Festival culture is highly linked to club culture. No one is surprised by this, thus no one should be surprised by their inherent link to rape culture. The most recent example of this was the twist from “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” to “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat”. As the post from Vice’s Music offshoot “Thump” declared in their Facebook posting of the article “Here’s the thing about rape jokes, most of them aren’t funny.”
I love a good festival. I plan months in advance, buying my ticket, getting my accommodations set, planning my outfits down to my temporary tattoos and jewellery. I’m certainly not the girl in the most scantily clad outfits, but I show some skin. I don’t want a farmers tan so I wear tank tops. I wear hats to protect myself from the sun, and now I’m starting to think I should be wearing a chastity belt to protect myself from creeps like the guy with that t-shirt at Coachella.
I wish this was one incident, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t. There has been reports anywhere from unwanted groping during crowd surfing to women waking up bruised and in torn clothing after being date raped. None of this is ok, and trying to make light of it with a t-shirt is definitely not ok.
I will be the first to tell you that none of these incidents are the fault of the victims, they are completely the fault of the perpetrators. That being said, I personally know that I cannot change the mind of each and every person at the festival to understand this. I’ve always been torn between the belief that I should be able to do whatever I please, and the reality that some of my actions put me in danger. I remember being taught self defence in my high school years and having the sad realization during university that if I’m blackout drunk, none of my preparation is going to protect me.
In the following portion I’m going to share with you my personal festival / show prep. This is what I do to feel the safest and most prepared for a weekend full of fun. All of this I do because I know, personally, that I have SO much more fun when I feel safe.
1) Go with friends – this one is kind of a given, find your friends who are down for anything, who like all varieties of music, who don’t care if they loose a little sleep in favour of an amazing time, and most importantly, the ones who will stick to your side like glue. There’s nothing scarier than feeling like a kid who has lost their parents because you can’t find your friends in a crowd, this feeling is only magnified when you add the different varieties of intoxicants that are used at festivals.
2) Cover your body – I’m not saying this to slut shame, cover your body in whatever you want! If that means pasties and short shorts, you do you. If that means a maxi skirt and sun hat, you do you. I usually wear shorts and a tank top or bathing suit top. I also always have a straw hat (a cheap one that I know will be dummied by the end of the weekend) and a tonne of sunscreen (but literally almost so much you could bathe in it.) I’m also a big fan of temporary tattoos, body paint and fun accessories. This year we have dinosaur temporary tats so that if we lose each other we can run around saying “find me my dinosaurs!”
3) Know your limits – again, I’m not meaning to shame the guy who has done so much MDMA that he can barely stand straight or the girl who is black out drunk all weekend. That being said, I don’t like to be there. I would rather remember every moment of my favourite bands set. Know what you are drinking, remember you’re out in the sun all day so your going to be dehydrated (read: more drunk.) Lastly, if you are going to do drugs, at least get them from someone you trust rather than that sketchy guy on the festival grounds who has everything you could imagine in his murse.
4) Be prepared – the bag I carry always has pain killers, anti-nausea medication, sunscreen, water and band-aids. Call me Mom if you will, but it has always served me well in the past.
These are the ways that I prepare myself to have the best possible weekend. I keep my gang close, I keep my sunscreen closer, and I make sure my body has enough water and food to survive the weekend without having a month-long recovery period. Rape culture is icky, and unfortunately, the ugly beast manages to get an all access pass to every festival in the land. I hate to be the downer, but this isn’t going to change over night. In the mean time I want everyone to be empowered to have as much fun as possible while still feeling safe. May you all make nothing but glorious memories this summer, and may we make those who want to hold us down quake in their boots while doing so.