Punk band Screeching Weasel breaks up after frontman punches two women at SXSW

Ben Weasel (Foster) stands on stage in front of a crowd

*Trigger warning.*

Ah, South by Southwest. The two week-long interactive conference and festival is well known for its music, technology, film, parties, and….violence against women?!


Last week during a show at SXSW last week, Screeching Weasel frontman Ben Weseal (real name Ben Foster) punched two female audience members in the face.

And late last night, the four other member of the band issued a heartfelt resignation, condemning their frontman’s actions, including his violence on stage, as “shameful and embarrassing”.

I wish I could say I was more surprised that this hasn’t gotten much attention.

According to L Magazine, the altercation started when a woman near the stage reportedly threw an ice cube at him. Then things got ugly:

Weasel, real name Foster, angrily leapt off the stage and unleashed a wild right-hand punch that clearly, frighteningly, landed squarely on her face. A second woman, reportedly the owner of the venue, quickly stepped in, and then Weasel punched her, too—first in the chest, and then in the side.

There is video, but it is violent and as L Magazine warns, hard to watch.

Ben Weasel (Foster) sings into a mic on stage

As if this couldn’t get worse, according to Punk News, the woman who spit at him was herself provoked by his “misogynistic rantings.”

I’m really disturbed to hear about this incident. It is hard enough for women to feel comfortable and welcome attending music shows and festivals without male performers literally doing violence unto them.

There’s no doubt that we need more music spaces that feel safe and open for women, especially given the speckled history of gender-inclusiveness at SXSW and stuff like it. Feministing has had a presence at SXSW in the past, and Ann and Samhita have spoken candidly about their experiences as women at the event.

But it wasn’t all bad. Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon attended this year and notes that “every act I saw worth really writing about was female-led or even all female. And, more importantly to my feminist heart, this wasn’t something I really noticed until I was uploading the pictures to Flickr. It’s becoming normalized for women to be in leadership roles in music.” For a slightly more positive take on some of the feminist-friendly goings-on at SXSW, check out more of Amanda Marcotte’s coverage over at Pandagon.

h/t Amanda Burden

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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