Ad-Rock's Plea For Women's Safety Meets Wide Approval

Women's advocates, others praise Beastie Boys rapper for taking a stand.

Beastie Boy Ad-Rock's recent call for musicians to do more to protect

women's safety at concerts received widespread approval Friday

(Sept. 10).

"If people in bands are willing to stand up and say, 'We think this is

a terrible thing, we want women to be safe at our concerts and we

support a violence-free environment,' that's a wonderful thing," said

Harriet Lessel, director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual

Assault, an advocacy, education and research group.

During Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, Ad-Rock (born Adam

Horovitz) told musicians that they need to take action in light of the

sexual assaults alleged to have taken place at the Woodstock '99

festival. State police are investigating eight assaults said to have

occurred during the July 23–25 concert in Rome, N.Y.

"We can talk to the promoters and make sure that they're doing

something about the safety of all the girls and the women who come to

our shows," the rapper said. His comments came after the band accepted

the Best Hip-Hop Video award for "Intergalactic"

(RealAudio excerpt).

His words brought a solemn hush over the crowd at New York's

Metropolitan Opera House.

Ad-Rock advised that performers also should ensure concert security

staffers are educated about what sexual assault means and know how to

handle it.

"The sentiment is right on the money," said Paul Wertheimer, head of

Chicago's Crowd Management Strategies consulting firm. "Artists have a

lot of power and say over audiences. And the promoters have a major

influence on the environment they create, along with venue operators

and security."

But one Woodstock '99 veteran questioned whether safety can be ensured

at concerts as big as that one.

"You have 200,000 people, how are you going to legitimately tell if

there was victimization of young females?" asked Angela Petty, a Rome

city council member who volunteered at a medical tent during the

festival.

The Beastie Boys — a politically outspoken punk-rap group who were

instrumental in organizing the massive Tibetan Freedom concerts over

the past four years — have not yet planned any efforts to

follow-up on the remarks, according to Steve Martin of the band's

publicity firm, Nasty Little Man.

"They're setting a tone, a stage, if you will, for change," Lessel

said. "Even if it's only symbolic, that's wonderful."

Woodstock co-promoters John Scher, Michael Lang and Ossie Kilkenny

issued a statement commending Ad-Rock.

"The reality is that sexual assaults have become such an overwhelming

problem in our society that they are now a very frightening reality at

concerts and other social gatherings," the statement read. "We stand

ready to work with any other producers, artists and other industry

leaders to ensure that it is universally understood that violence is

not acceptable and will not be tolerated at our concerts or anywhere

else."

Backstage at the awards, R&B singer Mary J. Blige said she was touched

that a man brought up the issue.

But Lessel said, "It should be men who say it, because women say it

all the time."