Man-free festivals – Segregation that the Gender Deserves

festival

There has been great progress made in improving the safety, most of all sexually, in festivals across the UK and beyond. More than that, there has been much more awareness – in terms of social media blackouts and, in Glastonbury’s case, the Sisterhood – in creating gender-specific spaces.

However, the issue in Sweden is, at least on a reported scale, spiralling out of control. Bravalla Festival may have hosted some of music’s globe-gobbling anthem makers (this year saw The Killers amongst the headliners), but beneath its commerciality lies sordid tales of sexual violence that stretch back to the beginning of the noughties. Over the past two festivals, a combined total of nine rapes and 34 sexual assaults have taken place. And they are the ones police are aware of.

The shocking numbers have resulted in an announcement from the festival’s organisers cancelling next year’s festivals, blaming the fact “certain men don’t know how to behave.” Even in context, it’s a statement that is not only odd and clunky, but clumsily understated – on the surface, men misbehaving is tantamount to accidentally spilling a beer or smoking a spliff – rape is far, far away from bad behaviour.

The only positive to come out of the situation is Sweden’s first exclusively non-male festival, which will take place instead of Bravalla in 2018. While festivals in the US have previously hosted successful ‘man ban’ festivals, this action throws into raw reality that despite technological advancements and added security at festivals, sexual abuse remains a disgustingly potent, and prolific, risk.

The news of this has, of course, sparked mixed reviews. The traditional war cry of ‘not all men’ has reared its head, as has the victim-blaming boilerplate of ‘segregation’. Yes, this is segregation. But this is a necessary move. If men are, as the statement deemed it, unable to ‘behave’, then a blanket ban is the only way forward. Alcohol or substance abuse can turn even the staunchest ‘not all men’ chanter into an altogether different beast, and by offering only a segmented segregation, surely the purpose of this festival is thwarted? This is a chance to show that men need to take action and behave in an uniform manner – it is not a case of nice guys finishing last.

It is also not about pinning the blame of one gender. Men, of course, are also victims and can be victims of sexual abuse, but this is a reaction of sexual abuse within a specific, and confined, space. The sheer volume of rape that occurred in Sweden alone warrants such a ban; I’m sure if the genders had been switched and it was men who had been subjected to such staggering statistics, we would have a man-only festival.

Whether or not England will follow suit in the future remains to be seen, and hopefully Sweden will also provide bands that have at least one female member in them, but the threat of sexual abuse continues to be all too real prospect.

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Bad Habits – Why Miles Kane’s Faux Paus Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Miles Kane

Recently, the world doffed their fringes and showed appreciation for all things female on International Women’s Day. Trailblazers from all corners of culture were freshly anointed and adorned, and Instagram was alive with filters of Courtney Love, Emma Watson and Polly Jean Harvey. For Miles Kane, though, he was having to face up to swallowing some considerable humble pie.

International Women’s Day is an important movement, and not just a Facebook frivolity (there were, natch, a few statuses appearing on Facebook denouncing “yet another special day…when’s Oatcake Day?” or the typically anti-feminist boilerplate, “yeah well when’s National Men’s Day appearing?” It’s in November, guys, hush). But one thing the day did highlight was that we’re still considerably far away from reaching gender equality, and surprisingly, one of the biggest setbacks is the world of music.

The medium of sport is still wrestling (or should that be ‘foxy-boxing’ – gender insensitive ed) with accepting gender equality, with full-time football coach Annie Zaidi admitting to facing taunts of sexism and Islamophobia as she tried to negotiate a career in the world of sport (she originally gave up all hope aged 14). But music is all about acceptance, progression and diversity…isn’t it? Sometimes, it really doesn’t seem that way, for lately there has been a slew of sexism sound tracking the current state of music.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 18: Recording artist Kesha attends the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP)

Kesha has been put under a considerable amount of stress and discomfort after judges ruled against releasing her from her contract, despite the strong allegations of sexual assault and emotional abuse from producer Dr Luke. It seemed Sony Music had finally seen sense when, after an inordinate amount of time, they announced they were “dropping” Luke from their roster. But even then, it was because of a “public relations headache” – it’s like allowing your dog to defecate your rug, and then blaming Ikea for having such “substandard absorbency”; the two barely correlate, and it seems Sony only acted because of intense, and rightful, pressure, rather than the actual allegations.

But now Dr Luke is vehemently denying he has been dropped, remonstrating he has a strong partnership with Sony and that he and Kesha can work “without interaction.” So, in other words, it is okay for Luke to continue to prowl the perimeter, but Kesha must be on her constant guard should he decide to permeate the water cooler. It’d be like letting Jeremy Clarkson stay on at the BBC, as long as the BBC restaurant changes from modern European to a Miller & Carter.

Another blot on the equality copybook has come in the shape of Miles Kane. Despite having a decent solo career and periods in semi-successful indie bands (The Rascals being the most notable), arguably Kane is best known for The Last Shadow Puppets, whose Bacharach-meets-Morricone appreciation of ‘60s fervour gave him, as well as cohort Alex Turner, a new string to his indie bow.

The now-infamous Spin article presented journalist Rachel Brodsky the kind of discomfort that should only be displayed when trying to ask Mark E. Smith for his bar tab. Not only was Kane’s perverted presentation of Turner’s seemingly bulging crotch not especially amusing, he spent the interview engaged in some sort of tossed-off, smug honeytrap, in which he blatantly – though tried to make it nonchalant – propositioned the journalist and then ensnared her into an awkward goodbye kiss. Later, he sent a note apologising for his “Carry On” behaviour, as if that would make it all go away. But it doesn’t, because what’s the use in a note? It doesn’t erase the sour taste or the discomfort Brodsky would have felt during and after the interview. It doesn’t excuse Kane’s conceited come-ons, nor does it quell the belief that he really is sorry. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again.

tlsp

It’s like having a one-night stand with a girl who loves you, then realising it’s wrong and sending a conciliatory Kik a week later – musicians, and men in general, need to learn it’s foresight that’s key – being reactive is pointless. To be proactive is to prevent.

Throughout the Spin interview, Kane and Turner seem, simply, bored – bored with fame, bored with interviews and bored with promotion, and thus decide to make it fun, and that’s what makes Kane’s behaviour worse – it seemed he was asking her to “butter (him) up” and casting her meaningful, disconcerting glances to make it more fun for him. Even if he meant any of it, it would be inexcusable, but on the surface, it plays out that Kane wanted a bit of a laugh and decided to treat this woman with flagrant disregard, and then, when the guano penetrated the fan, urgently scribbled a ‘sorry’. It’s like at the Year 10 piss-up, when your mates egg you on to try and finger the nerd, and later on you’ll make sure your digits do not dared to be doused on a towel.

“I’m going to shag more in my thirties,” “I’ve got a hard-on for Alex Turner” – since when did Miles Kane become the real-life Jay Cartwright? At least in The Inbetweeners, it was pushed to such a pathetic degree that I could laugh about it. Miles seems to think being Turner’s pompadour polisher gives him clitoral credence.

The sad thing is it’s a sorry indictment of the music industry. We may have powerful female figures in music (off the bat, there’s the Deal sisters, Liz Phair, Warpaint, even the always overlooked Juliana Hatfield), but half of their ‘admirers’ would cease spinning their songs if they let their skin sag. Even now, if I say one of my favourite bands is, for example, Alvvays or Best Coast, it is often followed by a quick Google search and an approval of “she’s fit.” I doubt I’d get the same response if I told them to Google a pic of Mac DeMarco. There was also a time when I wanted a female guitarist in a band, but even that led to a Pandora’s Box of analytics, explanations and assurances – it seemed no one could overcome their salient belief this was only because I wanted to start a “Fleetwood Mac” and get my end away.

Freedom does come slowly at first, but in the music world it should be arriving a lot quicker, and Miles Kane’s actions have left a sour taste. But, to paraphrase TLSP’ new record, it’s everything we’ve come to expect.