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Sweden's 'Man-Free' Festival Poised for Comeback Despite Being Ruled Discriminatory

CC BY 3.0 / Julia Lindemalm / Emma KnyckareEmma Knyckare
Emma Knyckare - Sputnik International
The Statement festival is being touted as the world's first major music festival for women, non-binary individuals, and transgender people.

The “female separatist” festival Statement, which was previously ruled discriminatory for being marketed as “man-free”, is poised for a comeback next year.

“The patriarchate still can't party with us!” the festival's website defiantly proclaims. There, Statement is touted as the world's first major music festival for women, non-binary, and transgender people.

“I want all women, non-binary and transgender people to experience this indescribable, magical and powerful atmosphere at some point in their lives. That is the biggest reason why I want to join in and do the festival again”, comedian Emma Knyckare, the promoter of Statement, told national broadcaster SVT.

According to Knyckare, Statement will be held on 4-5 September in the city of Gothenburg.

By her own admission, Knyckare got the idea after numerous reports of sexual abuse at Swedish music festivals. Statement's basic philosophy is therefore to offer a man-free zone for women, transgender, and non-binary people.

“We continue until all the men have learned, and they have not done it yet, based on what we see after the summer festivals”, Knyckare told SVT.

The Statement festival debuted last August, starring outspoken feminists such as DJ duo Rebecca & Fiona, who made a stir by displaying a T-shirt with a Soviet hammer and sickle during Stockholm Pride, and singer-songwriter Frida Hyvönen, as well as Eurovision winner turned political activist Laureen.

Statement was later ruled discriminatory against a particular group by the Discrimination Ombudsman, because the festival marketed itself as “man-free” and specifically stated that “cis-men” were unwelcome.

“We were condemned over the communication about the festival, not actual discrimination in place. The media headlines focused specifically on the festival being 'man-free'. There was more emphasis on those who did not come than those who did. Now we are trying instead to communicate what the festival is for and why it is needed”, Emma Knyckare explained.

In practice, she explained, men were neither prevented from buying a ticket nor barred from entry.

“We can't forbid men to come, but now we inform more clearly when buying tickets that it is an arrangement for girls and non-binary, which I think most guys have accepted by now”, Knyckare explained.

According to her, last year's edition was attended by a single man, which effectively allowed the organisers to dodge the discrimination accusations. The Discrimination Ombudsman admitted that the body had no means to issue any sanctions.

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