Surprising no one, music festivals are disproportionately dude-heavy again this year.

Every summer, Lollapalooza brings some of the biggest names in music to Chicago for four days of fun.

On March 21, the festival announced its 2018 lineup, highlighting acts like The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, and dozens of other bands. Almost immediately, people noticed a trend: The headliners were almost entirely made up of guys.

Just 13 of the 85 bands showcased on the festival's announcement tweet were fronted by women. The big name headliners are totally worth the price of admission and are worthy of that sort of top billing. It's just a little frustrating to see some of the country's largest music festivals (like Lollapalooza and Tennessee's Bonnaroo) skip out on booking women in prominent slots.


In recent years, people have become more vocal about underrepresentation at festivals. And yes, it matters.

According to Nielsen Music, 32 million people attended at least one music festival in 2014, with those numbers pretty evenly split between men and women. California's Coachella — which, to its credit, does include acts like Beyoncé, SZA, St. Vincent, HAIM, and Cardi B in prominent spots in the lineup — has struggled to shake its "Brochella" stereotype.

When the 2018 Bonnaroo lineup was released, writer Trish Bendix commented that it was "such a bummer to see so few women on the lineup," and she was right — less than one in five Bonnaroo artists included women. Tegan and Sara, who have performed at the festival in the past, replied, calling for "a movement within the fan world and the press" to challenge gendered imbalances.

Writing at Into, Bendix slammed the imbalance, saying that it contributes to a culture where a festival can become "a very unfriendly place for women and LGBTQs to be as participants or attendees."

Are music festivals "unfriendly places" for women and LGBTQ people? They certainly can be, and some are fighting to change it.

The issue isn't the performers or the bookers, but the crowds. In a May 2017 Los Angeles Times article, music promoter Sara St. Hilaire discussed the time she was harassed at Bonnaroo, saying that a man followed her through the crowd, groping her.

"One time a guy even lifted up my shirt in the crowd," she said. "There's a sense of community and 'we're all in this together' that gets misconstrued at festivals. I remember being younger and not understanding that kind of thing as sexual assault. Society raises everyone to think 'boys will be boys' and it gets excused."

The full Lollapalooza poster.

You may be wondering what this has to do with who gets booked — and that's totally understandable.

The answer lies in a festival culture that promotes a free-for-all with a dangerously loose interpretation of consent.

The Pitchfork Music Festival, also based in Chicago, listed a "zero-tolerance harassment policy" on its 2017 festival website: "The Festival believes everyone should feel safe during the event and works to ensure this. We will help maintain this by not tolerating harmful behaviors, which may include non-consensual touching or verbal harassment. If a participant chooses to break these policies they may be removed from the fest." Lollapalooza's website contains a "Safety" page with a copy of its own harassment policy.

While these are good, important steps towards improving festival culture, change can't truly happen until the most visible women there — the performers — are treated as more than a mere afterthought.

A photo from Lollapalooza 2006. Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

One of the questions many Americans had when Trump became president was how he would handle LGBTQ rights. Public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted dramatically in the past decade and the Trump administration hasn't publicly signaled a desire to change that. Trump even added an openly gay man to his cabinet, creating somewhat of an appearance of being LGBTQ-friendly.

However, his record with transgender rights betrays that appearance. Transgender people have become a favorite target of conservative politics, and actions taken by Trump himself have been considered discriminatory by LGBTQ advocates.

These actions were highlighted by a mother of a transgender child at Biden's town hall event. Mieke Haeck introduced herself to the former vice president as "a proud mom of two girls, ages 8 and 10," before adding, "My youngest daughter is transgender."

"The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening non-discrimination protections and even removing the word 'transgender' from some government websites," she said, then asked, "How will you as president reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the right and lives of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?"

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended education in every way imaginable. While it's great that modern technology allows us to attend classes through Zoom or Google Meets, it's just not the same as in-person interaction.

It's also tough to recreate the camaraderie that can develop in a classroom.

The impenetrable distance that exists between teachers and students in the COVID-19 era was bridged recently when a group of students came together to tell their professor how much he really means to them.

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less