When I first stumbled upon Djane Mag, I thought I'd found a goldmine: a publication that spotlights female DJs and producers, with a punny name to boot. Glancing at tabs at the top of the page like "Top 100 Djanes," "Booking," and "Djane Mag TV," I was sure that I was just a click away from lists of the best female DJs on the planet, female-focused booking agencies, and quality video content. Boy, was I wrong.
In addition to glamor shots, fashion tips, and questions like, "Do you consider yourself a shopaholic?", the website—which calls itself an "online networking service with profiles of the most popular female DJs" on its Facebook page—is centered around an annual beauty contest called the MissDjaneMag award, which started last week.
In a post listing the rules of the contest, music is not mentioned once. Instead, participants are judged based on their looks and fashion sense, with the aim of "choosing the most beautiful, sexy and charming djane," according to the website. The application process for this oh-so-prestigious award is complicated: in order to compete, female DJs must first enter a monthly contest for "Djane of the Month." They are then reviewed by the DjaneMag team, who select five to ten contestants "at [their] discretion," and open voting to the public. Finally, the most-voted-for Djanes go head-to-head at the end of the year for the crown title of MissDjaneMag.
When Djane.com published a post on their website announcing the contest last week, the public reaction was overwhelmingly negative, with commenters responding, "this is disgusting," "Thanks for creating more bs in the music industry for women. Smh," and "longer DJ's dick contest next time?"
So why would anyone run a contest that's so obviously sexist? When I reached out to the general contact email provided on the website, I got a response (written in broken English) from an anonymous representative, who offered the explanation that the winners are akin to cover girls. The rep also added that the monthly award provides "additional advertizing for winners," giving them more exposure in the public eye. Finally, the rep cited a lack of diversity in DJ polls such as the DJMag Top 100 as one of the reasons why they find it important to promote female artists on their site. But when I followed up several times asking for the rep's name and why the site chose to focus on the appearance of these DJs instead of their talent, I did not receive a reply.
To get a better sense of why a DJ might want to enter the contest, I scoped out the winner of last year's Miss Djane contest: DJ Mëw, a pop-EDM DJ from Chicago who has her award as the cover photo on her Facebook page and a scant few mixes on her SoundCloud. But DJ Mëw declined to comment, with her manager explaining, "With all the hard work that we put towards Mew being taken seriously as a DJ we feel that an article about the 'beauty contest' aspect of DJane Mag will only go against what we've accomplished." It seemed even the winner of Miss Djane wanted to distance herself from this dubious award.
The last thing the dance-music community needs is another straight white boy like me ragging on a publication that claims its intent is to promote female DJs and producers. But Djane is operating under a ridiculous pretense while perpetuating a boring, swimsuit-model type of feminine beauty ideal. With nearly 25,000 likes on Facebook, Djane could be an incredible platform for women in electronic music to promote and share their work, but instead, it's a bucket of disappointment. Remind me not to dig too deep on the web.
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