It’s 3 in the afternoon and I’ve just been tagged in the comments section in a video of a topless female DJ. The notifications are blowing up in my feed as I go to click the link. When I view the video I see that the woman is dancing around sexy, dry humping the turntables, maybe the gear is turned on… maybe not. The caption, “This is why female DJs struggle.” As I sit there reading the comments (which are either putting down this woman or talking about what sexual things they’d like to do to her) I can feel myself getting worked up.
I start thinking about every hurtful comment, anonymous email and belittling face to face conversations I’ve had. I think about the threats, harassment and straight up misogyny I’ve had to experience in my 10 + years in the industry. I then think to myself, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Seriously. Of all the struggles I’ve dealt with in my years as a DJ, a woman rocking out to a her DJ set topless or not has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the struggles we as women deal with in this world. And the fact that these guys think SHE or women like her are the reason people have a hard time respecting women, says so much to me about how they already view women in the first place.
Whether hostile or benevolent it comes right back down to the discrimination of women in this industry and boy oh boy, has it had a HUGE impact on us to this day. Quite literally my “biggest struggle” has been dealing with misogynistic men. Some men only wanted to book me because I was a “girl.” Other men refused to book me because I was a woman. Men that straight up went out of their way to try and ruin my reputation with rumors of things that had never unfolded, simply because I chose to stay professional. Or because I stood up for myself and fought for my rights. This story is familiar to many women. A business owner that showed up on time, prepared and got business done right. Regardless of her efforts would have to deal with some sort of unprofessional treatment or comment in regards to her gender or clothing.
When I was going through the thick of it, I started reaching out to other women. I knew I wouldn’t be alone in my experience but I did not truly understand to what extent this was happening. Women spoke of how discrimination not only affect their careers but their safety. Some admitted the denial they’d been in for years about what was going on and how they were conditioned to think this was their fault. It seemed there was a lot of brainwashing going on. In one breath they were told that they in fact were being treated as equals, followed by instructions on how to dress and promote themselves in order to be taken seriously. There were other women that were straight up told NOT to acknowledge the issues going on… because it would look, “unprofessional” on their end and they wouldn’t want to seem, “overly sensitive.” Sound familiar?
Sure enough the ones that spoke out had there asses handed to them… repeatedly. They were literally being made examples of for calling out the sexist behavior happening to them, sometimes daily. We are STILL seeing this TODAY! Slowly as time went on more and more women started to speak out about their experience. Some in private, some more publicly. Some even chose to start or become apart of various women’s only groups of artists; in support of one another’s experience. Many sadly told, “Well, maybe you are bringing this drama into your life.” and even that they were segregating themselves by making these all female rosters. Heck even women they trusted often dismissed their experience stating, “I’ve never had this happen to me… are you sure it’s not just YOU?” But like I mentioned many are in denial. As we would HOPE our sisters wouldn’t have to experience these things, there seemed to be a negative attitude by some women towards their own sisters for calling out this behavior.
Some men that thought they had good intentions, were making benevolent sexist remarks. Ranging from, “You’re pretty good for a girl…” to “It must be sooooo easy getting gigs as a woman.” It made me wonder about what experience the men had. Did they tell one another, “You’re waaaaaaaaaay better than this dude.” And, “I like how you just wear T-Shirts and pants instead of dressing up in a tuxedo for attention like that other dude.” Likely, no! Maybe some comments about how they think it’s wicked that they use vinyl or still use their ear to beat match, but not comments about their gender or appearance. (Not typically at least.)
To this day I don’t look at women and think, “You are the reason some men don’t respect me.” I’ve seen plenty of topless male DJs, drunk and disorderly at festivals without a scene afterwards. Nobody shaming them the next day on facebook or comments about how he’d been messing around with a couple of different women at the party. No judgement about how he was inappropriately hitting on the talent, either. It’s clear discrimination is live and well in our industry. The standards we put on these women often do not apply for the men. Clearly the issue is not what she wears or does, but how we view her differently because she is female. It puts a microscope on how she promotes her brand as she pleases yet makes no comment on sexual advertising using a woman to promote someone else’s brand.
If a person feels so out of control that they are unable to handle themselves around a woman they find attractive, who’s the real threat? The woman in question or the person that can’t help themselves? Who’s responsibility for their actions. The person that did and said those things, or the person that wore something that made them think that behavior was okay in the first place. When do we stop blaming others for our actions and start taking responsibility for ourselves? The threat women deal with is not other women. It’s how some people view women in general and what actions follow that idea.
To those that can see this is a BIGGER more deep-seated issue, I ask you to educate your friends. We can create awareness as women and share our stories but in order for this change to happen we need progress on everyone’s end. We need this conversation to become one that not only women speaking of their experience have, but the caring and supportive men around them share.
If you’d like to get in the conversation join us tonight Sept.12 on Disc Jockey News TV at 8:00 pm CST to our live episode. Myself and two other women in the industry speak about our personal experience.