Today we have Hann from the organization Girls Against, a campaign working to raise awareness of, and ultimately end, sexual harassment at gigs and concerts. Thanks so much to Hann and GA for the work that they’re doing, and for contributing to a safer scene for everyone. Read on to learn about how Girls Against has grown as an organization and what they’re doing to raise awareness about harassment.
We appreciate you taking the time to do this interview! Could you please state your name(s) and role(s) within the organization?
I’m Hann and I’m one of the five founding members of Girls Against. I was the one originally assaulted back in September which was the springboard for the whole campaign really. I deal with a lot of our press and interactions with venues mainly though we all share the work when we can.
What do you plan to achieve, and how?
The main change we’d like to see is increased awareness and changes to security protocol. Before us people who didn’t attend gigs had no idea that the issue went on and those who did were aware of it but didn’t realise the scale it had reached. Security at the moment doesn’t specifically deal with assault or harassment and we would like to see direct training on that become mandatory.
How has the reception been to your work so far?
So great! We now have over 13,000 followers on our twitter account alone which is really encouraging us to keep working. We’ve been featured in Elle, NME, by the BBC and many other high profile newspapers and news outlets.
How do you handle negative reaction?
We just kind of ignore it to be honest, we don’t get a lot of it. And when it does crop up, it’s not actual criticism, just the usual sexist and derogatory comments.
Considering they’re one person behind a computer screen, and we’re 13,000 strong, I’m not sure that they have a leg to stand on really. I have been slut shamed by people because my story has been widely documented in our interviews but the only criticism that has ever really gotten to me is when people criticise our age. I think that’s completely unfair when older people say that we shouldn’t be doing the work we are because we’re so young when the reason we’re forced to do this work is because people older than us haven’t.
As a result, it’s affecting my generation and we’re not standing for it.
What advice would you give to those who have been assaulted or harassed?
Definitely take the time you need. It’s different for everybody so you might need only a couple of days to process it and get past it or you may need months.
Just look after yourself and get the help you need, this isn’t a time to just power through and ignore it, you have to pay attention to yourself and make sure you’re okay or you won’t be able to cope.
What do you think needs to change specifically in order to help create a safer music scene for everyone?
In terms of generally just making the music scene more safe in general and not just in terms of sexual assault etc I think it is just education. All social change occurs as a result of education so if awareness is raised alerting people to the fact that others often don’t feel safe in gigs then things will start to change.
What role do you believe fans, musicians and venues should have in promoting a safer and more inclusive music scene?
I think all three should be working together. A gig is a place where people come together and the same should go for making them safer. The bands should be raising awareness, the fans should be looking into the issues looking after each other and the venues should be picking up on all of this and working with them both to improve things that best suits everyone.
Are there any places, scenes and/or venues that you’ve noticed to be a safe space? If so, what are they doing that should be emulated by others?
I don’t think there is any music scene without their own issues, bizarrely I do think that social media has become a safe haven for fans. I know that personally, I felt it was much easier to discuss what happened to me over social media and not face to face with someone initially. There were hundreds of people who supported me after my story was made public and that gave me the confidence to do what I’m doing now.
Are there any particular bands, musicians, and/or organizations you believe are making an effort to help this cause?
Yeah every one of them who have ever tweeted, followed, had an interview, let us come to a show, wore our badge, or DM’d us. The tiniest of things helps the cause if they’re in a band because every band has fans somewhere. For example, initially The 1975 didn’t do anything other than follow us and literally thousand of our supporters came from just that so, every little helps really.
What are your plans for 2016?
We’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing I think. We’ve just got our regional reps sorted out and they’re all over the world representing Girls Against in their local areas which is really boosting our presence in places we were unable to before.
We’d also like to get in touch with some festivals because the UK has such a good festival scene, however, incidents there are often a lot more violent and regular.