In response to the cancellation of Sweden’s Bråvalla festival next year due to an unacceptable number of rapes and sexual assaults, comedian Emma Knyckare has used Twitter and Kickstarter as platforms to organize an entirely new music festival. Fittingly called ‘Statement’, the festival certainly makes one; it will only allow cisgender women, transgender women, and non-binary people to attend, but not men.
The four rapes and twenty-three sexual assaults reported at Bråvalla are nothing to dismiss – it is clear something needed to be done. However, Knyckare’s solution is a misguided and inflammatory statement that will only serve to further divide communities.
Banning all members of a demographic because of the actions of a few individuals belonging to that demographic sounds familiar, right? It should. It was only recently that Donald Trump introduced his ‘Muslim Ban’, imposing restrictions on travel from foreign countries with large Muslim populations. This short-sighted policy blames all Muslims for the actions of only a few and discriminates against them because of this. Statement festival does the same to men.
An attempted justification for the existence of the festival, written by somebody called Klara and appended to the end of the event’s Kickstarter description, exemplifies how harmful the misguided application of good intention can be. The justification thankfully clarifies that “not all men are rapists”, but seems to forget to mention that not all rapists are men, instead insisting that “all men are a possible threat”. Of course all men are a possible threat. Anybody can be a possible threat. Statement festival wants to protect women from rapists who, yes, can be men, but can also be other women or people of other gender identities.
‘Rapists’ and ‘Men’ are not equivalent terms, therefore banning men from a festival does not remove the ability of potential rapists to attend.
Furthermore, a women-only festival does nothing to address the fact that men can also be victims of sexual assault and rape. This can often go ignored, as studies have shown men are far less likely than women to report these kinds of crimes. Just as not all rapists are men, not all victims are women. The event’s Kickstarter promotes “a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety”. Isn’t this true of anybody attending a festival, regardless of gender? Men also want to attend these events without fearing for their personal safety, and this festival offers them nothing.
Towards the end of her piece, Klara tells readers to focus on what is “actually unfair” else “as a man” they are “just offended because you cannot do as you like for once”. Devaluing the feelings and opinions of men while assuming all those who oppose your view must be men does not make you right.
Statement festival may have been conceived with good intentions, but the reality is that it promotes prejudiced stereotypes, discrimination, and segregation – rather than offering a solution, it exacerbates the issues it claims to solve.
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