Content Warning: This article discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know are affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
A number of Australian musicians have taken to social media over the weekend to reveal their recent experiences with sexual assault, highlighting the sickening prevalence of this behaviour at local concerts.
For far too long, we have been discussing the continued poor behaviour of a small minority of concertgoers in Australia.
While everyone loves to go out and have a good time singing along to their musical idols, it is rarely, if ever, a difficult task to ensure that respect and mindfulness follows.
While many people would like to think that this behaviour has been in decline due to the repeated discussion of it, and frequent appeals for audiences to call out antisocial behaviour, it appears that the message is not getting through, with not one, but three Australian musicians revealing their experiences with such behaviour over this past weekend.
Taking to social media yesterday, Maz De Vita of Brisbane’s WAAX shared the story of an incident that occurred at the group’s Sunday night show at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle.
“I’d like to send a personal message to that one person up the front who decided to assault me,” De Vita began, noting she couldn’t identify the specific perpetrator. “I hope you’re glad to know that I fucking felt it and it was extremely degrading.”
“I don’t know who you are, but you know who you are and I want you to know that your disgusting behavior is not welcome in our music scene or anywhere really. It is totally disrespectful and plain fucked up.”
“Musicians work really hard to make music and perform it. We deserve some fucking respect. Myself and my peers expect better.”
“You wouldn’t grope someone in the grocery store, on the bus or in your workplace,” De Vita continued. “So what makes this situation any different? What am I to you?”
“Last I checked I’m a fucking human who deserves the right to her own body and the right to work in a safe environment.”
Unfortunately, this was not the first incident of the weekend, with Kira Puru also conveying an incident that occurred at The Ville in Townsville on Saturday night, while performing as a support on Peking Duk’s current tour.
“During the show, some guy from the crowd yelled out something about my ‘fat pussy’ from in the pit,” Puru explained. “I was already having heart palps, my voice was shaky and my breathing short.”
“Honestly, I don’t really give any fucks about idiotic men usually but when I’m at work and having a rough day already, it’s frustrating to not even be able to get through a 30 minute set without someone harassing me and commenting on my body.”
“There’s so many things I wanted to say about this but I think we can all just agree that this behaviour is inappropriate, disrespectful and entirely unwarranted. IT IS HARRASSMENT. Don’t bring a shitty, entitled attitude to any gig of mine or any show or public place for that matter.”
“If you can’t see why this behaviour is an issue YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.”
Soon after, Alex The Astronaut also shared her experience of a show at Adelaide’s Lion Arts Factory on Friday night, explaining how a group of boys approached her following her performance.
“One put his arm around me and whispered in my ear that he had a crush on me (two times) and asked if that was okay to say,” Alex began. “When I said I’m gay so yes as long as he got that he said it again.”
“I am small, he was very tall he kept his arm around me the whole time and I felt uncomfortable. His friend did the same thing and when I tried to leave got annoyed and when he asked to buy me a drink and when I said no thanks got cranky.”
“There’s a way to treat other people and that wasn’t it,” Alex added. “When someone’s talking to you because it’s part of their job to and you take it too far that’s not okay.”
“Whether you’re a boy or girl (unfortunately this has happened to me with girls too but the vast majority are boys) and you ignore anyone’s body language or continue to hit on someone that seems uncomfortable that’s not okay.”
These posts also caught the eye of triple j’s Bridget Hustwaite, who not only shared her own experiences of such behaviour, but made an impassioned plea for this behaviour to come to come to an end.
“How do we stamp this behaviour out and make gigs a safe space for all?” Bridget asked. “Well, I don’t know if there is a single answer but I do think it starts from the bottom.”
“It starts with your mates, and calling them out if you see them acting in a way that’s making someone else feel uncomfortable.”
“If they’re acting in a manner that you would to hate to see happen to your sister, girlfriend, mum, etc. pull them up on it. It can be as simple as saying ‘Hey man, that’s not cool’. If they reject you, I think it says a lot more about their character than yours and they’re probably not the kind of people you need in your life.”
While Bridget Hustwaite also noted that security and bar staff are also viable options, a number of festivals have now implemented hotlines that should be used to report this behaviour.
Big thanks to @AlNewstead for helping me with this one, and of course @kirapuru and Maz from @waaxband for bravely speaking up. I'm very lucky to have a platform like triple j and I think it's important we are all across this. xx https://t.co/Y8s9gv3HCN
— Bridget Hustwaite (@BHustwaite) April 23, 2019
At this risk of editorialising, there is absolutely no excuse for this behaviour to be so rampant in this day and age, and for that small minority of concertgoers to feel as though their behaviour doesn’t have consequences.
It is everyone’s right to feel safe at a concert or event, and no one has any right to take away this feeling of safety and security away from them, violating their personal space with disgusting, invasive acts.
As the likes of WAAX, Kira Puru, Alex The Astronaut, and Bridget Hustwaite have all urged, if you see anyone participating in this behaviour, call them out on it. It has absolutely no place at any event in our society.
There is no excuse for anyone to ever feel unsafe at a concert, whether they be an artist or audience member, and it is with the support of single every concertgoer that we can work towards stamping out this sickening behaviour in our society.
Call out those who participate in such behaviour, and let them know that their actions are unacceptable.