You’re probably wondering how understanding this topic has anything to do with branding and djing? But at some point in your career / life you are going to witness racism, homophobia and sexism. How you respond has a HUGE influence on the way people view you as a brand and a person. Whether you are supporting or staying silent on the subject, completely loosing it or sharing information that you have learned. At the end of the day your response will have an impact. Could you say you were contributing something meaningful, continuing the hateful message or simply lacking enough information to share an opinion?
As a part of a community we do (whether we like it or not) have a responsibly to act the part in creating the scene we’d like to see thrive. Having opinions on these controversial subjects is an important one and if you are a woman, it’s the topic you’re always asked about; The differences and potential ‘advantages’ as a female identifying artist. I broke down the 3 subjects that I feel have played a huge part in the way we view women in the industry and how understanding that can ultimately help our community as a whole. Let’s start with the real costs of an “advantage.”
How Women Are Depicted in Media.
It’s always played a significant role, often creating a message that can manipulate people’s attitudes and opinions on “gender roles.” In advertising & T.V we often see men in roles as financial providers, assertive, independent and very career-focused. Women are often shown as loving wives and mothers, responsible for raising children and doing housework. In many cases we see woman used as an object to sell a product to both men and women.
In a previous article by Philip Sherburne about the EDM scene having an issue with women, he pointed out various objectifying advertising we consistently see within the community. Male artists objectifying women in their music videos, album art and even event flyers. What people seem to forget is that this has been more widely accepted and normalize for men than the women themselves. It seems there is far less criticisms towards the men doing this vs. acts that are using provocative and even classy photos of themselves. DJ Rhiannon comes to mind when I think of Women that have taken control of their brand and on their on accord yet are harshly judged for doing the things many advertising companies and our male peers are already doing.
The Minority “Advantage”
It’s clear for me, that women have always been under represented in electronic dance music. When a company enhances minority representation it quickly becomes controversial. The question is “If that employee is deserving of their position over another” or if it’s based on their race or gender. And even if/when someone is 100% capable and deserving of the role they were hired to fulfill, the thought or idea that, that person may not be qualified can create uncertainly and lack confidence within the company. In the dj world instead of being “one more artist” on the roster, the idea might be that they were booked for “diversity” aka gender instead of their skills. It’s clearly not always the case and not the opinion of all, but it is an opinion you really only hear about on this particular minority in dance music. It’s sometimes scary, angry or demeaning on an event page, facebook rant or youtube comment.
Personally, I recall a few bookings where “professional” promoters couldn’t help to point out that their sold out show just happened to be “the person with boobs” and “go figure.” One of those comments were made in front of my husband whom was shocked to hear that this was something I’d heard quite often. This openly belittling and question of talent behind the ‘female demeanor’ even though they were the very people booking the talent. In his mind (my husband) it came off sounding like a subconscious anger towards women.
Good Old Fashion Stereotypes
The opinions among members of particular groups of people about other groups has played quite the role in gender stereotypes. One example would be if a man was to choose multiple partners he might be considered a stud, while a woman with multiple partners are more likely to be considered a slut. I recall a post on a popular EDM based Facebook Group, where a woman posted a picture of herself hanging out with the headliner. Multiple people made comments about how she must have slept with the guy. When a man posted a photo of himself with a different headliner the general comments were, “that’s so cool.” The idea over and over again, was that these women wouldn’t have been given the opportunity if they weren’t good looking and potentially giving up sex. And when the male fan posted a photo with a female artist, many questions of “did you hit that?” or “She must have slept with someone to get the gig.”
If media tells us, woman are objects for our pleasure, that we have a “place” and these stereotypes have been embedded into many of our friends and family beliefs for years, are we really all that surprised when we hear about the supposed “advantage?” And is it really an advantage? Are we surprised when women use that power in the same ways media already is? Are we surprised that some women don’t want to go that route because it’s frustrating to think they might have to, to get ahead? Or the fact that some women simply don’t grow up in a world where sex and body image is shamed, therefor they feel 100% confident in themselves and their actions?
Dani Deahl chatted about this in her Ted Talks.
My challenge to YOU if you choose to accept it, is to educate yourself.
Imagine how frustrating it might be to a person that is consonantly trying to prove themselves THAT MUCH MORE because of continued stereotypes on their minority alongside media influence? This is not just a female issue. No! I acknowledge that. Anyone in a minority group is going to experience stereotypes that effect the way people treat them. Does that make our experience less valid? No!
For me this particular situation is something I can speak about because my sisters and I have witnessed it first hand. And we don’t want to play victims. But we know in order for change, we have to talk about it. And we get it. When not directly and repeatedly faced with those situations, for some people it’s not easy to relate let alone understand what someone else might be going through. We want to create a conversation, that empathizes with others but also creates solutions. Teaching people to be kind to all people, understand we are all going through our own stuff and that things aren’t always as they seem.
Have you misunderstood your female peer’s experience? Maybe you are a women that was judging other women. How has your experience effected the way you view other people’s experiences? Keep the conversation going on facebook!