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Musogyny: Is DJ Mag Spinning Hipster Sexism?

Everyone knows it is a man’s world out there (thanks James Brown) but there is none more so than the big bad world of music. From Miley’s twerking to Sinead’s open letter shaming, these last few months have seen an upward trajectory in the debate around gender issues within music.

Rest assured that we here at PlanetNotion will be keeping a keen eye on all things sexism and there may even be some naming and shaming along the way.

Hipster feminism is a surprisingly real thing. It exists outside of East London and is described as: “the objectification of women but in a manner that uses mockery, quotation marks, and paradox.” This natty label is sexism alongside a smile and a playful punch. It’s the jovial kind that teeters on the very edge of damaging and usually gets away with it as it satirises the very sexist values that it channels and is usually followed by the phrase ‘just kidding’.

These two little words are ones that leading dance music publication DJ Mag are probably choking on right now with the latest sexism guff to embroil the world of DJs.

They started by doing a valiant thing by publishing the article ‘Rant and Rave’ in their latest issue in which an anonymous DJ told of her experience of sexism within the big bad world of musogyny. It’s been a long-standing problem within dance music where women are notoriously under represented in a predominant boys club.

DJ Mag’s spot-on feminist piece was however accompanied by a heavily annotated illustration alluding to a female’s inability to perform on the decks, disclaimed with only with a, you guessed it, ‘*just kidding’ footnote.

The inclusion of such as image has caused a ruckus, just like the many female DJs across the country make in a swathe of leading nightclubs every week without the help of their boyfriends or a Hed Kandi CD.

Leading the complaints against DJ Mag was feminist electronic blog Her Beats, who vented about the image saying, “it’s obviously meant as an extremely exaggerated caricature of a misogynist’s point of view. But my question is – why? Why fuel the fire with this “satirical” illustration? The few cheap laughs that this pic will generate, I assure you, will not be at the expense of sexists – it will be at the expense of women.”

You can see Her Beats‘ point. On its own, DJ Mag’s feature is something credible but when editor Ben Murphy has allowed an image of a CDJ with instructions like “Mmmm you better get your boyfriend/husband to help you with these… you’ll only break it” or “Sync means matches, like your handbag and shoes” (badly) annotated on, there is little excuse in ill-formed humour as readers all over giggle at the joke whilst at the same time proclaiming to be self-aware of sexism. The hipster sexists.

What needs to be understood is that image and the joke, despite the satire and irony, still reinforces the stereotype; giving hard working DJs (who happen to be women) a reminder of the preconceptions they’ve had forced on them for years (as the article describes) and by “*only joking” their peers are free to think these demeaning comments are hysterical whilst actually representing a real problem.

DJ Mag must have realised they were treading a fine line or why include the disclaimer? If it wasn’t overstepping the mark, why try to mitigate the sentiment?

When Musogyny asked DJ Mag editor Ben Murphy about the image, he said: “The fact that accusations of sexism are now being leveled at our magazine, when our intention was to highlight and decry those very same sexist attitudes, is unfortunate… To those who found the image distasteful, it is the sexist attitudes it was intended to illustrate that we also find distasteful.”

Satire can be funny but it can also promote and exacerbate the nasty issues sulking behind it, something that Lily Allen found out the hard way when she used black backing dancers in her sexism spoof video for ‘Hard Out Here’ earlier this year.

As if women DJs don’t have enough to contend with in a male-dominated industry without being the butt of the joke, or is it the fact they are still a minority that makes DJ Mag even more guilty of hipster sexism?

As talented DJ Annie O-Some says: “Unfortunately chauvinism can be encountered in many areas of life – and naturally it is more prominent in male-dominated fields. How to react as a woman? Well – definitely setting boundaries is important.”

Amen to that. So DJ Mag, maybe it’s time to promote female DJs and their problems without the satire and actually give them some time away from the macho jokes. Let’s set some new boundaries that encourage women to mix freely – as after all that is the core principle of equality.

- Sarah Joy

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