Today, we saw this article posted and shared around twitter. It’s a blog post from the Village Voice. Below, are what I tweeted in response to reading it, but in paragraph form and with a little more cohesiveness than reading through the conversations with my fellow rave ladies.
Read the post, watch the videos it references, and form your own opinion, and comment on the post, or tweet at me here to discuss.
First off, I met my boyfriend and love of my life on the shuttle bus to Electric Zoo in 2011 while I was sporting children’s sequin shorts and a neon tank top with zip pocket for my ID and cash and a bra that would become my shirt as the temperature rose throughout the day. My booty would hang out because the shorts were kids’ size, and while I’m tiny to begin with (5’4” on a good day and a 26” waist), my ass does not follow the same proportions as the rest of my body. Now together over a year, my boyfriend and I rave together pretty consistently. In the above photo, I’m the nugget in the middle, and he’s the shirtless wonder on the left.
Now, when we rave together, the rule is, if my self-expressive ensemble is almost nothing, my boyfriend has to match. Like, there is no reason to not have it be equal in that sense. If I’m going to be subjected to the male gaze and pure objectification in the name of self expression, so is he. Just because females dress a certain way, doesn’t mean they should attract more attention than the males who run around in loincloths.
I mean, this is the same reason I would support an all female festival. More ladies in attendance because the environment would feel “safe”; but, what does that ACTUALLY say about our musical culture? That we have to segregate based on gender to feel safe? It’s the definition of “bad for the scene”.
I think as ladies, we can all agree that we hate slut shaming, so, the essential question that article asks is if we are perpetuating it. We have to ask ourselves, and our community, if constantly falling back on the argument of slut shaming only makes it worse by adding it to the mainstream and having it be accepted as a valid argument and a societal crutch. Do we, as ladies, feed the slut shaming bandwagon by wearing the “party with sluts” merchandise or sticking “rave booty” stickers on ourselves?
It genuinely sucks that every point made about Ladies who Rave comes back to the slut shaming argument. It hurts me that the slut shaming argument is the fall-back, go-to argument used to discuss rave ensembles.
Most of us dress up certain ways not because it’s a uniform or because we feel it’s the way we are supposed to dress, but because we love it. It’s an escape. It’s adding to the fantasy land that was created for us by the festival’s management and creative team. We love bedazzled rave bras and leg wraps and neon leotards that make us look like 1980s athletic videos. We love being covered in body paint and whatnot, but the girls who do it and look lost, those are who need to discover themselves. If a girl wants to dress in pasties& a thong, cool, & I’ll be the first to support running around naked if that’s their choice, but when the crowd starts thinking of them in a different way is when it gets crazy. I also get very up in the bros’ faces about what is coming out of their mouthes. Art is in any form of self expression, but when the words become curt and crude, it’s dehumanizing.
Then there is the tweaking phenomenon sweeping dance floors and the media all over the US. Personally, I would never go on a twerk wall. Can I twerk it out, yes, but I do it in private. It’s a sexual thing to me. Do I applaud the girls who go up there because they want to actually show that they can move it to the drums? Yes. Do I appreciate the objectification that happens in the crowd while they dance, ABSOFUCKINGLOUTELY NOT. Girls get up there to show their skills because twerking is really hard. They don’t get up there for your enjoyment, males of the dance floor.
If you see someone who looks lost and confused, chat them up and see what’s going on in their heads. Offer a teeshirt if they look uncomfortable being exposed. Ask them the symbolic meaning or artistic vision behind their ensemble. A little kindness goes a long way, and we need more kindness and we need more unity if we are ever going to be seen on an equal playing field as the men.
So, in short, do I think that Rave Ladies need a little feminist education? Yes, but it starts with those of us already a part of it. Certain genres don’t see gender as a divider, but the mainstream puts them in categories, and that’s what we need to fix.