DJ Mag’s latest cover has pissed everyone off

Right now UK publication DJ Mag is getting a lot of attention, but not for reasons they’d like.

Today the magazine unveiled the cover for their 25th anniversary issue, one they’ve devoted to celebrating 25 of the “pioneers of dance music”. The problem? Every single one of the artists staring out from the cover is male. And as if the decision to very publicly imply that women’s contributions to dance music don’t matter wasn’t tone deaf enough, it’s a move DJ Mag have gone on record to defend.

At time of publishing, DJ Mag admitted that excluding women from the cover was no oversight – it was intentional. “You may notice just from glancing at the cover that there are no women in the 25 — a fact we’re all too aware of at DJ Mag,” they posted. “Is there anyone we should have included? And if so in place of who?”

Later, when a social media shitstorm about the cover started to erupt, they dug themselves into a deeper hole. In a statement issued to Fader, DJ Mag ‘s editorial team stated that including any women in the cover would have been “tokenism”.

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That’s a stance the internet is calling bullshit on. Chicago house hero The Black Madonna (who, might we add, would have made a very good addition to this cover) has offered up a list of female pioneers DJ Mag could have included on Twitter, from Bjork to Donna Summer, Ellen Allien, Cassy, Miss Kittin and beyond.

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DJ Mag ‘s defence that the all-male cover was a conscious decision to avoid tokenism has fallen especially flat given that in February, the magazine issued a “women in dance music” special – and placing women’s music in a separate category away from the regular editorial cycle is about as tokenist as you can get.  As The Black Madonna pointed out, “women are tired of being written out of history and relegated to the special issue.”

While DJ Mag staffers have noted on Twitter that the likes of Annie Mac and Louisahhh are featured inside the issue, that’s unlikely to soothe the anger over their cover. Because women don’t want to be featured in once-yearly lists about female DJs. They don’t want to be othered in their own industry. They don’t want to have to explain that merely acknowledging their existence is not “tokenism”.

They just want to have their contributions to dance music recognised and to feel welcome in a scene that regularly seeks to exclude them. They want to DJ, and go to clubs, and make music, and start record labels, and be written about and do what they love without it being a big deal. Just like the 25 men on DJ Mag ‘s cover.

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Katie Cunningham is one of the Editors of inthemix. She is on Twitter.