And today in Things That Give Me Just The Tiniest Bit Of Hope In These Dark, Dark Times, we have this: Last Friday, Sam Carter, lead singer of the British metalcore band Architects, stopped a show to call out sexual assault he saw occur in the audience. A video of the moment has been making the rounds on social media, and with good reason. Calling out sexual assault — and, perhaps more importantly, the people who commit it — when you see it is the only acceptable response.
According to the Huffington Post, Architects was playing the Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands last weekend; the incident occurred during their set. In the minute-long video clip, which was posted to Twitter by Dutch public radio station NPO 3FM, Carter begins, “So, I’ve been going over in my f***ing mind about whether I should say something or not about what I saw in that last song — and d’you know what, I’m going to f***ing say it.”
He goes on to yell, “I saw a girl, a woman, crowdsurfing over here — and I’m not going to f***ing point the piece of shit out that did it, but I saw you f***ing grab at her boob. It is f***ing disgusting and there is no f***ing place for that shit.” He continues, “It is not your f***ing body and you do not f***ing grab at someone. Not at my f***ing show. So if you feel like doing that again, walk out there, and f*** off and don’t come back.”
He finishes (and for what it’s worth, this is one of my favorite parts of the whole thing) by saying, “Let’s keep this a f***ing safe place for everybody.”
Watch the video here:
As Marykate Jasper pointed out at The Mary Sue, Carter’s actions may not be everyone’s ideal response — wrote Jasper, “Personally, I’d have thrown the creeper out immediately” — but it matters that Carter spoke up. It is essential that those who witness sexual assault call out it, particularly if you happen to be in a position of influence, and particularly if you’re a man calling out other men. Rape culture teaches us to stay silent, to “not rock the boat,” to let it go, to dismiss it as “boys being boys.” But we should be rocking the boat. It’s not just “boys being boys.” It’s unacceptable, and if we’re going to dismantle rape culture, we have to be vocal about it.
I wish we weren’t still at a point where men speaking up against sexual assault were listened to and taken more seriously than women and gender non-conforming people who speak up about assault they’ve actually experienced, but having allies can only make us stronger. As Jasper observed, Carter “set expectations for any would-be assaulters in the rest of the crowd” — not just for the guy who committed the assault in the first place. This Twitter user put it succinctly:
Sexual assault in the music world in general and at festivals in particular has long been a problem —and has also long been ignored. As Vanderbilt University’s Kelly Oliver told the Los Angeles Times earlier this spring, “There’s a lot of music that celebrates a lack of consent. Men take it as carte blanche — once you enter into a fest or party, it’s like she signed off on whatever happens. If she’s dancing, it’s an invitation.” What’s more, added Oliver, our culture of victim-blaming often discourages survivors from reporting assault. “The reporting rate is low because [the women] buy in that they’re to blame,” she said.
(It goes without saying that anyone can be assaulted, and anyone can commit assault; however, women and gender-nonconforming people experience disproportionately high rates of assault, according to RAINN, while men — specifically white men — are disproportionately the ones who commit it.)
It’s heartening, though, that finally — finally — things are starting to change. The change has been slow, and it definitely should have happened sooner, but as the LA Times reported, activists are demanding that clubs and festivals put more safety measures into place — and the clubs and fests are beginning to follow through. Some pass out cards to patrons about consent rules; some have put “angel shot” programs into place; some are making sure that the overall areas are well-lit; and safe spaces are being created.
Bands, too, are speaking up against rape cultures, making itclear that it is not welcome at their shows. Like Sam Carter, Frank Carter (no relation, as far as I know) of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes spoke out against sexual assault at gigs in December, setting a similar expectation — that it has no place at gigs, or in music more broadly. It’s a message that clearly resonates, as the many responses on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet illustrate.
This is just one of the many ways that lasting change is made — and hopefully, we’ll get there eventually. Ideally sooner rather than later.