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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Sexism allegations overshadow Bayreuth Festival

Several female employees at the music festival were allegedly groped, including festival director Katharina Wagner

Christine Lehnen Published 23.07.22, 05:01 AM
Even Bayreuth Festival director Katharina Wagner revealed she has been groped

Even Bayreuth Festival director Katharina Wagner revealed she has been groped Deutsche Welle

Several female employees at the music festival were allegedly groped, including festival director Katharina Wagner, underscoring the prevalence of everyday sexism in Germany.

The Bayreuth Festival was hoping to emerge from two tough pandemic years revived and renewed. Now, three days before the Wagner music festival begins, allegations of sexual harrassment have surfaced.

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On Friday, Bavarian daily Nordbayerischer Kurier reported under the headline "Women groped at the Festspielhaus," about physical assaults on women, insults and sexist remarks.

The newspaper reports that even festival director, Katharina Wagner, confirmed via telephone that she had been touched on the breast. According to the Kurier, other female employees also reported being touched on the buttocks without their consent.

Festival management 'very troubled,' yet 'surprised'

Hubertus Herrmann, the spokesperson for the Bayreuth Festival, told the German press agency dpa that the festival management is "very troubled and actually surprised, since no information is known internally about possible assaults."

He promised an immediate investigation and asked "anyone affected to contact the management directly," adding that "no insults or physical assaults will be tolerated."

The fact that women could also have sexist experiences at one of Europe's most important music festivals coincides with studies on sexism in everyday German life.

Almost half of all women, 44%, experience sexism in everyday life. Around 41% of women who face sexism experience it in the workplace, while 46% experience sexism in public places, according to a 2018 study on sexism in everyday life commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Many cases unreported

The authors of the study refer to a large number of unreported cases, since many sexist incidents are now so commonplace — for example, the unsolicited sending of pictures or digital photos of a man's sexual organ.

In addition, the study stated that men who work in high management positions at large corporations, or in professions, often reject sexism as a "phantom" debate, or argue that men were discriminated against by women, not the other way around. If groping or assaulting women occurred, it was primarily by men from the "underclass," or "other cultural groups."

In 2020, a video titled "Men's World" that showed the daily abuse women faced online in Germany was broadcast live on prime-time TV — and then went viral. Men were left shocked by what they saw, while women wondered whether it would change anything.

The Bayreuth Festival begins July 25. This year, more operas will be performed than ever before. Last year they were all about strong women.

The festival is a cultural institution in Germany and throughout Europe: It focuses on the work of German composer Richard Wagner, whose female companions did not always have it easy by his side. Today, his operas are performed in Bayreuth in ever newer productions.

Celebrities and well-known people are often in attendance, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who will attend again this year with her husband, Joachim Sauer.

From Deutsche Welle Newsfeed

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