A month ago, my band, WITCH FEVER, an all-girl punk/grunge band from Manchester, headlined a gig at the Stag and Hounds in Bristol. Before we had even started our set, a man had told me we weren’t capable of playing punk and asked how much we knew about our equipment – but this was just the beginning of what would be a very challenging show.
As we played, a member of one of the support bands overtly leered over us, grinning and pointing out our tits. He then repeatedly screamed at us, demanding we remove our shirts. A woman then requested we give her friend a lap dance for his birthday, and a man even joked about having a wank whilst we were playing. We get it, punk gigs are rowdy, whatever, but we should never have to consider leaving the stage halfway through because we don’t feel safe. Alex [Thompson, bass] was repeatedly grabbed by the audience so intensely that we even have video footage of someone’s arms going around her neck.
We’re met with sexism at gigs on a regular basis, from receiving small, seemingly innocuous comments, like men assuming we’re the girlfriends of other bands playing, to them thinking it’s their right to touch us. In our time playing we’ve been grabbed, picked up and even kissed at shows.
This gig was the most trouble we’d ever had in such a short space of time, but also the latest in a steady stream of harassment that we’re shocked still exists, especially considering the heightened awareness of abuse we’ve had in the creative industries recently. It seems that some men are still uncomfortable, or even intimidated by the fact that we’re women being just as loud, angry, sweaty and unapologetic as men are so often allowed to be, and their reaction to that is to try and make us feel small, by making our femininity and our bodies a spectacle. As a band we demand that we’re met with the same respect and given the same opportunities that men are – and we don’t feel that that’s much to ask.
Connect with WITCH FOREVER over on Facebook.