Apparently, I Was Asking For It

     I used to sing in a band. I loved the feeling of letting go on stage, rolling around, stage diving, spitting beer, going nuts and screaming my head off like a wailing banshee. I was the opposite of ladylike. I had some of the best moments in my life traveling all over with friends, performing live, writing music and creating. The most unique and special memories that I will never forget. Nonetheless, there are several gigs that stick in my memory for all the wrong reasons.
      One night we had just got off stage and this guy walked up to me and started telling me how he really enjoyed the show. He asked me who my influences were and I didn't even question his intentions, genuinely thinking he took an interest in the music. It's funny how you can feel "safe" at a gig: you assume it's a place where like-minded people are coming together because of shared interests. Then he told me he had to leave but before he left there was something he had to do.

     The next thing I know, he full-on slaps my butt so hard with both hands and grabs it tightly in front of the room full of people that had just watched my band play.

     For the first few seconds, I froze in sheer disbelief and shock. Not only had he done it but it hurt like hell. I was degraded in front of a room full of strangers that who just watched me perform, giving it my all. Now felt like I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide.

     Then, the primal anger set in and I screamed at him "How dare you! How fucking dare you touch me!"

     The weirdest thing about it was the look of shock on his face that I was mad. He wasn't expecting my reaction and he genuinely thought I would like it! Was he expecting me to giggle and smile? I just don't get it!  I was beyond angry and upset and tears started rolling down my cheeks. How dare he objectify me like a piece of meat and make me feel so small and powerless in front of the crowd that I was just having such a fun and carefree time with! 


     To make matters worse, a friend of a friend who I had just met was "trying" to console me and didn’t really get why I was so worked up. He said that this kind of thing must happen all the time as I wore hot pants and rolled around in front of men. So basically, this kind of a situation is an occupational hazard and I was asking for it. This actually hurt me more, the fact that people would even think that I dressed a certain way for this type of crass this was somehow my fault?! Was I sending out an invitation by the way I moved and dressed on stage?! Last I checked, you can wear whatever the hell you want! Music is a form of expression, so why were there suddenly rules on how you should dress if you were a female in a band and didn't want to send the wrong message? No thanks, I don't buy it.   

     There were, of course, lots of other incidents. Leeds Festival resulted in a group of boys chanting "show us your boobs" continuously through a whole song. This was a big moment for our band, yet because of these comments, I couldn't help but think how much easier it was for guys and how music still feels like "a man's world". You put all this hard work and time into a band and then you have to deal with these derogatory comments thrown in your face. This is a constant reminder of the glass ceiling hovering above women in the music industry.

     This was back in 2009, and I have hope that in the current climate of #metoo and what seems to be a real resurgence of feminism that situations like this become less of the norm. I hope that more people will be on women's side and fighting in our corner. I realise that far worse things happen every day to women but it's a series of "small" things like this are eventually detrimental to your confidence and self-worth. It's so important to call people out on their crap and educate, educate, educate.

     Dress how you like with confidence, never apologise and just do you.

by: Rachel Wilson

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