Wednesday, September 26The Voice of London

Why Are Gigs Becoming A Hub for Sexual Assault?

Drunk, rowdy crowds are unfailingly present at the majority of live gigs. But as the gig culture is being revitalised, the rate of sexual assault is running parallel.

Words: Cerys Kenneally, Subeditor: Simone Wright

Woman Crowd-Surfing. Credit: Ted Van Pelt
Woman Crowd-Surfing. Credit: Ted Van Pelt

Depending on the venue and the artist, most gigs consist of a large number of people. If the show is 18+, then you can expect to see some very drunk people. Even if the show is 14+, or even 16+, girls are still being targeted by gross groping in the sweaty mosh-pits.

Its a good guess that drinking could be a factor. Lust for anonymous people seems to come alongside the binge drinking culture of Britain. Gigs are somewhat a hubfor excitement and celebration. Live music is, after all, entertainment. If its a band you love, the crowd is bound to get over-excited. With bars surrounding the audience space in the majority of live venues, over 18s are always drawn to alcohol, and the pre-drinking excitement of attending a gig is somewhat inevitable. Large amounts of consumption of alcohol can certainly lead to a diminishing awareness of your own surroundings, resulting in swaying uncoordinatedly into a strangers personal space. Alcohol is never an acceptable excuse though, so why target young females while they are trying to watch one of their favourite bands?

Mosh-pits are a dangerous place to be for girls. With the barbaric beating and shoving from bulky boys, its imminent that people are going to get injured. As the gig culture has been revived, the forming of mosh-pits – even at more ambient gigs like Bombay Bicycle Club – are to be expected. Be aware of your surroundings, as gigs arent as safe as you expect. Mosh-pits provide a space for people to invade otherspersonal space without shame, and where you get shoved or pushed isnt your choice, and for girls, this can result in inappropriate groping, which is effectively sexual assault.

2014 saw Rockfest’s unruly crowd being called out for molesting a female crowd surfer during Staind’s set. Frontman Aaron Lewis lashed out at the crowd, halting their set, “All right, listen up you f*****g assholes, that f*****g girl right there is like 15 f*****g years old, and you f*****g pieces of shit are molesting her while she is on the f*****g crowd. Your f*****g mothers should be ashamed of themselves, you pieces of s***.” After humiliating the members of the crowd molesting the poor girl, they returned to their set, stating: “Now girls, feel free to crowd-surf safely”.

Since then, groping at gigs is something people are much more aware of. Just last week, frontman of Foals, Yannis Philippakis, sent out a tweet addressing the issue of groping at gigs.

Yannis from Foals takes to twitter. Source: Twitter
Yannis from Foals takes to twitter. Source: Twitter

Despite the Rockfest incident having happened over a year ago, it seems that gigs have become a somewhat unsafe place for young girls.

Huge concerts are places that provoke crowd involvement, crowd-surfing, or sitting on peoples’ shoulders (to name a few). Festivals could be considered as one of the most dangerous places for young girls, seeing as people as young as 16 attend festivals like Reading and Leeds without supervision.

Despite festivals being surrounded by an aura of ‘celebration’ and a ‘weekend of music’, many young people use festivals as an opportunity to get intoxicated. Illegal drugs are easy to find and buy, no matter what your age or which festival you’re at. Intoxication, whether drunk or illegally high, can lead to unawareness, both from young girls and the older men molesting these young girls. Girls always dress older, and sometimes it is difficult to guess their age, but what excuse is that to grope a girl you don’t know?!

It’s not always the audience being targeted either. Female artists have been molested too while crowd-surfing, Iggy Azalea being one of them.

Putting a stop to this is a difficult task. Tighter security at gigs might seem the best option, but then what fun is the audience going to have if they can’t jump around and be swaying around relentlessly in a drunken haze to their favourite music? Many females have taken to social media, particularly the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which addresses issues of sexual assault, be it groping at a gig, or a more serious case. There’s no obvious solution to this issue, but it’s enlightening to see musicians taking to social media to humiliate such disgusting behaviour.