97% of women aged between 18-24 in the UK have experienced sexual harassment.
Let that sickening statistic sit there for a minute. However far society may seem like it’s progressed in recent years, this reminds us that we still have an unfathomable way to go.
The statistic is the result of 2021 UN Women UK research in an initiative called Safe Spaces Now. The project goes on to reveal that 96% of those who’ve experienced such traumatic behaviour haven’t reported it to the authorities because they don’t think it would help or be acted upon.
“I’m 24 years old right, 25 in the next few months, and throughout my years of living, growing, and learning I haven’t come across one woman who hasn’t been assaulted and harassed,” explains Lauren AKA Solstice, the founder of just Be, a community-focused organisation that exists to create a safe space for female and non-binary artists, fans and workers in the music industry.
“To put it plainly and simply, that is absolutely terrifying,” Lauren continues. “Even though the subject of my work is based around survivors, turning pain into power, I still have days where I’m too scared to leave the house or even open social media because there’s just another story of violence against women. I’m painstakingly aware I’m not alone in feeling this way, but it still doesn’t change anything, what does and will change this is opening up the conversation and continuing it. It’s easy to make one post, let social media big it up, and then leave. But it’s not good enough and never will be.”
We spoke to Lauren last year to tell the story of just Be. At the time just Be had been responsible – among many initiatives – for a series of exceptional free download releases and Lauren hinted that bigger plans were afoot in 2023. Those plans start now with a VA release entitled IWD EP:97%. The first full paid label release from the platform, it features tracks by Katalyst, Pinks and Puzio and exists to raise funds for, and awareness of, survivor support organisation SARSAS.
Released today, March 8, on International Women’s Day, the EP will be on sale on Bandcamp for 97 days with all funds going to the Bristol-based charity. The EP will also be on all streaming platforms so each artist can also grain revenue for their art.
“There are a few things that inspired the EP, but the study released in 2022 which blew up, sparked outrage, and disappeared, is the catalyst behind it all,” states Lauren. “I wholeheartedly believe outrage isn’t enough without an unwilling need for change. I understand it’s uncomfortable, and it’s one of the reasons people don’t like discussing it, the topic of behaviours and how those behaviours can/will lead to years worth of trauma shouldn’t be minimized to be more digestible because it causes a moment of discomfort. That moment is unmeasurable in comparison to how many people are hurt, every single day.”
Deal with the discomfort: fight for change, stand up against any type of behaviour. The UN statistic is just the latest evidence that women and female identifying people, especially those in their teens and 20, are still in danger every day. Rape Crisis England & Wales state that 5 million women in England and Wales have been raped or sexually assaulted since the age of 16 and that the highest number of rapes within a 12 month period was recorded by police in the year ending September 2022 was 70,633.
Further evidence that relates to our scene can be found in an article published today on UKF entitled Backstage Sexism where 18 female and female identifying artists and industry workers reveal their own shocking experiences. Some of which were the result of behaviours of well-known DJs within bass music.
“There’s no denying that sexual harassment (and assault) is a massive problem in the scene,” states Pinks who makes her official release debut on the IWD EP:97% with the track Oxytocin. “I for one am regularly sexually harassed at events that I both play at and attend, by both ravers and artists. I’ve even been sexually assaulted and harassed WHILE DJing (on separate occasions). Collectively all of us in the scene (and world to be honest) need to reflect on how our attitudes and behaviours can normalise and trivialise sexual violence, from harassment to assault.”
Assaulted and harassed while DJing. WTF levels are through the roof. This is the gutting reality behind the ‘peace and love’ banner the scene forever tries to riff on. As a father, a partner, a son, a nephew and friend to many inspiring and awesome women this is such a hard thing to even comprehend. More importantly is fundamentally compounds the responsibility of all men. This behaviour cannot be accept or justified in any type of way.
“Speaking up against sexual harassment etc. is the first step,” agrees Pinks. “The more that it’s called out, the less that it will be allowed to go on. This includes pulling up your friends by the way – I know a lot of people turn a blind eye to their mates.”
No more blind eyes. Not calling out or reporting any type of harassment, violent or misogynistic and abusive behaviour that you’re witness to then you’re part of this problem. It’s a problem that SARSAS exists to combat. On the organisation’s website they explain how they supported 4316 abuse survivors last year. 97% of all funds raised from just Be’s IWD EP:97% will help to fund their vital work. More missions of this kind and more meaningful music can be expected from just Be in the future.
“This is just the start of the label pushing out more original tracks,” states Lauren. “Currently we’ve got tracks signed for the next few months! I’m really excited to release them and work with even more wonderful women and non-binary producers.”
In the meantime, it’s all about Katalyst, Pinks and Puzio. We caught the story of each track for each artist on the IWD EP: 97%. Please read below andsupport the release on Bandcamp now.
Puzio – Indecent
“I started making this tune two years ago, when I had been producing for about six months, and I couldn’t finish it as I really struggled with the mix and master. Two years later I came back to it, and finally finished it! I’m so happy that this tune demonstrates to me how much I’ve grown and learned as a producer. It’s also extremely special to me that this tune is being released in aid of such an important cause. Sexual assault can literally change people’s lives, and it’s still so alarmingly common. This project will be doing the invaluable work of reminding people of how vital the right support for sexual assault victims is, while also raising money for the truly brilliant charity that is SARSA Support. It’s a beautiful thing when a love for music can make a positive change in people’s lives.”
Katalyst – Let Me Go
“I wrote this tune at the beginning of last year, it’s definitely one of my earlier productions! but I am quite fond of it as it got me my first BBC Radio 1 play on Jeremiah’s Saturday night show. I will always remember that! I thought it would fit well with this EP, as it is about wanting to be let go by someone who has not treated you very well. The EP is to raise money for a charity supporting victims of sexual abuse, and I am hoping the lyrics of the song are more of a comfort than a trigger. A feeling of understanding, that you are not alone with your feelings and experiences. Charities such as SARSAS do such great work and I would like to do my bit to be able to support them like they support other people.”
Pinks – Oxytocin
“This is my debut release and a song that represents the validation issues I experienced after going through sexual trauma. Oxytocin is the love hormone; our bodies produce it when we’re excited by our sexual partners and when we fall in love. Studies have also shown that, among other things, it can be produced by listening to music. The song is about craving oxytocin from someone, feeling like I needed validation from someone else to feel worthy was something I really struggled with before I sought help. When I found out the EP was raising money for SARSAS it just made sense for me to create a track that expressed this experience of mine, especially as it’s a side effect of trauma that I don’t think gets talked about much.”