Sweden hosted the world’s first ”men-free” festival

Emma Knyckare, a Swedish comedian and famous radio host, got the idea of creating a “man-free” festival after she has heard about several sexual assaults against women at some of the biggest music festivals in Sweden in the course of 2017. As far as assaults and rapes have been condemned by cisgender men, she set about trying to organize a festival, which could be a safe space for women, transgender and non-binary people. Swedish comedian wrote a post on her Twitter page and received an incredible support from the audience. Thus, a start was made on the development of a new “men-free” festival. Later on, Knyckare was joined by a non-profit organization called Statement. This volunteer organization consists of about 30 members, who are all women, transgender and non-binary. So, the organization of the new rock festival was well under way.

The brand new Statement Festival took place at Gothenburg’s Banana Pier from August 31 to September 1, 2018, and had an immense success. As well as restricting cisgender men from entry, the new festival only included performances by women, transgender and non-binary artists. All the cisgender men, who were part of the performers’ teams, were allowed to stay only in a cordoned-off area, which was jokingly nicknamed the “manpen backstage”. Among the performers of the festival were such artists as Maxida Märak, Joy, Frida Hyvönen, Beatrice Eli, Tami T and winner of the international Eurovision song contest in 2012 – Loreen. Comedians also took to the stage of the Statement festival. Josefin Johansson, Petrina Solange and Nour El Refai entertained the crowd with jokes. It is yet unknown whether the new festival would be held annually, but it has already received a negative backlash from the Swedish Equality Ombudsman. The organization accuses the festival of gender discrimination.