Meet the people stamping out sexual harassment in metal
Following the sexual assault of a fan at a Baroness gig, we meet the people who are working to stop harassment, and find out what to do if it happens to you
Gigs are supposed to be fun. They’re a chance to spend an evening in a room full of similar people, all united in the pursuit of good music. But not all fans feel safe enough to enjoy themselves – female fans in particular face being harassed and assaulted in the crowd. Disappointingly, there are still people who pass off these incidents as nothing more than a by-product of attending shows, but fans and bands are fighting back increasingly loudly.
Rosie Solomon, a 20-year-old student, shone a spotlight on the issue recently when she decided to write about her experience of being assaulted during a Baroness gig at Birmingham Institute. It was the first time she’d been to a gig alone. “It started about halfway into Baroness’s set. I felt something pressing into my leg and bottom,” she wrote on Redbrick, the University of Birmingham’s student newspaper website. “I looked around and I saw that he had plenty of space, and was deliberately thrusting his groin into my leg from behind.” She described how she moved away, only for the man to follow her, and that it wasn’t until she “yelled at him” that he left her alone. After the gig, she reported the incident to bar staff, who comforted her while they waited for the police to arrive. Baroness responded with a statement on Facebook, stressing that they “have no tolerance for sexism, or any form of intolerant or insensitive behaviour... We are extremely sensitive to the gender disparity that can exist within the world of rock and metal, and we are embarrassed and disturbed that Rosie (or anyone, for that matter) could have had such a terrible experience at one of our shows.” They went on to address the harasser directly, writing: “Whoever you are, if you read this post, stay the fuck away from Baroness and our audience. We don’t need you at our show.”
Baroness’s tour schedule meant they couldn’t chat with Hammer about the situation, but we did speak to Rosie, who’s rightly proud of herself for speaking out. “When the man began assaulting me, I was shocked and angry. Surely in this day and age I can go to a metal gig and expect to be safe?” she says. “I decided to write the article because there were so many cases where something similar or worse had happened to one of my friends and they hadn’t reported it for fear it wouldn’t be taken seriously. I wanted to prove them wrong. I also find it quite therapeutic to write about things that upset me, so I was to some extent doing it for myself, but it was mostly to encourage others to report future instances of sexual assault.”
If you’ve been assaulted at a show or know someone who has, these organisations can offer support and advice
RAPE CRISIS ENGLAND & WALES
If you’ve been assaulted, Rape Crisis can offer practical and emotional support. They’re not exclusively for women, either – they recognise men can also be victims of assault and will help anyone who needs advice. They won’t make you contact the police if you don’t want to.
Like Rape Crisis, Victim Support provides practical and emotional support. They’ll assist victims of all kinds of crimes, not just sexual ones, although they do have specialist information for people who’ve been assaulted.
THE SURVIVOR’S TRUST
If you want to find a counselling or support service local to you, The Survivor’s Trust has a directory of member organisations on its website.
Founded in 2010 by Bryony Beynon and Julia Grey of Good Night Out, Hollaback is a global campaign to end street harassment. You can share your story on the website and read about the experiences of others.