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Loyle Carner Takes Stand Against Sexism

Concerts are a place for music, plain and simple. It’s a time to enjoy listening to your favorite music and seeing your favorite artists, live and in person. It should not be a place for sexism, cat-calling or discrimination, but unfortunately this what happens to all too many women. I can recall seeing AWOLNATION with my best friend at the House of Blues in downtown Cleveland. We were fifteen years old, and it was our first concert together. I remember the excitement that built up the week leading up to the concert, as we planned our outfits and listened AWOLNATION’s hits on repeat. That night I can never forget the thrill of being out late together, dancing to our favorite songs. I can also never forget the middle aged man who kept bumping into us, drunk and getting too close for comfort even though there was plenty of room around us. 

We are lucky that our experience of harassment at a concert was so mild, even though it shouldn’t be considered lucky to only experience mild sexual harassment.  From reports of rape and inappropriate comments, to unwanted touching and getting uncomfortably close, concerts are not known for being safe for female attendees. Female performers are not exempt from this behavior either. Rapper Princess Nokia  faced vulgar comments at one of her shows. Beyoncé’s butt was slapped during a performance. Someone attempted to sexually assault Iggy Azalea while she was crowd surfing. These are all disgusting incidents that show a pervasive pattern of discrimination in the music world that can be seen in the music itself.

Song lyrics can be incredibly degrading to women. From using insulting terminology to refer to women or the objectification of their bodies, most genres of music are guilty of this. However, hip-hop and rap receives the biggest burden of the blame, in comparison to country, for example, which is equally, if not more, objectifying. 

So, for Loyle Carner, a British rap artist, take such a powerful stand against sexual harassment at concerts is empowering not only for women but for the rap genre, in general.    On October 8th, a male attendee of Loyle Carner’s concert, heckled Elisa Imperilee, the opening act, by shouting that she had “massive t*ts”. Loyle Carner stepped in immediately, describing the concert goers clothes so that he would be removed and saying “I’m sorry man, you’ve got to learn a lesson, my young man. Sorry. You’ve got to go for being sexist. You’ve got to go.” 

The next day Carner tweeted  “That sh*t will not be tolerated at any show. He’s been banned from that venue, for life”. This tweet has blown up with almost 6,000 retweets and 33,000 likes. 

Perhaps that young man had no idea his comments were sexist and was doing it just for a laugh. Hopefully, he wasn’t trying, like so many others, to actively degrade and assert his dominance. Perhaps, the two men who laughingly told me that as I walked home alone late one night “to be safe” were being sincere. After all there’s nothing like two guys telling a girl late at night to be safe to make her feel surprisingly not safe. However, ignorance isn’t an excuse for poor, disgusting behaviour towards women. In the words of Loyle Carner “you’ve got to learn a lesson”. 

Loyle Carner’s behavior is being commended across the internet as he so rightly deserves. It is so important for people in a place of power to label inappropriate behavior as sexual harassment and to take a stand against it because this is a real issue that affects so many women. 

If you have ever been a woman in public, you know that sexist comments and derogatory cat calls like these are all too common and sadly sometimes even expected. You know that whenever the topic of sexual harassment comes up in discussion, almost every girl in the room can chime in with a horrifyingly long list of experiences. This is not okay. 

One day walking home from class with one of my friends, two boys followed us, one of which told me he’d “f*ck with that” and then loudly and repeatedly asked for our names. The strange part of this story is that his friend called him out and told him that girls did not like that. I had never had that happen to me before. I had never had someone call their friend out for their behavior. Kudos to that stranger, kudos to Loyle Carner and kudos to all the men who stand up to their friends and call out sexism and discrimination when they see it. This is not to say men are the only ones who sexually harass, or that women are the only victims, but a majority of the time men are acting in a derogatory manner.  So it’s the responsibility of to men to speak up and do something when they have the power to. Elisa Imperilee, said it best herself on Twitter in response to October 8th: “It [Loyle Carner’s actions] sends a strong message that not only is sexist behaviour totally unacceptable but that all of us, including men and particularly those in a position of influence, have an important role to play in challenging and addressing sexism.”

So, to all my fellow Zips who have ever been cat called or sexually harassed, let me say this: it is not okay no matter the circumstance. If you see someone making sexist and derogatory comments, speak up and call them out, if you can. Being sexually harassed shouldn’t be an expectation at concerts or anywhere else, and it’s up to all of us to do something. 

Emily Janikowski, otherwise known as Em, can be found usually lurking in the depths of the Polsky building as a writing tutor, and when she isn't there, she is curled up in bed binge watching Law & Order SVU. Her passion lies in changing the world, and she hopes to accomplish this through majoring in social work.
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