Dominique LeJeune

Songwriter, DJ, Music Journalist

February 15, 2017


How old are you?

I’m 24.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Metairie and I’ve lived in the area my whole life.

Why have you stayed in New Orleans?

I continuously fall in love with New Orleans over and over again. There’s layers, I love it. I stay because I don’t want to be anywhere else. I really feel the happiest when I’m here. I want to keep my roots planted.

Do you remember being told or taught anything while you were growing up about the behavioral expectations of being a girl?

You’re taught early on that there are creepy people in this world who do bad things. You have this concept in your mind of creepy men who could harm you or take you and you’ll never come back again. You learn that if someone is attacking you, say ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ because people will pay more attention if you say ‘fire’. I was taught things about beauty and aesthetics that are cruel and unusual to girls and body image. There are expectations that are impossible to live up to. There is this idea that women should not enter certain spaces or that their voices are not welcome in certain spaces. A lot of the time I find that women are profoundly more informed than people perceive them to be and usually way more informed than the person who is talking. Strange how that works.

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?

Sexism is the belief that there is an inherent difference between the different sexes and the belief that someone’s sex defines certain traits about them. Sexism is the act of that prejudice. More than just having the prejudice, sexism to me is the action. It’s the working belief system that exists and is embedded. Often when you are a feminist like myself, you still have thoughts and hear them and internalize that sexism. Sexism is...sexism is...you could simply say it’s the belief or the actions that reflect that men are superior to women.

How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?

I feel angry. If it was personal then there’s no way I wouldn’t be sad, I would be pretty hurt. But considering I deal with sexism every day, I get angry or frustrated that it’s so relentless. I just have to survive and try to be happy. Sexism makes me feel really motivated to kick some ass in a positive way. It puts a fire in my belly. It gets me ready to prove people wrong.

Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?

I notice all the time. I try to be as kind and fair as possible to people especially when they’re not aware of it and their intentions are clearly not sexist. I’ve taken Women’s History, I’ve taken Sociology of Gender, I’ve read a lot of books and a lot of articles that get me really pissed off. I remember the first time I was reading about emotional labor, it blew my mind and I wanted to cry. Why does it always happen? Why do I do all this emotional work for someone and then I want to say something about myself and get some relief and cannot? Catcalling and street harassment, those are things that happen every day. If not, you just have to walk around long enough and you will run into sexism. It’s there, you can’t escape it. You can hide away from it but it’s there.

Can you recall any specifics occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you that may have stuck with you?

In college, even after I had a really successful song happen, I still felt like my immediate musical peers didn’t take me seriously and that’s pretty common. I don’t get taken seriously by a lot of people. I try not to surround myself with people who make me feel like shit but a great example of sexism is if you’re sitting in a room with a bunch of male musicians and someone starts talking about gear, try to get a word in. Try to know anything. I’ve been hollered at on the streets. I’ve heard really creepy and sometimes terrifying things. I’ve had a man tell me from a balcony, “You should try some more comfortable shoes, honey!” Your opinion doesn’t belong here. One of the things that drives me crazy about men in general is that they’ll try to control you in some sort of way. It’s something small like an unsolicited piece of advice or a suggestion that exudes this sense of dominance and the reality is that I’m not going to allow that to happen.

Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that drive you insane?

I hate stereotyping even though it’s so engrained in our brains that I do it all the time. I’m a human so I tend to do things that I wish I didn’t do but I try to learn from that. I really disagree with men who feel like they have to be emotionally strong or tough. That bums me because I believe that most men are actually pretty sensitive. They’re also human and have feelings. I really hate the idea of being a man being the most profound thing you can be because I think being a woman is way better. Woman up. I hate when people think that women don’t know what they’re talking about or they couldn’t possibly know more than you do. We are trying to create this idea of sisterhood and camaraderie between the sexes especially in the progressive and radical communities of the world. There is the stereotype that women shouldn’t trust other women and be competitive and hard on each other and not be supportive. It’s frustrating because even the most pure human in the world will make those mistakes.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

It’s hard to find many men who genuinely understand how to support women. It’s ok that they make mistakes but some men truly don’t think that they are sexist when they are. That can be really damaging especially in this music scene of people who are all very free and in many cases, radical and very progressive. I see how women play into the roles too. I play into them. There are so many standards for female musicians. You have to kick ass or else you don’t count. You have to do something that really stands out or you’re going to be overlooked. People often say putting a girl in a band is a good idea because there’s this appeal. They mean sex appeal but they’re not saying that. They’re objectifying women when they say that. When I was a young musician, I had to learn how to change my presentation to keep the situation professional and painless. You’re a “chick” before you’re anything else. It’s funny to see people’s faces change when they realize that you’re also a musician because until then, you’re invisible to them.