The Complications of International Women's Month (or Why I Love Neko Case)

Rachel Stevens
all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

When I saw Neko Case play the Wilma in Missoula, Montana in 2014, she was pissed. Playboy magazine had just published an article that said, “Neko Case is breaking the mold of what women in the music industry should be.” She was upset because they had called her out for being a woman in the music industry instead of just a musician. Amen. I loved Neko Case before that night, but I fell in fucking love with her in Missoula. It opened my eyes a ton to what it means to be a powerful woman. I had—admittedly—been trying to blend in as “one of the guys” in the creative industry I was working in and then I had myself questioning why. I’m a woman, but what should that matter?

International Women’s Month/Day is complicated. I don’t want to tokenize anyone ever. As Neko told Playboy, “GET WITH THE NOW, PUSSY-SHAVERS!” Wait… no, that’s not the tweet. As Neko told Playboy, “IM NOT A FUCKING ‘WOMAN IN MUSIC’, IM A FUCKING MUSICIAN IN MUSIC!” A lot of KEXP DJs don’t want to be known as “women DJs” they just want to be known as DJs. And when I say, “We’re going to play a ton of music from women this month!” Most people look at me and say, “We already do that.” And then I say “I’m sorry” because I’m a woman who can’t stop apologizing.

I get it. Neko is right. But also, maybe we do need to celebrate International Women’s Month – because we have so far to go. 

Just 2% of producers in the music industry are women. One in four mothers in the U.S. return to work just two weeks after giving birth, but some states are finally making changes. Women are sorely underrepresented everywhere you look. 

And wow–the pay gap discriminates hard. I—a CIS white woman—make just 79 cents to a white man’s dollar for doing the same job. And then a Black woman colleague taps me on the shoulder and says, “Well, I only make 64 cents.” And then a Hispanic woman coworker taps her on the shoulder and says, “I cannot believe I only make 57 cents to his dollar.” And then a trans girl in Texas taps her on the shoulder and says, “Well, if my parents try to help me transition, they could have CPS called on them for ‘child abuse.’” 

It all breaks my heart and also gets me super fired up. The problems in our world and country do not stop at gender, but it doesn’t help to be a woman. The pay gap matters. Representation matters—in music, on-air, in the workplace, in places of power.

At KEXP, we stand with trans women. We stand with Black women. We champion the voices and the badassery of women every damn day. That is what we do all year long. And in March 2022, we’re also celebrating International Women’s Month to continue to amplify women voices. We’re kicking it all off on our observed International Women’s Day, March 1st, by playing music from all women from 1am to 7pm with a line-up of DJs who are women:

Overnight with Lisa LeClair
Early with DJ Miss Ashley
The Morning Show with Morgan
The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters
The Afternoon Show with Kennady Quille
Drive Time with Evie Stokes

Happy International Women’s Day/Month. Now pay us more! Just kidding… I’m so sorry.

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