The issue of women in dance music shouldn’t really even be an issue, but it is. An expertly crafted editorial piece from Walmer Convenience outlines just how hypocritical, backwards and circlejerk-y the argument for making any kind of exclusive content surrounding women in dance music. If you do, you’re tokenizing women. If you don’t, you’re being exclusionary. The fact is that women should just be treated like any other group in dance music, and often times, the male-dominated media finds that difficult to do.
So when DJ Mag revealed the cover for their 25th Anniversary edition, featuring 25 pioneers of electronic music, people immediately saw something missing.
Here it is! Our bumper 25th anniversary issue celebrating the pioneers of dance music is out tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/IvrQHO7nUs
— DJ Mag (@DJmag) April 27, 2016
Not a single woman is listed as a pioneer of dance music, when in fact, there have been many.
.@DJmag also Donna Summer, Dajae, Missy Elliot, Ellen Allien, Kemistry & Storm, Judy Weinstein, Miss Djax, Cassy, Miss Kittin not tokens
— The Black Madonna (@blackmadonnachi) April 27, 2016
The Black Madonna in particular has taken umbrage at the cover, nothing the lack of influential females.
In defense of its decision of the artists that were selected for the cover, DJ Mag issued the following editorial statement to The Fader:
“To celebrate 25 Years of DJ Mag we chose the 25 most pioneering dance figures of the past 25 years and ran editorial on each referencing what exactly it was they pioneered. Like all subjective lists, it caused much debate in the office. The main issue we came across was the inclusion (or lack of inclusion) of any women (something mentioned in the editor’s letter). Eventually, after a painstaking process, we concluded that of the 25 we have chosen none can be refuted and made a conscious decision to avoid tokenism.
We’re wholly aware that — sadly — the dance music industry is — even today — male-dominated and we’ve continually sought to address this balance in the pages of our magazine and via our online channels. In February, we ran a Women In Dance Music special to spur debate around the issue. We never have and will not shy away from supporting female DJs in our pages. Dance music as a scene, after all, is built on equality and there is a wealth of talent in the industry from all genders and races from all walks of society. As a publication we encourage debate around the issue and will continue to act as a forum for it.”
Adam Saville, deputy editor of DJ Mag, also came to the cover’s defense on Twitter – at least, he attempted to.
— Adam Saville (@AdSavilleDJmag) April 27, 2016
Your EDM is not immune to this either – we’ve received our own fair share of backlash over our 30 Under 30 last year. This issue is one that continues to be an issue, and it’s bumming everyone out. Sexism in music is a pervasive and difficult issue to tackle, and it’s very often not intentional, but it’s up to everyone to make an effort. It seems that DJ Mag didn’t.
The full Twitter conversation between Adam and The Black Madonna is definitely worth a read, as well. DJ Mag has featured women in its issues before, as well as on the cover. But as The Black Madonna reasserts, her argument revolves around this cover, not any of the ones before it. Her argument is that this cover assumes that there were no female pioneers of dance music, which is clearly false.
Whatever side of the argument you end up on, it’s important to at least consider the argument of the other side.