Unfortunately, even though international attention has been brought to the widespread sexual harassment and abuse epidemic, some men still haven’t gotten the memo. In fact, one woman in New Zealand fought back against a man who groped her at a music festival over the weekend, reminding us that harassment is still a major issue, even in public spaces where there are witnesses.
Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller, a 20-year-old woman from the United States, was attending the Rhythm & Vines festival in Gisborne, New Zealand when a man walked up behind her and groped her breast in front of hundreds of onlookers. Anello-Kitzmiller, who was walking with a female friend, was topless and sporting glitter paint at the time.
The women quickly retaliated, striking the man several times. Her friend also poured a drink on him, according to The New Zealand-Herald. Though we don’t condone violence, we also understand the woman’s reaction to being touched without consent and support every person’s right to defend themselves from unwanted touch.
Anello-Kitzmiller told the Herald that she received much criticism for her decision to wear body paint instead of a shirt, with some festival-goers telling her she was “disgusting.” She also described the encounter with the man from her perspective, saying, “I was walking to my campsite and saw this hand come up. He got a handful of my boob. I went over and hit him. It was quite shocking. I’m used to love and kindness, freedom of expression, equality.”
She revealed she considered putting a shirt on, but says she “didn’t want to let them win,” adding, “My body…is beautiful. It’s completely natural. We were born naked.” She considered the incident a complete “culture shock,” noting that she’s been to festivals and concerts in other countries and never experienced treatment like this before.
Speaking further on the incident, Anello-Kitzmiller reportedly told the Daily Mail Australia, “I stand by my actions and hope that I’ve inspired women to feel comfortable in their bodies, no matter how they look, and to stick up for themselves when anybody says otherwise or tries to deny you the right to protect your own body. He grabbed my breast. I hit him. There was a lot of built up anger coming from harassment throughout the day… This happens everywhere, not just New Zealand.”
She also added, “A human’s body is their own, and nobody has a right to touch you without your consent, regardless of what they’re wearing or the lack thereof.”
No one has a right to touch you without your expressed consent, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or not wearing. We hope that music festivals — and the world at large — become safer spaces for people to express themselves however they choose.