From their inception, Krewella was known for making waves. Their edgy candy-coated dub step sound brought them to the forefront of EDM’s rising crop of stars, and the charismatic trio of the comely Yousaf sisters, Jahan and Yasmine, with their high-school friend Kris Trindl (known as Rain Man) shot them to superstardom in a few short years. Now, the group’s recent breakup has been the talk of the electronic dance music world, with details and allegations bordering on scandalous (the story even received coverage from online tabloid TMZ). Trindl’s lawsuit alleging the sisters forced him out of the group was the first confirmation of what fans had known for a while: that the end was near. Yasmine responded relatively quickly to the news with an emotional personal message to fans, but Jahan has stayed pretty much silent (except for on their scathing new track “Say Goodbye”).
In an opinion piece on Billboard.com titled “Deadmau5 Saved Me From Going Into Porn,” Jahan uses the outspoken DJ’s harsh tweets as a springboard to discuss, rather openly, how sexism (among other prejudice) still exists and what a troubling message its sending to today’s youth. Jahan implicates Deadmau5’s comments in inciting many of the sexist and degrading comments the sisters’ have received over social media, like telling them they should go into porn (hence the pieces’ title), and a disturbingly large number of comments calling the sisters “whores.”
.@krewella does not deliver. all hype. no drop.
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) November 24, 2014
What may at first seem like a sensational article, given the title, actually gives way to an honest and frank expression of the singer and DJ’s hurt over the insinuation that she was a less valuable member of Krewella simply because she is a woman, or that she was only there to sell her sex appeal. In accordance with the strong anti-bullying stance the group has been known to take, Jahan details how the prejudice she is facing as a woman in the media stifles the dreams of younger generations. Other notable details in the op-ed include Jahan’s explanation of her and Trindl’s relationship (they dated for 5 years), and her recognition that Krewella has some goodwill to recoup, stating that they are “the most hated group in the electronic dance music scene.” Overall, Jahan’s thoughts were poignant, well written, and raised serious issues regarding the nature of some of the backlash her and her sister received:
Hello. My name is Jahan Yousaf. I am a singer, songwriter and DJ of currently the most hated group in the electronic dance music scene: Krewella.
When my sister Yasmine and I got sued by our former bandmate, Kris Trindl, for allegedly “forcing” him out of the group for being “sober,” some of you told us to pursue a career in porn as we had failed at Krewella. Despite my penis being a little camera-shy, I was about to consider it. But then superstar DJ deadmau5seemed to take an interest in us, and now I think a career in music will work out. Thank you, deadmau5, for saving me from doing porn.
And here are a couple of posts following deadmau5’s tweets:
This isn’t just about deadmau5 or porn. It’s about sex, media and humanity. After 10 months of being removed from social media, this highly publicized lawsuit has lured me out of my cave. “Highly publicized,” meaning it was embarrassingly the No. 1 trending topic on Facebook, disseminated by TMZ, and received coverage by almost every single dance music blog. I did not participate or respond to the Krewella breakup chatter. I just stalked the fuck out of myself, read comments, and played the voyeur like Peeping Tom. Can someone please create an algorithm for how many times the words “whore” and “krewella” are used in the same sentence online?? These are just a few of the hundreds I collected:
Some of you are probably laughing at these comments, as I did at first. But hell, I can’t even fake a smile right now. This sickens me, because the way we participate in Internet dialogue mirrors our attitude as a society. And what I see in that reflection is an immense amount of hatred and intolerance for one another. It’s time to smash the fuckin’ mirror. I have been silent for too long. I am relapsing after avoiding social media to share what I have learned and to encourage people to challenge and question what they read/hear/see from now on, and that goes for situations beyond our case, whether it’s politics or celebrity gossip. The sad part is that it is 2014, and people are still passively reading headlines for face value, parroting the words of celebrities, and jumping on the bandwagon of popular opinion. I don’t see enough people challenging the intolerance that deadmau5 preaches to his 3 million followers, researching beyond the headlines they read, or protesting against the derogatory dialogue that circulates on social networks.
I am grateful for the handful who showed their concerns for us regarding the repulsive comments, but I am not asking for sympathy. I am asking for everyone to think about the impact this unwelcoming online environment has on our youth wanting success, respect and acceptance. Isn’t that what we all want? I am asking for everyone to think about girls who are looking at this public reaction who might now be discouraged to pursue an authentic place in a male-dominated industry. I am asking you to think about boys who internalize messages that vulnerability, sensitivity and standing up for gender equality means they are a pussy. This is for boys and girls, parents and children, straights and gays, because social rejection affects ALL of us. And if you think I am bringing up societal problems of the past or blowing this out of proportion, then you are living in a fantasy world where sexism, discrimination and homophobia don’t exist. I ask that you step outside your little bubble — or do your research — and understand that a huge portion of our youth’s depression, self-destructiveness and cognitive behavioral disorders are a result of societal rejection and shaming that occurs on the internet.
Both genders suffer inequalities and neither is more important to me than the other, but what I am most knowledgeable about is my first-hand experience of how I am talked about as a woman in the media. I do think it’s worth mentioning that Kris was often overshadowed due to the presence of two females. Despite our efforts to give him more spotlight, Kris checked out. We couldn’t continue forcing his presence in Krewella, as his decision to disassociate himself from the group and self-admitted addiction became out of our control, and I believe this happened because he subconsciously internalized this lack of attention from fans. However, there seemed to be heightened support for Kris after the lawsuit was filed. The disturbing part is that the growth in praise and attention we always wanted for Kris came with the demonization of Yasmine and me. Kris’ lawsuit rallied up thousands of fans to show an immense amount of support for him by sharing their mistrust of women and blatant derogatory assumptions about women (i.e.: “the girls didn’t do anything except use their sex to sell the group”…”this is why you should never go into business with a woman”…”they are just puppets for the genius who did all the work”). We were told to burn in hell and suck Kris’ dick. It is quite a shame that Kris was guided by his female legal counsel — Dina LaPolt was quoted saying we “didn’t know what was a middle C on the keyboard … the only notes they know are bank notes” — to choose to falsify claims that completely stripped Yasmine and me of our hard work and musical contributions to the group. In response to LaPolt’s quip, here’s an EXCLUSIVE PHOTO of Yasmine finally finding that Middle C:
But beyond how this affected me personally, these accusations actually facilitated the spread of negativity toward women in this industry and across the globe.
It’s almost as if being the female in the group, it’s assumed that you are purely there as a puppet and completely void of any musical abilities, creativity, or vision. My analysis of the public reaction is a wakeup call that there is still a stigma associated with being a woman: that I am a conspiring and manipulative free-loader who doesn’t work as hard or is as talented as a man- and that I use sex to advance my career. The pressure not to confirm stereotypes can affect a women’s performance and her ability to succeed. The fear of being doubted, questioned and shamed, and battling derogatory assumptions about one’s character, is a contingency that may very well be the reason we don’t see more women with higher, powerful positions in the workforce. And just because there are movies and TV shows with female judges and CEOs doesn’t mean it’s a reflection of reality. We may have evolved as a society in terms of gender rights, and laws and displaying powerful representations of women in the media compared to decades ago, but this doesn’t mean that attitudes toward gender equality are being practiced in everyday life.
Since my earliest experiences on social networks, I have witnessed women in the media being condemned for having sex or dating people within their industry. I internalized these observations of women being “slut-shamed” and felt a looming cloud of guilt over my head for dating Kris. He was my boyfriend, best friend and bandmate from 2006-2011. Our past relationship was something I always requested to maintain in private. Despite the mental agony the lawsuit has given me, it’s a blessing in disguise that he revealed the fact that we dated in the opening paragraph of his lawsuit, because I would have continued to shamefully cover up the past about our relationship if I didn’t have to face the truth one day. Now, the only part I am guilty about is allowing others to control how I felt about my sexuality. A previous relationship should not be shameful. Sex is not shameful. Who gives a fuck if it’s homosexual, heterosexual, monogamous, with multiple partners. If it’s consensual, it’s natural. Whether man or woman, straight or gay, my heart weeps for anyone who hides in the shadows in shame because of their sexuality. I hope my self-realization can help others feel more liberated as well.
The hardest part about being at the center of a media debacle is knowing how it indirectly shapes the hopes and dreams of our society’s boys and girls. If the future leaders of our world are spending 30-plus hours a week online, then let’s make sure it’s a place that breeds peace, love, unity and respect for one another (or is everyone too cool for PLUR now?). Is sexism, homophobia and discrimination a stale argument? It seems that because we’ve made progress in implementing gender-equality laws over the decades, people think our work is over and done. But depression and suicide rates are rising on a dangerous trajectory, and the rejection people experience from their community is a huge contributing factor. I call that a fucking crisis. The first step to changing this statistic takes place right at our fingertips, with the words we type.
Is the message in your text box aligned with your future aspirations in life, like being a father, mother, lawyer, politician, actor, musician, activist or whatever your dream is? Please question your motives and the effects of anything you post. Impulses are unforgiving, and your words are powerful. We are blessed to be granted freedom of speech in the United States. That being said, we will continue to see influentials on the Internet who abuse that freedom and partake in bullying, malicious snark and the spread of rumors. It’s in YOUR hands to decide what kind of behavior to absorb, reject or protest against. I want to see more people using their freedom of fucking speech to say something really provocative and powerful. Let’s channel our rage into a movement to make a positive change and put an END to online bullying. This is my rallying cry. The only reason we have made progress in civil rights, acceptance and open-mindedness is because people stood the fuck up. I cannot bear sitting at my keyboard in silence knowing that every single person on this planet can be a part of a positive change. This is a collective effort, and it starts with you.
Read the full article on Billboard to get the full inside scoop on Jahan’s op-ed.