I recently corresponded with Ali Tadayon — a reporter for The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, CA — who was putting together a story about sexual assault at music festivals.

Per Ali, he did a California Public Records Act request to get the total number of sexual assaults that have been reported at the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals over the years, as well as how many have resulted in arrests. He found that several sexual assaults were reported at the Coachella festival over the years, and at least one sexual assault a year has been reported at the Stagecoach festivals. He was looking for further commentary on the culture of rape at music festivals.

I replied to Ali’s media query within his deadline, but it doesn’t appear that the article ever materialized. It’s still a very important topic though, so I am sharing our full correspondence below.

What do you think?

Ali Tadayon: Is [rape culture] a major issue [at festivals/concerts in the US]? 

DrCT: “Rape culture” is a concept within feminist theory in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, and/or refusing to acknowledge the harm of some forms of sexual violence.

Given what rape culture is, it’s obviously a significant and pervasive issue in US culture in general. As such, it’s definitely something that impacts, shapes, and is found at festivals and concerts of all types. There is nothing about Cochella in particular or concerts in general that are especially onerous in terms of rape culture. Festivals and concerts don’t cause behaviors like sexual assault. Individuals shaped by wider social forces behave in circumstances shaped by cultural attitudes. Put simply, the issues are far larger than attending festivals; and if we were to, say, put a ban on ALL festivals in the US, that would definitely NOT put an end to rape culture.

AT: Do many people overlook [rape culture in general?] in America?

DrCT: Yes. Rape culture takes various forms and manifests in various ways that are shaped by region, cultural capitol, social norms, etc, but the fact remains that rape culture is pervasive across all aspects of US culture – and we seem to ignore it (and continue ignoring it) overall, every day.

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