… gosh the list goes on and it gets worse. Astounding the amount of times bouncers don’t even listen or bar staff, sometimes it *is* those people… :/
I’ve been with my husband since I was 17, and we like the same music, so I generally go to concerts with him and have avoided too much harassment… but I have still had my share of groping. I generally respond with a kick… but then you have to move away so they don’t bug you… often giving up a position where you can see/breath.
I’m also only 5’1, so unless I feel like fighting (and you do have to fight) to remain in the front… I generally end up with my nose shoved against some chaps sweaty back or better yet armpit.
I rarely actually see a band on stage… and I feel really claustrophobic in the middle of a crowd that is way taller than me. It’s pretty rare for men to make any sort of effort to leave you some room to peer round them, or let you move in front if they are giant.
I love music. I haven’t actually been to a concert in years… because it’s just an uncomfortable experience where all I can see is man back.
UK concerts seem especially bad, as gigs I have been to in Europe and the US seem a lot more civilised.. and people tend to give you at least some personal space.
I remember I went to one concert (Tenacious D) where the band said.. this is for the short people and stood on some bins for a whole song. Only time I have ever actually seen the band at a large concert.
> Being repeatedly elbowed in the back and/or getting full body slams from giant men at festivals because they took exception to us standing at the front, over to the side, and not during bands where you would generally expect a mosh pit (like gentle indie/shoegazer bands).
> being pushed, shoved, kicked and even picked up and moved by men who wanted to stand in front of me.
> Being called a stupid cunt and actively blocked for saying ‘excuse me’ and trying to get past someone on my way from the front of the stage at a hot, badly ventilated Ween concert in London once I realised the crowd was just a massive crush and I was being badly squashed.
> Have been groped and rubbed against at concerts at least 5 times (I lost count), most often when I was a teenager going to concerts with friends.
Yes I had this last week at a Slaves gig in a local venue. The usual really tall person standing in front of me (5ft 2) men just pushing past me to get to the front, I got fed up and dug my heels in with one guy so he pushed harder and I basically got dragged into the mosh pit with him. I’m used to it, I have been going to gigs since I was 15 so I ended up kicking people.
Once when I was 17 at V festival watching the Prodigy a man kept pushing into my friend so she pushed him back, he then punched her in the face and knocked her out cold.
I’ve had a range of experiences attending gigs.
– being groped
– knocked clean out of the way by men pushing to the front
– I was head butted by a really tall guy at Reading one year watching Prodigy
– my friend was sexually assaulted by a man walking past her at a gig once. He stuck his hand right between her legs.
– I fallen over before at the front and nearly been jumped on by a guy
In response I pretty much do the same as the lady above dig in and hold my position, find allies in the crowd and stick together. I’ve been in quite a few arguments with men in crowds standing up for myself and they become really verbally and physically aggressive thinking they can get away with it because they’re in a “mosh pit”.
I’ve been groped, a man once tried to follow me into the toilets, called slag and slut etc.
I did once break a man’s nose who groped me though. So not all bad
I also wonder if I have a slightly better experience as I’m 5’8 in flats and wear heeled boots to gigs so I can end up being just as tall as the men. And I’m Scouse and quite aggressive in my mannerism (even when I don’t mean it) so i often get left alone.
As a gig attender … generally avoided the front of gigs for ages because I was so sick of being groped and/or not being able too past a wall of big fucking selfish farting men.
I was crushed up against a barrier to the point where I passed out for a second and had to be pulled out over the top. Before the band started playing I heard the guy stood behind me say to his mate ‘lets get this girl out of the way’. As soon as the band came on they pushed up against me so hard I couldn’t move (or breathe) I didn’t even have a chance to turn around and give them hell! I used to go into mosh pits and it wouldn’t bother me but that was just horrible
Being groped, being threatened as a teenage girl -i was with a friend much older men said “is she with you mate? She’s not now” and moved menacingly towards us my friend picked me up and gave me to security and I had to wait at the back alone to avoid the offending men. Generally being continuously propositioned. Tall men who stand in front of you (my husband is 6’5″ and tries to get out of the way or moves back dunno what is wrong with some tall men). Men pissing everywhere and then also flashing you, men throwing beer.
Part of the reason I don’t go to more stuff is the constant being trampled on, shoved out of the way, forest of tap dudes standing right in front of the one spot I’d found where I could see something etc. My most notable would be the dude at the fall at atp, so not massively crowded or anything, I stood near the barrier behind a woman in a wheelchair, I kept being shoved forward and turned around and told them not to because people In wheelchairs etc so they moved off but one dude esssentially jumping and elbowing me repeatedly in the neck on the way down. I kept fending him off with my forearm but eventually turned around with both hands extended and bellowed “fucking touch me again and I’ll really hurt you”. Which worked.
A few years ago at the ‘final’ ATP I stood right on the barrier to watch Slint – my favourite band ever. Guy behind me just did not approve of me being in front of him for some reason (I expect he couldn’t believe that a woman could be a ‘proper’ slint fan and would deserve a place at the front) and kept just bashing into me and leaning his crotch against my bum. I turned around and told him to fuck off which made him ease off a bit but he eventually poured his drink down the back of my skirt.
Yeah, lots of groping and grinding stories. I guess the creepiest was at my first gig at 14, where this guy (with absolutely evil BO) was grinding against me and my friends. Being 14 and at our first gig, we assumed this was normal (I guess it is, but a “not right” normal) and just took it, but in between the guy started talking to us, where we explained that we were 14. Far from him backing off, he became pushier, wanting our contact details and then grope-ier etc when the next band came on. I’ve become so used to this being expected that I really don’t enjoy live music much anymore, apart from when I’m playing (even then you can’t escape misogyny, but you’re less likely to get touched up on stage and at least you’re being worshipped for your prowess up there).
I’m pretty much afraid to go to concerts by myself here because I’m 5’2″ and the average Dutch man is over a foot taller than I am. Seeing at concerts is a nightmare, so I try to get to the front, but that puts me at risk for the mosh pit, which is not easy to avoid when you’re smaller.
-crushed up against guardrail at the stage
-had men dance and grind against my friend and I without our consent at a club. I could feel this one guy’s erection and it was fucking disgusting but I was only 18 and it was my first time out at a place like that, and I was afraid and didn’t want to risk pushing him away for fear of how he’d react. When my friend and I went to leave, another man kept following us and trying to get our dorm phone # because he figured we were students (we were). He wouldn’t leave us alone until we finally managed to ditch him in the crowd.
In the Netherlands:
-been deliberately crushed against the stage by people behind me who wanted to be in front (of me, the short person)
-got kicked in the temple and had my glasses knocked off by an asshole who was trying to crowdsurf in the moshpit even though no one wanted to carry him. I was really dazed and luckily my partner was there to help me get my glasses.
-had to have my partner and other male friends I went to a concert with lock arms and form a protective barrier near me and some other women near the front when people started trying to mosh and be obnoxious and outright dangerous about it. Some dude ended up getting kicked in the side of the knee and I think it got either broken or seriously fucked up from it, he was in tears.
-have people push and shove to stand in front of me, even though they’re literally over a foot taller than me.
-not necessarily directly related to misogyny, but I was pickpocketed at the first music festival/event I decided to go to by myself. They stole my camera out of my pocket during the VNV Nation concert (of all bands, stealing during theirs!) which had my coatcheck ticket in it and they then stole my coatchecked bag. Since then, I’ve not used coatcheck, nor have I gone to a concert alone, and this was over 5 years ago. 🙁
Many, many moons ago at a small gig in the butt crack of nowhere in the Netherlands, a random guy came up behind me and put his arms around me tightly. Like caging me in tightly. I can’t remember whether I tried to squirm out of his grip first or rammed my elbow into his ribs straight away (I think it might have been the latter; iirc I went right past stunned and straight into outrage), but either way he shoved me hard enough to send me flying and then had the nerve to call me a bitch on top of it all.
On another occasion at a club in Aberdeen a guy tried to get me to dance with him. I politely told him I wasn’t interested, but he wouldn’t let up, and eventually I said to him “If you were the last man on earth I’d turn lesbian” – and still his buddies had to drag him away. Not until after he’d told me to “cheer up, geez” though. Because clearly my being in a bad mood was the only possible reason why I wouldn’t want to dance with his drunk ass.
4 thoughts on “/Repeater/001.1/Experiences of Women at Gigs”
“Got repeatedly groped by some twat at Infest during PWEI.” Unfortunately I think I saw this. I was near the front and saw a women getting extremely pissed off with a guy. At the time I didn’t know what was going on.
“Guys thinking that it’s perfectly ok to move past me in a crowd by sliding their hands along my waist.” I also had this at Infest. I guess I look quite feminine from behind as he went from my waist and ran his hand across my bum as he passed. I was to surprised to do anything at the time I’d never had that happen before.
I’ve been going to gigs for around 20 years-ish and I am always on edge when I go, I’m instantly defensive, moreso when I’m on my own, it’s like I have to be on dickhead guard all the time, the result innumerable gropes, shoves, elbows, kicks (not even in a pit), general creepy stalkerish behaviour and just general shit treatment at the hands of men who think they have a right to block my view. No consideration whatsoever.
I go to gigs on my own quite a lot, and I’m lucky that I generally haven’t been hassled – I don’t know if it’s because of the types of gigs I go to (country/Americana mostly), the fact I usually wear jeans and a T shirt or just a general ‘leave me alone’ vibe. That said, there is still the usual stuff I deal with as a short woman – being shoved about, tall blokes in front blocking my view (to the extent at one particular venue I’d stand in a specific spot where people physically couldn’t get in front of me) etc, although I have noticed this happens less when I’m with male friends.
Club nights though, even on the country scene – ugh. The hands on the waist thing to move out of the way is disturbingly common. I’ve also had a couple of occasions where I had to rescue a friend who was getting increasingly uncomfortable with some random drunk bloke trying to feel her up. The worst one recently was a guy who was clearly off his face coming up to girls and dancing with them, touching their faces, putting his hat on their heads etc. He tried it with me and got my hardest ‘eff the eff off’ Paddington Bear-esque stare.