Target: Eelko van Kooten, CEO of Spinnin’ Records
Goal: Condemn Spinnin’ Records for its misogynistic Facebook post and its subsequent non-apology.
A recent sexist Facebook post from Dutch record company Spinnin’ Records garnered widespread criticism from fans and other social media users–but the company has not offered a proper apology, brushing the post off as a “joke.” Sign the petition and demand that Spinnin’ Records accept responsibility for its insulting, offensive post and offer a sincere apology.
The post in question featured a picture of a CD-J with a stove burner replacing the CD deck. The caption read, “Pioneer finally developed a CD-J for women.” (The image was also posted on Twitter with a slightly re-worded caption.) Unsurprisingly, many fans were incensed that an internationally-recognized record company would stoop to posting a variant of the classic “get back to the kitchen” joke. As backlash mounted, Spinnin’ tweeted what it obviously felt was a suitable apology: “As a record label that works with both male and female DJS and artists, it was of course never our intention to offend anyone. And definitely not women in specific. Therefore, we would like to apologize to those we have unintentionally offended with the tweet.” Its Facebook apology was even less sincere: capped off with a smiley-faced emoticon, it read, “Music’s all about having fun and this post was obviously not meant to offend anyone.”
There are a lot of problems with both the original post and the company’s responses to it. To begin with the former: The music industry has historically been–and continues to be–a minefield for female artists. As Kia Makarechi at the Huffington Post writes: female artists are asked “if they ‘really know’ how to produce and whether or not other people (read: men) ghost-produced their work.” She goes on to list other common stereotypes: that women in the electronic music industry “slept their way to the top” or that they “are actually just models who use pre-mixed sets.” As an electronic music label, Spinnin’ should be working to combat these stereotypes, not perpetuate them.
Furthermore, neither apology shows any real recognition of why the post was insulting and offensive. “We’re sorry you were offended” is a line that seems to pop up in more and more sticky PR situations these days; it’s a way for a company to “apologize” without actually taking any responsibility for its misstep. It shifts the blame from its rightful target–the employees who tweeted a misogynistic joke–onto the people who called them out on it. It trivializes the entire situation by perpetuating the idea that nothing was wrong and some people just can’t take a joke.
But are the careers, passions, and livelihoods of female DJs a joke? Is it even in the company’s best interest to alienate its own client base? After all, in its Twitter statement, the company made sure to specify that it “works with both male and female DJs.” Trivializing and dismissing the hard work of women in the music industry perpetuates a dangerous stereotype. Sign the petition calling for a proper, thoughtful apology from Spinnin’.
Dear Mr. Van Kooten,
I am writing to express my disgust and disappointment in Spinnin’ Records for its recent sexist post on both Facebook and Twitter (“Pioneer finally invented a CD-J for women”). Even aside from the juvenile, misogynistic humor, Spinnin has done nothing to address its mistake or to offer a sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing to both female fans and the female DJs it represents. Spinnin’ must offer a full, sincere, and thoughtful apology.
Women in the music industry, particularly the electronic music industry, are subject to sexism far too often. Female DJs are asked if their sets were ghost-produced. They are accused of sleeping their way to the top. They are dismissed as models with pre-mixed sets. It is hard enough for women to carve out places for themselves in the industry, to gain enough respect to be taken seriously. What good can possibly come from promoting an outdated, inaccurate, insulting, and downright offensive portrayal of women—some of whom actually contribute to Spinnin’s success?
Furthermore, the “apologies” Spinnin’ posted to its Facebook and Twitter accounts do not even come close to addressing the problem. The problem is not that people were offended; the problem is that Spinnin’ did something offensive. Saying “we’re sorry to those we unintentionally offended” addresses the effect of the issue; it does not address the cause. Even worse, brushing the entire incident off as a joke whose punch line missed the mark (as Spinnin’ did on its Facebook page) only serves to further trivialize and dismiss the role of women in the electronic music industry.
In the end, the question isn’t whether the joke was funny or not (it wasn’t) or whether people overreacted (they didn’t). The question is: did Spinnin’ acknowledge and learn from its mistake? Is it likely to refrain from belittling women in the future? At this point, the answer is an unequivocal “no.” But if Spinnin’ were to offer a well-thought-out, sincere apology—one that acknowledges the struggles and sexism that women face, both in everyday life and in the music industry— it would make a world of difference.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Twitter