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One October evening, a group of incredible young ladies thought enough was enough: being groped, grinded on and harassed at gigs just wasn’t acceptable. It was time to take matters into their own hands. Calling themselves Girls Against, they set out to abolish sexual harassment from gigs entirely.

“The last straw for us that prompted the setting up of Girls Against was when (members) Hannah and Ava were badly groped at a Peace gig”

Being groped isn’t a laughing matter. For those who don’t know, groping is to handle or fondle a person for sexual pleasure without their permission. With the gropers touching the girls’ boobs, upper thighs and pushing up against them, the girls felt uncomfortable and unsafe. However, Girls Against are not just doing this for the female gender – the campaign has spread wider than that. Although less reported, men are also victims of this crime.

To start off, the plan was simple: the girls wanted to spread the word far and wide on social media. This has gone incredibly well with 1.5k followers on Instagram and 9.5k followers on Twitter after only 3 months, and the numbers are rising. That’s pretty good marketing, if you ask me. Now the girls have to use this support to make a collective voice. Think of it like signatures on a parliamentary petition: one person’s voice might go unheard, but with thousands of people signing it there’s no choice but to at least listen That’s what’s going on here.

The girls hope to be contacting venues and security companies in the not-so-distant future to discuss methods of abolishing assault and groping at gigs, ensuring a solid security plan is in place. It’s getting their voices heard that’s the problem, instead of being fobbed off with the usual automated responses like ‘We assure you we are looking into your problem’ etc. etc.

“The consumption of alcohol and drugs is a factor, but not an excuse. The focus should be to remove the gropers from the gig, whatever state they’re in”

Groping is becoming more common and has got to the stage where a lot of girls and boys expect it to happen at least once at a gig, Most gropers blame alcohol as the excuse or a reason as to why they have done it, using the close quarters and darkness as an easy way out, but the girls are right: alcohol isn’t an excuse when the majority of the people who do drink aren’t the ones causing the trouble. So what happens if you do get groped? Who can you go to? It’s often the case that security are inexperienced and unaware of what to do when faced with a complaint; many seem to shrug it off and do nothing. The correct training and a simple yet effective method needs to be put in place so security can pick out single people that are causing problems, There are many underlying problems with this issue, so you can’t expect it to be solved in a day. However, in the future, the girls want to introduce a universal signal to alert security if you’re being groped, A flashing light or a hand signal maybe, but whatever it is it needs to be noticeable and easy. This could change everything dramatically, discouraging gropers as they’d run a bigger risk of getting caught.

“There’s been so many bands backing us, it’s sometimes overwhelming”

Bands are now also getting to grips with the issue at hand and working side by side with Girls Against with hopes for a grope-free environment. Most at first were surprised at how frequently it occurred at their own gigs, leading to some pretty heartfelt responses. At this point, the girls’ message seems to be appealing most to the indie/ rock scene with bands like Peace, Circa Waves, Swim Deep, Gengahr, Spector and so many more all supporting the cause, using tweets and statuses letting gropers know it’s not acceptable. It’s a sign of better things to come and a sigh of relief for the girls to know they don’t stand alone.

“In the near future this unease surrounding gigs will be demolished”

There are four major factors needed for success in this campaign:

The venue: 
In all of this, the venue has the power to help by warning or even banning gropers from their venue entirely, and also giving the security the training required to deal with the issue.

The security:
Getting wise to what’s going on and dealing with the problem head on by asserting discipline and having a structure to deal with a complaint.

The band:
Perhaps the most influential of the four, the more vocally bands support Girls Against, the faster the message will spread.

The people:
We are the most important group in this. We have to raise awareness and keep an eye on each other at gigs.

It may be a long time before we see big changes but they will come: this isn’t just a music campaign, it’s a social movement.

“We urge people to follow us on social media and spread awareness to bands and venues as much as they can. We want people to talk about us”

The girls started a crowdfunding page in mid-December. The funds from this page will be going towards merchandise like badges and t-shirts. Although they incredibly reached their target of £500 in just two weeks, you can still donate to show support and help them create more merchandise. Big and small donations welcome: crowdfunder.com/girlsagainst

 

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