It’s mega upsetting that it’s still a fact, but sexism still exists in the music industry. An industry which is all about freedom of expression and the enjoyment of the love of music by everyone, is still unfair in almost every way to the women who exist already within it, and want to make a career in music. This is particularly the case with electronic music, with it being no secret that almost all lineups for electronic music festivals have huge divides between the number of female artists and the number of male artists on the bill, that there is a culture of sexism that exists in the minds of some male musicians, and particularly in the online sphere by so called fans of electronic music. Yesterday, editor of DJ Mag Carl Loben addressed all of these issues and more in an editorial he wrote for The Huffington Post.
DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll is often described as sexist, so Loben went about clearing the air on how that poll is conducted straight away. From there, he critiqued a culture of music fans and artists whose comments and opinions make it near impossible for female DJs and producers to get anywhere in the boys club that is EDM. Check some of his words out below:
“In the year 2000, ten percent of the DJs in the Top 100 DJs poll were female. But this was before EDM — the dominant sound in dance music right now, a kind of big room commercial electro-house style — took over. EDM can be a bit of a bro-fest, cliques of exclusive self-appointed ‘boys clubs’ all helping each other out, but excluding women cos ‘all this technology stuff is gonna be way too technical for them”. In some scenes, female DJs are expected to dress a certain way — ie. ultra-glam, or even half-naked — and others have to develop a thick skin to endure a barrage of abuse that can await them online from idiot male ‘keyboard warriors’ commenting about them — or objectifying them — on YouTube or Twitter.
“The DJ Mag Top 100 mostly consists of people who produce, and sitting behind a computer programming music is not something that generally appeals to women,” suggested Dutch EDM DJ/producer Headhunterz. “Because maybe they spent too much time in Sephora [a make-up store] and too little time on producing?” suggested another Dutch DJ, Frontliner.
Others thought that “Women aren’t trying hard enough” or “Guys get way more into this stuff than girls”, although these type of answers were the minority, it has to be said. Still, systematic sexism from some of the biggest DJ acts on the planet is a far cry from some of the equal, utopian ideals — one nation under a groove, and so on — that the dance scene was founded on back in the day.
Female DJs — in my experience — can sometimes, if anything, be more into electronic music than their male counterparts. They are maybe more likely to have got into DJing because of the music, rather than as a perceived short-cut to seeking fame or ‘scoring chicks’. Their sets may be more intricately crafted, particularly in house and techno, rather than merely ‘boshed out’, which all too many jocks are prone to do. Some women DJs can do this expertly too when they want, however, as well.”
Sexism holds the music industry as a whole back. Disadvantaging 50% of the world’s population in pursuing a career means we’re only getting 50% of the talent. It’s important that this dialogue continue if it’s going to stop – it’s not just going to go away. Check Loben’s full interview here, keep talking about it, spread the word, support female DJs and musicians as a whole and make music what it should all be about, enjoying it all together.