Sweden's 'man-free' music festival found guilty of discrimination by authorities

Sweden's 'man-free' music festival found guilty of discrimination by authorities

Outdoor music festivals are more popular than ever before. Concertgoers drive out to a secluded, scenic area, pitch a tent and watch four days of bands (or rappers or DJ's). And maybe, just maybe, they'll use certain substances. (Don't worry, I won't tell, I'm not a narc.)

Everyone goes to these events to have a good time, but unfortunately, there's always the potential for trouble. In June 2017, four rapes and 23 sexual assaults were reported at Bråvalla, Sweden's biggest music festival. As a result, organizers cancelled the 2018 event, stating, "Certain men… apparently cannot behave. It's a shame." Even the prime minister spoke out, telling Expressen, "This is so disgusting. These are obnoxious acts by deplorable men. This must stop."

statement festival man free women only Credit: Facebook / Statement Festival

In reaction to the shocking amount of sexual attacks at Bråvalla, Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare decided something needed to change. So, she created the Statement Festival, which describes itself as "the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender [people] only." The inaugural event was held over over two days in Gothenburg, Sweden last August, and prided itself in being 'man-free.'

The website stated, "At music festivals everyone should feel safe. This sounds obvious, right? But year after year, the abuse at music festivals has shown the opposite. At Statement Festival safety is a given and we are now organizing a music festival completely free from cis men, in both the audience and on the line up." ('Cis' is short for 'cisgender,' referring to men or women whose gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth.')

Statement Festival men free women only Credit: Getty

Despite the language on the website, men were not prevented from buying tickets to the Statement Festival. Also, many men were in attendance as part of the technicians and artist's entourages. However, they were reportedly restricted to a 'man-pen' in a backstage area, which sounds like a pretty crappy experience.

Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) ruled that although organizers did not not enforce the 'man-free' rule, describing the event such breached a law banning gender discrimination. The statements made prior to the festival "discouraged a certain group from attending the event," The Guardian reports. However, since no one suffered any damage due to these restrictions, no penalties were issued.

In response to the ruling, the organizers of Statement Festival issued a statement: "It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender [people] experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely. The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world."

Well, creating a safer environment at outdoor music festivals is commendable, but there must be a better way to do it without 'man-pens.' So, were they like pig-pens? Small, muddy area enclosed by a fence? Trough full of corn? Just a bunch of dudes grunting, rolling around in their own filth? I'm so curious.