Chapel Sound Festival confronts microaggression head on with open dialogue

Thursday 19th, May 2016 / 18:43
By Maya-Roisin Slater
Capel Sound Festival director Nancy Lee.

Capel Sound Festival director Nancy Lee.

VANCOUVER — For generations women have been fighting publicly and passionately for equality of the sexes. Though these calls for action are still very much alive today, on a daily basis it can be easy to fall into the assumption that those big issues women worked to eradicate have now been dealt with. In reality, sexism still exists as it did when the right to vote was in question, it’s just more silenced.

Inequality in its new form looks like subtle acts of discrimination and systemic tendencies to bar women from certain spaces. This quiet version of sexism even has a title; it’s called microaggression. Originally associated with race and racism, microaggression also occurs as an arm of sexism in fields of work where women were not previously believed capable to occupy. Nancy Lee, a VJ, installation artist and member of Vancouver’s electronic music collective, Chapel Sound, noticed an influx of microaggression within the community she works and wanted to bring attention to it.

Chapel Sound Festival logo.

Chapel Sound Festival logo.

“The classic example,” explains Lee, “Is ‘You have good music taste/technical knowledge, for a girl.’ The person saying it doesn’t have any ill intentions and think they are offering praise, but they don’t realize their biases. They are making an assumption that not having good taste in music/technical knowledge is based in a person’s gender: being a woman.”

Lee cites other examples of microaggressions as when festivals book all-male headliners, when female artists are paid less, when sexual harassment towards female artists is tolerated, or when female artists are judged based on their body or appearance, something that rarely happens to male performers. As part of Chapel Sound Collective’s inaugural two-day electronic music festival, Lee is organizing a panel of women working in the field to address the topic of microaggressions and discuss strategies for diminishing them. Women in Electronic Music & Creative Technology involves various speakers including Andrea Graham, a DJ, producer and co-creator of Bass Coast; Kiran Bhumber, a creative technologist, educator and audio artist; Soledad Muñoz, the founder of Genero Sound; Jen Pea, a DJ, producer and event organizer; and it will be moderated by local activist Jen Sungshine.

Lee hopes members of the community, both male and female, choose to participate in this discussion, creating an accepting and diverse audience with which to welcome change. “It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and it’s extremely difficult to call out your peers and friends and people who you want to maintain relationships with. Most people in the industry aren’t trying to be sexist and are very willing to support female artists and unlearn their biases, but sometimes they just need a nudge here and there in the right direction,” explains Lee.

Women in Electronic Music & Creative Technology will be taking place Saturday May 21 at Gold Saucer Studios as part of Chapel Sound Fest. More information can be found at

, , , ,