PREMIERE: Karolina Rose Supports Sexual Assault Survivors with “Runaway Angels”

Photo Credit: Alexander Bemis

Shortly after the #MeToo movement began, Polish-American indie pop artist Karolina Rose knew she wanted to write a song supporting sexual assault survivors. However, it took several years for her to feel prepared to release the end product — her latest single, “Runaway Angels.” After a lot of hard work and emotional healing, she’s sharing it today.

Working with producer Elliot Jacobson, Rose created a balance between live guitar sounds and programmed synths and drum machines for the song, which embodies the dark power-pop aesthetic she’s known for. The lyrics describe the inner turmoil involved in processing sexual trauma: “You’re something in my eye/I make tears and wash it all away/All those times I tried so hard/Fantasize just to make it through the day.” In the chorus, she sings about “a place to hold these hollow hearts,” which to her means that it’s okay to “feel really empty for a while, and we’ll hold onto you while you feel that way,” she explains.

Since the topic of the song hit close to home, she sat on it for a while after writing it. “I wasn’t able to listen to the song for a long time because it would make me cry — I’d get really triggered by my own song,” she says.  It ultimately took an ayahuasca ceremony for her to feel emotionally prepared to put it out into the world.

When the shaman who conducted Rose’s ceremony listened to “Runaway Angels,” he told her, “I hear pain in this song… this song has a dark energy.” She doesn’t disagree with his assessment, but she views the music as cathartic rather than polluting. “I think overall, it can be a healing tool, because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing to light those shadow parts of yourself and feeling that in music,” she says.

In fact, she hopes those who listen to it can relate to her pain and understand they’re not alone. “It was just this collective support that I wanted to transmit in the song — this collective pain but equally collective support,” she says. “I feel like all of these primarily female victims — the angels — need the world’s support.”

Since the world is undergoing another reckoning of sorts today, she’s glad to put out the message in the song right now, as its messages feel equally suited to the fight for racial justice. “For so many of us that are not racist, it’s so obvious — like, of course we love everyone — but you have to step forward and actually show your support,” she says. “Otherwise, if you don’t say it, you’re remaining silent. And that’s how I felt when I was writing this song about the fact that it’s so hard for sexually abused victims to come forward when they aren’t guaranteed support.”

The track is off her upcoming EP, Rosemary, which comes out August 21 and explores the process of healing and finding love through four songs. It also includes “Greytopia,” a more upbeat, Lady Gaga-esque single about transcending difficulties; a dark, electronic cover of Shakira’s “Objection“; and “White Lies,” a dynamic, danceable track that’s currently unreleased.

Rose was working in investment banking in New York City when she decided to take a leap of faith and follow her passion of making music. “I felt like I wanted to have more out of life, that I wasn’t going to be okay with a stable, secure job and that’s it,” she says. “I thought I had more to say about my story.” Outside her day job, she practiced guitar and wrote songs, then started doing acoustic shows. She wrote and recorded her first music in New York, with her 2019 debut EP Invicta carrying a similar theme of strength, then spent three months traveling Europe as she worked on Rosemary before settling in LA.

The videos for the EP were filmed in a Croatia villa that Rose swears was haunted, which inspired a scene with an apparition in the not-yet-released “Runaway Angels” video. After a filming marathon, Rose fell asleep at the wheel of her car and almost swerved off the road. She remembers the friends she was filming with telling her, “‘This could happen to anybody. Don’t feel that way.’ They were helping me, so it was just like a family. … I think this just adds to how much this means to us.”

Because she was able to release so many negative emotions in “Runaway Angels” and the rest of Rosemary, she predicts that her future music will have a whole new sound. “I feel like my pain is trapped in those songs,” she says. “Anything recorded going forward from the new me, I’m pretty sure, is going to be really different.”

Follow Karolina Rose on Facebook for ongoing updates.

Letitia VanSant Owns Her Story With ‘You Can’t Put My Fire Out’

Photo by Alyssa Stokes

Letitia VanSant creates a chilling effect with the opening line of her new song, “You Can’t Put My Fire Out:” “I didn’t run/I didn’t scream/I didn’t want to make a scene.”

The words came to her during a workshop when she was presented with the prompt, “How are you wounded?” It brought to mind her experience with sexual assault – she was raped by a former friend years prior, an experience she is sharing through song. “I think that question really opened the door for me,” VanSant says. Three years after she wrote down those striking lines, the rest of the song began to organically unfold as she watched Christine Blasey Ford courageously recount her story of sexual assault during the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to Supreme Court in 2018. Premiering exclusively with Audiofemme, “You Can’t Put My Fire Out” was “one of those songs that forced its way out of me,” VanSant says, “and then I recognized the message that was coming out of it.”

VanSant shares that she initially kept the details of her sexual assault to herself, and is honest about the long-lasting impact it had on her life, subconsciously making her feel socially hesitant and “unwanted.” “People don’t realize sexual assault is not just the physical vibration, but it’s the mental impact that can live on for years,” she explains, adding that she’s since been on a journey of self-love. “I think that I’ve finally done enough of that that this song was able to recognize how much the experience had hurt me.”

Writing “You Can’t Put My Fire Out” has served as a healing process for VanSant, who reclaims her narrative in its potent lyrics: “Too long you’ve lived inside my mind/You paid no rent/You stole my time/Now I’m taking back what’s mine.” “I didn’t realize how much of the voices in my head that said bad things about me kind of came from this experience,” she continues. “It was sort of like recognizing that all of those voices saying hateful things towards myself, that’s not me. Those are the voices that I can kick out and that I can replace with more positive and much more powerful messages.”

One of those powerful messages is the title of the song, which VanSant admits she originally thought was “cheesy.” But as the lyrics began to tell her story in a meaningful way, she saw the title as a statement of self-confidence and conviction. “It’s more of a realization of a statement of something that’s true. It’s both a willful ‘I’m not going to let you’ but also ‘you actually can’t.’ People really can’t get at the core center of my being and my spirit. No matter what the world throws at me, the core of me is an unchanging and alive thing,” she says.

Through “You Can’t Put My Fire Out,” VanSant can use her story to connect with others who’ve experienced sexual assault. The singer says she’s had “powerful reactions” from women and men alike when she performs the song live, recalling a time when a group of college-aged men approached her after a show to discuss the song. “I think that this is the kind of song that can speak to anybody who’s been through a difficult experience. It’s for anybody who has someone in their past living in their head and needs to kick them out,” she says.

 Growing up as white woman in an upper middle class family in Baltimore, VanSant is open about her intention to acknowledge the privileges and advantages she’s been given by society. She’s adamant about wanting to create space for people of color and those who are non-binary – and the question posed in the workshop reminded her that we all experience pain in our own way.

“As a person that occupies a position of a certain amount of privilege in our society, I think there is a place for self-doubt and for questioning. But I think that within that there is a place for growing a deep and centered kind of self-love. And the more we all grow that,” she expresses, “the better the world will be.”

“You Can’t Put My Fire Out” is included on VanSant’s new album Circadian, set for release on February 21.

2010s IN REVIEW: Kesha’s ‘Rainbow’ Saved Me From Myself

TW: The following contains the author’s recollection of childhood sexual assault.

I remember the day only in fragments – like my head is broken. The sweet spring air rustled my short blonde locks, and white-hot sun peeked through the piney overhang. We were standing there on the grassy knoll. I was four, and he wanted to play soldiers. “You be the woman,” he said. Wide-eyed and hungry for adventure, I happily obliged. The next flash is an M-80 going off. I’m lying on my back. The sofa was a froggy kind of green, and a Carolina blue cotton sheet decorated with soft yellow petals rubbed cool against my skin. His whispers played as burning sapphires in my ears, compact and scalding, and he took off his pants.

In truth, I must have packed that day away as you do all of your trauma. It’d been tucked away between my father’s abuse to my sister and my mother’s own personal tragedies – and me, still somehow just a child, dangling in a purgatory somewhere in between. I was suspended in that moment, innocence both destroyed and forever dancing on my eyelids. When I first heard Kesha’s power piano ballad “Praying” for the first time, I bawled all the pain down upon my chest. It came back like a waterfall had just been turned on for the first time or a tidal wave had crashed through my front door.

I initially wrote my confessions here, and it was the very first time I shared my story of abuse in a public forum. Two years later, I’ve realized details I got wrong. Memory is like peeling a giant red onion. Its pungent odor has a kick every single time, and you can never be ready for it. Emotional senses never erode; they might lie dormant for a time before a smell, a touch, a sight, a sound will trigger it again.

Details are clinical. The color of his skin. The smell of his chestnut brown hair. The way his glasses rode the tip of his nose. It’s detaching and cold to think in detail. I was a ghost, out of body, peering through the sands of time, the details slipping away with each passing minute. The trauma was there, and it’s always been there. Honestly, I had never considered my molestation as sexual assault. I was always comparing it to other more brutal traumas that I couldn’t even fathom – but you can’t assign value to trauma. Trauma is trauma.

My relationship with my body, around my identity, and to the trauma never fully registered until 2017. Kesha’s Rainbow had just arrived in the world, and its themes of abuse, retaliation, redemption, forgiveness, and rebirth were fresh on my mind like bubble gum on the bottom of sneakers, sticky and pink. My wounds had been reopened, and I was confronted with the past in a way I had never thought possible.

“This record, quite literally, saved my life,” the pop star said at the time. “It talks about me personally going through something very hard, lots of very hard things, making it through, not giving up, and finding empathy on the other side — which is incredibly hard sometimes.”

The defining record of the 2010s, an underdog comeback that saw Kesha liberated from her demons, Rainbow saved me from myself, too. In my ignorance, perhaps blissfully tragic, I was consumed by the assault; its lingering effects had eaten away at my ability to hold relationships, how I viewed the duality of identity and sexuality, and any sort of understanding of that afternoon at all.

Songs like “Praying” (the blood-curdling battle cry “and you said that I was done / well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come” pounding against my rib cage) and “Learn to Let Go,” a fervent, woodsy prayer, were and still are cathartic. Listening now, I’m cleansed further with their healing, peace-bearing power, and the past quickly becomes another time or even another existence. “I think it’s time to practice what I preach / Exorcise the demons inside me,” she persuades on the latter. Her vehement empowering of others – often at the expense of her own well-being – serves her well as a patriarchal-defying suit of armor. She soon emerges victorious, howling, “The past can’t haunt me if I don’t let it / Live and learn and never forget it / Whoa, gotta learn to let it go.” She learns that her words don’t mean anything unless she allows herself to heal, too.

The title song is another vocal statement piece, predominantly of piano, string work, and a growling bass harmonica. “Yeah, maybe my head’s fucked up / But I’m falling right back in love with being alive,” she coos – the symphony swelling beneath her. “Rainbow” contains a starstruck lullaby quality, as if to say she’s finally accepted her trauma in its many, serpent-like forms. There’s a finality to the performance, too. She’s journeyed through the “darkness” and a “heartless” existence, an unimaginable depression wrought of true pain, and it was during the aftermath that she came to this realization: “You gotta learn to let go, put the past behind you / Trust me, I know, the ghosts will try to find you.”

“Woman” is a pillar of great female power for me. “I’m a motherfucking woman, baby, alright / I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight,” she slaps on the hook. It’s a devilish, proudly ravenous performance, polished with The Dap-Kings’ brilliant horns. I grew up in a very strict Christian community, with a super-macho father, so boys were supposed to be boys. I could never express my femininity without feeling ashamed for it. Kesha freed me from that.

Then, with “Hymn,” a hippie puff of psych-pop euphoria, I ventured through myself to accept my goof-ball eccentricities (I whole-heartedly believe in ghosts, for instance). “Pretty reckless, pretty wild,” the soul-child offers. Later, “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)” (a song her mother Pebe Sebert co-wrote) stars the biggest queer icon of all time, the one and only Dolly Parton. The collaboration, sashaying from the past to the present, gives clearance to let your heart guide you in a totally bonkers, uncertain world.

It is, perhaps, on the (very Kacey Musgraves-esque) country-inflected closer “Spaceship” that Kesha reaches complete enlightenment, marrying her new-found self-worth with her wonderfully endearing infatuation with aliens. “I knew from the start I don’t belong in these parts / There’s too much hate, there’s too much hurt for this heart,” she warbles on the second verse. Her gaze returns to the cosmos, stretching out like a wondrous, firefly-flecked blanket, and her body floats outside of itself to wash it all away. “Lord knows this planet feels like a hopeless place / Thank God I’m going back home to outer space.” Only in forgiveness – of yourself as much as your abuser – can you find the kind of heavenly escape and psychological freedom you deserve.

Rainbow – not without plenty of cheeky badassery (“Bastards,” “Hunt You Down,” Godzilla”) – remains an exhilarating manifesto. As I listen to it now, the lyrics and vocal performances hit me all over again, and I can’t help but cry – not in pain, but because I made it through another decade. Because I confronted my own demons and slayed my ghoulish, fang-toothed, blood-sucking monsters. I haven’t named my abuser publicly, but for me, it is not necessary that I do. Trauma does not define me. Rainbow does.

INTERVIEW: Viking Witch Isabella Steinsdotter Shares Empowering Single “Hidden Child”

Photo Credit: Graham Cann

Isabella Steinsdotter, known simply as Steinsdotter professionally, is best known as a visual artist. However, she recently debuted her first single, “Hidden Child,” a song about reclaiming your body in the aftermath of a sexual assault. The music and its accompanying video (directed by Fayann Smith) are equal parts gorgeous and haunting, featuring Steinsdotter singing eerie lyrics like “seduction lies in cold disguise” in a soprano voice as she walks down the street in a lacy white dress and then shaves off all her hair on a beach. Hailing from Norway and currently living in London, Steinsdotter is a descendent of a viking witch warrior whose jewelry resides in the British Museum, and this ancestry influences much of her work. We talked to Steinsdotter about her music and artwork, its incorporation of witchcraft, and her efforts to empower sexual assault survivors.

AF: What was the thought process behind your debut single “Hidden Child”?

IS: “Hidden Child” is to me a song about the loss of innocence. You’re in a dark place and you see nothing, and you try to create that hope for yourself. It’s a song about creating hope where there is no hope. There’s a certain darkness to it because it’s very real, so it’s not just the nice things you want to remember but the real things.

AF: What made you want to write about this topic?

IS: It’s a very personal song because it’s a song about surviving sexual assault at the end of the day. It wasn’t like I planned that would be the first song I released, but at the same time, when it was finished, it seemed like a very natural way for me to be introduced to music because it says a lot about who I am. I guess I wanted to release something that was real, and I feel like it is very real. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me who have been in similar situations who have also had sexual assault, and it’s been very empowering to have all those people share their stories and be empowered by it.

AF: What message would you like to send to sexual assault survivors with the song?

IS: Basically that you’re not alone; that regardless of how overwhelming and challenging it is, if you are in that situation, there are ways that you can take back your own power. You don’t have to stay in that state of being. It’s very overwhelming when it happens, and I think the good thing about it is, the awareness about it is becoming greater. We talk a lot about it nowadays. It’s not so easy to get away with, and I feel like it’s a time for people to come together and tell the truth about it. I’ve seen even men who have done bad things to women are almost brave enough to say it out loud now because it’s so obvious that it’s wrong. It’s not really a simple message, it’s not one thing, but it’s openness and awareness – basically, showing that it needs to change and that we need to change consciousness around it more. I just don’t want women to have to feel unsafe because that is the worst feeling, and it’s nice to find something powerful in it somehow that you can take for yourself. That’s kind of what I was trying to do for myself by writing it, finding something powerful, not just something broken.

AF: What is the significance of you shaving your head in the video?

IS: It was so powerful for me personally. It was very tense because when we filmed the video, everything happened in real time. Nothing was staged. It was all about letting go of the projections that people put onto me — not just me, but as a woman, you constantly have to battle all these projections people put onto you, and you’re an object of many things, and it’s not necessarily like you want to be that. So, for me, it was about stripping everything back, getting it all off me, then starting fresh with just me. The symbolism was to get rid of all the extra things, back to the organic self.

AF: I read that you’re a descendent of a viking witch. Do you identify as a witch?

IS: Yeah, I definitely identify as a witch, and ever since I found out, it’s been extremely empowering for me personally. I know a lot of really amazing witches. It seems like it’s one of those things that is also becoming okay — it’s not something that you necessarily cannot talk about, and I just see that everything’s changing into a more open discussion, and I really like that.

AF: What does being a witch mean to you?

IS: To me, it just means being organic and in touch with our own emotions and nature in a way that is nurturing for you and people around you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be more complicated than that. I feel really humble to nature, and in some ways, that is the most important relationship to worship as a witch because nature can lead me to where I should be.

AF: How does witchcraft affect your work?

IS: In my process of writing or even singing or rehearsing, I will go outside, walk around barefoot, or sing in the woods to get centered when I’m really nervous, because I get really nervous if I have a show or something. I have to work really hard to stay grounded.

AF: I was reading about your photography, video, and performance project Seiðr, which is described as a “ritual inspired by the female vikings.” How does that incorporate your witch ancestry?

IS: Seiðr is a name for spirituality that the vikings would use. We went to Norway, and we were out in minus 12 to 18 degrees, and we found this presence where we just lit a fire and wanted to humbly give our thanks to our ancestors and to nature. Because we were hunting for the northern lights, we were dancing around the fire, and everything is intensely about visualization rather than straightforward words. Let’s say, for example, for me, a ritual can be singing and the energy you’re putting into that song. Seiðr is about working with the organic ways of nature, but being very present in that place and following your intuitive mind rather than your rational mind. That’s the state of mind you want to be in so you can communicate with something greater than a singular person. It was very refreshing. Have you ever been in minus 18 degrees? Your brain just kind of freezes, and you can’t feel that you’re cold because you can’t feel that you’re there anyway, and your phone dies quickly because it’s so cold — it just sucks the battery out of it. It’s really strange.

AF: Are you working on any new music?

IS: I am. I’m basically working to release my next song, which will be released in early November, so that’s what I’m doing at the moment. I’m also working on finishing the music for the video for Seiðr, which is going to be in a museum in Rome for a month. I have the music. I’m making music for it, so that’s very exciting.

AF: What kind of music?

IS: This one is a little different from the way I normally do it because I’ve been walking around collecting sounds in nature and stuff. I love atmospheric music in general and kind of classical, but it will be not a straightforward singy-song but more atmospheric. I’ve been very influenced by Seiðr itself and the viking-sounding music. I really like what’s coming out of Scandinavia.

AF: That’s so cool. Is there anything else you wanted to mention?

IS: It is quite funny that in the “Hidden Child” music video, the dress I’m wearing is also actually made out of the curtains that came from Buckingham Palace, so basically, they’re the queen’s curtains on the dress. So it’s even more symbolic, ripping it open. The symbolism of ripping that dress is even stronger because of where it came from.

AF: What does that represent to you?

IS: An old world that is not very functional anymore, because I don’t believe that anyone should be born with the right to be better than anyone else. It makes no sense in this society anymore.

Follow Steinsdotter on Instagram for ongoing updates.

How the #MeToo Movement Could Make Music Festival Season Safer

When I was 16 my most essential possession was a small backpack. It was made of a simple worn-in cloth, the fabric comprised of a colorful rainbow of stripes. The colors weren’t overtly vibrant, instead dulled, to give the desired vintage effect. It was a small bag and would fit no more than a cell phone, smoking pipe – concealed in the secret pocket I had prepared in the side wall – a purse, and on beach-going days a small, portable stereo. I had a friend who poked fun at how I always looked ready for a grand adventure. Although adventure was the outward identity people perceived, the backpack was a tool of quite another design.

This small bag was my weapon of armor. It created an innocuous barrier between myself and anyone who might try to add some unwanted grinding to my experience at a show, backyard concert, or festival. The more unwanted and aggressive the attention, the more I would flail the bag from side to side, an effective tactic that kept strangers away, and kept these experiences centered on the music.

For women who attend live music events, it’s common knowledge that while entering into a venue or festival grounds comes with many highlights, there’s always the underlying threat of machismo aggression. Although women have known this (and far too many have experienced it first hand) for years, it has taken festivals and venues longer to wise up and take ownership over the responsibility they have to ensure a level of safety within these spaces.

As far back as 2015, Vice Media started taking notice of these violence at festivals, running an article on Broadly that detailed the extent of the problem, then revisiting the topic again in 2016 with an article in Noisey that outlined some basic steps toward alleviating it. Also in 2016, NBC News covered the growing aggression of sexual violence taking hold in festivals globally. And just last summer, The Guardian posed the question: “Are music festivals doing enough to tackle sexual assault?” Even as they praised grassroots efforts being implemented across Europe, they recognized that there’s still a long way to go.

Now, as we ease into our first festival season in the wake of the #MeToo movement, current efforts are coming into sharper focus. A TeenVogue article published after this year’s Coachella stated that, out of 54 women interviewed, every single one of them claimed they had, in some way or another, been sexually harassed. Instead of waiting for festival policies to change, fans and femmes are creating their own safe utopias, in hopes that mainstream festivals might catch up to grassroots consent training.

Sex educator Emma Kaywin has started to work with smaller festivals on the East Coast to create consent-based teachings for volunteers. Working closely with the consent programs at Brooklyn’s popular art and performance space House of Yes, Kaywin has seen first hand what effect teaching participants of musical experiences can have on the overall safety of an event.

Currently studying for her doctorate in health education, and previously working as the sexual health columnist for Bustle, Kaywin turned to working on consent programs when she began feeling unsafe at clubs in New York. “I stopped going to a lot of parties, because I would just go there, get groped, get triggered and leave,” explains Kaywin. “I just wanted to be in spaces that felt safer.”

In her work with festivals, Kaywin has organized a two-hour long training, which includes information about recognizing microaggressions and how to respond. The training also focuses on intervention – more specifically, how to identify consent violations on the dance floor and how to intervene in situations of violence and intoxication. Those who have taken the training become “space guardians” of the dance floor. It is the job of these guardians to work as professional bystanders, and their purpose is twofold – to act as watchdogs who can intervene before an assault occurs and potentially remove the offending party, and to make themselves available as a trustworthy advocate for someone who feels unsafe.

While these trainings, and the idea of “space guardians,” can be easily implemented on dance floors at smaller festivals, the issue still remains – how do organizers make larger festivals, like Coachella, safe for everyone?

One campaign working with staff and fans alike is Chicago-based advocacy campaign #OurMusicMyBody. The organizers of the campaign work in conjunction with Chicago-based festivals, including Lollapalooza, to address problematic relations between fans and security.

“No one should be told exactly what they should do,” says Kat Stuehrk, co-organizer of #OurMusicMyBody, when discussing what advice she might give to a survivor. #OurMusicMyBody focuses on teaching security staff to first, believe the victims who approach them, then ask before acting what it is the person wants to have done.

Many security guards who are not trained properly will oftentimes immediately call the police, or take other actions victims are uncomfortable with, without asking permission. These actions further extend misdirected power dynamics, heightening the sense of lack of control a victim feels after an assault. #OurMusicMyBody works directly with security to establish protocol to directly help survivors, and communicate with them openly about their needs and wishes.

“We have folks from domestic violence or sexual assault agencies come in and do trainings for the security and the staff, about crisis intervention and how to respond with empathy, and with options for folks who have had those experiences.” explains Stuehrk.  “Through no fault of their own, people don’t really know what to say or do.”

Another important component of the #OurMusicMyBody campaign is fan education. When given the opportunity by a festival organization, the campaign sets up a booth to teach practices of consent, and let others know it is okay to call out their friends who are being inappropriately aggressive.

Zero-tolerance policies posted on festival websites are the small first steps festivals can take to addressing the issues of sexual harassment. However, it doesn’t hold a lot of weight if fans themselves aren’t ready and educated with response tools, since even the most sensitive security staff can’t reliably watch over thousands of individuals. #OurMusicMyBody is working to addressing these levels of education, so that zero-tolerance policies can be upheld.

“As far as I’m concerned, every single person who is present at a festival, or works at that festival, needs to know what crisis intervention is and have a basic understanding of how to respond to a report of harassment,” says Stuehrk.

Overall, these various approaches are moving towards one thing; education. For a long time, festivals and festival-goers have refused to admit there was a problem – particularly men, who shockingly seem unaware that sexual harassment has been an ongoing issue for women at festivals. Along those lines, many festivals refuse to talk about how they are addressing these issues on their website or to attendees. It is this fear of recognizing the problem, and allowing those unaffected to stay in the dark, that allows violent behavior to proliferate. By the same token, those pushing for positive change must understand the sensitive, sometimes complicated nature of sexual violence, and take responsibility for their own actions in public spaces.

Writer Vera Papisova, who published the TeenVogue piece, also mentioned her little backpack. “This is why I usually wear a backpack in concert settings,” describes Papisova. “It forces distance between the stranger behind me and my body.” It won’t be the symbolic use of these backpacks that ends the abundance of sexual harassment at music festivals. In a post #MeToo age it is the responsibility of the masses to understand their personal role in maintaining spaces where violence towards women becomes unacceptable.

For more information on how to help prevent sexual assault, check out RAINN’s guidelines on bystander intervention.