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.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I'm a bit of a pen snob. Even if I'm just making a list, I look for a pen that grips well, flows well, doesn't put too much or too little ink into the paper, is responsive-but-not-too-responsive to pressure, and doesn't suddenly stop working mid-stroke.

In other words, the average cheap ballpoint pen is out. (See? Snob.)

However, Oscar Ukono is making me reevaluate my pen snobbery. Because while I'm over here turning up my nose at the basic Bic, he's using them to create things like this:

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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