With covid restrictions easing and lockdown becoming a memory of the past, our music scene has been expanding rapidly with a reopening of live music events. Unfortunately, reports of inappropriate contact and advances from strangers have risen since festivals, gigs and nightclubs have been given the green light to safely reopen. This growing issue requires our immediate attention in order to raise awareness and stay safe.
It is unfortunate to think that we may have become numb or desensitised to such awful reports of these behaviours due to what constitutes as sexual assault becoming broader than just penetrative sex, to the inclusion of slut shaming and victim-blaming. However, we can’t let this go lightly and must come together in order to protect those most vulnerable. Whether that includes more security at events or easier/more comfortable methods for those victims to report the assault.
Rape culture and music scene
Most recently, Marilyn Manson has denied raping Evan Rachel Wood on the set of the music video for his 2007 single Heart-Shaped Glasses. Wood claimed that she was ‘coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretences’. Manson denies all allegations as ‘false’. A new documentary about Wood’s career and life revealed that during a previously discussed simulated sex scene, Marilyn Manson started penetrating her for real when the cameras were on, she claims she had never agreed to such a thing.
She said she was given absinthe on set as she was playing a character very much similar to that of Lolita. She also states that she was barely aware and conscious to have been able to object to Manson’s predatory advances.
Howard King, Manson’s lawyer responded to Wood’s claims, stating that “her imaginative retelling of the making of the Heart-Shaped Glasses music video 15 years ago is the most brazen and easiest to disprove because there were multiple witnesses” and that “the simulated sex scene took several hours to shoot with multiple takes using different angles and several long breaks in between camera setups”.
Wood said she didn’t know how to stand up and say no for herself “because I had been conditioned and trained to never talk back – to just soldier through”. She also claimed that the whole set was unprofessional and she didn’t feel safe as nobody knew how to react appropriately. Having been coerced into a sexual act under false pretences, and essentially being raped on camera, is beyond disturbing. Wood was left feeling ashamed and disgusted that something like this could happen and so little be done about it. Wood is among a number of women who have accused Manson of sexual and physical violence.
In light of this awful assault, it appears the true epidemic at festivals and music events is the developing culture surrounding rape and sexual harassment. What may appear to be a light-hearted joke on a t-shirt or a meaningless grab of the butt, is a prime example of the type of mindset that inhabits these strange people at music shows and contributes to the increasingly high levels of sexual assault occurring at these events. This destructive experience often leaves the victims wondering if they had done something to cause this. As a community, we do need to become more aware of these issues and those around us in order to clearly state just how wrong this kind of behaviour is.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised within this article, then please do look at the #MeToo movement. It’s a movement that helps to show survivors of sexual abuse that they are not alone. It also helps to improve awareness about physical sexual violence and shows us just how widespread sexual assault and harassment has gotten, it’s getting out of hand and needs to be discouraged. #MeToo has a resource library known as the Healing Resource Library that holds a national database of programs and services for survivors. You can stay informed on any new updates on the movement by following their social media and signing up to their mailing list.