“You’re pretty good for a girl!”
“Are you warming up for your boyfriend?”
“Let me show you how that works….”
Any female DJ will have had some comment aimed at them that makes them stop and think….excuse me? During mixed gender b2bs the men will hog the decks, even at house parties the boys will unplug your phone from the aux cable and swap in theirs, proclaiming “girls just don’t really know good music!”, as they play a song produced by Hannah Wants.
We all know the issues surrounded sexism in club culture and female DJS: harassment in clubs, sexist comments on Boiler Room, a lack of representation in the media such as DJ Mag, and the list goes on. Although talk on the subject matter does mean progression, and workshops such as this one and all-female collectives are definitely encouraging women to get involved there’s still a crazy amount of bias with regards to club and festival bookings.
I, for one, have not been lucky enough to live somewhere with any encouraging female collectives circulating, and have therefore ran in the male DJ circles, always being paid less, picked when no man was available, and generally placed in less serious nights and earlier positions. Although I love the art enough to not let this discourage I’m sure this is plenty to force some other women give up. Patronising comments and unwanted advice are the sounds of my DJ career, my personal favourite being “all you need to do is use your ears….”. I don’t even think they know they’re doing what they’re doing, it’s ingrained in their frail male egos to put me down so they feel better (of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, some have given me genuinely good advice and oppurtunities, it’s just a minority case).
So let me ask you a question male DJs, why do you think you’re better? Have you done a scientific study and deduced your ears actually ARE biologically better than mine? Do you have some 5th sense that means you naturally mix in a superior way? Or is it just because you’re big and strong and can handle the technology better? Because I’m pretty sure if we were all blindfolded you would not be able to tell a male and female DJ apart.
There’s the other side of things, a difficult argument with regards to female DJs dressing in a ‘sexual’ way (e.g Nina Kraviz in the bathtub) and stereotyping themselves as simply eye-candy rather than a good DJ. But this is FALSE, the stereotype doesn’t need to exist unless you let it, being attractive and a good DJ is not an oxymoron surprisingly enough! Girls can do what they want, just like you can. If you can take your top of during a set (please don’t) then so can we.
So next time one of your female friends asks if she can try out your decks, don’t laugh or patronise her, give her a demo and you’ll quickly see that we’re just as interested and talented as men, if we were just given the right level of encouragement.
By Laura Hely Hutchinson