written by Igor Jakobsen (Dreamslain)
In general, metalheads are great at signalling a stance. What bands they like and support, what genre and so on. So it’s only natural that metalheads, artists, promoters and venues committed to this work could use patches, stickers and merch to show their commitment. A good example here is Metalheads Against Bullying who have a lot of anti-bullying merch.
Venues could announce their commitment with statements about inclusivity both online and on physical posters or stickers at the venue.
An example of such a statement could be “We strive to be inclusive and want to protect our audience members against racism, sexism, harassment, bullying and discrimination. Please let us know if you have experienced any of these, and we will investigate and ban the offender from the venue”.
Mentioning the rules at the start of an event could also be effective to make everyone aware that anti-harassment policies will be enforced. It is highly likely that if a venue shows that they stand by their commitment to enforce such policies, word will spread and more minority persons will attend the venue.
On the opposite end of this spectrum, one should shun and be vocal about venues that are non-inclusive.
It would be great if one could make both a boycott list and a support list, and some symbol or stamp of approval if they meet certain standards. These standards would have to include training security in conflict de-escalation, training on their biases and training in what actions should be considered harassment.
Defining, and communicating the definitions of what is considered a “security threat” to the venue, is very important as often only overt violence is enough to draw the attention of venue security. A start here could be meetings with venues where one reaches an understanding of what should be considered a problem, and what would be the appropriate reaction of staff.
Here it was proposed to have a member of staff tasked with actively looking out for instances of harassment and bullying. When it occurs, this person should not only act by removing the offender, but make a short public statement to show that harassment and bullying is not tolerated in the venue.
Another way for the venue to become aware of problems would be anonymous suggestion boxes where people can suggest everything from protocols to bands they want to see.
Proposed definition of harassment, bullying and discrimination
Discrimination in the metal scene can take the form of physically attacking, taunting and bullying, exclusion, staring or turning away, laughing, questions one would not ask a majority person (you would not quiz a person about metal trivia that you already consider part of the metal community), being made to feel unwanted or as an ‘inconvenience’, and touching without explicit and enthusiastic consent.
When you see someone being harassed or being made to feel unsafe: isolate the perpetrator from them! If possible: work together so that someone goes to alarm security, several others stand between harassed person and the perpetrator, someone asks the victim what they need/want to do in this situation.
To combat discrimination and make the metal scene truly including, we encourage and expect our scene to commit to the following principles:
We visit venues with inclusive seating for everyone, that are accessible to people with any level of mobility and that accommodate the needs for safety and security of different types of visitors. We encourage venues to have gender neutral bathrooms as well as bathrooms accommodating different mobility needs.
This includes the avoidance of strobe lights and similar epilepsy triggers. While metal is a loud music form, we expect the venue to keep it to reasonable levels based on venue size and health recommendations.
We ensure that everyone feels safe and included in the metal scene by actively inviting newcomers and people of marginalised groups into our group. There will be no minimum of metal-ness or demands to prove oneself to be part of the community. We use the pronouns people want us to use about them and treat persons of every gender equally.
We welcome flirting and other interactions when, and only when enthusiastic consent has been given. There should be enough space to not feel one’s personal space invaded and for venue security to see and prevent any attempts to violate people’s bodily autonomy.
We expect venues to have staff trained to recognize and intervene when harassment takes place and to take appropriate actions against harassers.
We will not stare, laugh at or shun people because of their size, skin colour or ethnicity, religion or religious expression, age, abilities, gender or gender expression or any other way they can be seen as different.
We urge venues that have staff uniforms to provide gender neutral uniforms and bands to provide gender neutral merch. We encourage metalheads to buy merch from bands that show a support for diversity and avoid sexist, phobic or racist merch.
We welcome venues that accommodate for attendance by people not of legal drinking age through separation of audience rooms, possibility to attend with special wristbands and accompanying adults free of charge.
As editor-in-chief, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Igor, Holly, Aud and Anna for their outstanding work and enormously important contribution. For our blog, this three-part publication is without any question a highlight. Our scene needs more people like you. (André)