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4-min read

A Music Festival Banned Cis-Men from Entering and Men on Twitter Aren't Taking it Well

No-cis men allowed!

Rakhi Bose | @theotherbose

Updated:September 3, 2018, 5:47 PM IST
A Music Festival Banned Cis-Men from Entering and Men on Twitter Aren't Taking it Well
Source: AFP/Getty

This weekend, the world saw something it had never seen before - a cis-man free music festival!

Yes, you read that right. Called the 'Statement Music Festival', the event was held in Gothenberg, Sweden, the three-day concert from Friday to Sunday was intended specifically for women and queer persons.

A cis-gendered person is the exact opposite of a transgender - i.e a person whose sexual identity is not at odds with the one assigned to them at birth due to their gender or sex.

The idea for the concert came to Emma Knyckare, Swedish comedian and radio host, who was tired of the growing incidences of sexual violence against women in the Swedish music concerts. A large number of such instances came to light last year during 'Bravalla', one of the biggest music festivals of Sweden.

Taking to Twitter, the comedian asked, “What do you think about us putting together a very cool festival where only non-men are welcome and that we host until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?”

The positive responses she got urged her to go about setting up the -first-of-its-kind festival in which only women, transpersons and persons belonging to non-binary gender identities were allowed to enter. There were no restriction or questions being asked to enthusiasts at the concert entrance. so how did the concert ensure that no cis-man entered the venue? Knyckare told the BBC that the organizers had worked out a special 'access system' to ensure than no cis-men entered the concert. 

Music concerts are contentious when it comes to women's safety as most concerts have inadequate security arrangements for preventing sexual assault and misbehavior. The vast number of people that attend these concerts also makes it difficult to pin-point the perpetrators later. In Sweden, the problem is acute. Bravalla had to cancelled in 2018 after reports of 23 sexual assaults and four rapes during the festival's four-day stint last year. Most women as well as the LGBTQI community, especially those who have faced unwanted sexual advances from cis-men in concerts, were overjoyed at the prospect of having a 'safe-space' for women and non-cis persons where they could just go to hang out, relax with their friends and enjoy an evening of music.

According to the New York Times, at least 4,500 people attended the concert on Saturday. Even the musicians and technicians performing and the security staff were all women. This is not the first time though that men have been kept out of a music festival.

The erstwhile Michigan Womyn's Music Festival or 'Mitchfest' was held every year from 1976 to 2015 and was a women's only, feminist concert. However, 'Mitchfest' came into a lot of criticism for not allowing the entry of queer or transpersons in the concert, something that the Statement Music Festival took care to avoid. However, many men and some women were upset at the concert not including men. Critics accused the concert of sexist segregation and called it a step-back for diversity.

Many also made it a communal issue, accusing Sweden's immigration sysytem for increased assaults on women:

However, most women cheered the idea and were very excited at the prospect of having 'safe spaces' in public:

Rights activists such as Taslima Nasrin also lauded the festival:

Do you think more such concerts are needed, especially in India?

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