A&E » Music

Female DJs Get 'Er Done

History, respect and talent go into producing good music



Who: B.Traits, Betti Forde, Bitchin' & Jubilee

When: Friday, Oct. 29, 9:30 p.m.

Where: Garfinkel's

Cost: $10

"Women DJs are viewed as either gimmicks - if we're not good at what we do, then we're gimmicks - and we're only DJs because we're girls and we have tits or we sucked off the promoter, or we just look good when we're up there," DJ Betti Forde stated matter-of-factly.

"If we're good at what we do, then we become tokens. We're good despite being a girl. But if a guy DJ goes up to DJ and he sucks, he's just a bad DJ. No one's ever like, 'He's just up there because he has a penis!'"

Well, there you have it, then. Seriously, the woman pictured above may be blonde, but she's no bimbo.

Forde (also known as Maren Hancock) is a veritable veteran on the DJ scene (she's been at it since 1998), but she's also a feminist academic who has already earned a B.A. (Hon.) and a M.A. in Women's Studies & Gender Relations, a musicologist and activist.

"I'm doing a PhD right now, and my dissertation is about female DJs in Canada," she said, explaining that she's moved from Vancouver to Toronto to enroll in a scholarship program at York University.

But so far, she's been finding that there aren't a whole lot of textual or virtual resources available on the subject. In fact, she can only seem to find a handful of other scholars that have even touched on the topic of female DJs. Rebecca Farrugia, another graduate student at the University of Berkeley who is studying contemporary women DJ collectives, is paving the way, with Hancock hot on her heels.

"I'm conducting a historical analysis of women DJs specific to Canada. We've had DJs for about 100 years now," Forde said, explaining that 1904 was when the first piece of recorded music was played on the radio. It was played by a guy.

"But the second-ever person to play a piece of music on the radio was a French (Canadian) woman," she added.

"So, basically I want to document the history of women DJs in Canada just to document that we've always been here, because we're being written out of the picture."

She points to the examples of a well-known book, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life , which claims that women have been frozen out of the craft in the past 94 years, and another more recent text that says, "There are no women in this book. That's not our fault, that's just how history has dealt it."

Add a comment