A DJ’s responsibility is to impart a mood, a sonic embodiment of their surroundings coupled with the vibe of the eclectic attendees. The transitions are premeditated and feel effortless, making you forget the egregious line you just waited in outside. Likely waking up in a haze of second-hand smoke and cheap vodka the next day, you might not remember the way-too-expensive cocktails (as any New Yorker will understand) or the crushed velvet love seats in the lobby you Instagrammed, but a good night of music stays with you long after the party’s over.
Turning away from the musical milieu and confronting the politics of the industry, one cannot help but wonder why the DJ community is still a relatively difficult one for women to break into. Society's outdated perception of gender in the workplace - among many other things - derives from the belief that men are better at pretty much everything than women are. It’s not a secret that women are generally seen as unequal to men, far beyond entertainment sphere. So, the question is, why is it so much harder for female DJs to professionalize their career and break through to music star status? Is their success less meaningful? We’re acutely aware of the facts, yet the percentage of women who actually reach stardom is mediocre at best in comparison to their male counterparts.
Fortunately for our ears (and inner activists), you’re about to meet four women who decided to keep it pushin’ and overcome whatever myriad adversities arose along the way. These women have subsequently gone on to sell out shows and become the entrepreneurial boss babes we all aim to be.
Ashley Haenel/ SHLIZK
Location: New York, New York
Music style: Open Format
Go to song: Firestone by Kygo
Trademark: lightning bolt ⚡️
For SHLIZK, it hasn’t been an easy road to get to where she is today. “Being a female DJ in a field that is pretty much dominated by males has been a pretty interesting experience for me,” said the New York native. “A lot of times, people think that since I am a woman I can’t do the job as well as a man. I always knew that music was my life and when this field emerged as I was coming into young adulthood, I started to encounter different roadblocks that not many other young females may have faced when pursuing their dream. As each show and event passed, my confidence rose. I was good, better than a lot of the guys I was playing a show with. Dealing with others who thought they were better than me was a challenge, showing them up was easy.”
Samantha Duenas/ SOSUPERSAM
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Music style: R&B, Hip Hop, Future Bass
Go-to song: Kelela "Rewind"
Having opened for the likes of Erykah Badu and Little Dragon, SOSUPERSAM is no stranger to success. However, her family wasn’t always on board with her career choice. “At first, my parents did not approve of my DJ career. They didn't see any stability or security, and my mom regularly sent me job listings for about two years straight. After a while she realized I was able to pay my bills with my unconventional job, and she started to be a bit more supportive. I understand, it's sort of a nutty job.” She also notes that, “In 2016, it is still uncommon to see a woman behind turntables commanding a large audience. I feel pretty special to be in this position and definitely encourage more women to give it a shot.”
Nicole Stillings/ DJ Rosé
Music Style: Dance, Disco & Modern Day Hits
Go To’s: All fresh remixes... September, Stayin' Alive, One Dance, I Want You Back, Countdown, Girls Like, Cool Girl..
Trademark: Always in a bright, red lip...usually with a glass of rosé ;)
A regular at NYC hot spots like Lavo and Marquee, DJ Rosé opened up about the stereotypes she faced growing up with braniac parents (literally, her parents are brain doctors). “Many people scoffed at first- commenting on my “$200,000” degree from Emory, etc. Most people (maybe rightfully so for most DJ’s) pointed out that this career change didn’t have the longevity of my old path where I was already a Marketing Director at 23. DJs are perceived as creatures of the night, less professional and intelligent than most (albeit creative). And being female throws a whole new layer of elements into the mix.” She adds that her most daunting challenge has been, “Honestly, patience. Being a good musician takes practice, practice, practice. And I’m an impatient, get-it-done-now kind of bitch. Overnight success doesn’t exist in entertainment but showing up daily with a smile and some feel-good tunes will go a long way.”
Milan Stoute/ Miss Milan
Location: New York City
Music style: Open format (Hip hop, R&B, EDM, House)
Go-to song: Kanye West "Father Stretch My Hands"
Trademark: My trademark is "The Milan Experience"
Unlike many of her musical peers, as an entrepreneur, Miss Milan keeps it simple. “I handle my own brand and business, I created my website (DJMissMilan.com) so people can get to know who I am and also contact me and book me directly. Management will come when it's right, I never want to force something like that, it has to be organic. My main vehicle for growing my supporters is social media, every outlet helps people follow my journey and see what I can do.” In regards to climbing the DJ ladder to success, she asserts, “I've dealt with sexism where guys think that because you're a pretty girl you should get paid less than anyone else or they try to boo you to date you and I'm just here to make my money and have a great time.” That’s definitely a mantra we can get behind.
Let me share with you a female doctor and CEO's life hack: if you are not trying to 'make' a baby, you do NOT have to bleed every month. As doctors, we have seared into women's minds: you must have a period every month (if you are not on any medications). However, we now have the technology to safely and effectively "turn off" periods.
The idea of #PeriodsOptional first came to me when I was trying to get pregnant with my first child. Each month the uterus builds a rich blood filled lining to accept an embryo. But without an embryo, that lining gets shed, and the whole process starts over again. Basically, the only reason that we (those with uteri) bleed each month is because we didn't get pregnant. An average woman will begin her period at 12 years old, have two children in her lifetime, and remain fertile until the age of 50. That's approximately 35 years of incessant menstruation for no good reason.
Each time you build up that lining (endometrium) and slough it, you risk endometrial cancer. And each time you pop out an egg for that lining, you risk ovarian cancer. The only way to prevent ovarian cancer that we currently know of (short of taking out your ovaries) is to turn off the monthly egg-popping using birth control. Women who used birth control pills for 5 or more years have about a 50% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never used oral contraceptives.
Dr. Beverly Strassman, who studied the Dogon tribe in Mali, found that it might be "more natural" to have fewer periods. In the old days, we had about 100 periods in our lifetimes. Now, we have 350-400. Historically, we'd start periods at 16 (we now start at 12 years old), we'd have eight babies (we now have two on average), and we'd breastfeed for 20 months (we now do zero to six months at best).
Since the creation of the birth control pill, doctors have known that the one week withdrawal bleed (aka "period") is optional. Dr. John Rock, one of three co-founders of the birth control pill, was the one that pushed for a bleed one week out of four. It was to see if he could get the method through the Catholic Church. He said it was just to make the periods regular and thus Catholics could better utilize the rhythm method. He also thought that women would be more likely to accept the method if it was consistent with what they were used to. Thus since the beginning the birth control pill, women have been forced to bleed one week out of four. Needless to say, if I were one of the co-founders, I would have pushed for #NoPeriods or #PeriodsOptional.
Let's explore other benefits of skipping your monthly bleed:
- You save money – we use 12,000 feminine hygiene products in our lives.
- You save the planet from landfill.
- You decrease your risk of certain medical conditions – ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and anemia
- Certain diseases do better on stable hormonal levels – acne, PCOS, diabetes, seizure disorder, depression/psychological conditions.
- Increased productivity – the number one cause of missed work/school in a woman under the age of 25? Her periods.
Using birth control to skip periods:
- You can use the hormonal IUD, the implant, the shot, the ring, the patch and the pill. Note: You cannot use the patch for longer than 12 weeks in a row, because too much estrogen will build up in the blood.
- You do not have to use "special pills" that come in 84 or 91 days packs. You can use any pill and just skip the last week (if it is a four week pack) or go straight into the next pack (if it is a three week pack). Though if you are paying cash, those are sometimes cheaper.
- If you get breakthrough bleeding and have taken at least three weeks of active pills in a row, then you can stop the active pills for five days, have a bleed during that time, then restart on day six whether or not you are bleeding. This "cleans out the uterus" and allows you to start fresh.
- There are 40 different formulations of the birth control pill. So if one doesn't work for you, there are at least six other progestins and two levels of estrogen to play with.
- To skip the bleed on the pill, you want a progestin with higher progestational activity. Go to this chart that I created to review the options.
As the only female founded/led reproductive health company in the birth control delivery space, Pandia Health set out to make women's lives easier by sharing cutting edge, evidence-based women's healthcare. We commissioned a study of 1000 women ages 20-35 in the US to see what they knew about the topic. We found that:
- 66% of women had never been informed by a doctor that they could skip their periods safely.
- 46% have missed school because of periods.
- 58% would turn of their periods if they knew it could be done safely.
So make your uterus a happy uterus. A happy uterus is one that is not "crying" unnecessary bloody tears.