I met one guy early. I think we even met the very first day. As you can imagine, arriving and starting a tour with 800+ people you don’t know can be a bit overwhelming at times. But I met this guy on that first day, and he was super cool to me. And I really liked him. We joked a lot, discussed what we did at home, what music we liked, how we got involved in the tour, and everything else under the sun. He was a good dude.
One of the main reasons we were out on Warped Tour was to orchestrate the Save Our Scene workshops with the bands. They were one-hour discussions that we presented in a non-aggressive way. We weren’t there to blame all musicians for the actions of a select few. Of course not. We did, however, want to make sure that the bands, especially the younger ones, to clearly know boundaries, laws, and how to respond should any of their fans tell them they’ve been affected by sexual violence. This was a workshop that I felt anyone could take something from…we packed a lot into that hour. We talked statistics. I told stories. I really feel that I was able to convince the people that were involved in this discussion that this was an issue to care about. That is, if they weren’t already convinced.
So when the first discussion was to take place, after the first week was over, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or who would attend, and I started inviting people that I had met and talked with throughout the week. One of the people I invited was my friend from the first day. We were still friends. And I still liked him.
Now I understand that it can be a bit off-putting to be invited to a discussion about sexual assault. I hear that. I also know that I made sure every single person that was invited knew that it was a non-threatening discussion about the issues as opposed to a heavy lecture. Most people felt a bit relieved after I told them that. But my friend from the first day said he wouldn’t come. And honestly, I was a bit shocked. This seemed like a really good dude – a guy that really cared about other people. And I could even sense that he was kind of a sensitive guy. Why wouldn’t he care about this issue? I asked him to reconsider, and he said “I don’t think I really need to come…I’ve never been affected by something that and I wouldn’t do it to someone else.” And with that, he walked away.
I liked this guy. I talked to him pretty much every day, sometimes at length. After the whole tour, I still like him, honestly and genuinely. And I believe him. I truly believe that he would literally never hurt anyone, especially through means of sexual violence. But I think he verbalized a concept that I saw through a lot of the people on the tour, and actually see in a lot of people everywhere else. So many people have the idea that because they aren’t sexually assaulting, or because they aren’t abusing kids, that they are doing their part. I believe this is only halfway true. I don’t necessarily think anyone should receive praise for not hurting other people, but I’m willing to say thank you to my friend and to others who would never do these horrible things to another. But with that thank you, I will also ask a little more.
Please recognize that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will deal directly with sexual abuse or rape. Please take just a moment and line that statistic up with the people that you know – your friends, family, and colleagues. Please understand that even if you don’t know about it, someone you know and likely care for very much has dealt with this issue. And we need you to do a little bit more than not hurt people. We need your voice. We need you to recognize dangerous behaviors in people you know. We need you to recognize signs of sex abuse in children. We need you to know how to respond if someone were to tell you they have been affected.
I truly and honestly believe we can get to a point in our culture where the 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 start to dwindle. Some may call that idea naive, but I don’t believe it is. We’ve seen these kinds of violence reduced over the years, and more and more efforts are taking place to continue that trend. It’s not naive to say that violence can be reduced…it’s cynical to say it can’t. But as I laid out in the first Warped Tour Chronicle, it’s going to take everyone. That includes the good people who are already not hurting others. You don’t have to have a story to have a voice, and we need yours now more than ever.