By Josh FB
The gender disparity needs to be addressed and that’s exactly what Edinburgh based collective Miss World are doing. They have built a strong reputation off the back of their EHFM radio shows and residency at Sneaky Pete’s
Gender inequality is an issue that requires attention. A 2018 review by Pitchfork analysing 20 major festivals found only 19% of DJs were female. Albeit a 5% increase from 2017, the fact that only 3 of the festivals reviewed achieved a 50:50 line-up shows imbalance. On average, only 10% of performers at music festivals are female.
Julia aka Aphid described their mission “our aim is to promote women and trans/non-binary individuals. We aim to run nights and book these people to give them representation.” The importance of female representation within electronic music is a critical factor in generating future interest. As Feena explained “It gives a platform of expression to people. I met all my female DJ friends through Miss World and EHFM. The scene can be intimidating when it’s full of guys.”
On top of providing opportunities for female and non-binary artists, Miss World supply a welcoming space. With certain clubs sometimes feeling hostile. Gemma aka Iced Gem states “We’re always looking around from the booth to see if everyone is safe.”
Eclectic and diverse selections drive the collective’s sound. Gemma immerses herself in a wide variety of rhythms and vocals from across the globe. Julia and Feena base their style around break beats, bass and techno. Julia candidly admits her early days were influenced by 80s synth and new wave.
For those interested in electronic music but feel apprehensive, Feena recommends “try and find a group of people who are supportive and encouraging because there are so many people out that have similar mind-sets and want to help.” Gemma added “for me just going out and talking to people was a good starting point and exposing yourself to clubs.”
Gemma explained how difficult it is for women to get invested in DJing. They might feel intimidated by the equipment. For women it’s harder to find female collectives to help. Access to equipment is a major barrier for aspiring DJs, Julia explains “to help combat this we run workshops.” Julia formerly offered workshops to people in the Wee Red Bar as she works at The Edinburgh College of Art.
The collective emphasized how hard they are working to enforce equality in Edinburgh. Gemma highlights “It’s a very close-knit group and it’s special. You get to know people and there is a great sense of nurturing. When you do a good job you’re also rewarded with opportunities. It gave me confidence in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.” It’s comforting to know that there is such a strong sense of community.
Many promoters with unbalanced line-ups may argue they select bookings based on talent. Gemma argued “I would say that promoters have become lazy. It’s important to look into community radio and integrate the local scene into bookings.” Julia added “If it was a true meritocracy based on talent, it would represent equality. It’s because there are so many systemic issues at play such as racism and sexism.”
Actions as simple as choosing what to wear for your set present added complications for women, who face increased judgement and pressure. The group described the sexism female DJs deal with. Gemma shared “someone reaching over the decks to grab my waist, a guy pulling off my record. It’s constant microaggressions”. Julia experienced sexism more frequently in bars when exposed to crowds.
After building a reputation in the capital Gemma explained “I was a bit naive and I thought now people know who I am, and I feel more respected this won’t happen as much. It’s just not true”. Julia agreed saying “I naively thought as I became more experienced and more confident it will go away.”
When asked why this might happen, Gemma explained “I’ve seen it happen to guys definitely. But the confidence that they seem to have when it’s a woman is just so high. Why Is there that lack of respect? Their conversation is just way more like they’re trying to assert themselves on you”. There should be mutual respect between clubbers, DJs and promoters, regardless of gender. However, often this isn’t the case.
To combat this the group are active within the crowd, making sure everyone is safe. When somebody steps over the line Feena says “I Just don’t tolerate it at all, like leaning over the decks or touching equipment.”
The best ways to support progressive movements in Gemma opinion is “being a good ally and giving space to women, non-binary and POCs. I think the best allies are those that follow and don’t try to lead minorities.”
Julia added “I think supporting just by showing out for people as well. If you see a night where women or people of colour, or a trans person is DJing, just showing up to listen. Equally just calling someone out when you see it.”
While a difficult subject, calling out friends and family will help combat inequality. Feena articulates “what you want is people to later challenge and think about what they’ve said by themselves. It’s important to call out your mates. If you want change, start in small circles. Maybe if someone says something you disagree with just stand up”. These things can become heated therefore Gemma adds “Calling them out in a measured way not in an angry way or on social media. Just face to face and try to be constructive.”
Everybody makes mistakes, sometimes we say things without truly realising their implications. What’s important is to realise that progressive thinking is the way forward. This will help enforce changes within society and help make our culture more beneficial for women and minorities.
The collective is busy rescheduling bookings impacted by COVID. They are converting their 5th birthday party, originally scheduled for August to an EHFM radio show. Julia continued “I hope we can just pick up where we left off and keep the momentum going.” As a society we must support local DJ’s and stand up for social injustices.
Let’s fight the power. Together.