It's not uncommon for bands to sometimes call out some of their fans for various reasons. At the start of the Napster wars Metallica called out people who downloaded their music without paying for it through various pirate sites. There's umpteen video clips on YouTube where bands have stopped gigs to single out people's behaviour in their audience, getting them to stop or to get them thrown out.
It is an artist's duty and responsibility to speak up when they witness or experience something they believe is wrong and goes against their values, even if it means challenging your own fan base's behaviour. This week Hands Off Gretel did just that.
Lauren Tate, singer/guitarist in the band and solo musician, posted a lengthy message on various social media outlets calling out the behaviour of some male members of their audience and rightfully so:
"Dear guys that come to my shows. Please stop kissing my cheek. Please stop sexualising myself and my bass player. Please let girls stand at the front more. Please be more aware that I really don't want to be touched or told I am sexy. I am a MUSICIAN and I get messages and comments all day from men about myself and my female bass player being sexy or eye candy or some bullshit and it honestly kills my soul" - Lauren Tate
She goes on to thank the people who treat them with courtesy or let younger girls come to the front of the stage to enjoy themselves without fear of getting hassled by anyone. It's all about respect after all.
The post was then picked up by several music news sites as an important message that needs to be spread further and talked about. People were wanting to express their opinion on the matter and rightfully so. It’s a topic that has raised it’s head on multiple occasions.
Sexualisation, especially in the entertainment industry, has gone on for years but now people are starting to fight back against this disgusting and degrading behaviour. The “#MeToo” has increased in volume as more people came forward to say they were abused and let down by a system that failed them. It’s not a case of an industry letting these people down, it’s a society thing. We still live in a time where people are looked at as commodities, objects to be bought and sold. Image is everything; selfies are splattered across social media as we’re all encouraged to share and live our perfect lives with the world while hiding away anything that’s deemed as against the norm.
Attention has been drawn to Lauren’s stage appearance, that of an alternative punk grunge skater girl, with some even suggesting that if she doesn’t want the attention then she shouldn’t really dress like that. This strikes a worrying nerve in me, being too close to people saying that rape victims are “asking for it” due to how they dress. It’s sickening to think that there are some people that still think that way, that it’s okay to leer and letch over others just because of what the other person has chosen to wear or what their gender is. Surely what you want to wear or not wear is a personal choice by the individual. It's not an invite to be touched or groped inappropriately by anyone, nevermind someone who expresses themselves to be a fan.
Lauren Tate is only being honest when she posted about this. She’s not saying that all men are evil - far from it. It’s about recognising a subset of people that are creating and perpetuating this behaviour. She mentions how she was talking to man after a gig who advised her to put her guitar down and stop playing at shows, again something I’ve heard from several female musicians who play their chosen instruments very well. It’s almost like we’re stepping back in time and we’re asking them to get back in the kitchen. Surely we’ve all realised by now that we are no longer living in these sexist times.
It’s stopped being about what people perceive feminism to be. To me, feminism is about being treated as an equal and with respect, it’s not about giving women special treatment or anything. It’s about living in a tolerant society where gender doesn’t matter for things like this. Who cares if it’s a woman fronting a band or a man or a sentient cheese plant. What matters is that we enjoy ourselves and treat everyone with the respect that we all deserve in these kind of situations. When you see wrong behaviour at a gig, speak up to the security team at the venue. If you don’t want to be part of this modern “enlightened” way of thinking then please pray that a time machine is invented shortly so we can send you back to the dark ages where you might feel more comfortable.
To read Lauren Tate's full post please go to https://www.facebook.com/123450594401783/posts/2279282812151873/
For more information on Safe Gigs For Women please visit https://sgfw.org.uk/
Feature - Scott Hamilton