Editor’s note: we almost didn’t run this story because the images were accidentally sent to us in a file called ‘Nazi Feminist Festivals.’ Yes, really. We decided to publish anyway because the truth and importance of the topic isn’t diminished by one graphic designer’s issues with women (or as the apologetic PR put it, “complex sense of humour”). Still, we’d advise PRs not to pitch us feminist stories just for exposure – it’s a cause, not a bandwagon.
While we were delighted to see Florence and the Machine headlining Glastonbury this year (the first female-fronted band to do so since 1999), it hasn’t escaped our notice that Florence was only given the opportunity because the all-male Foo Fighters pulled out due to Dave Grohl’s broken leg.
Last year was no better – the only solo woman headlining a major festival in 2014 was Lily Allen, and again only because all-male Two Door Cinema Club pulled out due to illness. Really, a man has to be literally incapacitated before a woman is seen fit to take the stage?
It’s not just headliners, either: the gender balance of festival acts is ridiculously lopsided, and we doubt you have to guess to which side. Yep, despite 59% of festival-goers being female, ticket website Ticketbis.net found that just 18% of acts across 10 of Europe’s top festivals are either women or female-fronted bands. That. Is. Outrageous.
To underline the point, Ticketbis have produced some fairly depressing gifs showing how few acts are left if you wave your magic wang (sorry, wand) and remove the dudes from the lineup posters. Here are the results for the UK and Ireland:
1. V Festival
Edit: the Bestival lineup has since been updated to include more women than are shown here. In particular, the amazing Missy Elliott is headlining.
5. Electric Picnic
While it’s fair to say that there are fewer female artists in the charts (a quick tally of acts with women in the current top 40 nets just 9), there’s absolutely no shortage of incredible female acts – more than enough to balance the billings – and no excuse for not doing everything possible to improve that pitiful 18% figure. After all, if we want more Beyoncés in the world, we have to show them what’s possible. And I think we can do better than “our first choice broke his leg.”
Main image: © iStockphoto/PeopleImages