Witnessing Harassment at Gigs

Guest writer Alex Whitmore explains the disgust that arose when he witnessed sexual harassment at a Peace gig in October. 

I consider myself a privileged person. I’m a white male who has never been a target of sexual harassment, and up until recently I hadn’t even witnessed it. That all changed when I went to see Peace at Brixton Academy on 9th October. Unfortunately my experience of that show was soured by a man who stood within a metre of me for most of the gig. The friend I was with at the time noticed this man before me and pointed out what he was doing. He was behaving in a way that unfortunately many now consider normal at gigs.

This man was going up behind girls and pretending to grind on them, bragging to his mate about how close he could get without the poor girl noticing. Luckily at one point he took a break from this harassment and my friend and I were able to tell the group of girls he was targeting and they thanked us and moved away. For a couple of songs this guy seemed to have stopped and I felt slightly proud of myself, I had put this guy in his place. I let my guard down and started to enjoy the show.

Then I looked over and saw him at it again but this time he was slightly further forward, there was no way I could warn the girl of what was going on. I had a debate about what to do next with my friend. We realised there were two options:

Option one was tell security and see what they would do, and option two was to confront this guy and tell him what he was doing wrong.

We both knew option one was not going to work, the nearest member of the security staff was quite far away and we knew by the time we’d reached him, explained the issue and gone back to where these events were happening this guy would be long gone. Option two was also not going to work, this guy was huge and had a similar sized friend to back him up, he was scary and there was no way I could confront him. In the end all I could do was watch over this guy and makes sure he didn’t cause too much harm.

This experience was made worse by the fact that half an hour earlier Peace frontman Harry Koisser and told the crowd about Girls Against and had said that sexual harassment was not welcome at Peace shows. It seems that even full support of bands isn’t going to eradicate sexual harassment at gigs, so what will?

Campaigns like Girls Against are invaluable and the press they are getting is great, but what is needed is venues and security companies to educate fans and watch out even more for sexual harassment. I really do hope that one day sexual harassment at gigs is eradicated and I won’t have to be constantly on edge, watching out for people in the crowd not respecting personal boundaries. Until that happens however, I will keep my eyes peeled at all times and do all I can to help.