Ooh! I’m a woman in dubstep apparently!

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“i’m jus doing the dishes luv”

???

I firmly believe that if an individual makes an issue of an aspect of their identity which really shouldn’t be an issue, then it will become one, a point which I attempted to make clear to Time Out’s music writer, Kate Hutchinson, who penned this very interesting article on the subject of ‘Women in Dubstep.’ This belief, coupled with the ‘dubstep’ tag which 5 years later, I’m still at odds with (not cos of it’s etymology but cos in general, I still hate labelling), made it fairly difficult for me to comment on the subject. Whilst being female (whatever that means outside of lady bumps and the ability to give birth) has never been a problem for me where music is concerned, the mere fact that Time Out chose to focus on it, indicates that it’s still a contentious issue.

Whilst there are a number of females involved behind the scenes or on the mic- Sarah Souljah, Letty, Melissa, Hera, Hanna, Emma W, Warrior Queen, Arorah, Farrah to name but a few, there are still very few girl DJs and fewer girl producers. Unlike Kate though, I’m not perplexed by this fact and agree that it is largely due to the young age of Dubstep. Additionally, I suspect that us girls aren’t conditioned to fiddle with machines as quite as boys are, meaning that it’s not that we don’t know how to use machines but that we’re less likely to be encouraged to do so from an early age. Furthermore, the lack of women making electronic music in general doesn’t exactly make for a sociable activity for the few that do- if you’re the kind of girl that likes to make beats and also likes to hang out with other girls, chances are, you’re in for a bit of a lonely existence.

Another factor that I believe plays a part is that most women are seemingly more interested in making and communicating the bigger picture, bringing people and ideas together (exemplified by Mary Anne), then the narrow one, such as the single tune or bass sound.

Clearly, there are exceptions to my proposed norms and hopefully oneday, the exception will be the norm. Where dubstep is concerned at least, the few women that are involved in any way are accepted just as much as the guys and on the whole, dubstep is a scene in which equality is never a factor, rendering the question, ‘is it just a boys club?’ futile.

As for the question of whether girls make a different style of music to men, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d be able to guess immediately on hearing a Subeena, Dot or Ikonika the sex of the producer. Similarly, people have often commented that Burial’s tunes sound feminine, which always makes me giggle cos at the end of the day what exactly is it that defines the gender of a tune? If feminine tunes are those with female vocals or a soulful flava, then Mala, Geiom, D1 and Anti-Social are a bunch of lasses alongside approx 50percent of electronic music producers . Equally, if masculine tunes are signified by heavy bass, darkness, square/jagged sounds, male MC’s and loudness, then gimme me a razor and call me George (errrrm) cos I love ’em.

Like I said to Kate, if you think it’s a boys club now, you wanna see what it was like in the early days, when the the demographic of FWD>> (despite being run by a woman) consisted largely of:

young blokes standing around looking moody and nodding their heads

and:

young blokes prancing around waving their hands about.

If you’re new to the dancefloor these days, you’ll find just as many women standing around looking moody and nodding their heads or prancing around waving their hands around. If you’re new to decks or music software, don’t watch whether you’re male, female, hermaphrodite, black, white, yellow, tiny or giant, just focus on the music and the rest will come good innit. And if you’re a woman looking for a fight with blokes, go and get a job in the square mile or something, cos you aint gonna find one in most underground music scenes.

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8 responses to “Ooh! I’m a woman in dubstep apparently!

  1. Yo GI totally respect your views, and it has long been a source of anxiety to women especially since second wave feminism that they should avoid being pigeonholed as ‘a woman poet’ ‘a woman novelist’ a ‘woman painter’ etc. etc..It’s also interesting how many issues come out of the woodwork when people try to promote women uniquely. I have encountered it myself. BUt I think you’re being a bit unfair to Kate! I don’t think she was ‘perplexed’ by anything, and her article was really positive.And I don’t think being aware of and thinking about your gender/sex and how it affects your life is the same thing as looking for a fight either. (If anything that seems to me more something men might say when they feel uncomfortable about an issue a woman was bringing up!)I think Kate was just trying to promote something she sees as positive. Also, if you consider how very much homosociality (= ‘boys club’) has an impact on the way people behave towards each other… I definitely think, and from my conversations with a lot of the girls around, you can get rated for a different set of things than guys do, and that in turn can reflect on your self esteem. I’m not saying it’s a barrier or a devastating obstacle or nuffink (lol) but it does mean you have to be that little bit tougher. It’s like you say yourself, if you want to do something in a predominantly male field, you’re in for a lonely time a lot of the time. And if you add to that how much just out of a buddy sensibility (call it homosociality or not) blokes will stick together then it could be a good thing if women show the same kind of support for each other. I have actually found with most of the women in ‘the scene’ (yuk) that has been the case, but there is often and I have encountered women competing in a negative way each other much more than with men.peace and love u lotsxxxxx

  2. * negative way ‘with’ each other i meant lol

  3. I very much appreciated reading your blog, as well as Melissa’s comments- even though the reasons behind why I got into DJing are the same as any boy’s I’d imagine (I just love the music, and I just love to DJ), I’ll admit the gender issue seems to be something that’s impossible to avoid. I can’t touch a turntable at a club without someone mentioning the exceptional nature of a female dubstep DJ… and at this point, I’ve found it’s a waste of energy to get irritated with the fact that it will always be pointed out to me. I’ve got to say though, if I were albino, or one-armed or some other (rarity, not oddity) I suppose the same thing would happen.I agree fully with Melissa’s statement that you have to be tougher.. this is absolutely true. Although I like to think I’m very open-minded and understanding, I do find it very difficult to shrug off biting comments that undermine the immense amount of effort I put into what I do. It’s hard to put in all the energy it takes to DJ only to be told it’s been ‘gifted’ to you because you’re a girl (see comment on the Time Out article… that’s a promoter in the town I reside.)It takes tough skin and healthy self-awareness to keep doing what you love in spite of the alienation and unfair treatment (from both males and females) that you will experience that just seems to come with the territory of being, quite simply, a severe minority. In order for that paradigm shift to occur, its going to take a good handful of exceptionally gutsy, intelligent and cognizant women- and fortunately, I think dubstep has got it. What’s nice is, with few exceptions I find it impossible to say there is any battle to be fought or won- I doubt many men OR women would object to a change in ratio of male to female DJs and producers… so there’s not much to argue about. It’s just a matter of shifting the standard state of things. That said, thanks for the words in the article, those in the blog and those in response- all of the above have made me really happy to be part of a demographic that is even more exceptional for its intelligence than it is for its gender.

  4. hey melly and pandai! thanks for the comments and feedback xdon’t get me wrong, i think the time out article is positive too! i was pleased to read it and participate in it. i don’t think i’m being unfair to kate at all, she herself says ‘the relative lack of female producers is perplexing’ (paragraph 5)it’s just that i personally don’t find it perplexing. it’s not the lack of oestrogen on line-ups such as the recent meltdown festival that i notice but the lack of up and coming talent (whether male or female). i can understand why line-ups like that include more well known names such as kode9, pinch and mala, but isn’t it a shame that curaters/promoters of big gigs like that don’t look deeper and give newer, fresher names a chance too? only then, will the chance of seeing a female producer on big bills increase at this point in time; if it gets to the point when there are 20-30 female producers and none of them are getting booked for big gigs, then i’ll protest. but as it goes, there are only a handful of female producers at the moment and all are still relatively new to it and naturally not as well known.relatively speaking (in my experience) there really is very little (if no) prejudice in music in comparison to the square mile or (as another example) the police service and i whole heartedly believe that the reason there are few female producers is not because of prejudice but because there are simply less women making music. also, i never said that in wanting to focus on gender, you’re looking for a fight…rather, i’m trying to highlight that there’s no real fight in dubstep, or at least i’ve never encountered one cos of my gender..but then, i’m just a photographer and promoter and it probably is harder for female producers and dj’s. on the subject of competitiveness, i think that you’ll find just as much if not more competiveness amongst guys (even if they’re also supportive of each other!), then you do amongst women….and also, as much as i try to avoid competitive people at all costs,it can actually be healthy sometimes.on the whole, i believe optimism and positivity goes a long long way- if you expect to be treated differently or badly by people for any reason, chances are you will be!!

  5. oh yeah lol, she did say ‘perplexed’ you’re right… well i’m guessing it was just a rhetorical strategy anyway. It did seem when I first read this you were saying that publishing an article about ‘women in dubstep/music’ whatever was making an issue when there shouldn’t be one and thereby looking for a fight, which is what I was taking issue with (I have been accused of this before!)…. The thing is that prying into the reasons behind certain sex/gender trends or promoting change is not the same thing as accusing anyone of prejudice.I think re the competitiveness that’s 95% the case, but unfortunately I think there’s a kind of competitiveness some women do that men don’t that isn’t in the least bit supportive, I don’t want to say much more about it than that, but Eve Sedgwick (homosociality) is very good on it if you’re interested).Big up Pandai’a! That shit is annoying. You should like, growl and flash your claws at them or something ; )I v much agree with you G it’s relatively not much an issue really in dubstep, wahey. (Cp – hip hop!!) And your astute remarks on the gendering of the music. seeeeeen i better get on with my work lolxxxxx

  6. I think that very relevant points were made on both sides of the coin. Although it is always going to be a debatable point (The Absence of or lack of women/ men in a collective of people or scene) I have to say that I agree with Georgie on the fact that it is only an issue of people make it one. Its true that issues of Identity tags can be what you make them. For example: lots of people I no just blend into blobs of WU-MAN people- nither male nor female, just people.Dubstep or whatever underground scene it is will have its natural progression. but I agree that its very interesting to discuss!xxxxx

  7. *if people make it one- Foolish laptop!

  8. p.s – On re-reading what was said above and the great comments made, I realized that maybe i just drift about slightly unaware of any type of discrimination towards me and my work. May be I am just nieve, but I’ve found it an ok road in and around the dubstep central so far. But never speak too soooooon!

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