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Sexism In EDM: The Discussion We Need To Have

Last week, we had a personal look at just how real sexism in the dance music industry is. The struggle of DJ Tatiana Alvarez is just one example of countless others that women within the realm of EDM go through while attempting to achieve their career goals. Alvarez’s personal account, which gives us a direct, real-life example of sexism, is backed by data that goes against everything our culture is about and it’s time we did something about it.

These facts are presented perfectly by Chicago-based electro artist Dani Deahl, who addressed ‘Women, STEM, and EDM’ in a recent TEDx talk. Facts like: 91 percent of dance music is produced by men, the most recent DJ Mag Top 100 list included two female acts (NERVO & Krewella), and that women make up 5-10 percent of the artists who have performed at the legendary Ultra Music Festival over the last decade.

Even at festivals here in the Northwest, there has historically been a huge discrepancy in male and female artists. For example, a look at the Lucky lineups spanning 2012-2015 (not including local support) reveals that the ratio of male to female artists performing is a startling 108:2. Despite the massive EDM boom in recent years, it’s obvious that one group of people is being left out.

Female artists.

There are many angles and aspects to sexism in EDM, another fact not lost on Deahl throughout her TEDx talk. These issues go deeper than a male-driven industry hellbent on keeping women out. Deahl points to the environmental and societal differences for boys and girls growing up, a lack of women in the industry, and an inherent bias within EDM as factors that came up more often than others in her research. Compiling statistics and facts regarding female artists is great, but looking for the causes and understanding why, as Deahl explains, is just as important.

We know the facts and stats, and we have them in front of us. We have faces and lives to connect with, and first-hand accounts from well-respected female artists. Knowing all of this is for naught, without trying to affect positive change for female artists in EDM. The ‘Oh, that sucks. Hopefully it changes sometime.’ attitude isn’t good enough anymore, and for a culture that we all know is capable of immeasurable love and respect, it’s time we did something about the bias against female artists.

“If we as women in our own field don’t believe that women are on equal footing, where are we? If we believe that somehow we’re separate, we’re different, we’re segregated because of what we’re interested in and our abilities, then we’re turning the gun on ourselves and fulfilling a prophecy of being marginalized and separated and overlooked.” –Dani Deahl

But, we aren’t the one booking DJs! We aren’t the one signing artists to labels! We just listen to the music and go to the shows, man! While this may be true, people thinking we can’t help spearhead a cause as worthy as equality for dance music producers and DJs, as those consuming the music and attending the shows, are looking for the easy way out.

Deahl offers up several ideas and steps toward solutions, such as helping female artists be strong enough to not conform to gender stereotypes, and getting more women getting involved in dance music. Women need to know that’s its okay to act differently than they’re used to, and they need to unlearn, in order to learn again, according to Deahl.

“I want to challenge young women who are interested in producing music and DJing to recognize that when they’re hear that inner voice that tells them they’re not good enough, to do it anyway. When they want to ask a question, even if they feel uncomfortable, to do it. Especially if they feel uncomfortable.”

We want to know what you, the people in charge of the direction of this multi-billion dollar machine, think we should do about it. A discussion needs to be had, and consequent action taken, to change what is a stark contrast to the values our culture holds in such high regard. We have the information and we have the ability to create change. Now what?

Let us know what you think about sexism in EDM, and where we go from here. Check our forums below to talk about what we should do, what we can do, and the future for female artists in EDM.

Join The Discussion In Our Forums

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Born and raised in the Northwest, professionalized in Pullman. Enjoying the ride that dance music provides in our lovely corner of the country.

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Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!

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Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!