A ‘man free’ feminist music festival in Sweden has been found guilty of discrimination. The event, called ‘Statement’, was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, in August this year and was billed as ‘the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender only’.
So, in other words, that meant no fellas allowed. One can only imagine the uproar if such an event was held which excluded women or those of a certain race – surely a textbook case of discrimination.
Well, it turns out that this festival has been held to the same legal standard, according to a ruling by Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman, which has declared that the ‘male-free’ festival was a violation of the country’s anti-discrimination legislation.
Men were not prevented from buying a ticket or entering the festival grounds, but one thing that male members of artists’ entourages and the likes of technicians and managers were reportedly restricted to a so-called ‘man-pen’ in a backstage area. You know, like cattle.
Sweden is known for being a very ‘progressive’ country in terms of its politics, but this festival turned out to be too much even for them.
DO press officer Clas Lundstedt said in a statement: ‘It is important to point out what an infringement is. These are the statements made before the festival, what they wrote on their website.
‘Still, we haven’t been able to prove that someone would have been discriminated against in connection with the implementation or that someone would have been rejected.’
Lundstedt said nobody suffered damage as a result of Statement saying men were not welcome, and therefore there will be no penalty for organizers. However, it does make a statement about discrimination – if it’s wrong for one group of people, it’s wrong for everybody.
The festival was billed as being a ‘safe space’ featuring ‘cis-men free’ artists, security and catering. The term ‘cisgender’ or ‘cis’ refers to a man or a woman whose gender matches the sex they were at birth. So, in other words, someone who is not trans or non-binary.
A ‘non-binary’ person is someone whose gender does not conform to their sex assigned at birth.
Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare came up with the idea for the festival after a huge number of sexual offences were reported at Bravalla, Sweden’s biggest music festival, last year.
No such crimes were reported during Statement, which carries pictures of women dancing and celebrating together.
Lundstedt added: ‘Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this. However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website do.’
The festival acknowledged the ombudsman’s ruling in a condescending statement:
“It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival, made a few cis-men lose it completely. The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need, and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”
Cynics would say that, rather than “cis-men losing it completely”, the organizers of Statement are simply being held to the same legal standards as everyone else in the country… and that’s what it’s all about, right? Equality?
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