Women’s safety is an issue that is prevalent in every part of the world. Right inside our homes to the outside world, women’s safety is a major concern. Time and again, we’ve had celebrities, ambassadors, global leaders, political icons and people making various statements regarding the issue and on ways to solve them, but have we ever heard a statement about a “Statement festival” that is happening to make a statement?
— Straits Times Life (@ST_LifeTweets) October 12, 2017
Sweden’s forthcoming Statement Festival is all about making The Statement. The summer 2018 event will only allow cis women, non-binary and trans women to attend. No men are allowed.
Statement Festival is a direct reaction to a rash of sexual assault and rape cases reported at Sweden’s popular festivals Bråvalla and Putte I Parken. Bråvalla 2018 was cancelled following 23 reported sexual assaults in 2017 alone.
It all started as a tweet from comedian Emma Knyckare which quickly gained traction, culminating in a Kickstarter to raise funds for a female-only festival. The goal of 500,000 Swedish Kroner, or more than $60,000, has been raised, whereby Statement Festival embarks on the next phase of its journey.
The Kickstarter page reads: “At music festivals, everyone should feel safe. This sounds obvious, right? Still, year after year the music festivals around the world have shown us the opposite.“Statement Festival wants to change this and in the summer of 2018, we will arrange the world’s most awesome music festival – without cis-men. Help us to create a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.”
While this move, as any other move might have its own pros and cons, those supporting and condemning it, it is surely worth the move.
It’s also the first significant response to a worldwide initiative designed to curb sexual assaults and misogyny at music festivals.
This move of having a women’s only music festival can be viewed from various viewpoints. It is positive because such moves are a message to men as to how women feel about sexual abuses and attacks. It is a way to let them know how in a place where we are supposed to coexist, one sex is, unfortunately, being a threat to another, wherein the other sex feels so suffocated to be a part of the same environment. This move also highlights the unity among women to facilitate a music festival which was initially just an idea. This initiative has definitely attracted eyeballs and has received huge recognition.Music icons are also seen taking a stand over the issue by refusing to perform if any such attack of sexual abuse is to persist.
The other aspect is about how we might succumb to the idea that nobody can put a full stop to this issue and the only way to feel safer is to keep our selves away from men.
Does this move emphasize that only when women are not surrounded by men they are free?
Mihir Joshi, 36, Indian singer, television anchor and Radio Jockey based in Mumbai mentioned to SheThePeople.TV that how this woman only music festival is a great move and lauded the organizers for coming up with the statement festival.
“This festival is a form of silent and peaceful protest to all those men out there who take women for granted and have inflicted fear in them. This statement festival is a good thing because men need to understand and stop the horror that’s been around. While many might question this move as to why generalise all men, it’s important to know that not all men are responsible for this but this move is important to bring about awareness and also men might feel embarrassed and might realise their faults.
The fear which has been created is unnatural and should not exist in a normal scenario. Only because certain men behave like irrational animals we have come to a point where we are afraid to send our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters out. This needs to stop.
Along with such symbolic protests, strict laws and stringent punishments need to be devised so that we can create a scenario to coexist”, says Mihir.
This to some extent might portray that there is no way to control such atrocities and the only way out is to stay away from this. This notion is also problematic in a sense that we are generalizing the acts of foolish men. Would we as women accept to be secluded from spaces because of misbehaviour of certain women?
While all these are valid points from both ends, the point that needs extra attention is that,
if anyone of us, as a man or woman, are upset by the idea of a men-free festival, we may instead be upset about how many women are asked to stay at home by friends and family when they plan to go to the festival or elsewhere.
Why does this never get questioned and treated as anything but normal? Let’s put our energy on what is actually unfair. For once there is a way where men have got the message that they cannot do as they desire. However, this does not let us come to a conclusion that this is the solution to every problem. It is rather a way to begin to bring about a change. It’s obvious that we need stringent moves to stop abuse in any form and bring peace in everyone’s life.
Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed in this column are author’s own.