THE BLOG

Dance Music Is Still A Boys' Club

04/09/2017 12:26 BST | Updated 04/09/2017 12:26 BST
Daisuke Kondo via Getty Images

We all know that sexism exists and that it neither starts nor ends in the world of dance music. Yet in a scene supposedly based upon values of equality and inclusivity, it seems odd that the world of dance music and DJing should still be such a boys' club.

Granted, in recent years progress has been made and our eyes have been opened to some incredible female talent. From the likes of the Black Madonna to Shanti Celeste and Helena Hauff, several girls, armed with their USBs and bags full of determination, have managed to over come dance music's glass ceiling and show misogynistic ears exactly what they've been missing. Yet this ceiling remains slightly cracked at best and very far from shattered into pieces on a floor.

The comments on the videos of underground music broadcasting platform, Boiler Room, are littered with objectifying language and sexist dialogue. Men largely choose to scrutinise a female performer not based up on on the records she chooses to play or on her ability to mix these, but instead on the totally unrelated and irrelevant matter of her physical appearance. Since when did dance music have to be about anyone's 32DDs? And how in 2017 are we still reducing the value of such talented women to just their looks alone?

Yet if the picture was looking bleak for women already on the scene, it is an even more depressing reality for those girls yet to make a name for themselves. Resident Advisor's 2016 poll of the Top 100 DJs held just 8 female names. Similarly, DJ Mag's poll from the year previous resulted in an even lower number of just 3. To make matters worse, (this article will chirp up in a minute, I promise) the male DJ's of this poll were then asked why they felt so few women had managed to get their names on the list, and instead of seeing an opportunity to talk about sexism in the industry, they saw a chance to deepen the divide. Their replies ranged from the idea that women were 'more interested in makeup' or that women weren't as 'technically gifted' as men. The general consensus that most women were simply uninterested in dance music reflected not only a blissful ignorance to the barriers that hold women back, but also a depressingly untrue view. Dance music isn't picking from an uneven candidate field and there is plenty of female talent, passion and interest that just isn't given the same attention as their equally talented male counterparts.

Yet as the end of the year draws nearer and the above organisations open up their 2017 polls, there is hope that the increase in dialogue on this issue just might have resulted in some advances for girls. And when I say advances for girls, I guess I actually mean advances for us all. For it is all of us who benefit from the further exposure of talented DJs and their fresh record collections, regardless of their gender.