I think I take for granted living where I live that many of us out here are working towards a new vision for society, but I realize that there are many people all over trying their hardest to keep things the way they are. I originally meant the following words for a comment at Birdseed’s Tunedown, but the comment had become too long, so I’ve decided to post it here. Excuse me Johan for jacking another one of your posts, and excuse me everyone else for any unorganized thoughts.
I think it’s important we take a serious critical look at sexism in reference to the global ghetto technology music thing. One thing that really excites me personally with all this technology and dissemination of information is the potential (it may be a totally idealized vision) for traditionally suppressed voices to become heard and have influence to help determine their own future. I think that’s what excites a lot of us, but there is also a danger for all of us to recreate the same systems of oppression that we navigate everyday. Whose voices are being heard, and who is taste is determining what gets heard? I think we all have to look at our positions of privilege and evaluate why we are doing what we are doing, and if our actions reinforce neo-colonial structures. Sexism is definitely a big part of that structure. There are many ways that sexism manifests itself from a lack of women existing in certain parts of the scene, to the desire to see women as sexual objects, to less straightforward questions like why are a majority of the Africans out at clubs or parties in the diaspora men?
Whether it’s Mad Decent, Generation Bass, Ghetto Bassquake, or any other website, we are a portal. Our tastes determine whether or not we put stuff on or not, and in a capitalist society, that is a position of power. Granted these days power is more diffused than in the major label hey day, but the industry is generally still representative of traditional social structures.
I think I would agree that it would be problematic if [the girls posted on Mad Decent] only got promoted because they were attractive, but it is also just as troublesome to assume that they were only promoted because of their looks. The real problem is the fact that in many instances, men are still the ones in power making the decisions (save for a few, big up Julianne, Ripley, Isa, Anna, Raquel, Asma, Rachel.) Whether recognition is motivated by sexual desire or criticism motivated by jealousy, a forum where a person’s skills are questioned because of their gender is a flawed one.
I’d like to see these conversations move away from the competitive commodity based society. The more I’m involved with music professionally the more I see how this kind of gray area capitalism infuses itself into many dealings and interactions, unwritten rules that you learn through experience. It makes me question the motivation behind some people’s actions. Why would someone get jealous about a Mad Decent posting? What advantage does such recognition give you? What position does it put you in? I wonder these things especially, because it is the Mad Decent forum from which we get things like Major Lazer and all the controversy that it sparks. How does power play a role in music business or even aesthetic criticism?
We must look at who is in a position of power in regards to, race, class, access to technology, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and make that our lens when either promoting, writing about, drawing attention to, creating, deriding, listening to, or dancing to global ghetto technological music, in order to really understand what’s going on, why certain things become controversial, and what our role in alleviating or perpetuating certain ills are. I’ve heard DJ’s say we’re not trying to be PC, and I can understand the desire to not want to have to look over your shoulder with every move you make. I say fine don’t be politically correct, but please, by all means, in everything you do, be at least socially conscious. Know who benefits and who is burdened by your actions.
Applying these thoughts to my everyday work with youth, I’m currently in a place where I’m trying to think of ways that I can help people fight the system that oppresses or discriminates against them, but at the same time not get left behind by that system. I feel like the education system in America is failing many youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, so I come in and work with those youth on technological expression, helping them create their own music, or other digital projects. Am I really helping these youth, teaching them these technical and artistic skills, if they are failing all of their classes in a society where level of education more and more determines social class? Also, if they recreate those systems of oppression themselves by expressing misogyny or violence, what benefit or detriment is it to them or what benefit or detriment is it to their peers? It truly is a constant struggle to balance the right kind of social development in an educational environment. Global Ghettotechnicians of all races, genders, orientations, and abilities, let’s not fall into the same traps.