By Shayla Lee for Femme Riot
When you imagine a music festival, images of dancing to songs you love with your best friends, eating great food, and soaking up all of the good vibes are probably the first things that pop into your head. Although these thoughts pop in my head as well, something that comes to my mind when I think of festivals is the lack of female representation that is often presented. It is frustrating to see a poor amount of female musicians billed on a lineup; it should not take me reading through three rows of artists to finally see a female musician.
The sexual harassment statistics surrounding music festivals are also staggering. In a survey conducted by the organization Our Music My Body (OMMB), 92% of female survey respondents said they had experienced harassment at a music festival. During Weekend One of this year’s Coachella, Teen Vogue journalist Vera Papisova interviewed 54 women, and all 54 of them said they were sexually harassed. Obviously, this is a huge problem and we need to be taking action against it.
Although I have attended and camped at music festivals by myself and enjoyed it, whenever I have the opportunity, I always try to go to festivals with friends. Why? I am extremely wary going by myself and I often have a million thoughts running through my head about the unknown. Who will I be able to talk to if I feel unsafe about a situation? What if someone comes into my tent in the middle of the night? What do I do if I don’t feel comfortable?
Electric Forest has a program in place called Her Forest which strives to create a safe environment and promote inclusivity for all female-identifying people. Her Forest was one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Electric Forest. The festival strives to ensure everyone has an amazing time while being safe.
Her Forest offers a collaborative group camp for those who identify as female. Those who decided to spend their weekend at the Her Forest camp had the opportunity to share the experience with other women – many of whom were solo festival-goers. Aside from camping, Her Forest also offered workshops, meet-ups, and panels throughout both weekends.
I had the chance to see the “Centered In Sisterhood” panel on Sunday of the first weekend – which also happened to be my birthday. In all honesty, I don’t think I could have spent my birthday morning somewhere else that was so uplifting.
The panel was moderated by Hannah Muse and featured the badass artists Madame Gandhi and Kawehi, Electric Forest’s creative director Nova Han, Madison House agent Mary Allen, Electric Forest’s artist relations director Dasha Davis, and Electric Forest video team member Mared Hidalgo. The women shared challenges they have faced being females in the industry, gave tips on how we can support fellow women, and they shared their own self-care practices which I look forward to implementing in my own life.
I left Electric Forest inspired to work harder, nurture those around me, and give more love and support to the women in my life. I truly believe that women are a force to be reckoned with and together we can change the world.
Music festivals are supposed to be fun and carefree – no one should ever feel unsafe. I feel genuinely grateful that I was able to experience a festival as inclusive as Electric Forest. If other festivals followed Electric Forest’s lead, just imagine how much the festival experience for everyone would improve!