As a self-respecting female with professional aspirations and a desire to be taken seriously as an individual, it’s become increasingly difficult to identify with American electronic dance music culture without feeling kind of irresponsible.
Six or seven years ago, the playing field was pretty even. We went out to parties, we dressed as if David Bowie and Karen O had had a baby, we got drunk on whiskey, we danced, and we were never embarrassed by our surroundings.
But things have changed. What started out as fun, rowdy party tricks has been fully incorporated into the scene as sexist expectations. That which was once ironic parody has become a parody of itself. We no longer look around the dance floor and see a utopia of acceptance.
Yes, this party is sexist. Here’s why.
Bodies as Billboards
Sticker wars are one of the most enjoyable parts of the EDM game. It’s exciting to be out in the world and find a sticker of a DJ-producer you enjoy, or a blog you read regularly, or even the sticker of a personal friend stuck onto a garbage can or a light pole or the side of a bar. It’s like walking into an inside joke. But somewhere along the way, someone had a million dollar idea and put a sticker on a woman’s bare ass. Suddenly, stickers as pasties became the latest thing every DJ needed on their FB profile. Now it’s sadly more an expectation than a shocking sign of good times. We shouldn’t have to remind every asshole we meet with a sticker not to put it on our tits without asking, but we do.
Face Down, Ass Up
Listen, Diplo. I’m glad you helped introduce the world to NOLA bounce, twerking, daggering and the like. You and Eric Wareheim definitely killed it with that “Pon De Floor” video. But now that Miley has completely murdered the neo-swing art form and turned it into modern, misunderstood exploitative garbage, we need to make it stop. News flash: Strippers aren’t role models. The idea that a woman has nothing but her sexuality to rely on as a money maker is disgusting, outdated, and depressing. When executed properly, twerking and daggering are impressive, but when you’re submitting pictures of yourself half-naked upside down on things just because everyone else is doing it, you’re officially an attention-depraved moron.
Culture of Nudity
Speaking of being half-naked, why are we doing that? There are a few possible reasons. One might be you’ve worked really, really hard to get the perfectly taut body that you’ve always wanted, you’re proud of it, and you want to show it off. Another might be that you’re on a lot of designer drugs and the wind just feels really awesome on your skin. But we fear there is an underlying cause with more menacing implications–peer pressure. If everyone at Ultra Music Festival or Electric Zoo wears a tutu and DJ stickers on their bare bodies, would you do it too? Are you rocking a uniform because you want to have “the full experience” rather than expressing yourself in a unique and interesting way? What happened to modesty, humility, and leaving something to the imagination? These are just questions to keep in mind.
Sometimes we try to explain this to people, and it seems to make them upset. But here’s the unfortunate reality: When a man at a party sees you wearing nothing, his first thought is “that bitch is easy.” Actually, our first thought as a woman is also “Grrrrrrl, you’re better than that.” Regardless of your intentions, this is the world we live in. It saddens us to speak to women at music festivals and hear they’re constantly being grabbed and harassed by men because of the way they’re dressed. It’s like, dear broseph, just because you like what you see doesn’t mean you’re allowed to touch. And if you see me dancing and having a good time, that doesn’t mean I’m inviting you to, you know. Creative women of EDM, we’d like to encourage you to express yourselves in new ways that don’t cater to the male gaze. Let’s get crafty and explore our options.
Where Mah Girls At?
It’s nearly 2014, and yet the DJ Mag Top 100 includes only five women–Nervo (two models turned DJs), Krewella (two sister singer-DJs with a male buddy), and someone named Tenashar. This is not a sign that the scene is inherently sexist. This is a sign that you, the listener, are kind of a douche. The DJ Mag Top 100 is voted on by fans. You blew it. If there aren’t more female DJs on your radar, it’s not because they aren’t out there, but maybe it’s because they are taken less seriously and are forced to sell sex just to get any attention. You could dig deeper, youth of America (and the world). Meanwhile, the professionals aren’t immune to messing this up either. The blog Do Androids Dance did a list of the 20 most influential people in EDM and forgot to put a single female on there. They tried to cover their tracks with a whole list dedicated to women. But sorry, we’re not amused.
Party With Sluts
We’ve all seen this guy. He’s some fratty beef cake with an obnoxious drug habit and zero originality, and he’s got a really offensive shirt on. It says “Party with Sluts” or something about drugs and vaginas, it’s brighter than the sun, and it glows in the dark. But here’s the thing: Um, he’s talking about you. Yes, girl who is so sure she’s not a dehumanized sexual caricature, but still shows up naked to shake her ass upside down and put stickers on her bits because “it’s the culture.” Much like a Dali painting, if we step back far enough and look at the whole picture, it takes on a totally different meaning.
Shut Up About Slut Shaming Already
All the time people tell us “it’s totally not cool to slut shame.” But you know what’s even less cool? The fact that women have been brainwashed to think empowerment is being Britney Spears circa 2007. Feminism is about being able to be yourself. If your true self is being half-naked, drunk, and proud of it, by all means, do you, boo. But our true self is trying to be a respected professional, and sadly, it’s an uphill battle. It doesn’t help when everyone around you plays into sexist stereotypes, or is afraid to say, “Hey, this is awkward. I’m uncomfortable with the way you perceive me.” Sometimes we do speak up, and are quickly dismissed with either “Sorry, it’s just the way it is,” or “You’re slut shaming” or “You’re just being overly-sensitive,” and that’s also a problem.
Of course, not every guy at a rave is a sexist asshole, but the big picture is looking bleak. Until we live in a world where men respect us as equals, we have a responsibility to remind them. We have a responsibility to respect ourselves.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.