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Bathgate: what the Nina Kraviz furore tells us about sexism in dance music

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  • published
    11 Apr 2013
  • words by
    Lauren Martin
  • tags
    Greg Wilson
    Maceo Plex
    Nina Kraviz
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A few days ago, Greg Wilson wrote a long, public blog post about Nina Kraviz and the video diary she featured in for Resident Advisor‘s new video series ‘Between The Beats’.

The video has attracted a slew of comments about Kraviz’s physical appearance, and has helped fuel an unfortunately already present discussion about how she apparently uses her looks for professional gain. Some feel she’s little more than a model masquerading as a DJ, others dismiss this as sexist nonsense, but Wilson clearly felt the need to weigh in on a subject that I (and probably many others) see as tired – and by turns pathetic and worrying in its underlying sexist and weirdly self congratulatory sentiments – and by the looks of the comments, he did so to general praise.

 

“Greg Wilson’s blog post is indicative of little more than the sanctimonious, patronising and misguided discussion that has unfailingly trailed behind Kraviz for years.”

 

Wilson set himself up in this post as a nice, comfortable median in the whole “affair”. He’s a DJ, so he’s in her line of work and therefore “gets it”. He knew Kraviz personally for a while, and recommended her to label PRs and other industry types (for reasons expected and cynical), so he wants her to do well.  He’s also able to see and discuss both sides of an argument about a sensitive subject – the benefits and pitfalls of being a female DJ – because he’s an understanding kind of guy. The fact that he’s talking about her looks so consistently throughout a piece that purports to rubbish discussion about her looks isn’t even a ‘straight guy’ thing, “for she has that androgynous quality that attracts a more universal eye.” He’s not out to get her like all those other men. He’s giving her advice from afar. Hey Nina, you seem okay with being attractive, and that’s cool and everything, but do you mind toning it down a bit love? It makes our penises tingle and we can’t concentrate. Well done Greg, four gold stars, will recommend for the next round of appraisals. [Ed - Wilson later sent a group email to his website's database, promoting the post as having gone "viral throughout the club community and beyond"]

Greg Wilson’s blog post is indicative of little more than the sanctimonious, patronising and misguided discussion that has unfailingly trailed behind Kraviz for years. The “drama” around the Resident Advisor video is little more than a swell in an already turbulent culture of sexism within electronic music – and the degrees to which this is openly discussed comes in such swells – but for a man to present such sexism in a piece that clearly attempts to self-identify as a balanced pseudo-advice column is, to me, frankly far more worrying that the out-and-out negativity that women like Kraviz often face. Wilson calls it like he sees it, and it works to no one’s benefits.

Nina Kraviz is not ‘The Mistress Of Her Own Myth’.  She will not “find the right balance between illusion and reality” in being “dealt the exotic role of Siberian temptress” because there is no illusion. Being a woman is no myth. We have bodies and minds and in portraying femininity in a multitude of different ways, we are nothing more or less than women. A woman who is regarded as beautiful is not “cursed to be just too good looking” and neither is this something to “both endure and explore”, because the only thing female DJs must consistently endure as women is such derogatory and patronising language from men. If Nina Kraviz wants to dance during her DJ sets, take bubble baths on camera and discuss her appearance and sexuality in an open and honest way, then no one has the right to look down on her for doing so.

 

“This is the typical virgin / whore dichotomy that repeatedly sells women short”

 

She is not a gullible lamb being led astray by the evil producers of Resident Advisor who told her taking a bath would be a jolly idea, and neither is she a cynical and manipulative temptress who is hyper-sexualising herself in order to get more bookings and YouTube views. This is the typical virgin / whore dichotomy that repeatedly sells women short, leaves so many dazed by the idea that a woman can be anything else and feeds into a deep, male-centric fear of female sexuality and desire as a natural part of being human.

We forget in this that DJs are as much performers as they are selectors, and in this sense Nina Kraviz no more exaggerates her femininity than, say, a ghetto-tech DJ exaggerates his masculinity. If DJ Funk can perform topless, drinking Buckfast out the bottle and thrust his crotch at the crowd with each drop without being deemed a threat, then Nina Kraviz can certainly wear high heels, smoke cigarettes and languidly wave her arms around. I am as tired of this discussion as I am of those who use such pieces as thinly veiled attempts at understanding and advice to propagate sexism, and Wilson for me was the straw that broke the camel’s back on this one. Stop rolling your eyes at Nina Kraviz. She’s as sick of all this as you, hopefully, are.

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