Baby (Let me tell you) girl you need a change of mind
Why march in picket lines? Burn bras and carry signs? / Now I'm for women's rights I just want equal nights, help!
Baby, girl you need a change of mind / baby, girl you need a change of mind
All men don't discriminate, this man emancipates / now I won't chain you up just fill your lovin' cup hey, hey you need me girl
What you say to that? What you say to that? (Hey baby) baby (you need a change of mind) what you say to that? (Hey baby) baby (You need a change of mind) what you say to that?
- Eddie Kendricks, "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind," 1973
As Krewella's Yousaf sisters, Nervo, Maya Jane Coles, TOKiMONSTA, Venus X, Gina Turner, Jen Lasher, and more slowly rise to prominence in the midst of EDM's global rise, the notion that a sea change regarding the evolution of the assumed roles of women as DJs and producers of electronic dance music may be on the rise. Possibly the most significant moment to date in the rise of this idea came on Wednesday evening when HARD promoter Gary Richards stated that he was wanting to do an "all girl performer" event in 2014. Citing venue size for the affair as a limiter to pay, he also stated he'd do the event, but he likely "can’t pay them as much." For as progressive as we think we have become as a society in advocating for equal rights for women (especially in a culture as seemingly "progressive" as EDM), why is pandering to the cause in a ham-handed manner and not discovering solid and sustainable solutions for equality considered acceptable? In EDM becoming a much more corporate and socially responsible scene, is it time that we disconnect women in the industry and culture of dance music from sexual stereotypes? If so, how is it accomplished, and how do we preserve that notion for the future? Yes, girl, we certainly need a change of mind.
Maybe this has always been a problem since the beginning. In the post-Temptations iteration of his career, Eddie Kendricks hit #87 on the US pop charts, but #1 in David Mancuso's loft apartment and proto-disco spaces worldwide with "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind." As much driven by creating spaces for post-Stonewall era LGBTQ community members to have safe spaces for communal dancing, when one regards the earlier alluded to content of Kendricks' song, something far more insidious about the disco becomes obvious. Yes, the 1970s were an era of increased awareness for, and freedoms gained by the women's liberation movement. Thus, it can also be argued that discos, and the music played within them, were a space for women now empowered by thoughts of social and sexual equality (this is the era of the pill as an effective form of contraception becoming en vogue) to be "free" in the sense that as much as men viewed women as sexual conquests, women could do the same. However, its the psycho-sexuality inherent in Kendricks' lyricism that as a young man was an eye opener and as an old man an eye-roller that shows a flaw in the acceptance of the progressive nature of women's liberation's acceptance on the dance floor.
Kendricks gets "it," and if he can get "it," then it means that four more decades of men have, too. Essentially, "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind" says "I support your freedom, but I especially support your freedom if you want to be free and fuck me." Somewhere from that point to recently watching women on poles dancing during Borgore's set in 40 degree temperatures on an unseasonably cold night during the recent Columbia, MD stop of the Aokify America tour, it's obvious that nothing has really changed. As dance music moves closer to becoming a beast that will cannibalize the mainstream American pop charts, the traditional idea that sex sells - mixed as well with dance's perpetual aware, yet flawed relationship with sex and sexuality - may become a much larger issue.
Similar to how African-Americans and the diasporic black community achieved greater access to social acceptance and upward mobility with the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 and 2012, it's entirely possible that an electoral victory for Hilary Clinton in 2016 could achieve the same ends for women worldwide. Thus, it doesn't surprise me that HARD's Gary Richards would push for an all-female DJ event. It certainly sets a necessary standard. However, in a culture driven by celebrating vapid ideals and temporal notions that also has an arguably faux-progressive and Neanderthal relationship with women's rights, it's probably necessary to do something more significant. With increasing numbers, women are evolving in the modern dance space from being eye-candy and groupies to being managers, journalists, selectors, and producers who are defining the industry's progression. The need to disconnect women from sexual stereotyping and push for equal awareness and acceptance is an absolute necessity.
As a corollary, ESPN realized that there was a similar issue growing between women and sports. Similar to EDM, sports has traditionally been a male-dominated atmosphere. Title IX regulations advocated for equal representation for female athletes in American colleges, but at the cost of cutting many established men's athletic programs. As well, its an entirely arguable point that athletically dominant women have either been viewed in the mainstream as whores or lesbians. Those who freely present their attractiveness as a key part of their non-athletic femininity are sexually available whores, and those who are more driven by athletics over being physically attractive are lesbians. Yes, the same blanket statements exist in EDM. I know they do. You know they do. Ask Krewella or Nina Kraviz. They know they do as well.
Instead of allowing another generation of stereotypes to fester, ESPN's espnW campaign involves websites, television programs and web-based programming that is as focused on stereotype breaking and empowerment as it is on maintaining the channel's focus on quality presentation. Maybe HARD's Gary Richards could partner with say, YouTube to create advertising and a web series discussing improving women's rights. Yes, the idea of an all-women's festival is novel and worthy of applause. However, what happens when the lights turn back on and there are still girls who feel free enough to wear yoga shorts, do handstands, shake their asses and celebrate their freedom to "express themselves," while dudes don't hoot and holler because they're equally proud of those freedoms, but rather they see the opening in female's celebrating in such a manner to maybe "express themselves" later on that night with the girl in a related position. That's unfortunate, and a notion that will take some time to change. In this being a marathon and not a sprint, it's imperative that a solution with longer term implications must be discovered.
Between 40-plus years of modern dance history and centuries of a separate, but equal relationship between the sexes, the impending possibility of the evolution of women's rights being at the forefront of popular culture is important. Notions and moments in diametric opposition with how the world has unfortunately worked since the beginning of time are happening with a greater frequency than ever before. Clearly not-well enough regarded options for handling these societal development do more harm than good. Yes, girl, I know we need a change of mind. In response, let me quote another early disco jam: The brothers (and sisters) are gonna work it out.