I went into this music festival not knowing what to expect. My experience as a woman living in Mexico City has been very specific: I love the Mexican friends I have made, and strangers are always so polite and kind to the poor foreigner who always needs help, BUT, I also know that if I leave the house without my male partner it will be a trial that I am not always up to facing. Men yell out of public transportation, from across parks, from cars, from construction sites, and from right beside me they try to start conversations or do a kiss noise. If I have a night out planned, I know I need to take a taxi from outside my door, because I cannot walk far in jeans and high heels without facing attention that basically tells me, “you clearly want to be approached, since you are dressed like that.” And by “dressed like that” I mean in anything that isn’t ‘masculine’ or dirty or baggy or torn. Honestly. It tells me this because when I go out dressed like so, men don’t even give me a glance; but add red lipstick to the equation, oh, I must be looking for a man.
Being a woman at a concert or music festival leads to particular experiences, because things like being packed in a tight crowd lead to being inappropriately touched (I was licked on the back of the neck at Motley Crue in Montreal, and my crotch was grabbed at a Social Distortion concert in Toronto), crowd surfing is an ‘invitation’ to groping, as anyone can see if they watch the women who do so, and moshing could actually get you seriously injured if you are a small woman.
My partner and I were at the very front when MIA began. We chose to do this because Blondie was next at this stage, and we wanted to be as close as possible. I like MIA, but I thought that I wouldn’t have bothered finding a front spot just to see her. I was soon to discover that I was wrong. This amazing woman had the crowd wowed for her entire performance, with the men and women around me singing along and cheering, despite the fact that… wait for it… she wore a baggy tshirt the whole time, and her drummer, dancer, and back up singer, though women, were all fully clothed.
I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized her show would be as impressive, if not more so, than the legendary Blondie. I was ecstatic the whole show, watching her tear it up and command attention with only her music and entertainment, not her body.
The point of all of this is not that I mind seeing naked or almost-naked female bodies. I don’t. But, I love seeing talent in different fields, and I love when a woman does not buy into the idea that they must also be ‘sexy’ (as has been defined by what men like) in order to be successful at music, acting, writing, blogging, protesting, dancing, or anything else.