A women-only music festival is happening: Is keeping genders separate really a step forward?

Tickets are going on sale for a women-only festival [Photo: Getty]
Tickets are going on sale for a women-only festival [Photo: Getty]

Tickets are about to go on sale for the first ever women-only music festival.

The ‘man-free’ event, named Statement Festival, has been organised by Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare after the country’s largest music event was cancelled following a string of sexual assault and rape complaints.

Organisers of Bravalla announced they were cancelling the 2018 event after police received four rape and 23 sexual assault reports at the festival in July.

In 2016 local media also reported that five women were allegedly raped at the four-day camping festival, which is attended by thousands of people each year.

Only women will be allowed to attend the two-day music festival which will be held next summer and will allow women to party and drink “without having to look over your shoulder”.

Comedian and radio host Emma Knyckare first muted the idea with her Twitter followers following news of the sexual assaults at Bravalla.

“What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome?” she tweeted, adding that the festival would run until “all men have learned how to behave themselves”.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign the festival has now been officially organised and tickets will go on sale in December.

“Together we are making a statement against sexual assaults by creating a safe space for women, non-binary and trans people that want to attend festivals and feel secure at the same time,” the radio host tweeted. “We don’t think this is too much to ask for!”

But festival organisers are hoping the festival won’t be an on-going event. Under the heading “Will it not make things worse?” the website explains that the long-term goal is to be able to shut down the man-free event.

“Our wish is that a festival like Statement, as a free zone from sexual assaults, would not be necessary,” it says on its website.

“But sadly society keeps proving that this is needed, and that is why we are creating this festival.”

Are women-only festivals the solution? [Photo: Getty]
Are women-only festivals the solution? [Photo: Getty]

But the reaction to the concept has been mixed with some welcoming the change, while others believe it is sexist to exclude men from spaces.

It isn’t the first time a male-free space has been explored at a festival. Last year, a group called ‘The Sisterhood’ held a women-only venue at Glastonbury.

“In a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,” the group explain, “oppression against women continues in various manifestations.” And they believe the way to fight against this sexism is to keep festivals a women-only zone.

There’s no doubt that banning men from a festival will help some women to feel safer, particularly survivors of sexual assault who will likely find a crowded festival environment a tricky space to be in. But is enforced segregation the solution?

To tackle the issue of sexual assault and rape do we not need to deal with the crime and the criminals? Instead of women-only festivals would it not be better to improve policing and security at mixed music spaces, so that women feel safe and secure at all festivals, not simply at ones where men aren’t allowed?

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