As Chance the Rapper’s set started, a drunk man grinded on me to the rhythm of the song, literally huffing over my neck to ask if I liked the show so far. He placed a hand on my shoulder — close to the lining of my bra — and I roughly shoved him off, pushing forward and away from him in the dense crowd. I had a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the night.
These moments remind me why movements like #MeToo are important: Talking about these instances makes for more than just storytelling. In the United States alone, two out of three sexual assaults go unreported to the police. This data and these stories emphasize that awareness is a good first step, but it’s not enough. Steps must be taken to prevent sexual harassment and assault from being the norm at events like these.
Sexual harassment and assault in the music scene need more attention. Music events, such as the fast approaching Austin City Limits festival, lead to an increase in sexual harassment and assault. According to a 2017 survey, “47 percent of respondents experienced unsolicited comments about their body, 41 percent were groped, 45 percent were aggressively hit on and 1,286 instances of harassment were tallied.” 54 women told Teen Vogue they were sexually harassed at Coachella this year. Even with these firsthand accounts, Coachella has not yet addressed the issue. Protective measures have yet to be put in place for sexual harassment and assault.
ACL, on the other hand, recognized the correlation between this disturbing behavior and the music scene. Their FAQ section promotes an expansive anti-harassment policy, which includes a 24-hour call line with SAFE Austin — a human rights agency dedicated to ending domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse in Austin. They also promote reporting stations through Medical Tents and directly through staff.
“I think it’s a really good resource, because I always have a worry in the back of my mind about being taken advantage of or being hit on when I don’t want it,” biology junior Aubree Wheeler said. “It’s important to know that there are people that lookout for your well-being, especially at a music festival where you want to have fun and relax.”
Even with these policies, ACL still remains susceptible to sexual harassment and assault. “It is so important to have these safety policies in place to keep everyone safe,” psychology sophomore Lillian Turner said. “However, whenever people are in crowds, they believe they can get away with anything without
As students, we can play a part in preventing sexual harassment and assault at music scenes. Take action on your own by avoiding falling prey to the bystander effect or by not intervening because you believe someone else will act. Be an informed concert attendee by being conscious that anti-harassment policies at ACL exist, and that, if harassed or assaulted, there are opportunities to report these incidents. Know when to intervene: Either ensure that you have the authority and control to step in, or find someone that does have that authority, be it security or staff.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out. Remember that no means no in every and any situation and remember that you are valid. Don’t take action at the last minute, and don’t keep your story quiet. The #MeToo movement inspired me to tell my story and to take action against the blatantly wrong. What about you?
For more information on how to be a more informed concert attendee, and/or if you need to report any sexual harassment or assault during ACL this year, visit www.aclfestival.com/safety/ and www.safeaustin.org/.
Mata is a psychology sophomore from Houston.