* Don't just listen to what they have to say *
So here it comes, something I thought I would never have to write about, but what can you do...
To make it a little more comfy for me and for you, I’ll start with something brighter. Today is Record Store Day and for me it is like a holiday! I hope that some of you are enjoying the sound of vinyl cracking as much as I do. And I am really sorry that I don’t get to be with the WXMB 2 girls for their awesome event today, but as a comfort I am spending it with these talented ladies (see image below ˇˇ). And I hope that you’ll also treat yourself with some fine records today.
Now, let’s get serious. At the beginning of this blog post I want to say that my tribe consists of equally beautiful women and men. People I choose to be close to (in my closest circle) are the greatest people ever. But working in this business with a lot of different people everyday, often forces you to talk with some individuals who don’t share the same values and life goals as you. And that’s OK 'cause we are all different, BUT, what I wanted to say is that you can allow yourself the luxury of not listening to what they have to say. 'Cause you don’t need that, you don’t need to absorb their opinion or let it affect you in any kind of way. You just need to treat it like a song that you don’t really like when it pops on the radio. You can survive 'cause it will pass and it won’t affect you, but if it really bothers you, just change the station the second it becomes too much.
Today, I will share with you some advice that I received from my colleagues within the "DJ World"/music industry, in my 10-year music, DJ and radio career. What I wanted to refer to is the fact that most of the advice that really had me hitting my boiling point, all came from the same source - men. You can guess, this advice hadn’t help me AT ALL. In fact, if I could undo hearing it all, maybe I would still have some respect for the people that gave it, but it’s better to know sooner rather than later - which people you should(n't) keep beside you, right? ;)
In the beginning of my DJ career one of the first advice that I got from my older and experienced male colleagues was this: “When you are playing a DJ set, don’t dress too feminine as people won’t take you seriously, they will think you are selling your sexuality and not your skills. So it’s best if you just wear a baggy T-shirt or something similar…”. It’s like saying: “Hi, we are men and we are DJ’s, welcome to our world, if you want to join us and you want to be taken seriously, rule #1 is to suppress your femininity and hide that you are - in fact - a woman.” My answer to that was that I’ll play naked if I wanted to and that this was the biggest bullshit I had ever heard. It has been 10 years since, so maybe things are a little bit better now. But I remember seeing female DJs and producers back at that time, dressed like little boys, and I respect and salute if that was their personal choice of style, but I couldn’t help not to wonder, did anyone tell you this crap that they told me, and you actually believed and listened to them?!
(I just love the young activist Saffiyah Khan on this one. This is sort of a response to the old Prince Buster’s ska track ”Ten Commandments of Man” from 1964, which features lyrics that promote outdated sexist attitudes)
One of the classic statements I heard them talking was also this one: “She is only entering the industry because she wants to find a boyfriend, she is not interested in music!” Ten years in almost all aspects of the music arts and business, that I make my living from and you are right, I’m just pretending and looking for my DJ charming. Bring it on!
Some of my all time favourites are: “When it comes to work, you can get it easily done with men, and men will always be on your side and ready to hear you and help you 'cause you are a woman, we are weak when it comes to women... But women, women will do everything to cross you over, you cannot trust another woman when it comes to work, she is your competition”. OMG, really? Does this still go around like a broken record and men think that we don’t see their cheap tactics of turning women against each other to make them weaker and divided when it comes to business so they can run the game? We can see right through you guys, so you can really sit this one out. And I am really sad for the women who still believe this.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many beautiful and good women, but there are also some that tend to be meanish and the same goes for men. But this is a minority. And everything that I am writing about here refers to the ‘naughty’ ones this time.
Let’s continue with the “Best of male advice for females in the DJ World - guide for dummies”.
This one I hear often and it goes like this: “You should watch out who you are sleeping with and you shouldn’t sleep around, it will really get you a bad reputation and affect your career. I mean, you are a DJ and you know that people are already assuming that you sleep around much (😲😲😲 🙄🙄🙄 ❓❓❓) since you party (you mean work?) all the time and they probably think you are abusing drugs too, so it’s better not to make it worse by giving them something to talk about.” Does it even make sense for me to comment on this one... Like, thanks for having my back bro and daring to stick your nose into my most private matter although no one asked you, but I think that people need to get to know me first before they conclude anything. I don’t give a damn about some old fashioned stereotypes related to the DJ industry. First of all, I don’t care what people are assuming or gossiping, second, my private life, my choice, third, my body, my choice, forth, my reputation, my choice, fifth, you cannot put my job in correlation with my intimate and personal life in that sort of way if you have any 'intelligence' in your brain...
This happened a few times,too: I came to a gig accompanied by a male friend and the club manager, who booked me btw, didn’t speak to me directly, instead he spoke to my male friend - for example, to turn the volume up or something like that… Yes, that is something that is still possible in 2019. And in situations like this I tell my friend I didn’t hear him and if the manager needs something from me, he can come and tell me himself. That is the least embarrassing lesson I can give him. Sometimes, I just stop the gig and walk out.
And on the private side, don’t even get me started with my Facebook inbox which is filled with great communication masters and literate pieces worth the Nobel price, when someone of the opposite sex sends me a PM and decides the best and most respectful start of a convo with someone they don’t even know (or don’t have on their friend list) is to refer to them as: doll, kitty cat, babe, sugar, mumma - MASSIVE thanks to whoever invented the BLOCK THIS PERSON option.
These are just a few examples that I can think of right now, but there are many more. As you know from your everyday life, as women we are often confronted with lots of stupidity and disrespect coming from the ‘stronger’ sex and they find it normal because society taught them this is all OK. Well, we are here to tell them it is not. And I am here today to tell you that I really hope you don’t listen to them when they are filling your head with this type of bullshit. I mean, maybe it is the situation where you have to be polite and listen, but just don’t ever let it get to you or affect your opinion of yourself or your self-worth. I never let it get to me, because I know who I am and I know who the people surrounding me are. And I wish you the same.
If you are like me, a female in the music business or DJ industry you know that it happens a lot, and that you really sometimes have to be cool and collected to avoid awkward situations, especially if you are somewhere travelling alone for a gig etc… All the other times, you can be sure we will raise our voices and speak for ourselves, and we won’t listen or care about the toxic things they are trying to shove on us!
From this love letter I am excluding all of the wonderful men who are supportive, helpful and are willing to fight our gender equality battle by standing with us. And I know a lot of them and salute them as well as all my girls all around the World with this message; Keep your ears and mind closed for all of the unnecessary sh*t! :)
On the other side, there is at least one good thing you can always rely on and that I recommend in all situations - music! So, I am putting the needle on the record now, listening to some awesome music that I just bought and added to my vinyl collection. Wishing you a great weekend and leaving you with this little DJ session of mine!