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"Why are you visiting a topic that’s been covered by everyone? This isn’t what you’re about so why even bother with it" was the response from some friends when discussing this topic.
"Everyone" hasn’t been specific enough.
In every walk of life there will always be someone who’s pissing in the pool. Human nature it seems. Sexism is one of the forefront stories of electronic music in recent years and it’s often difficult to pin point a cause, even more so a solution. It’s no longer a case of "there aren’t any female DJs and producers" as there are in fact, many. It’s more relevant to say that there are gaps in pay, recognition, and treatment of women in our scene. So where did this come from? Well here’s the thing about blame. I’m not one that views consequence as cause and effect; I believe in personal responsibility. Look at what we are discussing here.
There are clearly things that have contributed to and shore up what some might perceive as blame so I will offer some positive solutions. Before 2005, around the early rise of EDM, DJ polls listed at 10% female. Fast forward to 2017 and the very same poll clocked in at just 4%. The polls reflect reader opinion claim the publisher. Where does the reader then gain the information in order to place that vote? It’s common place for media to present content that’s purely for clicks but why have we forsaken respect for gender for click bait? This is grossly irresponsible. By the editor of a popular publication’s own admission in a Facebook post "more moaning = more clicks." This editor is female. Ignorance, greed, or both?
In a forward thinking move it’s right to mention Resident Advisor who, at the end of last year, announced that they would no longer be running their own polls. They felt they were not a reflection of the part of the music industry they push and the results too far from the scene’s origins in black and gay music. At least here, we have recognition of responsibility for what we might read every day and how that influences us. There is nothing authentic in those who publicise and push the more commercial elements of dance music to increase their target audience, while on the other hand attempt to remove themselves from playing any part in what we have hanging off the fringes of the "real" scene. Perhaps publications that were more in touch with house music in the 90s now struggle to stay relevant and employ tactics to get the trolls working for the social media algorithms. We have allowed separation to become integrated by either selling ourselves like prostitutes or creating unnecessary competition. Sure, Helena Hauff’s "winning" Essential Mix of 2017 was indeed a great one but what if maybe, we didn’t decide to pick a "best" of anything at all? Likely hemmed into a competition completely innocently, should the Essential Mix have also forecast Facebook comments like "nice sex face" to their winning announcement post and monitored accordingly? If you can’t afford the staff to weed out the assholes, don’t hit publish in the first place. Alas, we wonder why this happens when by the same token there are naked women quite literally screwing Mixers in DJ booths. We claim that "it’s not part of our scene" when actually, it is. It really is. If you recognise it as something you wish wasn’t part of our scene then it already is whether you like it or not. If it isn’t, then enlighten me as to why we have entourages of girls flanking some of our supposed underground headliners in shows more akin to a Playboy mansion line up. This too is how the extreme "tits out" commercialism has infiltrated. We don’t need to dress size 8 women in a few inches of fabric to make a good party. On the contrary, some of the best party’s just about have toilet paper. Perhaps not all of these cases are direct causes of sexism and harassment, but every fork needs a knife and according to most avenues, the fall out of abuse in dance music is becoming imminent.
Now is a good point to pick up on a recent article by a music journalist who has spent the last year dedicated to this very subject. It’s worth noting that no music press publication wanted to go to print with it. Why? He does not lie nor point fingers directly. So perhaps then it's because of not wanting to be the first to spill the creepy guy beans or, for the reasons I've covered here. The piece covers how due to their stature, both physically and emotionally, men are largely responsible for these issues. I would agree, but where does the mindset he speaks of come from? Yes, those who commit sexual misconduct are responsible for those acts. However, recognising that isn’t going to change anything. There is no real world solution offered except to keep the party for the party goers and work as any respectable workplace should be. We all know this. Nothing has changed. That’s like trying to change something by doing the same thing over and over, insanity. So what do we do?
What is critical is identifying and dispersing the causes; the things that put some men in the mindset that it’s OK to stick a hand in an unsuspecting girls crotch. (In a lot of cases that’s a mild scenario.) Focus on what you do that is the REAL scene, with dignity and respect. Push it until the life force of you comes out from your ears...if you really love what we have, it won’t even be an effort. Quit the angry reaction, share or passing comment on the "greased up writhing woman on the decks" posts. You’ll only end up seeing more of it. If you see or hear sexism or any discrimination, report it. You might be preventing something bigger down the line. Publications on the most part will action it. (Again credit to RA in my personal experience.) Question what causes separation. Question those who run polls to gain readers to secure their advertising investors. Above all, we need to stop using sex as an aide to selling music, parties, DJs... If a brand cannot continue functioning as a business without encouraging division amongst those whom it serves in exchange for clicks, then down the toilet it needs to go.
It will see its day. The more responsible action we take, the sooner that time will come.
The Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has launched a telephone support service against sexual harassment for the electronic music industry. 08000305182