CONTENT WARNING: mention of r*pe, child and domestic abuse, sexual harassment.
If you weren’t aware, the woc and queer-centred feminist DJ collective Pxssy Palace recently posted a statement on their Instagram page notifying followers that they would no longer be hosting their monthly show on Radar Radio.
Their decision to leave the station was influenced by Radar’s ongoing problematicness in a number of areas related to the mistreatment and exploitation of marginalised bodies. The list, unfortunately, is far too long for me to write out here (which says a lot about the extent of the damage caused), but is still up on their page if you haven’t seen it yet. Radar have since replied to this with their own statement which, well, it’s absolute fucking trash.
I relate to most of the issues raised by Pxssy Palace, but one item on the list was especially triggering for me: “Creating an uncomfortable and toxic environment which has led to the departure of many women of colour staff”. I was one of those women of colour staff. In 2016, I worked at Radar for around 9 months, first as a Studio Assistant, and then as a Producer. I was never paid a penny and I was completely overqualified but, unluckily for me, this was least of my problems.
As someone who’s worked in the London music scene since 2010, I know exactly what it’s like for women in the industry. It fucking sucks. When I first entered the scene it was the golden age of Dubstep, and inequality was rife. At least in 2016 there were actually women on lineups and people talking about feminism, I thought.
I could say this was naïve of me, but the standards I encountered in the music industry with regard to gender had always been so low that honestly any remote improvement seemed amazing, but I digress. The point is, I joined Radar stupidly thinking that I’d be contributing to something positive, and finally establish a safe place for myself to do what I love.
It turned out that Radar behind the scenes was nothing like how it sounded. I was a fan not only because I’m a huge music nerd, but because I’m an angry brown woman who grew up in the ends. I heard voices like mine on there, chatting shit about colonialism and calling people out for their bullshit. How was it that down the line, it turns out the place is owned by a rich white dude (Ollie Ashley) whose dad (Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct) exploits people like me and my family every day on a huge scale? Mad.
Needless to say, my dream of doing anything in music at all without being victimized soon shattered. While working at Radar, I was sexually harassed, like, fucking tonnes, by dickhead dj dudes. This is shit for anybody, but triggering especially for me, as I’m a survivor of child abuse, domestic abuse and r*pe (which I was dealing with at the time). Not only this, but both my abusive ex and my r*pist are producers/DJs who know all the same fucking people I do, so you can imagine I don’t take this shit lightly. To add fuel to the fire, a couple women at the station also had the audacity to spread rumours about me fucking and sucking various guys there, as if all I’m gonna want after having horrible experiences with dick – is more dick?!
At times when harassment took place at the station itself, I notified whoever was in charge. For some reason, nothing ever really seemed to come of this. Most of the time, though, I was victimized while out at events, but by Radar DJs. To me, this was an industry issue, not just a Radar issue, so I took to Facebook to complain.
I didn’t mention Radar or any other names, so imagine my surprise when I turned up to my next shift (straight from an afters too, so I was in no mood) and the person in charge that day decided they would talk to me about it in a pseudo-official manner out of fucking nowhere. T-R-I-G-G-E-R-E-D!
In a nutshell, the person in question said that I represented Radar and shouldn’t be talking about such things on social media (as if these dumb ass djs aren’t out in public wearing your t-shirts while acting like fucking idiots?!). They also asked me to recount to them who had harassed me and what exactly those people had done, which any abuse survivor will tell you is not fucking easy. After I did this, I was told that what happened “just sounded like small things”, that “it’s just boys being boys”, and that “they’re just chirpsing”. They concluded by saying that I should tell a manager (which I had done) or “stay silent on the topic”.
Bruv. I spent the rest of my shift either in the bathroom having a panic attack, or in the studio with the show I produced wishing I was anywhere but there. When I got home, I wrote a long ass email to one of the managers telling them what happened, explaining that if nothing was done about this, I would not feel comfortable enough to remain at the station.
You’re not even ready for how deep it got after this point. They brought in a HR person from Eacotts, the company that deals with Sports Direct, to speak to me and take an official statement. Not only did I have to recount what happened, I also had to go through who had harassed me and what they had done again. This process took place through a series of meetings at Radar, where they spoke to me, then spoke to the manager who had made me uncomfortable, then had a meeting with both of us to reconcile the issue.
By this point I was fucking exhausted, and just went along with everything. None of it really seemed genuine, more like they just wanted it brushed under the rug, but I was in such a vulnerable state I just wanted it to end. When it did, the HR person sent me a confidential letter outlining that they would take action through providing staff with sensitivity training. This was the only thing they said they would do, and according to friends of mine who still work there – this never happened.
Other than that – and this is where it becomes some real capitalist conspiracy type shit – they made me sign a confidentiality form declaring that I would not reveal any of this information to anybody without the permission of Ollie Ashley or a member of Eacotts. They also asked me not to post any material “in any way related to Radar Radio, the Ashley family or the music community” online. Obviously, I’m violating the fuck out of that shit right now, but that’s what Radar gets for pretending to be ‘uncensored’ while actually censoring the shit out of women of colour. Anyway, since when the hell do Sports Direct believe they have jurisdiction over people talking about music?! Fam, your bullshit is unenforceable.
At the time, I emailed Ollie asking about all this madness, and never got a reply. I eventually left the station because the experience had really all the way fucked me up. I had started a masters at the time, and had to suspend this for a year because I was so fucking depressed it had become a disability. I literally could not fucking move from my couch. I stopped doing anything music related. I completely cut myself off from everyone. I went through 6 months of counselling and therapy. This shit had really resurfaced a lifetime of trauma for me, and did not fucking help at all in terms of my healing from the recent r*pe.
It’s a lot, right? And I’m just one of the many women of colour mentioned in the Pxssy Palace statement. If this is the extent of my mistreatment, what the hell have all of the others had to deal with? It’s taken me around 1500 words to explain, a year to heal, and almost 2 years to come out about this. Pxssy Palace crafted a lengthy and detailed statement, and my issue is only one of the many points they listed. How do Radar reply? With a generalised, patronising and ridiculously short blog post that doesn’t actually address any of their very real and specific actions that have genuinely hurt people like us. They even have the audacity to state that these are ‘opinions’. Well, I got the receipts for those ‘opinions’, bitch!
Everything I have just told you is why Radar’s reply to Pxssy Palace is complete and utter trash. Pxssy Palace are the only people in the entire industry that I know of, who have had the integrity to publicly challenge this weird position of power that Radar have created for themselves. It’s as if people are genuinely scared it’ll fuck their careers up, even though this music existed years before any of these gentrifiers had a clue. Nobody actually needs Radar, Radar needs artists. Otherwise it wouldn’t have built itself off the back of the black working class people who pioneered Grime. Bye.
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