Image for UNIFY Gathering Responds To Backlash Over Lack Of Female Artists On Its LineupUNIFY 2016 / Photo: Darren Tran

UNIFY Gathering Responds To Backlash Over Lack Of Female Artists On Its Lineup

Written by Music Feeds on June 25, 2016

Organisers of UNIFY Gathering have issued a statement responding to concerns of gender imbalance re: the festival’s 2017 lineup.

Despite next year’s event packing arguably the biggest and most impressive bill yet, many fans and media pundits have been vexed by the fact that it’s also – well – a bit of a sausage party.

sausage

There were 26 epic bands announced on the UNIFY 2017 lineup this week – including the likes of Alexisonfire, Violent Soho, Northlane, Every Time I Die, The Getaway Plan, Letlive, Thy Art Is Murder and more – equating to 119 band members in total.

And of that 119, just two are packing an XX chromosome – with Perth’s Saviour and Melbourne’s Drown This City sporting one female member apiece.

And with similar gender imbalance controversies striking both Canberra’s Spilt Milk Festival and Strawberry Fields Fest mere days before the UNIFY 2017 lineup dropped, media commentators have been quick to seize upon the metalcore/punk event for its disappointing lack of diversity.

“Sure, it’s a reflection on heavy music in general, which historically suffers from a penis-heavy presence,” wrote Pedestrian.TV. “But without the support and promotion of female artists by huge, visible festivals like this one, it’s a thing that’s simply never going to bloody change with any great meaning.”

In UNIFY’s statement responding to the criticism, they’ve pointed out that behind-the-scenes, more than 50% of the festival team is skewed female, but they’re nonetheless still discussing the lineup-specific gender issue, which they admit is “very important” to them.

Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah has even weighed in on the whole thing, arguing that a promoter’s job is to promote quality music, and not affirmative action:

But perhaps the backlash should be taken as a wake-up call for Australia’s labels and heavy music tastemakers in general  to start actively scouting and fostering more local female heavy artists to get them to a point where they could be considered “of value” to a festival like UNIFY?

As someone who goes to gigs every weekend, trust me – it’s not like the talent isn’t out there.

You can read UNIFY’s full statement below. Otherwise, here’s a few suggestions for anyone wanting to check out some shit-hot Aussie gals who can wail, shred, slap and bash skins as hard as any of the boys in the metal/punk/core genres (outside of Tonight Alive who obviously graced last year’s UNIFY bill and kicked major ass): High TensionFifth Dawn, Danger! Earthquake!Heaven The AxeBellusira, Sick Puppies, EMPRA, The Art, RedHook, Vanity Riots, Axegirl, Eat Your Heart OutAcross The Atlas, Smoking Martha, The Beautiful MonumentFlangipanis, the list goes on.

Hi everyone,

We’ve seen the feedback and talk about gender imbalance and our lineup in the last couple of days. This is an issue we are aware of and one that’s very important to us all. While our lineup is male heavy, behind the scenes of the festival is a team made up of over 50% females that work hard to bring this event to you all, including directing and overseeing the festival.

Gender equality is a serious and important issue that absolutely needs to be discussed and brought to everyone’s attention. We’ve always taken this issue very seriously at Unify and from the very first event the safety and comfort of our patrons has been paramount. We want everyone to belong and feel accepted within our community. We also want to make it absolutely clear that we do not tolerate or condone sexism, racism, bullying or any forms of intimidation in our community and further, we do not condone the people making such comments. Anyone making negative comments does not represent us and is not welcome at our event. Anything we support or believe will come straight from us.

Ultimately, we want you to know that we are listening, we are discussing and this issue is very important to us all, as a festival and as individuals.

Peace and Love
Team UNIFY

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