“Our real aim is to provide support for victims as well as raising the profile of how much of a significant an issue sexual assault at gigs is.” – Bea | Girls Against.
I first came across Girls Against on Twitter when I saw a tweet of theirs that had been retweeted, and it sparked my interest.
I was intrigued to find out more about the campaign as I had just – that very same day – read an article in a magazine on the subject; that subject being frightening experiences of sexual assault on young women at music festivals, and the resulting bad press surrounding a number of well known festivals.
Girls Against took form in late 2015 when four teenage girls who had each experienced uncomfortable situations decided they wanted to help other people who may find themselves in the same unfortunate situation. They also intended to raise public awareness for the issue as well, rather that it being categorised as a potentially taboo subject.
In November 2015 Anna and Anni were invited by BBC Breakfast to discuss their campaign on-air; that same day, their stories and experiences were also shared by a feature in the Independent: Girls Against article.
In December 2015 their guide to gig etiquette was published in the Guardian: Girls Against Guide To Gig Etiquette.
One year later in December 2016, NME magazine honoured Girls Against as one of the recipients of their People Of The Year 2016. You can read the article here: NME People Of The Year 2016
I interviewed Bea, one of the London members of Girls Against, and she had some interesting things to say about their experiences, their future goals and their supporters.
Girls Against – The Interview
So how did Girls Against come into being? What inspired the four of you to begin the task of raising awareness of this important issue, and what are your aims?
Girls Against was really the 4 of us coming together in realisation that we need a change to how sexual assault at gigs is dealt with. After we all experienced uncomfortable situations at gigs we wanted to make sure others didn’t feel as vulnerable and upset as we did. Me and Anni were friends already through Twitter, and Anna and Hannah live tound the corner from each other. We all went to Paolo Nutini together and the friendship blossomed!
Our real aim is to provide support for victims as well as raising the profile of how much of a significant an issue sexual assault at gigs is.
Was it hard at the beginning to make headway and get people to take Girls Against seriously, or have you always found people are willing to listen?
To be honest, I think we expected it to be much harder than it was. Within the first couple of hours of creating our Twitter page people were already tweeting about us, and how much of a great movement we are. The band ‘Peace’ showed their support almost instantly and we hit 600 followers in under 48 hours. Pretty insane really! I think because what we’re campaigning about is a fairly new concept for most people, as it is rarely spoken about, people were happy to help us spread our message. Of course there were the odd few who dismissed us due to us being a group of teenage girls, but we’ll ignore the minority hey?
Has the campaign message spread outside of the UK?
We are primarily based in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow but have recently recruited reps all around the country, and even a few outside of the UK, in the US and parts of Europe! They’re great at spreading awareness in all areas of the globe and we hope to keep expanding.
Where are your sights set for the future of GA?
Our goals are really set as we go along. Our main focus is for the well-being of victims but as the campaign grows, we aim to reach out to security companies and police to help with the legal side of sexual assault, and make a difference here.
You must have heard some very disturbing stories from girls with similar experiences. What about male music fans, have they offered information about things that have happened to them?
As a campaign we are clear that we are here for all genders. We have received stories from everyone and anyone, which saddens us greatly.
You’ve got endorsements from some great musicians including The 1975. Does it help to have such well known people supporting you all to raise awareness? How helpful have venues and festivals been?
Having bands on board with us makes the process so much more rewarding as we are able to voice our campaign to a much larger platform. It’s great to know that so many bands, such as Slaves, The 1975, Peace, Spector etc care about their fans, and these issues and their support has been insanely helpful to our progression, and we can’t thank them enough. Some venues have been really supportive of us too, but we hope to target them and festivals more in the upcoming year.
On a lighter note what do you think of the unsigned music scene in the UK and of an awards ceremony that showcases and applauds independent artists?
Great idea! I think that everyone deserves to have their voice heard, and showcasing new and upcoming talent would be an amazing opportunity. This would also be a really beneficial experience for artists who are perhaps not as privileged to be bred into the music industry, but instead have to work for their right as a musician.
Do you each have any unsigned acts that you are fans of?
I love a small band called Fish who I saw support Sunflower Bean and Wolf Alice.
Thanks to Bea for taking the time to explain about their campaign. I think this a very important issue that needs to be acknowledged throughout the industry and challenged. I for one will be following Girls Against progress with raising awareness and putting preventative measures in place. Good luck with it girls, I’m sure your dedication and hard work will pay off!