We’ve all seen them, and they’ve shown us all of them. Who do I mean: the 21st century “raver girls”. If you’ve been to an electronic dance music (EDM) show, you’ve probably been inadvertently baptized in raver girl sweat as she flips her hair and proceeds to do a half-hearted booty bump in your direction. The fluffy boots-pacifier-neon bra-and-underwear look seems like a vision from one of Heffner’s wet dreams after he tripped on acid for a weekend, and you can find them in crowds swarming with their white iPhones to Instagram selfies of their “hashtag-PLUR” experience.
Whether these girls go to shows for the music, for the drugs, or for their friends, their mere existence represents something more than a seemingly shallow and fashionably challenged façade: feminism.
Culturally, feminism has made a resurgence in America–and no, not because of Beyoncé’s Flawless, but because “settling down” isn’t the ultimate life objective for millennial females anymore. Most of these women value subtle independences such as getting an education, starting a successful career, and exploring the dating culture before they even consider moving into that suburban dream house with the perfect school system to raise little Kelly and Tommy. So what does this have to do with rave culture? Well, because women are no longer culturally strapped to being either Mrs. Cleaver or the proverbial Old Maid, they now have a choice about how they choose to express themselves professionally, socially and even sexually. This is where EDM comes into the picture.
Since its early disco days, electronica provides an environment where men and women are uninhibited in every way possible. Who you are outside of the dance floor doesn’t matter when crowds of people from all walks of life move to the vibrations pulsing from subs that will most likely cause hearing defects 20 years from now. This arena creates a safe haven for any transgressive personality to play, making it a catalyst for the feminist movement. Wild and on the sexual prowl, women aren’t socially chastised for going shirtless–and even topless–at a club, strutting their “Naomi Campbell” walk and approaching the cute guy they made eye contact with at the bar. Hell, it’s even become empowering!
That being said, there’s an undeniable duality in the way the raver girl presents herself. Sure, going to a show in a light up bra and thong is bound to attract some human attention. Does that then become the reason for girls to dress and act the way they do? Is it just to get someone to look at them? Consequently, raver girls become prey for men and women, who interpret their scantily outfits and dance moves as a “clear sign” that they want to be taken home with someone (thanks, Robin Thicke). Or maybe the social stigma of going to an EDM show means that the crowd becomes a level-two orgy, where women and men alike let down all sexual boundaries.
But, what does that then mean for women? Could it be that the EDM scene opens the doors for women to possibly lose respect for themselves because they think it’s OKAY for strangers to grope their bodies, since it’s only happening at an EDM show?
I’m only a music lover. I can’t answer these questions, only ponder on them. For all I know, maybe a raver girl really does just get too hot on the dance floor. Maybe she can’t afford to take chances with wearing more clothes because, if the cute guy at the bar were to see that she sweats like a sailor, she could lose her potential hook up for the night. Maybe, just maybe, she’s actually making a statement.
As much as this counter culture is scrutinized by those who don’t understand it, I do believe that it provides a platform for all genders to express themselves. Whether that platform is comprised of feminist ideals, curiosity or exhibitionism, raver girls need to start asking that question for themselves.
All thoughts and opinions on this topic are strictly from Liz Tillman.