In the wake of that Pitchfork aticle about sexism against women in EDM, we consider why the genre is so goddamn hate-able to the uninitiated … then we go riight ahead and dispel those notions.

This week, Pitchfork published a much hated-on article called “EDM has a problem with women and it’s getting worse.” In it, the author uses a mixtape graphic from Skrillex’s label, OWSLA, as an example of of how EDM objectifies women and uses female nudity as a marketing strategy. It was, how do you say … controversial?

Here’s the graphic in question:

There was a huge wave of backlash against the article as many felt it was reaching way too far to prove a point about sexism in EDM. If you look at the graphic, it’s not entirely PG, but also not the lewdest piece of musical artwork either; it’s a pretty middle-of-the-line graphic when it comes to shock value.

And while we absolutely feel that sexism and the way women are treated in various musical industries is something that should be talked about until the issue is solved, the way the Pitchfork author approached the whole subject felt a bit like clickbait; like it was reaching to prove a point whose origins were nebulous at best and place an inordinate amount of responsibility on EDM for proliferating sexist values and imagery.

We’d argue, however, that EDM is no more responsible for the objectification of women, drug use, or any other negative connotation than any other musical genre. What’s more likely is that its status as today’s most nascent and diverse genre makes an easy target for distaste and an easy scapegoat for things it's not solely responsible for. Sure, EDM might bring out some ugly qualities in certain individuals, but that can be attributed to any kind of music those individuals might be associated with, be it classical, country or the rap-rock idolized by today’s hottest blue collar Army-Reserve trainees.

So, given that context, here are a few misconceptions we think people have about EDM that make it such an easy target for good ol’ fashioned uniformed hatin’.

Misconception #1: It's "sexist"

The Pitchfork article we mentioned above is a great example of this. It was centered around anti-female sexism in EDM, and how certain objectifying imagery is used to sell it to audiences. But while we appreciate that article’s effort to call out gender disparities in the industry, you could also argue that every genre, not just EDM, uses sex and nudity as a marketing tactic.

We mean, look at this R&B album cover.

Look at this rock album cover:

Look at whatever this is:

Objectifying imagery is omnipresent in our culture and hardly exclusive to electronic music, which makes it a much more pervasive problem than the Pitchfork article gave it credit for, hence the backlash. We're not saying that EDM is completely devoid of responsibility when it comes to this issue, or that the Pitchfork author was wrong to note that there are gender disparities within the genre, but in a discussion like this, it really is worth it to acknowledge the pervasiveness of sexism across all clultural mediums.  Moreover, not all EDM artwork and imagery is sex-related.

Look at these:

Sex and nudity have been used to sell things to consumers since the beginning of time; that concept is neither novel nor disputed. So, it’s unfair to blame sexist imagery on EDM, especially when it’s present in almost all forms of media and society today. It’s a much bigger problem than it's given credit for. Not to mention the Pitchfork article gave no mention of the enormous strides women have made in the EDM community; today there are more female DJs and producers than ever; Tokimonsta, Annie Mac, Samantha Ronson and Tamara Sky, to name a few.

Misconception #2: It's synonymous with drug culture

Almost every genre of music is associated with excesses and hedonism of one form or another. For EDM, the stereotypical substance of choice is obviously molly. There’s no denying that molly can enhance the experience of an EDM show since it makes most people social sluts and dancing queens.

And due to a few really tragic deaths and hospitalizations from it at EDM concerts and festivals like Electric Zoo and Austin City Limits, molly has become synonymous with EDM culture.

But, drug use of any kind, be it molly or not, is hardly exclusive to EDM. What’s actually happening is that the media paints a disproportionate picture of its use at EDM shows because EDM shows are opportune places for people to react poorly to drugs; they’re hot, disorienting, access to water can be difficult, and people are often mixing various substances at once. Therefore you could argue that it’s not the interaction of molly and EDM that makes it dangerous, but the relationship between the biochemical reaction of the individual who takes it to the environment they're in.

Furthermore, while EDM is proliferating and ever-expanding in scope and popularity, molly and MDMA use is actually declining. While drug incidents at high-profile music events continue to make headlines, a nationwide CDC survey showed MDMA use was down, from 11 percent in 2001, to 6.7 percent in 2013.

Likewise, we don’t have to tell you that molly isn’t the only drug people use at EDM shows. We also don’t have to tell you that most people use no drugs at shows. Or that people use molly at other kinds of shows. Fuck, people take molly then go to the mall to buy headphones.

Drug use is such a deeply personal, subjective thing, that to characterize an entire genre of music as a “drug culture” based on a few high-profile incidents is inaccurate.

Misconception #3: The fashion

Thanks to a few enterprising individuals, EDM has developed a stereotyped wardrobe for itself replete with furry boots, tight neon shit, colored faux-Ray Bans, tank tops, mesh, clashing patterns and baseball caps. So. Many. Baseball caps.

The fact that it’s easy to imitate the “EDM look,” and that a quick stop at your friendly local American Apparel would outfit you with an on-point head-to-toe EDM outfit, makes EDM fashion an easy target for denunciation. Not only that, but the stereotyped garb of an EDM fan is highly non-functional and memecore-based making it low-hanging fruit for even the most un-witty of internet trolls.

Are there people dressed like Sailor Moon in her Sunday best at EDM shows? Yes. Are there flocks of bros wearing flip flops, neon board shorts and tank tops fist-pumping to Aoki? Yes. Does the occasional fuzzy boot make its way into your field of vision, shattering the darkness with its neon plasticity? Yes. But are the majority of people just coming off their shift at Chili’s and wearing whatever clothes they have that don’t smell like calamari? Yes. Only someone who hasn’t been to an EDM would find it easy to generalize the fashion.

Plus, if you’re someone who criticizes music based on the way its fans sometimes look, you’re dumb. Bye.

Misconception #4: The belief that DJs and producers do nothing on stage

Probably one of the most salient misconceptions about EDM is that DJs and producers do nothing on stage other than fondle a laptop spacebar at periodic intervals … which is totally true! … Some of the time!

Counter-argument #1: In any musical ensemble, there will always be times when one person isn’t doing anything. In an orchestra, not all instruments play all the time. In rock n’ roll, the drummer will stop playing to signify a build or moment of introspection or intensity or the singer will shut up for a bit while the drummer goes to town. In rap, not everyone on stage is rapping the entire time. If you’ve ever seen a rap show or music video, 99.9% of people in the frame or on stage are just hyping up the person who’s rapping. Likewise,  in EDM, not every DJ is twisting a knob or pulling a level or engaging in some other kind of Bop-It type behavior every single second. Sure, sometimes they just stand up there and fist-pump. But other times, they twist and turn and augment 30 knobs and switches at once with the manual dexterity and foresight of a laboratory-developed super-human and if you tried to do the same, everyone would just LOL and go home.

Counter argument #2: Just because someone is playing something using partially pre-recorded material doesn’t mean they didn’t slave over it for months of furrowed insecurity and sweat, or that it’s any less awesome because it was recorded rather than played live. That’s like saying that the drum track Beach House sometimes plays with is fake because no one’s there playing it live. It’s not fake at all, it’s just not happening in present tense. Things don’t have to be happening in present time to be awesome. If they did, all movies would suck and society would crumble and you could grow out your armpit hair because nothing would matter anymore.

Misconception #5: EDM means one thing

EDM as a term is the broadest descriptor of music ever. Although it’s recently become synonymous with dubstep and whatever indeterminate genres AVICII and Tiesto make, you can’t really classify, with absolute confidence, the particular type of EDM anyone makes.

That means that anytime you talk accuse EDM of something like sexism or encouraging drug use, you’re accusing no one in particular until you refine your focus. It’s like blaming other state’s drug problems on legal weed in Colorado; until you refine the target of your criticsm and back it up with an intelligent argument, you’re not saying anything by saying something is the entire state of Colorado’s fault.

There are so many sub-types of EDM and its related cultures, which in turn each have their own respective distinct species that it’s almost like you have to be somewhat of an expert, or at least an informed researcher, to pass legitimate judgement on an aspect of EDM.

Misconception #6: It’s all just remixes

A major artery of EDM is remixes, which some people see as a musical cop out since it’s technically appropriating someone else's work for your own benefit.

But, we’d argue that it’s not an appropriation, it’s an improvement or reinterpretation of something.

All genres of music do this. Rock bands covering each other is the same thing. Samples in hip hop are the same thing. Blues bands using the same chord progressions and themes as decades of bands before them is another way to look at this.

Regardless of the genre, it’s really hard to take someone else’s distinct work and make it your own, have you tried? Do you even lift, bro? All genres use other people’s shit all of the time, and whether it comes out as a success or not, finding inspiration in other people’s music and interpreting it in your own way isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Sure, original tracks are a more honest representation of who an artist is, but if you’ve ever heard a remix that makes you think about a song in an entirely new light, you’ll get why remixes aren’t as simple as they seem.

Misconception #7: Mass commercialization nightmare

Because of its association with youth and carefree, hedonistic atmospheres, and because it often comes free of any sort of political or emotional message, EDM does lend itself to mass commercialization and brand manipulation. Pretty much what most mainstream EDM is saying is, "Have fun and be yourself," which makes certain subtypes of it perfect for commercials and Senor Frogs in Miami over Spring Break. Take Steve Aoki, for example, whose personality and music has been used to sell Budweiser beer, or Diplo, who endorsed Converse by releasing a Diplo sneaker through them.

Unfortunately, commercialization means cash money, and cash money means a lot of DJs and producers with dishonest intentions faking it, getting into the game for the fame, not the integrity of the music. And with superficial artists come superficial audiences who feed off music’s popularity, not its craft, hence the stereotype that EDM fans are frats whose Spring Formal just happens to be in Cancun. For some, the artists who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into being good musicians and/or DJs, that reality sucks.

Of course, you could say the same thing about any genre. Artists from all musical backgrounds sell out and get commerical; artists from all genres are vulnerable to being played on Top 40 stations and Sephoras worldwide. And that just goes back to our whole point about EDM being unfairly blamed for its shortcomings.

Electronic music at the forefront of American culture is still a new thing. Critics and observers are still processing it without considering that. Their desire to "make sense" of it, paired with its superficial qualities (large scale live production, young audiences, specific adaptations of "slutty" rave-derivative dress, and an emphasis on using drugs to experience the music) make it low hanging fruit for criticism.