Between Friends and Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) are continuing an urgent collaborative campaign for the third summer to make music experiences in Chicago safer for thousands of attendees at Chicago concerts and festivals in response to alarming new information on harassment and violence in those spaces.
New online survey data from the OurMusicMyBody campaign, completed in December 2017, reinforces the urgent need for violence and harassment awareness and prevention efforts at concerts, festivals and music venues. The 509 music fans surveyed during a two week period reported an overwhelming amount of sexual harassment at concerts – 47% of respondents experienced unsolicited comments about their body; 41% were groped; 45% were aggressively “hit on”; at least 1200 instances of harassment were tallied.
“The prevention and ending of sexual and domestic violence require us all to not justify harm or look the other way,” says Yesenia Maldonado, Between Friends Executive Director. “This survey reinforces the need for music festival organizers to be proactive in thinking about how sexual and domestic violence play out in large groups and how to prevent it.”
OurMusicMyBody was launched in 2016 in response to anecdotal evidence of high rates of sexual violence in the Chicago music scene and there being very few festivals or venues around the world without a documented anti-harassment policy. Working with music festivals and venue staff, musicians and music fans, more than 50 volunteers share social media campaigns, distribute resources, staff information booths, assist performers in making statements to raise awareness about sexual violence, and encourage venues and festivals to implement anti-harassment policies and strategies.
In 2017, OurMusicMyBody was present at Ruido Fest, Green Music Fest, Pitchfork, Riot Fest, and Lollapalooza. OurMusicMyBody also has partnerships with Chicago music venues Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, Lincoln Hall, and Schubas.
“Our survey clearly represents what we have been hearing from everyone who we have spoken to at music festivals over the last two years,” says Matt Walsh, Between Friends Prevention and Education Specialist co-coordinating OurMusicMyBody. “Fans want to be able to go out to see their favorite band without having to worry that someone is going to disrespect their space. They want festivals and venues to actively support them and create a safer environment to enjoy these concerts.”
Other OurMusicMyBody survey results include:
- 83% of female-identified respondents experienced verbal harassment, groping, sexual gestures, being stalked, yelled at or photographed/videoed without permission
- 29% of all men reported instances of harassment
- 60% of trans music fans reported experiencing physical homophobic violence
- 99% of fans surveyed said they would attend more events if safety measures were present:
- 84% said they want venue staff and security trained in violence prevention and crisis intervention
- 79% want a venue that does not book musicians with a history of violence or abuse
- 75% support a venue with a well-displayed anti-harassment policy
- 66% report they want a venue partnering with outside organizations focusing on violence and harassment prevention
- 62% want a venue with a designated safe place to go if experiencing harassment or violence
OurMusicMyBody’s online survey was completed by fans who had attended music festivals in the genres of rock, country, EDM, Hip Hop and Punk Rock.
“We are working towards building a community of people who care about preventing sexual violence at music venues and festivals. We are trying to change the culture within these spaces by addressing harassment head on,” says Maggie Arthur, co-organizer of the campaign from RVA.
“We have worked with festivals and venues to create anti-harassment statements and have created a physical presence within these spaces. Throughout various methods we offer attendees ways to critically think about this environment. We help them define consent and develop ways to notice where to step in when they witness harassment taking place. We also provide participants with resources for other anti-violence agencies if they ever are experiencing any sort of harm,” Walsh says.
The multi-layered OurMusicMyBody campaign, aimed at festival and music fans, will be active in the summer of 2018 for the third year.
“We will continue this campaign until venues and music festivals in Chicago, and beyond, have implemented a policy and trained their staff on how to address harassment,” Walsh says.
OURMUSICMYBODY is a collaborative campaign led by Between Friends and Rape Victim Advocates to raise awareness about sexual harassment and domestic violence in the music scene. We do this work because we believe everyone deserves to feel comfortable and safe when they go to a concert or festival. OurMusicMyBody works with festival and venue staff, musicians, and music fans to create fun and consensual music experiences for all. For more information, go to ourmusicmybody.tumblr.com.
BETWEEN FRIENDS is a nonprofit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and building a community free of abuse. Since its inception, in 1986, the organization has centered its work to be responsive to the needs of individuals, families and communities across Chicagoland. To break the cycle of domestic violence, the agency offers crisis intervention and support services for survivors and their children that include a 24-hour crisis line (1-800-603-4357), court advocacy, and counseling. To build a community free of abuse, Between Friends provides comprehensive prevention and education
programs for youth and adults, including the largest teen dating violence prevention program in Illinois. For more information, go to betweenfriendschicago.org.
RAPE VICTIM ADVOCATES (RVA) is a leader in the fight to eradicate sexual violence and end rape culture in the Chicago area. RVA provides crisis intervention, medical and legal advocacy, and trauma therapy services to survivors. RVA also works to prevent sexual violence through our education and training programs and through our ambitious public policy agenda. RVA services are available in English and Spanish, and are free of charge for survivors and their loved ones.