11 all-women DJ collectives from across Latin America have signed and shared a statement denouncing gender-based violence and structural sexism in the music scene and beyond. The “Green Wave,” a swell of feminist activism in Latin America focused on legalizing abortion, may provide some context for the recent mobilization of women DJ collectives in the region.
Published in May, the statement was signed by Uh! Manas TV (Brazil), Todas Podem Mixar (Brazil), As Mina Risca (Brazil), Feminine Hi-Fi (Brazil), As Mina do Som (Brazil), QG das Minas (Brazil), Pibas Vinileras (Argentina), Mujeres Vinileras (Mexico), LAVANDA (Brazil), Los Rulos Vinyl Club (Colombia) and Cafunelas (Brazil).
“This collective statement came together because of a WhatsApp group that we’re all part of, where various members began to share stories of violence that they’d gone through,” CecYza, member of Uh! Manas TV in São Paulo told Resident Advisor. “A member was sharing her story about how her ex-partner had assaulted her and destroyed her [DJ] equipment. Then, more people began to share stories. One member, in particular, went public with her story of domestic violence by her ex-partner, also a musician. This case was particularly crucial to us in developing this statement.”
CecYza is a Peruvian DJ who has been living in São Paulo for more than a decade. As the person with the strongest relationships with the other collectives outside of Brazil, she reached out to them to bolster the public statement. “I was sure that they would identify with this case [our member who went through domestic violence],” she said. “We wrote the statement in three different languages [Portuguese, Spanish, and English] exactly for this reason: to amplify this issue and gather more people.”
Unlike the #MeToo movement, which swept Western countries and many more around the world by making gender-based violence more visible through individual stories, feminist mobilization in Latin America has typically focused on more collective and structural narratives. Individual stories and experiences are shared to express different nuances and facets of—and ultimately raise awareness around—structural and systemic issues. Latin America has some of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world.
As such, Argentina’s Pibas Vinileras chose to respond as a group. “We’re in solidarity with the [statement] because, for us, it’s a daily situation both in the musical environment and in any area. We know that these violent situations exceed all areas and borders; similar cases happen both here in Argentina and throughout Latin America and the world,” shared founder Nina Misterio on behalf of the collective.
She added: “And, on the other hand, we know that the response [should] always be collective, because we are convinced that it’s the force that drives real changes. The union between groups of vinyl DJs is a force that has been consolidating more and more. If there is something that the pandemic left us [as a message], it was to look at each other, who we were, how many we were, and thus begin to contact each other.”
Mujeres Vinileras is an all-women DJ collective based in Mexico City. One of its members, Maria Delirium, told RA that “this type of [patriarchal and misogynist] violence affects all of us—a todos, a todas, a todes. I think that our condition as women in a patriarchal world obligates us to take a clear position—but machismo also affects men. So this isn’t a fight between women and men, but we have to be conscious that this kind of violence affects everyone. We need to raise awareness of this violence. Women have the right to participate in society and in cultural activities.”
These collectives hope that this shared dialogue and mobilization continue to raise awareness of gender-based violence and the unique challenges they face in nightlife in Latin America.
“For us, visibilizing [women] DJs is also visibilizing the current circumstances in which we DJs are exposed and the danger that this implies for our bodies,” said Nina Misterio, referring to nightlife spaces and public spaces at night.
Maria Delirium agreed: “We have the right to be safe in our own spaces. This is why we’ve been realizing that it’s been so important to create our own safe spaces—on our dance floors, for us. We believe that dance floors should be a safe space, so that women can feel complete security and complete freedom, that they won’t be harassed in any way.”
In the past month, some of the São Paulo-based collectives have organized two parties—one principally led by Uh! Manas TV and the other by As Mina Risca—to raise funds for members’ incurred expenses as a result of gender-based violence. “It was incredible,” said CecYza. “Maintaining an [informal] collective is very complicated, but I at least hope this union can continue. There is so much potential in our union, and so many things for us to do. I have so much hope and I’m really rooting for us to continue.”
Originally reported from Resident Advisor.
Feature photo credit by: Mujeres Vinileras