For music lovers Coachella is a BIG deal, especially with this year’s lineup which included everyone from Beyonce — who slayed of course — to Cardi B who twerked onstage pregnant — The Weeknd and more. These performers killed it and it’s not over yet. The music festival continues until April 22. But what no one is talking about is the dark side of this annual event — the sexual harassment and assault that’s taken place has been out of control.
Anyone who appreciates music festival culture has gone to Coachella at least once. They dressed up in cute festival clothes, took tons of Instagram-friendly pics, they probably got themselves a cute fanny pack because lord knows how important it is to free up your hands in a jam-packed, sweaty crowd. They’ve gotten wild at the pool parties and they’ve come back with stories and memories they’ll probably never forget. But what’s not often spoken about are the stories that involved sexual harassment, which apparently happens more often than not.
A Teen Vogue writer reported how she was groped 22 times during the 10 hours she was there. I repeat 22 times in only 10 hours! She also spoke to 54 young women who attended Coachella this year and every single one of them had a sexual assault or harassment story.
“Of course sexual harassment happens here,” a 19-year-old woman named Ana told Teen Vogue. “It happens to us at all concerts. At Coachella it is so many people, that men will get away with touching you, and they think we don’t notice. It happened to me many times already, and I notice every time.”
But this is far from the first time this has happened. Last years activists broke their silence on the sexual assault that was happening at numerous music festivals. In 2015, a tweeted photo of a man wearing a T-shirt that read “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat” at a music festival went viral and sparked conversations around the rape culture that exists at Coachella and other music festivals and concerts.
A survey conducted by OurMusicMyBody discovered that more than 90 percent of female concert and music festival goers experience harassment of some sort. That’s a pretty high percentage. The question is: What is Coachella doing about it? Because other festivals have proven that things can be done to make this stop.
In fact, last year L.A. concert promoters at Do LaB even went as far as holding a class for both fans and staff that specifically focused on fighting sexual harassment at festivals. The Teen Vogue report mentioned how at Sweden’s Bravalla Festival back in 2016, concert goers were given bracelets that read “Don’t Grope” as a reminder as to what qualifies as inappropriate, unacceptable behavior. They even threatened to cancel the following year’s event after more than 20 sexual assaults were reported, so why hasn’t Coachella done the same?
If 54 women who spoke to Teen Vogue this year alone experienced sexual harassment, imagine how many women — including those who didn’t go on record — experienced harassment or assault at this year’s event. An insane amount, I’m sure, which means it’s about time Coachella does something about it. There are certainly regulations that can be made and boundaries that can be implemented to prevent this kind of behavior from continuing. The Do LaB event last year even had a medical team and victim counselors on site. Lollapalooza launched a safety page on their site last year addressing their sexual assault policies.
It’s time Coachella and other music festivals take some action but in the meantime, let’s put more pressure for them to do so by speaking up. Change is desperately needed. We’re supposed to come out of music festivals and concerts with fun and positive memories — not sexual harassment or assault trauma.