A culture of consent is not something you hear about often especially in summer music festivals; however, the people from Our Music My Body are looking to change that.
“Our Music My Body is a group of people working to create a safer space at music festivals,” said prevention and education specialist Matt Walsh. “We want everyone to be able to have a good time create an environment that is free of sexual harassment and promotes consent.”
The organization is created by two anti-violence agencies in Chicago: Between Friends, a domestic violence agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence, and Rape Victim Advocates.
The organization has a few different strategies to raise awareness of sexual assault at the music festival. Among those strategies is working at festivals such as Pitchfork, starting conversations with people on the issue and providing training to organizations who want to be a part of the solution.
The response by concert goers has been mostly positive. Walsh says some people are especially happy to see the organization. People who have approached him come from all walks of life. He has heard tales of women being grabbed in the pit, and there are some people who never even knew assault was a problem at festivals. Unfortunately, there are also some men who don’t understand why this is a problem, and this is where Our Music My Body shines.
“Everyone has been super excited, Pitchfork has an anti-harassment statement,” said Walsh, “but they aren’t really doing a lot, so it’s good to be in a space to promote this kind of stuff.”
Pitchfork isn’t the only music festival Our Music My Body will be working with this year. They will also be working at Lollapolloza and Riot Fest in Chicago. In addition to promoting awareness at these festivals, the group has worked with Riot Fest in order to help them write their anti-harassment statement.
“People come to music festivals from all walks of life,” said Walsh. “They are never thinking about how they might be disrespecting people or how they might be making people feel.”
The workers of this organization aren’t just sitting idly at a table. They are creating buttons for concert-goers and have even made empowerment signs. The fun, silly signs are checked out for two hours by concert goers to carry around.
“It’s really easy to forget, even in a space that seems easy and so welcoming and open,” said concert-goer Sarah Brunet, “that there are people who don’t understand the role of consent and why it’s an issue in general.”
With the rise of sexual harassment and assault at festivals, it is refreshing for concert goers to see there are organizations on their side.
“A lot of drugs and alcohol is being consumed and it’s a vulnerable space,” said concert goer Lyrick Castro.
With the prevalence of rape culture, especially in the music world, it is refreshing for people to feel they have a safe space to party and people on their side.
Photos by Liz Carlson
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Isabel Sophia Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Dieppa is the recipient of a 2018 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant, which she has used to report on property rights in Puerto Rico. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow her on twitter @isabelsdieppa.