Scottish piper says he is regularly groped and humiliated by women while wearing a kilt

Chantal da Silva
·3 min read
Members of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform prior to the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on September 25, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. One member, Willie Armstrong (not pictured) says he has faced regular sexual harassment while wearing his kilt. (Getty Images)
Members of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform prior to the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on September 25, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. One member, Willie Armstrong (not pictured) says he has faced regular sexual harassment while wearing his kilt. (Getty Images)

One of Scotland’s most well-known pipers has said he faces sexual harassment from women on a regular basis.

Speaking with BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime, Willie Armstrong from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers said he has been groped, humiliated and photographed indecently by women since he was young.

At one point in his career, the piper said he endured incidents of harassment “almost every week”.

"It's just been a constant thing even since I was a wee laddie," he said. “Women used to put their hands up your kilt.”

“I used to tell my mum and dad — they would say it's just one of those things. But is it really? That was 1976 behaviour, it's not acceptable,” he said.

The piper said he has also been targeted in instances of upskirting, in which people have tried to take a photograph under his kilt.

Upskirting became illegal in 2010 under Scotland’s Sexual Offences Act, but, Mr Armstrong said he continues to be targeted.

In one such instance, the piper said a woman took a photo by positioning her phone under his kilt at a corporate event. She then passed her phone around the table, sharing the image with friends.

"I actually had to stop playing," Mr Armstrong said. “I keep thinking imagine I'd done that to her — I would be arrested, and rightly so. I don't find it funny — and I know other men do find it funny.”

Members of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform prior to the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on September 25, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. One member, Willie Armstrong (not pictured) says he has faced regular sexual harassment while wearing his kilt.Getty Images
Members of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform prior to the Opening Ceremony ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on September 25, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. One member, Willie Armstrong (not pictured) says he has faced regular sexual harassment while wearing his kilt.Getty Images

In another incident, the piper said he assaulted by several crowd members who reached up his kilt during a performance at Ayr Town Hall.

“I came off the stage, the crowd go crazy, and in trying to get back to the stage I don't know how many times there were hands up my kilt,” he said. "I'm trying to play my pipes but I'm also trying to protect my own dignity."

The musician said he believes other pipers have faced similar harassment, but he said complaints around the harassment he has faced has typically been laughed off or dismissed.

"Quite a lot of the time we just accept it," he said. “It's not just me, it would happen to every member of the band and it's not just guys in the Chilli Pipers.”

Mr Armstrong said he has grown “weary” of jokes questioning whether he is a “true Scotsman,” with the artist asserting that such comments represent a double standard.

“It's the constant, 'Are you a true Scotsman?' — basically asking you if you're wearing underwear or not. If you reversed that behaviour and I was to say to a woman, 'Can I ask what you're wearing underneath your dress' it would be a whole different ball game,” he said.

Ultimately, Mr Armstrong said, no one should have to endure sexual harassment or assault.

“If you're going to say something to someone or touch somebody you need to have their permission first,” he said. "There's a boundary there you cannot cross. And too many times it's been crossed."

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