Last Saturday, Grace Dent caused a bit of a stir on my Twitter timeline with this article. At first, I passed it off as clickbait. But on reflection, after reading the article again, I concluded that the point that Dent is very clumsily making is that feminism has bigger battles to fight. And I get it. I get the point that feminism has so many big issues to deal with. I’ve seen the challenges faced by a friend in being a woman running a motorbike garage. I work in a sector where, although mostly staffed by women, men are still more likely to be better paid and reach positions of management. Try working daily in healthcare with the indomitable woman interviewed here for the Huffington Post last year; I get it, I really do. And like Dent, I hold my own views on the campaign regarding high heels, and on make-up (long story short – heels bad, make up good! – But I won’t criticise anyone else for what they think on this as the point is it’s an individual choice. But then Dent further states her disdain for people arguing against groping at gigs, because “getting titted (sic) up wildly in the melee at the Glasgow Barrowlands really was the best part” for her. To belittle the experience of women, like myself, who have experienced sexual harassment at gigs is something I don’t get, won’t ever get and can’t ever be okay with.
Fast forward 24 hours and I go online and I find the artwork for a campaign initiated by myself being shared by one of my idols, Frank Turner, and this campaign being the subject of a blog he has written, after being contacted by numerous people saying they had experienced harassment at his last London gig. That’s numerous people at one gig, at one single venue; one night only. If numerous people at one gig at one single venue are reporting this as an issue, then surely this isn’t something we should be taking lightly?
I’m glad to read that Dent doesn’t seem to be affected by what happened to her at gigs in her teenage years. But for the women who have contacted Frank Turner, Safe Gigs for Women and Girls Against since their inception who aren’t okay with what happened to them, if ‘millennial feminism’ has given them a voice then how can anyone think this is a bad thing? Many of the women contacting Safe Gigs for Women have asked that their anonymity be ensured. But being able to give anyone a voice so they can make sense of such a trauma is key in challenging and eradicating this kind of behaviour for good. And if, in doing this, allies such as Frank Turner and Slaves are made, then our success in uniting gig goers, venues and bands and artists to challenge sexual harassment in our music, at our gigs can only be increased. As Frank said in his blog, gigs should be “welcoming places, where everyone can relax, enjoy themselves, be part of the show, make friends”. Because after all, isn’t that what everything should ever really be about?