*This article contains discussion about sexual assault.
If the viral video of Architects frontman Sam Carter calling out a sexual assault at a show proves anything, it’s that the alternative music scene has a real problem on its hands: sexism. Carter’s actions are the most recent example of the issue, but just earlier this month AP spoke to Milk Teeth’s Becky Blomfield about misogyny in the music industry. A few months prior, we reported on how Frank Carter has taken to introducing female-only crowdsurfing at his shows to protect women from being groped. Add to that the Dickies incident on Warped Tour, Cute Is What We Aim For’s Shaant Hacikyan’s controversial tweets and Circa Survive’s Brendan Ekstrom halting a gig because of sexual harassment in the crowd, and the situation starts to look pretty fucking bleak.
Ren Aldridge, Petrol Girls:
“We have to change the whole fucking culture of male entitlement in music, on-stage as well as off-stage.”
“Sexism and sexual violence is a fucking huge problem in music. The situation is improving in some ways thanks to the hard work of initiatives like Good Night Out Campaign, Love Sex Hate Sexism, Safe Gigs For Women and Girls Against, but there is still much that needs to be done. We have to change the whole fucking culture of male entitlement in music, onstage as well as offstage. I’m saying ‘male entitlement’ because it is overwhelmingly cisgender men that do this shit, and there is something about the way our society brings up men that gives many of them this shocking sense of entitlement to other people’s bodies.
“Being sexually assaulted in the crowd at gigs is just one part of a whole web of sexual violence in music. Because as a band we’re outspoken about this stuff, I end up chatting to people after nearly every show about their experiences, and there is so much happening all the time. So many women are raped, assaulted and abused by people within the community, and often when they do speak up about it they’re not believed, which is even more distressing.
“I think it's incredibly positive that Sam Carter decided to use the privilege that comes with having a stage and a microphone to speak out against the sexual assault he witnessed during the show. It’s very telling that this has caused such a media stir, and that he’s been described as heroic for doing so, because it shows how rare this kind of behavior is from bigger bands, and especially men. We need to see more of this! Being onstage is a position of responsibility—you hold a lot of power there. Loads of feminist bands have been speaking up against this kind of shit for years, and sure, I get why some of us might roll our eyes at a man being so highly praised for simply making the right decision, but it’s a really important step forward and brings more mainstream attention to an important topic.
“But this is the tip of the iceberg. Calling out a stranger at a show for touching someone up is important, but easy compared to holding fellow musicians or friends accountable for their shit. We are seeing man-in-band after man-in-band being outed online by survivors of abuse, and there are clear patterns in these survivors' accounts. The culture of silence and shame around sexual violence is breaking, and we have a very real opportunity to support survivors and create real change. So yes, always step in when you see this shit happen, but also believe the people who speak up about what has happened to them in private spaces. Men, you’re the ones that are mostly doing this shit: Stop, and stop your friends—macho bullshit isn’t just alienating, it creates a context for more sinister sexual violence. This is a whole community problem, and we’re all responsible for doing our bit to change it. I’ve written about this issue in more detail in a book called Nasty Women.”
Linda Battilani, Halflives:
“I am proud to be a frontwoman in a world that is slowly giving more space to women.”
“It's important to talk about sexism because the more we do, the more it impacts things and eventually, the less we'll have to talk about it. Women work as hard as men in this industry, and they shouldn't have to prove something more just because they're women. Among these women, there are strong personalities, with energy and integrity. It's slowly becoming normal to come across women in this industry, and from my experience, the question of gender matters less and less. Women keep bearing comments, that's undeniable, but I’m witnessing more and more people standing up to it. I am proud to be a frontwoman in a world that is slowly giving more space to women. It hasn't always been like that, so now we're making history. I think it's a great time to be a female musician in a band because it's a lot more common than it used to be. The more we go on like that, the more it will become normal, and l I believe one day the success and credibility of women will stop being questioned because of their gender. When that day comes, we can say the fight is won.”