Electronic Beats – On All-Female Lineups
A Female:Pressure Promoter Weighs In On All-Female Lineups
When I read the headline “Do All-Female Lineups Really Help Women In Electronic Music?” on Electronic Beats one morning, it woke me up, delighted me and got on my nerves more than a double espresso. While I understand the merit of catchy headlines, I can’t help thinking these questions go around and around in circles. It’s necessary to keep this debate alive, but simple pro/con battles are sterile. It’s unproductive to question the existential necessity of all-female lineups; the critical inquiries interrogate how and why we construct them and what we wish to achieve by doing so.
Curating an all-female lineup isn’t sufficient to make any sense or statement at a time when such events seem to be gaining attention. As many of the subjects in EB’s original article pointed out, intelligent selection is a must for any successful night that aims to be relevant, as is offering good conditions to booked artists. But even when those conditions are met, the critics are just as ferocious. I’ve heard countless arguments against all-female lineups over the years, and since I’m a musician and DJ myself—as well as a curator and promoter—I’ve had the opportunity to observe things from various angles and situations.
The most common criticism suggests that such bills are a form of “segregation,” which I refute by pointing out that the entire process of organizing and throwing an event with an all-female lineup nearly always involves men at some stage, whether they’re booking agents, sound engineers or club owners. In each case, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever work mostly or even equally with women on a club event. And while I no longer spend too much time arguing with strangers about what some like to call “reverse sexism,” I unfortunately have heard that argument again and again, sometimes even from artists I’ve wanted to book. I guess people think such events are a counter-proposition, but they’re not proposing that all clubs should be DJed only by women instead of men. All-women lineups are a political statement, not a solution in final form. No one is trying to replace one exclusion with another. These events are about disrupting a norm—all-male lineups—that, ironically, people don’t question as much.
Self-identified progressives often ask me why I wouldn’t book an even number of men and women instead of an all-female roster. I explain that an event like that could be a good idea if—and only if—it takes a very strong and clearly political stance to denounce ongoing inequality in the field while itself providing a model for how things should be. The 50-50 male:female lineup faces the danger of providing a perfect illusion that renders the inequalities it seeks to correct invisible, thereby restoring silence and comfort. The all-female lineup, as I view it, seeks to disrupt and disturb the silence and comfort of the status quo. The fuss and fierce debate on the subject speaks to its penchant for making people uncomfortable, and no change ever comes from complacency.
Continue reading here: http://www.electronicbeats.net/femalepressure-promoter-weighs-female-lineups/