Yesterday, I read a really smart piece in a new music magazine called the Quietus, about a series of comments made by an obscure dubstep producer on twitter that were, on any rudimentary level, anti-feminist in their tenor. As a long time fan of electronic music and a feminist writer, I was most interested in this debacle.
I started going to drum and bass parties when I was 18, have never stopped listening to the music and all the ways it has evolved, whether that be techno, house, dubstep, garage or UK funky. I have been in some way part of the scene for 15 years (what I’m trying to say here is I know my shit).
As a feminist writer–I am interested in the intersection of culture and gender and specifically dance music culture and being a woman in it. I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that underground electronic music, especially dubstep and drum and bass culture, is a boys’ club. The contributions of men are generally most respected–women and women of color often used as center pieces for much of their work (by way of sampling or cover art) but not the core demographic of people participating in the scene or producing and consuming the music. This would play out in mundane ways, like people asking if I was at a party with my boyfriend , men bragging about their music tastes but getting their facts wrong and not realizing I would know or pointing out the 2 women that either DJ or produce music (and are generally conventionally hot–starting to sound like the Repubs amirite?).
So, I wasn’t too surprised that the same scene that has never been particularly progressive in its inclusion of women has members that are not well versed on the politics of feminism. This is not really uncommon in music scenes and is hardly unique to electronic music, but like many women that are part of music circles, I was faced with a dilemma. I was faced with the task of critiquing people and a scene that I am not only a member of, but people I genuinely respect.
I’m not as much interested in going in to the specific details of this incident, I think the Quietus did that quite eloquently. Instead, I would like to start a working list of how to spot mansplaining in the wild–when we are out of our feminist circles, in places where we feel comfortable but are confronted with blatant moments of sexism and are made to feel like we are imagining them. This list was inspired by a very long conversation I had in a Facebook group that is a spin-off of the turntable.fm room I hang out in:
- This is not a big fucking deal–also known as, I understand that sexism is out there, but this is hardly an example of it–there are much worse things we should focus on so please leave my fantasy world where sexism is no big deal out of it. Trust me young lady, I know what sexism is but why are you being so dramatic?
- I need more evidence–often when women claim they experience sexism they are told they were imagining it and that what they experienced was hardly a moment of sexism–but maybe if they had more evidence they would be believed. Or, “maybe that guy was an asshole, but he’s just an asshole, not a misogynist.” I shouldn’t have to get punched by a DJ or sexually harassed at the club for someone to believe that I experienced sexism. Many of the things we talk about are hard to prove with “evidence” so we are faced with fighting a culture that doesn’t believe we can be sexually harassed. Often, the amount of evidence that would ever be needed to prove the “crime” would be impossible, since the mindset is so set in stone.
- You claim you are being persecuted by well-reasoned analysis–yet, somehow, the one bringing the claim is the dramatic one. For example, you say “all of these statistics suggest that women do not have the same level of access as men when it comes to math and science,” and the response is, “I can not believe I have been slighted by this dogmatic lesbian feminism, I am exhausted from this witch-hunt.”
- You don’t explain how you were misunderstood–instead get into in-depth discussions about the meaning of life, words that can be interpreted differently (like “good”) and focus on semantics. Important note: if you were misquoted, than clearly explain what you meant to say–not engage in some evasive response that makes no sense.
- You were “just kidding”–because clearly, you are so well versed in feminist politics that you just make fun of stuff and we should get your highly nuanced, deeply political humor.
- You find one woman to claim you are not a sexist–big fucking deal. Also: see Herman Cain–there are a lot of people out there that make no sense.
- Women are just not drawn to “x”–also known as the nature argument, i.e., ‘the reason there are no women interested in dubstep is because it is just male dominated–that’s just the way it is.’ With facts like that, who needs fiction?
- Where is your logix?!–despite continually presenting logical reasoning, mansplainers are often so dogmatically attached to their mental frameworks, they don’t see your logic. For example, you may say, “hmm, why is the cover of that youtube video a picture of a woman with headphones on her breasts instead of a bra–that seems pretty sexualizing and suggests a trend towards misogyny!” Response: “Woman! Can you please stop being so emotional and give me a logical explanation for how that is sexist–did that picture rape somebody?”
Hopefully this can help you, as you enter the wild world of male dominated cultural spaces. Mansplainin is alive and thriving, almost comically so. I no longer get shocked or upset, I just laugh because I can’t believe the responses are so text book.
Please feel free to add more in comments.