A women-only music festival is happening: Is keeping genders separate really a step forward?

Tickets are about to go on sale for a women-only music festival.

The “man-free” event, named Statement Festival, has been organized by Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare after the country’s largest music event, Bråvalla, was canceled following a string of sexual assault and rape complaints.

Organizers of Bråvalla announced they were canceling the 2018 event after police received four rape and 23 sexual assault reports at the festival in July.

Tickets are going on sale for a women-only festival. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tickets are going on sale for a women-only festival. (Photo: Getty Images)

SImilarly, in 2016 local media reported that five women were allegedly raped at the four-day camping festival, which is attended by thousands of people each year.

As for Statement Festival, only women will be allowed to attend the two-day event, which will be held next summer and will allow women to party and drink “without having to look over your shoulder.”

Comedian and radio host Emma Knyckare first floated the idea with her Twitter followers following news of the sexual assaults at Bråvalla.

“What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome?” she tweeted, adding that the festival would run until “all men have learned how to behave themselves.”

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign the festival has now been officially organized and tickets will go on sale in December.

“Together we are making a statement against sexual assaults by creating a safe space for women, non-binary and trans people that want to attend festivals and feel secure at the same time,” the radio host tweeted. “We don’t think this is too much to ask for!”

But festival organizers are hoping the festival won’t be an ongoing event. Under the heading “Will it not make things worse?” the website explains that the long-term goal is to be able to shut down the man-free event.

“Our wish is that a festival like Statement, as a free zone from sexual assaults, would not be necessary,” it says on its website. “But sadly society keeps proving that this is needed, and that is why we are creating this festival.”

Are women-only festivals the solution? (Photo: Getty Images)
Are women-only festivals the solution? (Photo: Getty Images)

The reaction to the concept has been mixed, with some welcoming the change, while others believe it is sexist to exclude men from spaces.

It isn’t the first time a male-free space has been explored at a festival. Last year, a group called the Sisterhood held a women-only event at Glastonbury.

“In a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men, oppression against women continues in various manifestations,” the group explained. Their thought was that the way to fight against this sexism was to keep these festivals “women-only zones.”

There’s no doubt that banning men from a festival will help some women to feel safer, but is enforced segregation the solution?

To tackle the issue of sexual assault and rape, do we not need to deal with the crime and the criminals? Instead of women-only festivals, would it not be better to improve policing and security at mixed music spaces, so that women feel safe and secure at all festivals, not simply at ones where men aren’t allowed?

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