Women vs Women

Libby Mayfield is back to give us her thoughts on the media’s obsession with pitting women against each other.

When it comes to women, if there’s one thing the right-wing media loves more than objectification, it’s pitting girls against each other.

A prime example of how magazines like to do this is through “who wore it better?” features. At best, these are a poor way to fill three square inches of glossy paper, and at worst, they’re another cog in the wheel of the media’s tact to make every woman feel self conscious about her appearance. These features milked and grew the idea of not only having to look good, but having to look different to everyone – plenty of American teen films have the pre-prom/party dilemma scene where the question, “what if she’s wearing the same dress I am?” And of course, if “she” is, disaster breaks loose.

Of course, in these situations, if one can’t look different, they have to at least look better than whoever else is wearing the outfit. This ties into the idea that whatever we wear must look good, else someone will “wear it better” and we’ll be made to feel self conscious over it. I don’t know whatever happened to being able to wear what we liked because it’s comfy or feels nice, but it doesn’t exist in the media’s world.

When they’re not publishing articles in which they reduce successful, talented women to a single image captured at a probably unflattering angle, you’ll see plenty of double page spreads on how so-and-so’s boyfriend has ran off with someone else. Another popular one is where two women have both been seen in public with the same guy on separate occasions, or there’s a piece on an ex-girlfriend and a current girlfriend. And each time, the pairs of women will be compared, not even on their qualities as a person, but on superficial, aesthetic, matters.

Eventually this mindset seeps into the real world and it becomes an everyday thought. Whether it’s picking faults in your crush’s girlfriend, or sitting next to another women whilst waiting for a job interview and noticing she has a scuff on her shoe, these magazines are trying to tailor girls to criticise each other – and it all links back to money.

Magazines are often criticised for photoshopping cover girls into a mythical “ideal”, and runaway models are equally slighted for being too thin, but the fashion industry really struck gold when they realised they could turn any girl against the people they already know – from classmates to a stranger wearing their outfit. If we pick faults in other people, we’re bound to see them in ourselves too. If it’s not a case of, “I look better than her”, it’s, “she looks better than me…so I need to look better”. This drives us to buy new clothes/make up/hair straighteners. The fashion media makes us see flaws in ourselves that don’t exist, so we buy the things we don’t need that they’re selling us.

I’ve even seen girls post on social media outfits they’ve seen others wearing in public with a criticism as the caption. Imagine scrolling through your Twitter and seeing someone you don’t know has posted a photo of you with something like, “ew, what is she wearing?!”. It’s wrong.

It’s not a competition. Compliment other women. If you see someone wearing an outfit you like, tell them, don’t see fault in yourself. And if you see a girl at a party wearing the same dress as you, talk to them and make friends over a cocktail.

A Supporter Shares Her Story.

For the past few years I’ve been struggling really horribly with anxiety and depression. Around a year ago, large crowds and being by myself suddenly became a trigger. For ages I believed that my anxiety towards crowds was completely unnecessary and had no basis; that was until a few nights ago when I had a vivid flashback of what happened when I went to a toga party at the start of last year (I must have suppressed the memory).

I went into the mosh pit with the only other of my friends who was willing – a boy who I’d met a few times, he was more so friends with the others. He tries to kiss me (when I had a boyfriend) and I clearly refused his advances. He got mad and left me alone in the front of a 6,000+ people mosh pit, at first I was scared but I decided to embrace it. Because of the style of my toga, I was wearing nothing but undies underneath. Boys kept trying to undo it, but I kept doing it back up quickly, until one boy completely ripped it off me. I was so embarrassed, I was standing naked in a huge crowd (everyone’s nightmare, right?) and I was being groped and laughed at by a whole group of boys. No one would help me and I was terrified.

After about 30 seconds, a security guard saw me and pulled me out of the mosh in my undies with no bra on in front of at least 6,000 people. Eventually the security guard found my toga and a few nice girls I met at the side of the stage helped me put it back on. I didn’t even know that this was affecting me to the extent that it does – I haven’t been able to be in public spaces by myself for a year now (and for part of that time I couldn’t be in public places at all). I’ve had to have time off work and it’s affected all of my relationships because even I didn’t know what was wrong.

Now that I’ve remembered the event, I’ve started to deal with it. The one thing that I regret is not reporting these boys to the police. When it happened I blamed myself for having a toga that was apparently easy to take off, but it was not my fault. Without reporting it, nothing can be done. I urge each and every one of you to report anything like this that happens to you because in reality, the authorities probably have a mother, sister, or daughter. They won’t laugh at you, they will want to sort the perpetrators out because they don’t want it to happen to anyone else. Just remember that if this happens to you, this is not your fault, you are not alone, and you should report it. Remember to confront the memory, and not just shy away from it. That’s the only way you’ll recover.

Where are the Women?

Guest writer Libby Mayfield confronts the lack of female and non-binary performers on UK festival line-ups.

Although I was lucky enough to grow up with a plethora of female musicians in my childhood soundtrack, the reign of Blondie, Texas and The Bangles couldn’t last forever, and there was a time when the only prominent female fronted in the world of alternative rock was Paramore. Worse yet, there was a time when any female fronted band, to an extent regardless of genre, was compared to Paramore. I’m glad we’re past that, but we’re not out of the woods just yet.

Last year we saw a huge light shone on male-orientated festival line ups and a lot of questions were raised. Most importantly – why, even in genres that have their fair share of female artists, are such a small proportion of women playing major festivals?

If you ask the festival bookers, they’ll say that they book the acts which pull the biggest crowds. But with female acts comprising between a quarter and a third of 2015’s charts, Adele releasing the biggest selling album in the UK ever, Jess Glyne releasing three singles that each made it to number one, and Rihanna announcing a tour of almost 70 dates, it’s not like female artists can’t pull in the cash.

Many people are fighting for an even gender balance on festival line ups, but as aforementioned, only around a quarter to a third of the charts are made of acts including women; although this may be an indicative sign that either there aren’t enough women in music, or the problem runs deeper and radio stations and magazines are more keen to promote male acts than female. Whilst charts aren’t necessarily the most representative figures, it seems the best way to compare like for like; the UK’s biggest festivals alongside the UK’s best selling music.

Even if festival bookers were worried about losing ticket sales by booking a female headliner – though I seriously doubt any refunds were demanded when Florence And The Machine replaced Foo Fighters’ Glastonbury headline slot last year – that wouldn’t stop them throwing in five or ten female acts in further down the line up, would it? In fact, further down the line up is where we need female acts as much as anywhere else, especially if we want to feed the pool of women in music. We can’t expect more women to want to perform if it’s seen as a male dominated world.

To an extent, I do empathise with the viewpoint of festival bookers where they want to book acts that will sell tickets; running a major festival is a huge risk with a lot of money involved and an underperforming weekend could damage reputation for the following year. If that’s the case, we need to convince show promoters internationally, nationally, and locally to put on more female acts, even if just as openers. A show with two international touring bands and a big UK support band wouldn’t lose ticket sales over the gender make-up of a local support.

Unfortunately this isn’t the sort of change that’s going to take place over night; we need to see the support for women in music grow on a local level and swell to a national level before it may have an impact on the amount of women prepared to pick up on a guitar and get on stage among. But when women are making up only 3-19% of major festival line ups (based on analysis by The Guardian), things can’t get much worse.

Of course festival line ups are not the be all and end all, and the rise of women in popular bands is coming thick and fast – of last year’s Mercury Prize shortlist, five out of the twelve acts were, at least partially, made up of women. We’re past the point where a female vocalist makes the band “like Paramore”.

After all the social media frenzy regarding last year’s male-orientated festivals – only 6% female for Reading and Leeds – it will be interesting to see how 2016’s line ups compare, because it’s all looking pretty testosterone filled at the moment.

Lady Gaga’s “Till it Happens to You”

A look into Lady Gaga’s heart wrenching song about sexual assault, written by our very own Bea Bennister

Out of the artists who speak out and campaign against sexual harassment/assault Lady Gaga is certainly one of the most prominent. Gaga revealed late last year that the song ‘Swine’ off of her latest album ‘ARTPOP’ was that written in anger and disgust at her personal experience of sexual assault. In an interview with Howard Stern, Gaga opened up about her assault, admitting that she was only 19 years of age, and had been unwilling to share her story with the fear that her creativity will be dismissed. And I quote:

“I’ll be damned if somebody’s going to say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did has boiled down to one dickhead that did that to me. I’m going to take responsibility for all of my pain, looking beautiful, and all the things that I’ve made out of my strife.“

A few months ago I came across a film called “The Hunting Ground” – a powerful and engaging insight into the vast cases of sexual assault taken place on University campus’ all over America, revealing that one in five women are sexually assaulted on campus. The film highlights the dismissal from higher authorities within the University to these events, and the lack of support shown for the victims. A striking feature of the film was the initial ignorance from those in the position of power, who were more obliged to ‘protect the name of their college’ than for the safety of their students. The institutions display denial and rationalizations to cover the events happening at their Colleges.

I then discover that the song of the film ‘Till it Happens to You’ was written and performed by Lady Gaga herself, with a portion of the proceeds going towards helping victims of sexual assault.

The video follows four victims, all of whom are put in vulnerable positions by their attacker. For me, the film highlights the exact horrors of sexual assault, following that of a drink being spiked at a party, being unexpectedly attacked by a stranger, and even by a friend. Towards the end of the video, the film demonstrates the victims accepting help from friends and people around them – a vital part of tackling the issue of sexual assault, and something we aim to make possible and easier from setting up Girls Against.

Undoubtedly, the song fits perfectly with the context, with the clear emotion from Gaga’s personal experiences making the stories even more real and frightening.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you listen to the song and watch the film. Although the movie is, arguably, a horrific (and potentially triggering) glimpse into the reality of sexual assault in places many consider as ‘safe’, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering do a beautiful job at demonstrating the empowerment of women who join forces to fight back and share their stories with others.

Within Girls Against, we strive to do the same. Although our mission may not be on as large scale, we are hoping to achieve the same level of empowerment from all who follow us and be a voice for those who want to speak out and make a difference – to fight back against the cover-ups and victim blaming that are so clearly outlined in the film.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Guest writer Rosie Marks follows our previous discussion on the way in which sexual violence is portrayed in film and TV, by exploring Marvel’s new show Jessica Jones.

The time of the superhero is upon us and for the past year or so Marvel and DC have been battling for the onscreen top spot with the likes of Iron Man, Batman, Captain America and Thor.  But Jessica Jones is a breath of fresh air
for those of us who want to see a strong well-rounded female hero.  Don’t get me wrong, Black Widow is awesome, but her perfect hair, makeup and heels just don’t strike me as suitable world-saving attire.  I just don’t find her relatable.  It’s frustrating for the women who play these heroines too; Scarlet Johansson was less than impressed when, in an interview, Robert Downey Jr was asked thought-provoking questions about the complex morality of his character and she was asked about the diet she went on to fit into her skin-tight suit.

At the other end of the spectrum to this hyper-sexualised breed of heroine is Jessica Jones, a woman who’s too busy fighting evil to fuss about costume change.  Jessica is deeply flawed and therefore relatable. She’s damaged, cynical, but ultimately tries to do the right thing.

The most important thing about the new Marvel series, though, is what it teaches its viewers about consent.  The show is revolutionary in
its fearless use of the word ‘rape’; there’s no sugar coating it, and no disputing
the fact that what Kilgrave does to Jessica is indeed rape- both physical and mental.  We never see Jessica being physically raped, and we don’t need to; the psychological abuse she suffers is a far more sophisticated parallel which illustrates perfectly how damaging our society’s approach to sex and consent can be, and that when it comes to rape, its not really about sex at all, but power. Jessica Jones confronts domestic abuse head on, in a relationship where male privilege is escalated to the power of mind control.  Kilgrave tries to gain sympathy for his condition by saying that he can never tell whether people are acting because they want to or because he’s told them to.
To me, this sounds a lot like the feeble cry of the privileged male.

 Read these lines from episode 8, ‘AKA WWJD’:

Kilgrave: “What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is
Jessica: “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”

Kilgrave is the super-villain stand in for anyone who has ever victim-blamed, or denied responsibility for his actions by saying, ‘she wanted it’.  In the real
world, men may not have the power to control minds, but many people
underestimate the power of intimidation – which they achieve through their
threatening behaviour, superior physical presence and strength.  The damage Kilgrave does to Jessica and the rest of his victims is a sorely needed lesson to today’s society about victim-blaming and consent.

It is established that Kilgrave’s influence normally lasts for twelve hours – after that, his victim is no longer under his control and is not compelled to follow his orders.  In one of the most poignant scenes in the series, Kilgrave claims that once counted the hours he’d spent with Jessica, and she stayed with him and hugged him of her own free will when his power on her had timed out.  But one only has to see how limp she is in his arms to know that the hug is not consensual.  In those few minutes, he argues, she could have escaped, but she didn’t.  But it’s not simple as that.  When she is free of his influence, Jessica is in such a panic that she cannot act – and when decides to jump, Kilgrave calls her back inside.  To make things worse, the only way out for Jessica is to jump off the building and risk killing herself.  For her, consent is literally a matter of
life or death.

Another success of the show is how it addresses Jessica’s PTSD.
Yes, she’s damaged from her experience of abuse at the hands of Kilgrave- she’s an alcoholic, she’s paranoid, and she’s always expecting Kilgrave to be lurking around the next corner. But her PTSD doesn’t define her.
The producers didn’t reduce Jessica to a two-dimensional damaged rape
victim with trust issues- she still shares a passionate relationship with Luke Cage, with whom she has believable, messy, vigorous sex.

One of the best ways the show engages with consent is Kilgrave’s repetitive insistence that Jessica smiles.  It’s his favourite command for
all the women he controls, because if he makes them smile, it looks like
they’re enjoying themselves, and he can tell himself that they are.  In his mind, this is what keeps him from being a rapist.  When he looks back on
his victims, he can tell himself, ‘She was smiling, she enjoyed it,’ and in one
flashback to a date at his favourite restaurant, Jessica is smiling –because
she has no choice.  When you’re in Kilgrave’s company, smiling is a means of self preservation rather than an expression of pleasure.

Having said this, I hope that when people watch Jessica Jones, they learn something valuable about consent rather than identifying with the villain who claims to be the true victim of his abilities while using them to manipulate and harm others.  Kilgrave should be lesson to people that just because you have the ability to get what you want from someone, it does not give you the right to expect it from them.

Let’s Talk About Body Hair

Beauty standards seem unattainable for all women. But where feminism is often at fault, is with its failure to recognise how these standards affect women of colour. Peatree Bojangles (@peatreebojangle) explains how, as an Indian woman with more prominent body hair, these beauty ideals have been a destructive force within her life.

Part 1 

Part 2

Part 3

Happy New Year

Happy new year from us here at Girls Against! Below we, plus some of our lovely followers, have shared some of what we have learned over the past year.

Anna (GA)

“2015, for me, has been a year of changes and new beginnings. Firstly and most importantly, I got better eyebrows – always a priority. 

On a deeper and perhaps less shallow level, I got rid of toxic people in my life and made room for people who I love and who (hopefully) love me. Four of those people, who I have the honour of running this wonderful campaign with, I am so grateful for. And also for you, reader, for believing in us and supporting us as we began in October, up until now, and in the new year. 2016 is going to be memorable, and this is just the beginning. Another new beginning, I suppose!”


“I learnt that it’s okay to say no to a band member/friend if they make unwanted advances. And its okay to speak out; to share your message in order to help others.”

(Rayne will be sharing her experience with us in the coming months.)

Anni (GA) 

“I’ve learned so much over the past year, and my feminism has grown from strength to strength. I’ve learned more about varying systems of privilege and oppression, and I’ve adopted self love. These are all things which are helping me contribute to GA to the best of my ability. The other girls have been such a positive impact on my life, and their presence makes me excited for the year ahead! As do all of our lovely supporters. Love and solidarity.” 


“I’ve learnt this year that you CANNOT let your emotions depend on anyone but you. No matter if they make you happier than anything else. Also to be comfortable in your own skin, even if you hate it, you’re stuck with it – so work it!” 

Bea (GA) 

“2015 for me has been a whirlwind of a year. It’s crazy to think about all the amazing things that I’ve seemed to cram into these 365 days that have whizzed past so quickly. From the last 12 months I have learnt to increasingly grab opportunities head on and try and do the things that make YOU happiest and not just what others want you to do. Setting up the Girls Against campaign has made me realise the importance into investing in feminism and has taught me to fight for what’s right regarding gender and equality! It’s been a banger of a year and I hope 2016 is just as exciting for you and everyone that you love!”


“This year I learned that I didn’t have to take crap from people in crowds, that when they try to push me from the front, I have every right to push back. I waited there for hours, I deserve that space. I learned that my anger is valid and okay and I can express it. I should not be intimidated by them. I will not be anymore.” 

Hannah (GA) 

“2015 was an odd one for me. Like everything in life there were ups and downs, swings and roundabouts etc etc. The lowest points were probably being assaulted, going through my first break up, freaking out about the future, however, there were a lot of great things as well. Getting into university, Girls Against and meeting my favourite people are up there in the high points. 

Since I consider myself quite the advice giver I’m gonna give some to you, whether it’s useful or not is another matter. First things first, the serious crap: worry slightly less, seriously its not worth it. That you will be sad sometimes and that’s okay because it’s a part of life. Also, you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try, believe me, been there done that. Finally, honesty really is the best policy, if everyone was more upfront shit would get done a lot faster. 

Less serious, yet equally important ones are, to drink more water – seriously you will need to pee like ten times more but your skin will be ten times cuter. Use flashcards when studying, and do your research. Use an angled brush when doing your brows, practice makes perfect and brows are sisters not twins. Also your teachers give you extra sheets and reading for a reason, just saying. Oh also, you’ve gotta let the wax melt all the way round the first time you use a candle. 

 Thanks for 2015, it was lit fam and more than i ever imagined. Here’s to 2016.”

Sexual Violence in Fiction

Trigger warning
this article talks about instances of fictitious sexual violence which may be troubling for some readers.

Sexual violence is a serious problem.  A quick Google search can tell you the statistics, which are harrowing. In England and Wales alone, approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped every year (source: rapecrisis.org.uk). The risk of sexual violence increases dramatically for transgender and disabled individuals. If the media exists as mass communication, and sexual violence is a problem which affects the masses, then it only makes sense that the two meet. However, are the intentions of the film and TV creators who feature sexual violence in their content always honourable?

The media plays a crucial role in changing the way society
views things. Previously taboo, the exploration of sexual violence in popular
film and TV is a vital step in opening the discussion, and it reaps benefits. Only
by talking about sexual violence can we expect victims to come forward with
their experiences. Only by encouraging their bravery, and discouraging any
sense of shame, can we learn from these survivors. As a problem which affects a third of women worldwide, it is necessary that we question the attitudes installed in our varying cultures, and it is necessary that we do something to tackle the issue. The idea of a blockbuster movie, or a TV show with millions of viewers exploring the topic of sexual violence, should be something to be praised. But when featured to propel the plot with some sort of shock value, and nothing else, is extremely troubling.

In the latest season of American Horror Story, there was one
particular scene, in the season’s opening, which I found deeply disturbing. I’m
not sure what offended me most, as many elements of the scene left me with a
sour taste in my mouth, but one thing is sure – it existed for shock value, and
nothing else. Neither of the characters involved in the rape appeared ever again in the next nine episodes, and the loud, lengthy, graphic scene was
controversial, rightfully so. When I took to twitter to express my concern, I was
told by countless fans of the show to get over it. The show is rated TV MA (for
mature audiences), so the scene should have been expected on my part – and I had no right to complain about how audiences, younger ones particularly, would take to it. The passivity of some of the show’s audience, and the other characters within the scene, sickens me.

My opinion of the show – previously ever-changing – was made

The use of gratuitous rape scenes in TV and film is
something I cannot get behind. Victims of sexual violence worldwide deserve
more respect from those in Hollywood, who seem to think it’s appropriate to
water down the severity of sexual violence. It is used to propel the horror
value, to be nauseating, squirm-inducing. To show how sinister an antagonist
is, but not to show the strength of the victim who survives the ordeal and its repercussions.
We often look to fiction to find ourselves – to find characters with similar
experiences to us, who are able to overcome their troubles. We look for
guidance, and comfort. Victims of sexual violence deserve such comfort. They deserve support, which unfortunately isn’t readily available – most victims in the UK do not have access to a Rape Crisis Centre. Of course, a well-executed,
factually correct storyline in a TV show won’t be as effective as the
counselling victims need and deserve – but it could surely offer some short term support.

To contrast with American Horror Story: Hotel, I recently
watched a film which explored sexual violence in a way I found profound and rational. Foxfire is a 1996 film starring Angelina Jolie. Jolie plays a rebellious
outsider who encourages a group of girls to enact revenge on a sexually abusive teacher. What later becomes is a girl gang you want nothing more than to join –
they’re strong, free-spirited, and they band together in a way that leaves you
with a feeling of warmth.

In a particular favourite scene of mine, the girls tattoo each
other, and female nudity is presented in a way many films would never consider. The girls grow closer to each other, their bond strengthening, their bodies not sexualised. The film offers realistic attitudes regarding the girls’ revelation about their teacher – they face lots of criticism, but it only makes them stronger, their bravery showcased as they laugh it off and challenge those who challenge them. Hyper masculinity is represented through the football team, and other characters provide the voices of rape culture. The film relies partially on stereotypes, and it is by no means perfect, but the female protagonists are presented in all the ways I like to see – flawed, but capable, enduring, and so very brave.

I’ve only touched on
two examples of media, one film and one TV show, and there are countless others out there which tackle sexual violence differently. This is a complex
discussion, and I am by no means finishing my input here. As something that
angers me, you can expect me to return to this conversation in the near future.
If you have anything to add, please share through our ask box or twitter – I’d
love to hear your views! For now, I’ve been Anni and this has been my first
thought piece on Girls Against.

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.

An Open Letter To Those Who Put On Gigs

The cliché would dictate that every problem has a solution. Now, this could obviously be applied to anything – you’ve lost your toothbrush, buy another one – but the severity of the matter and the difficulty to find a solution varies from case to case. When you go to a gig, you’ve pretty much signed an unwritten contract that allows you to get sweatier than you’d like, crushed, and, undoubtedly, ripped off at the bar. One thing, however, that is eerily omnipresent, yet unacceptable, is molestation.

I’m not the first person addressing this issue, for this whole site is dedicated to it, but I’m fed up of us, the consumer (and victims), being the only ones fighting to bring sexual harassment at gigs, or in general for the matter, to an end. The very existence of Girls Against is proof that the industry doesn’t care enough, and the fact that it’s the gig-goers left to do the campaigning feels like we’re the mugged searching for the mugger or the customer sorting out shoddy stock rotation in the supermarket.

There have been times in the past where I’ve taken the issue to the security at a show, just for them to shrug it off lightheartedly, in a slightly worrying ‘boys will be boys’ way, claiming that I can’t ‘prove’ it. And they’re right, I couldn’t. The problem, and dare I say solution, starts with people. People are scumbags. But, specifically, sexually- and morally-deprived people in dark, crowded areas, are scumbags. There aren’t many ways of ‘proving’ that unknown and unwelcome hands are forthcoming in dark spaces without taking a hyperbolic, totalitarian ‘1984’-esque approach to things, which is probably why the issue is so prominent.

Of course I can sympathise with venues and security that try and make a change but are halted by this very problem. It’s a difficult situation, but one that isn’t given enough attention – it’s almost like one attempt is given and then they can’t be bothered, leaving it to people like Girls Against to make a stand. And that’s not right.

I commend the likes of the Good Night Out campaign, who are dedicated to this issue. Although, it just feels like an embellishment of the normal procedure. Their website reads: “If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter how minor it may seem, you can report it to any member of staff and they will work with you to make sure it doesn’t have to ruin your night.” That’s all very well, but how can we prove it?

The answer is we shouldn’t have to. The responsibility ultimately lies with the venue, the security, and even the artiste in question – just look at Speedy Ortiz before their recent tour for steps taken in the right direction. They launched a hotline that spectators could phone, text, or even email during the show reporting any issues, and provide comfort and a solution.

So, to all venues, the security teams, and the musicians – we are the customers, the meat in your machine, and we’ve proven that enough support is here to find a solution to this frustrating and upsetting problem. Predators searching for prey need to be extinguished from the gig circuit effectively and urgently, and it’s your job to do so.

Ryan Lunn