Live music scenes are not exempt from the sexist and sexual violence that takes place in everyday life, even though many live music associations part of Live DMA have developed prevention initiatives against sexual violence for concert audiences.
This article aims at explaining what is sexual violence, where does it come from and why it is crucial that the live music sector grasps these issues, before presenting some inspiring initiatives tackling this issue from the Live DMA network.
What are we talking about?
“By sexist or sexual violence, we mean every action made against one’s consent and based on the stereotyped roles society assigns to one person depending on their sex or gender, based on unequal power relations. It englobes: sexist and/or homophobic insults, sexual assault, rape, actions against one’s consent, insistent invitations, molestation, sexual harassment, exhibitionism, blackmailing, threats, using force, not respecting consent…”Quote taken from the WAH! Platform by FEDELIMA. Translated from French
Sexual violence is most of the time (but not only) targeted against people perceived as women.
Where does it come from?
Sexual violence is rooted in rape culture.
“Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. […] Rape Culture affects every woman. The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape. This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture.”Quote taken from the University of Michigan website – resource on rape culture.
Rape culture stems from a sexist society, in which people identified as men are considered superior to other genders, notably but not exclusively, superior to women.
“Sexist behaviours (jokes, stereotyped representations, allusions, monopolization of speech, assignment to motherhood, paternalism, constant seduction, exclusion, condescension…) may seem harmless at first, but they constitue sexist violences. To reproduce and tolerate them trivializes their impact and increase our familiarization to all sorts of sexist manifestations. Hence, it becomes more difficult to react because we get used to live in an environment full of sexist violence.”Quote taken from the Haut Conseil de l’Egalité entre les hommes et les femmes (France). Translated from French.
Why take action in the live music sector?
We live in a sexist society rooted in rape culture. Unfortunately, live music scenes are not exempt from these issues. They need to be tackled by live music professionals in order to guarantee spaces as welcoming and safe as possible for live music audiences.
Live music venues, clubs and festivals, as cultural and social places, can truly have a positive impact on society. They can be places of information, education and good practices. Positive habits experienced at live music events have more chances to be reproduced in everyday life by the audience. If you treat your peer with respect at a nightclub or a concert, you will treat them the same once you are out of the venue!
As the Swedish live music association SvenskLive motto goes: “Make the world better for live music and make the world better with live music”.
What can be done?
Many things can be done in order to make music events safer spaces for the audience. Educating ourselves as well as others is essential in order to deconstruct the sexist mindsetting we are used to. Raising our voices to stop sexual violence is also necessary. We need to learn and imagine new behaviours to make sure we all take care of and respect eachother.
The following three initiatives come from the Live DMA network, and we hope they will inspire you to run similar projects and give you a base of work to do so.
Ben je oké? – VNPF (the Netherlands)
Its objective is to tackle sexual violence in a positive manner,by inciting people to take care of eachother and ask “Ben je oké” when witnessing a potential situation of sexual violence. 55 Dutch venues, clubs and festivals took part in the campaign. This campaign was largely developed on social media (Instagram, Snapchat…) and was aimed mainly at younger audiences.
Dare To Care – Svensk Live (Sweden)
In Sweden, Svensk Live partnered up with RFSU, the Swedish National Association for Sexual Information, to create an educational and communicational campaign named “Dare to Care“. This project is primarily about creating an audience culture that promotes communication, reciprocity and interaction in sexual relationships. In practice, this means working with both norms and values as well as practical safety work with the organizers, but also talking to the audience at musical events.
Dare to Care consists in a resource platform for live music professionals with videos and questionnaires to learn how to recognise a situation of sexual violence and how to react in a proper way. Although the resource platform is not public, they released this video in English:
Ici C’est Cool – Collectif Culture Bar-Bars (France)
In France, the Collectif Culture Bar-Bars and some FEDELIMA venues took part in the “Ici C’est Cool” (Here it is cool) campaign initiated by 25 festivals from the Pays de la Loire region in the west of France. Through a visually powerful communication campaign, an online questionnaire and training sessions for professionals, “Ici C’est Cool” aims at raising the audience’s awareness on sexist, racist and homophobic violenceat live music events. The slogan of the campaign is “Do not let violence ruin the party” and it pictures naked people wearing sexist, racist or homophobic insults written all over their body.