Reading and Leeds have just dropped their second lineup announcement as well as their stage splits.
Something that’s caught many peoples eye, as well as my own is the female only stage run by Festival Republic on the Sunday.
If you’re reading this when you’re probably familiar with a tweet of mine and a situation that unraveled last February where I released an edited version of the Reading & Leeds lineup where I’d removed all the men to highlight the lack of women booked.
This tweet reached over 2.5million people and attracted the attention of the BBC, the guardian, the times and many other National and local news outlets.
Since then I’ve been known as the girl who removes men from festival lineups, it’s kind of my thing. A lineup will come out and within minutes I’ve got 10 people in my DM’s or tagging me asking for me to edit it. The whole idea was something I initially did out of my own curiosity, I was at a work placement at Universal Records last year which was ridiculously dull, I’d spend most of the day scrolling through Twitter and seeing all the new festival lineups being announced.
I began noticing the lack of women, I then started counting them before I decided to actually edit the men so I could physically see how many women were booked.
That’s how the whole lineup edits came about, now onto today’s Reading and Leeds announcement and what I want to specifically discuss… female only stages. I, like many people online can’t decide where I stand on this fully.
What’s great is that they’ve booked more women, fantastic. This is what I and so many others have wanted to see for ages so I surely should be overjoyed at that but it just feels so disingenuous and as one of my Instagram followers said ‘treats women like a niche’.
This is where the issue lies, music created by women is not a genre, female fronted is not a genre. Women make pop, rock, metal, jazz, rap,classical, punk, electronic music just like men and there are so many spaces in this industry where women are poorly grouped together and placed under one umbrella and that umbrella is called ‘vagina music’ made by women and only the be enjoyed by women
Every single one of those acts is worthy of their space on that lineup but why couldn’t they have just been booked for the normal stages? We don’t want segregated stages we want more diversity across the board and I can’t help but feel like this is extremely performative on Reading and Leeds behalf.
It feels like an attempt to shut everyone up, a kind of like, here’s your stage, stop complaining. We don’t want our own stage, we want women to be treated equally and be given the same opportunities as the men on the lineups. It’s that simple.
They gave us what we wanted, more women but it felt like they gave with one hand and took with another. It feels somewhat patronising to actively choose to take these amazing acts and place them somewhere else categorising them as ‘other’.
Something I’ve spoken about a lot following the situation last year was the amount of abuse and harassment I received from teenage boys. It’s the attitudes of everyone we need to change, we need to show young girls and boys that female musicians are equally as good as men, moving them away is only going to fuel the edgy humour misogyny. It needs to be almost subliminal for these young people to just see women up on all of those stages frequently.
Like I said, I don’t know fully where I stand on this, it’s like we should almost be grateful we got more women and now shut up about it. I just believe that for as long as these festivals are selling out, they aren’t going to change however loud people shout.