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The Dawning Reality of Music Festivals

The weather is getting hotter, and the sad reality is that during warmer seasons like summer the rates of violent crimes increase. Violent crimes can happen anywhere at any time but you might be surprised at the types of crimes that are considered “summer crimes.” In a 2014 study, from the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, observed the seasonal pattern of various types of crimes in the U.S. The researchers analyzed surveys of crime victims from 1993 through 2010 and tried to figure out whether there are statistical trends as to when these incidents took place. The researchers were able to identify that these patterns exist, but not exactly on why it happens. I can come up with a few reasons. More people are out when the weather is warmer,  people are out for extended hours in the day and well into the night, and I believe that the heat can be linked to anger, frustration, and just overall violent behavior.

Very soon we all will be departing from school and hopefully, do fun and productive things all summer. Somethings that people love doing in the summer is attending concerts and music festivals. Recently while scrolling through Twitter, I came across an article by Teen Vogue titled “Sexual Harassment at Coachella 2018”. The woman who wrote this article, Vera Papisova, interviewed 54 women at Coachella, all in which say that they had been sexually harassed. The author herself reported that she was groped 22 times in just a ten minute period on the festival grounds in Indio. The article contained detailed statements on what these women experienced at the “must be at the music festival of the year.” After reading this article and reading threads about other bad experiences people had while at Coachella and many other known festivals like Ezoo and Lollapalooza, I thought to myself, why isn’t there more coverage about this in the media?

When most people attend events like these, it is a form of escaping from reality for a short amount of time. The ideas of escapism and the sense of community built around events like the ones advertised are what draws people in. It also might be the same reason why people don’t typically think about the bad things that happen at these places. There is an idyllic view on festivals but, it is just like any other place where there are going to be the same people who cause harm to others. It also crucial that we remember that the consumption of drugs and alcohol at these events are extremely prevalent and it creates a vulnerable environment.

Our Music My Body is an organization that works to raise awareness about sexual misconduct at events like music festivals, surveyed in the fall of 2017 to get a better understanding of how often sexual misconduct happens at these events. There were approximately 500 respondents to the survey, of which 379 were females, 84 males, and 57 non-binary people. Harassment was also being defined as spoken violence and aggression to physical assault, and being drugged or being pressured into drinking. Of all the female respondents, 92 percent said that they experienced harassment of some sort, with groping and verbal harassment being the most common. As the reports of rape and other forms of sexual assault are on the rise, we start to question what are the music festival organizers doing to combat this?

There has been a rise in awareness towards sexual harassment at music festivals. Some organizations like Bestival on the Isle of Wight has a staff that includes a sexual violence adviser, domestic abuse experts, and sexual health nurses. While others have attempted to address the issue by releasing safety tips that sound a lot like victim blaming. Violent crimes like rape and sexual harassment happen all the time, and though there is no one way to end it, there are many ways to bring awareness to it so that we can work towards ways to address this issue. As we are headed soon to enjoy our summers, please think about these things as we tend to forget the problems the real world has to offer as soon as we stop having these discussions. Bad things do not stop happening as soon as we begin to enjoy ourselves.

Jahaira is a double major in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies and a campus correspondent for the Her Campus chapter at Wells College. 
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