I can’t remember the first time I had a shitty experience at a gig or music festival because I’m a woman, but I do know that since the age of 14 there have been too many sly arse gropes, unwanted come-ons and patronising comments to mention. I’ve seen female friends touched-up in mosh pits and been called slags for not wanting to engage in conversation with pissed-up blokes in fields, bars and venues across the UK and beyond. Also, that thing when men try to get past you in a crowd and insist on placing both their hands firmly on your hips in order to do so – what’s that all about? Are you so unstable on your feet that you need to grab onto another human’s bits in order not to fall down?
It’s all been rather exhausting, so news that a women-only music festival is set to take place in Sweden next year has filled me with hope. Frankly, it’s About Bloody Time – which, coincidently, would also be a great name for the event. The idea came about following reports that Swedish festival Bråvalla would be cancelling next year’s event after four rapes and 23 sexual assaults took place there last month. In response to the shocking news of the attacks, local radio presenter Emma Knyckare suggested a women’s only event, tweeting: “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome, that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?” Emma received such a positive response to her comment that she revealed she’d be putting on “Sweden’s first man-free rock festival” in 2018.
It’s not the first time women have carved out their own space in the festival world. Last year, Glastonbury launched its very first women-only stage. The Sisterhood – which returned last month – was nestled in the far reaches of the Shangri-La field. A lady utopia where men were barred, there were talks, gigs, DJ sets and rowdy dance parties. It was blissful. This Swedish festival looks set to take things further still by banning blokes from even setting foot inside the gates, offering a safe environment where there’s no need to worry about catcalls, unwelcome comments and the very real threat of attack. I imagine the queue for the loos will be a total nightmare, but this is but a small sacrifice to make for a zero-bros climate. Now, excuse me while I look up the Swedish for, “No thanks, you can keep your meatballs.”