Swedish Music Festival Cancelled After Sexual Assaults Will Be Replaced by Women-Only Festival

Written by Kelsey Cochran

Sweden’s largest music festival has been cancelled in the wake of four rape cases and 23 sexual assaults reported by festivalgoers this year. In a statement to The Guardian, Bravalla’s organizers expressed their dismay about the events that led up to Bravalla’s cancellation: “Certain men … apparently cannot behave. It’s a shame,” they wrote. “We have therefore decided to cancel Bravalla 2018.”

In 2016, five women reported that they had been raped at the festival to the police, and ticket sales dropped from 52,000 to only 45,000. Bravalla also lost the chance to ever host Mumford and Sons at their festival, who vowed to boycott it after the multiple reports of sexual assault were publicized. Another popular Swedish festival dealt with its own problems of sexual assault last year: at Putti i Parken festival in Karlstad, a total of 32 sexual assaults were reported, including a 12-year-old victim of groping.

Sweden, of course, isn’t alone. Festivals all over the world struggle to create and foster environments free from sexual violence. Kelly Oliver, a professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University and the author of Hunting Girls, explained to The Los Angeles Times: “There’s a lot of music that celebrates a lack of consent…. Men take it as carte blanche—once you enter into a fest or party, it’s like she signed off whatever happens. If she’s dancing, it’s an invitation.”

Multiple organizations have been created to help prevent sexual assault at venues that host music performances. The Association of Independent Festivals, a non-profit trade association created to represent and empower independent festivals that operates in the UK, has recently created the Safer Spaces campaign to increase awareness of sexual assault among their concert goers. At 9am on May 8th, more than 25 UK music festivals “blacked-out” their websites for 24 hours as part of the campaign. The festival organizers also shared a short animation on their social media with the hashtag #saferspacesatfestivals, encouraging festival-goers to play an active role in promoting safety. Project SoundCheck also promotes a safer environment for everyone attending music festivals. The Canada-based organization works with event staff and volunteers to talk about the prevalence of sexual violence and how they can prevent sexual violence.

These are necessary steps—but Bravalla took a different approach. After the disheartening reports of sexual assault that took place at the festival, Swedish comedian and radio presenter Emma Knyckare posed a question to her Twitter followers: “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?” Shortly after the original tweet, she posted to Instagram a confirmation that a women-only festival is going to take place in place of Bravalla next year. The Telegraph reports that the 50,000-capacity Bravalla Festival grounds will be the largest music event to refuse men entry.

Other festivals have taken that route. The Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England introduced its first man-free venue last year. Called “The Sisterhood,” the venue promised to be an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space” that allows no men, from attendees to security guards to performers. Back state-side, the Electric Forest festival held in Rothbury, Michigan created a separate program of events for women known as “Her Forest.” The events focus on “connection, inspiration and comfort,” underlying the fact that “Her Forest is a collaboration between all who identify as women, and those who celebrate their enjoyment of and equality in the Forest family.” While Her Forest is not as separate a venue as Glastonbury’s Sisterhood, it is still a welcoming oasis at the eight-day music festival.

This post originally appeared on Ms. Magazine.

Photo Credit: Stephen Arnold/Unsplash

111 comments

Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 hours ago

Richard Anonymous
I don't know what to say. As a man you know more about what deterrent would work than I do but I have to say that knowing what flogging does to the body and the mind (working on human rights cases) I don't like the idea of whipping. Shari'a law? Surely we can find other ways of helping men to live peacefully with their sexual instincts. Indeed the huge majority of men do manage to.

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Richard Anonymous
Richard Anonymous12 hours ago

I just want to clarify the comment I made below by pointing out that I am not negative on men. I am just saying that males (esp. young males) are hard wired by nature to seek sexual gratification. Having men control their sexual impulses in mixed gender situations requires men to go against their natural impulses. This is why it is not surprising that most sex crime is committed by men who are known to their victims, even men who have been trusted for years (sometimes simply because they have access to these women or have been secretly desiring them). Men are like circus lions that through ongoing training from a young age can learn to suppress dangerous instincts but still need the threat of the lion tamer's whip hanging over them to keep them consistently/securely under control. Nothing in nature is more of an immediate deterrent than extreme pain and very little is more immediately physically tempting to a man than sexual temptation. In this way, whipping suits the need for an intense deterrent to male animal impulses and males have the strong bodies that are well suited to whipping. Having a deterrent in place that actually keeps men from ruining their own lives and the lives of women and that promotes gender harmony is the fairest thing for both genders. Women who live in or visit Singapore find the men and broader society there very civilized and often attribute it to the civilizing influence of the well publicized and enforced caning laws for men which

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Annabel Bedini

Richard Anonymous
Thanks for your endorsement!

Pam and Marija and Inez
Have I silenced you?

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Richard Anonymous

Annabel, I love your comment about human solidarity. I see much warmth and kindness in what you said about that.

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Richard A

I hate to see fighting among Care members because we hopefully all have the same motivation -- the greatest good -- and we should be open to different perspectives and good to each other. I believe in nonjudgementally facing biological realities in order to actually keep women safe when the genders mix as they do in our modern society. Because of their testosterone levels, males are more sexually driven and more sexually aroused by revealing outfits than even some women realize, and males are almost always strong enough to take what they want by force. Education on women's rights needs to be back up by punishment for men known to deter sex crime (not something abstract such as longer prison terms when no one knows how long the terms are anyway). In the past and in modern times in nations such as Singapore and Malaysia, a mandatory whipping in addition to a prison term has been found to be a much more effective deterrent to sex crime than just prison. As a male, this makes sense to me, fits the crime, and is needed now more than ever given how women are dressing.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini2 days ago

pam w and all
Sorry if Im boring you but I want to add the other element of my thinking which is the human solidarity question. From all the research done it's clear that for young men the sex drive occupies a large part of their waking thoughts (much stonger than theft, which is why I called your analogy 'daft' Pam). Not their fault, just the way human males are programmed. This being the case, how kind is it to torment them with visions of what they long for but are not allowed to touch? See what I mean?

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini2 days ago

pam w
You are right, I should not have said 'daft' and I deserve your one-syllable sarcasm!

Let me try and explain my position once and for all. First, my approach to this problem is pragmatic rather than doctrinaire. I am trying to identify solutions to everyday problems which exist, and this means that I have trouble with traditional Feminist ideology which deals in stereotypes and simply polarizes positions which it would be more helpful to open up for discussion.

Second, I believe that women can be far more responsible for what happens to them than those who cry 'victim' want to believe. Knowing that there are men around who don't seem to be able to control themselves, saying They should/They shouldn't gets us nowhere. They do pose a risk for women, so the question becomes how to handle this risk. Analysing this problem it seems logical to identify certain female behaviours as risk-provoking, and wearing what looks like wilfully provocative clothing has to be a factor here. I keep asking the question, which nobody is answering, why would you dress super-sexily unless you are trying to attract male attention? (As I've already said, falling into the trap of pandering to male desires for women.)

As I say, my argument is pragmatic. Of course in theory women should be able to dress however they like but in reality it makes sense to be grown-up enough to renounce extremes.
Does that make any sense to you?

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pam w
pam w2 days ago

"Annabel"....you're quick with insults. I'm many things, but ''daft'' isn't one of them. Since you ask for simple sentences and one-syllable words...try this: I'll dress any way I like. Men have no right to think I'm in the mood to be raped if I wear a blouse or pants which makes them think of sex. THAT mind set is just an excuse. (Sorry for the multiple syllables on that last one....were you able to grasp it?)

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Leanne K
Leanne K2 days ago

Interesting, a non men festival until men can behave themselves.. it will be a long, long time then

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Pepe P
Pepe P2 days ago

Thank you

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