A recent feature piece in Teen Vogue is drawing attention to a major issue in today’s festival culture.
Vera Papisova, a feature editor for Teen Vogue, attended the first weekend of Coachella this year for just 10 hours.
In that time, she says she was groped 22 times.
“One guy followed me across the field to the Mojave stage, where I was meeting a friend to see FIDLAR,” Papisova writes. “When my friend left to see another band, I stayed behind, and this guy came up behind me and whispered, ‘You’re a goddess’ and then rubbed his hands on my hips and butt.”
This is just one of the examples that she cites in the story, but it’s by no means something that only Papisova has experienced and had to deal with.
“Of the 54 young women who spoke to Teen Vogue for this piece during the weekend-long event, all of them had a story of sexual assault or harassment that occurred this year at Coachella.”
I went to Coachella for 10 hours to report this story, and I was groped 22 times. https://t.co/XNgZzXep3C— Vera Papisova (@VeraPapisova) April 18, 2018
From the young women Papisova talked to, the general consensus is that this kind of stuff can turn what should be a safe, fun and magical environment into exactly the opposite.
Add in a lack of cell phone service and other factors that can leave women separated from their friends at times and it can leave some women relying on bystanders to feel safe.
However, counting on strangers to step forward and say or do something when sexual harassment is taking place isn’t always a slam dunk.
In her story, Papisova describes an incident from the weekend where a stranger complimented her leopard-print suit, but the compliment quickly turned into something else.
“I thanked him, and he proceeded to say he’d love to get in the bathroom stall with me,” she explained. “When I told him not to talk to me like that, he exclaimed, ‘Whoa, that's a lot of attitude for a no-name model.’ Nobody around me did anything to help.”
Although Coachella is by no means the only music festival where this kind of thing happens, Papisova points out that it’s one of the few major festivals that doesn’t address the issue.
Despite being the highest grossing music festival in the world, making $115 million last year, Coachella provides no sexual assault literature in any form.
Coachella did not answer Papisova’s request for a comment regarding her story.