From the Outside: Is EDM a Boys’ Club?
You may not know this about me yet, but I’m a pretty militant feminist. When it comes to questions of women’s rights, the patriarchy damages everyone, and inequality is everywhere—work, home, films, and yes, even music. It’s hard to deny that in some ways, EDM is just as problematic as popular music. That said, I think there’s a real effort being made to even the scales in the EDM world, and that’s something I’d like to write about this week.
First, though, we have to address the problem. Where’s the discrepancy? Think of all the big-name male artists making electronic music out there, and then think about their female counterparts. Not just the artists you like, but the most successful and well-known ones in electronic genres. See? It’s a man’s world out there. Sure, there are a few girls too, but most of them are part of a group, not female solo acts. (Paris Hilton doesn’t count.) Lots of people don’t even know that there are two girls in Krewella.
Next, look around yourself at shows and festivals. Women are represented differently from men—as sexualized objects, duh. Scantily-clad female go-go dancers are a common onstage sight. Female promoters or ads featuring sexy EDM babes are just as common. It’s not a problem that’s limited to electronic music—other genres pull the same shit, from metal to country—but as long as it’s happening here, it’s electronic music’s problem too.
Don’t get me wrong—I love scantily-clad go-go dancers, and if somebody wants to make a paycheck by showing off their body, more power to them. But when it’s almost always a man on stage making music and a girl dancing in the background, rather than the other way around, there’s a very real inequality there. Search Google for “EDM women” and the first result is “The 15 Most Important Women in EDM”, which is awesome. But the very next result is “The 10 Sexiest Women in EDM”. Search for “EDM men” and the results are almost all for EDM-related men’s clothing—not a “Sexiest Men in EDM” list in sight.
There are a lot of factors at play here. EDM is electronic, of course, and many girls are steered away from anything to do with science or electronics at an early age due to inequalities in society and our school system. Women are almost always objectified over men, and in a scene that’s very visual, as electronic shows often are, people capitalize on that in order to make money. Sex—with women in particular—sells. There’s also the glass ceiling that arches over every aspect of life: women are not taken as seriously, they make less money, and they are given fewer opportunities than men in nearly every field I can think of, electronic music included. However, I see the EDM world as a place that could work towards breaking these patterns.
There’s a very progressive atmosphere in much of the electronic music scene, so feminism seems like a logical cause to adopt. No doubt many EDM fans are feminists already. With all the press happening right now about one of the world’s most popular kinds of music, people have started talking about the lack of respect for women on the scene. But it’s time to bring that conversation to the forefront, and to take action.
No progress can be made without action, and electronic music, massive and corporate as it can seem sometimes, is a very hands-on, grassroots endeavor on some level. If the feminist conversation is taken to the logical next step, it means something needs to be done. Put on a festival that features all female acts. Hire male go-go dancers along with the girls. Write a list of the “10 Sexiest Men in EDM” and the “10 Most Talented Women in EDM”. Teach interested younger girls how to DJ. If you live for this music, you can find ways to work for feminism in the genre every day. It’s not going to happen by itself, but a little collective action goes a long way. What are you doing for feminism in EDM today? Let’s get creative and start making a real difference.
Image Source: Photo by Lily Parish: Glitter Girls/Lightning in a Bottle 2014