Girls Against is a campaign working to raise awareness of, and ultimately end, sexual harassment at gigs and concerts. We spoke with one of the campaign’s founders, Bea Bennister, to hear more about Girls Against.
First of all, how did Girls Against start?
Girls Against was inspired after one of the founders had a particularly uncomfortable experience at a gig, which completely ruined the night for her. We realised that this happens far too often, and nothing is being done about it. So we decided to do something! We all met on Twitter through our love of music.
How do you think venues and bands can adapt to stop groping?
Venues having specifically trained security guards who know how to support people who have experienced sexual assault at a gig, and know the appropriate method to remove the perpetrator would be ideal. Bands can help by spreading the word and ensuring they are having an influence over the safety of their audience. Even a small statement at the beginning of their set stating that their gig is no place for sexual assault helps massively.
What do you think we can all do in crowds to help stop sexual assault?
Our website has lots of great advice for what to do as a bystander, but spreading the word is so helpful. Looking out for each other at gigs, and not being ignorant to what’s going on around you is really important too. If you see something, ask the person if they’re ok, and encourage them to report it if they feel comfortable.
What do you think the future holds for the organization?
We have some amazing plans for 2018 (most of which we cannot disclose right now) but we really want to use the campaign’s platform as much as we can to talk about wider social issues within the music industry as well. A major goal for us would be getting a proper security plan in place. We’ve been working on it for a while as we want it to be perfect, but having security companies actively looking out for sexual assault in crowds would be a major step.
You’ve received some amazing recognition from the likes of NME and BBC, have you received any backlash from people?
Backlash is sometimes inevitable, it affects us a lot emotionally as we know how much work we put in and it’s hard to take when something doesn’t work as well as we’d want it to. However, most criticism we get helps us to understand what we can be doing better, and is usually helps us to make something better out of the situation.
If someone experiences sexual assault, what’s the best course of action for them to take?
We suggest informing security if possible, as they may then be able to deal with the perpetrator and contact the authorities. However, we realise that security can be guilty of just shrugging and expecting you to persevere (and this is something which we are trying our very best to change). Informing friends as they may be able to help, and if it will keep improve safety we suggest leaving the crowd or moving away from the perpetrator.
And finally, what artists are you listening to at the moment?
Me personally, I love Dream Wife. They are so unbelievably fierce and have been so important in helping us create a safe space presence at gigs. Their new debut album screams girl power, and their energy on stage is amazing. Also loving Nilufer Yanya at the moment, as well as LIVING for Willow Smith’s newest album. All great female inspirations for me musically.
Make sure you check out what Girls Against’s Twitter HERE to see what they’ve been up to!
Words by Luke Pettican