Before I go into this post… I want to express that in no way am I trying to detract from the anti-racism movement of making #blacklivesmatter #blm … We still cannot take our foot off the gas and we have to keep on and keep moving forward. Be kind, compassionate and keep educating yourself and others.
I have actually had part of this blog post drafted for so long… I thought now was a good time, if ever, to continue the discussion on being harassed at gigs and by members of bands…
My timeline on Twitter is STILL FULL of brave people coming forward about their experiences with sexual abuse. A lot of these people are younger than me. And a lot of these people are talking about guys in bands.
So many of these Tweets are also with regards to young people, mostly/all girls talking about how harassment at gigs is still happening way too often.
…Not surprising, is it?
I’m nearly 26 and I’m reading tweets from people 10 years younger than me, dealing with the same sort of shit I and millions of others went through but now, with social media being so much more prominent in our lives and with the younger generation (quite rightly) deciding not to take any shit….. It’s allllllllll coming out.
I would first of all like to thank the younger generation for their bravery in coming forward about all of these men. Whilst at 26 I am still young; gigs and society had a lot of differences when I was underage to now and I along with so many others didn’t come forward for reasons I will go into…
***I just wanna throw in a little disclaimer here before I carry on and say I am not someone who agrees with ‘cancel culture’… It isn’t a productive,safe or healthy way to deal with things. There are better ways of dealing with situations and holding people accountable for their actions***
*** another DISCLAIMER*** I am NOT speaking about every male fan and musician here, at all, far from it, just some individuals who should know better and it sucks that the negative view is attached to so many innocent people here so please appreciate that!!!!!!!
I started going to gigs without my parents when I was about 12/13 and that’s when I started experiencing harrassment such as guys groping me whilst in the crowd.
There is never an excuse for this. It is utterly vile and illeagal behaviour. And back then (2006 onwards…) we were just expected to “deal with it“ cause “you’re a young girl” and “that’s what happens at gigs”
One of the honest reasons I started moshing and getting into any circle pit I could find was to try and escape the groping for a bit. Sure, being in a pit is fun but doing it to have a break from being felt up? What the actual? I was a bearly a teenager? I was a child?
A great gig was always made sour because of this behaviour. I’d be enjoying myself, get felt up, turn around and often the man doing it was A FCKING GROWN ASS MAN. I’m talking a good ten years older, sometimes more? If I was at an indie gig and was groped, sometimes it’d be a MIDDLE AGED MAN DOING IT. Men at the time who were older than my Dad.
When I say “felt up” this is what I mean…. Ass grabbing, waist clinching, back stroking, whispering in my ears, kissing my neck, grabbing my boobs, kissing my cheek, kissing the top of my head, trying to undo jeans, hands going up my skirt, hands trying to get into my underwear at the front… Shall I just remind you again that this STARTED when I was thirteen years old?
We were expected to find it FLATTERING. And to LAUGH IT OFF.
It’s the kinda harrassment and abuse that society punches into young girls, teaching them that it’s a sign that they’re attractive. So in order for a young girl (In fact let’s just say a CHLD because until you’re 18, you are NOT AN ADULT. You can call it “teenage” BUT THAT IS STILL A CHILD) to feel she is attractive to men, the best way to measure that attractiveness in a child is dependant on how much you are sexually harrassed. Because after all, our aim in life is soely to be attractive to men, yeah?
LET ME BE TOTALLY HONEST HERE… I find it weird when 30 year old men like and comment on 20 year old girls insta pics …. So now as a 25 year old woman, I WOULD NOT EVER EVEN CONSIDER LIKING AN 18 YEAR OLD YOUNG MANS SELFIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA, LET AFUCKINGLONE TOUCHING A 15 YEAR OLD BOY AT A GIG, OR ANYWHERE FOR THAT MATTER…
What on EARTH goes through their heads to make them think it’s okay?
I’d always try and to go to a gig with a male friend or make friends with a guy in the crowd, just so I felt safer in the hopes that men wouldn’t try anything with me… Looking back now, I can’t get over how this was so normalised.
But it wasn’t just fans who were harassing us. It was the people in the bands, too.
And nowadays it’s starting to get to the point where it’s weird for a band to NOT have a sexual predator in the line up?!?!
At the time, some of it was funny and some of it didn’t bother us too much but being 25 now and knowing the men chatting us up, putting us on guestlists, giving us drinks, touching us were around my age now and older… I feel so, so sick.
I recall my friends and I often being told by men in bands, around my age and older, that they thought we were attractive. They sometimes asked our age. We never lied. But 9 times out of 10 it didn’t put them off. I so wish I was exaggerating there but I am not.
From the ages of 13-17, this kinda shit and worse was constant. A normal “routine” from these creeps would be to befriend us, buy us drinks, add us on Facebook and Twitter, put us on a guestlist for the next show and when they realised we didn’t wanna have sex with them… They were onto the next victims.
I could carry on and on, and go into explicit details of some of the shit that happened with some of these men but if I am totally honest, I laughed off and blocked out so much that I can’t actually remember a lot of stuff. My memory has clung onto how many amazing memories there are and have removed the bad ones. I won’t lie, there are so many fun stories I have and friends I made with tonnes of guys that never ever laid a finger on me or sent creepy messages to underage me. I’m so thankful for them.
My friends and I had a lot of narrow misses. A lot of times if I was at a gig with a friend who I didn’t normally go to a gig with and we were coaxed into backstage passes or after parties etc, I always felt bad for breaking their excitement with a “We’re going home… NOW” but I KNEW what went on and I always just wanted to be safe rather than sorry…. “But it’s THAT BAND” never sold it either. Even teenage me knew men were abusing their platform to take advantage and abuse underage girls. We were lucky that we had our heads screwed on and always told our parents exactly where we were, we messaged throughout the day and night, we always had a solid route out and home and we never ever left each other alone. I know that doesn’t stop abuse from happening, but it helps and I am just so grateful that more didn’t happen to us. But stuff did happen.
So often I have wanted to talk about this but feared the reaction that it might attract. Often I have wanted to ‘out’ specific people, because there is A LOT, but then decided against it. I was so young and every time I wanted to “out” someone, I was scared I would ruin the band and all the fans would hate me and I’d lose all my friends and not be able to go to gigs again… That may sound far fetched and ridiculous to you but then you’ve gotta think THAT I WAS A CHILD back then. And hardly anyone even used Twitter. There were like 5 people in my year at school that actually used it.
The fear was definitely heightened when 15 year old me came out about Ian Watkins, Lostprophets frontman… And what happened the day my younger sister and I met him and what happened afterwards… I won’t go into detail here cause it isn’t something I want to openly discuss but I will say this…
I wanted to warn people about the kind of stuff he did and was saying to me because I didn’t want any kids being vulnerable. I spoke to someone in another band who I respected, who I had known for a few years and he said to perhaps put a short status on Facebook explaining briefly what happened and to be careful. I did this and then a member of a pretty huge Aussie band saw it and outted me on his social media, saying I was bragging about rockstars calling me fit or something. I wasn’t, I was warning teen girls to be careful and to not put themselves in danger. I then had fans asking if I was fit, fans dragging me etc… I was so confused… I replied to one status defending myself and it didn’t make a difference. I then saw him tweet about it. This was a guy who was in his 30s at the time (I think) and I was 15. I was a child. When the news broke about Ian and it gained media coverage years later, he found me on Facebook and sort of apologised. I accepted but it was a little too late cause I felt sick and that maybe I could have helped somehow but I was scared to do anything cause a grown ass man in a stadium level band had publically embarrased me and made me feel like a liar or that I was bragging.
It never really mattered at what level the bands were … Whether it was a load of college-age bands doing free all dayers in Birmingham or staidum level bands… So many took advantage and got away with it.
17 year old me found it so funny when the singer of an American band got high before the gig, wore a disguise, bought me and my mate pints and just suddenly kissed me after. I didn’t know him. I hadn’t met him before. He just randomly walked past me on the way to the venue and asked what song he should open with… I don’t really find it funny now. I joke about it but it isn’t really funny. And that’s just one “small” thing that happened.
I can’t even remember all of the stories… I feel guilty for laughing about them all and finding them funny. I just let sexual harassment happen? Society made me feel that I should have taken the “attention” as a “compliment”? And I won’t lie when I say as much as I felt violated, taken advantage of and creeped out… It also did made me feel excited and attractive. Because that was the NORM.
I will say again that I was lucky I had my head screwed on and was street wise but that didn’t mean I was always safe. Yeah, things could have been a lot worse but that is no excuse for all the times shit happened to me and my friends.
The older I get, the harder it is to look back on years and years of grown men thinking cause they’re in a band that they can abuse underage girls.
Since then, I haven’t really openly spoke about the nonces my friends and I dealt with at gigs.
I’d always started to feel brave about it and then there was always someone who made me feel like I shouldn’t open up about it. You know what is funny? It was always a MAN that tried and succesfully got me not to open up. You know how that made me feel? Pathetic, like a slag, like all of the men who took advantage of me had won, that my voice didn’t matter, that it was my fault, that I should just “get over it” because it was in the past, that I should “grow up and laugh it off“…
I wonder how many other peope, especially girls and women, feel the same things?!
All covid-ness aside, I get it from the perspective that it could go too far the other way… I don’t want it to change the atmosphere at gigs and I don’t agree that mosh pits should be stopped either…
I also don’t think it’s fair that men in bands, who are innocent, are now scared to put on the show they want for fear of getting into trouble or riduculed…
I have had really good chats with male friends and men I know in music who have geuinely listened to me and never made me feel bad for wanting to open up and have actually encouraged it. We need more of this and I am so grateful to them. And I am also seeing more men in bands and music calling these predators out online… Even ones who they were really good friends with. To the men doing that, THANK YOU, we need your help and support. It isn’t going unnoticed. Big love to you guys. Big love.
Don’t let anyone scare you into not coming forward. Especially a man. Calling out someone who has abused you isn’t you partaking in ‘cancel culture’, it is you being brave and deciding enough is enough, so please do not worry about that. You got this. You’re brave. You’re loved.
This isn’t a post to hate on people in music or fans, at all, but to hear it is STILL going on and people are dealing with sexual harrassment whilst trying to enjoy live music and music in general is fking disgusting. I just want to know what we can do more of to help…
(P.s as per my DMs are always open if you need someone to talk to, whether we know each other or not, whether you are a victim or know of one or feel guilty or are in a band or ANYTHING)
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