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#i do not know why ppl insist on existing in online spaces
ratmonky · 6 months ago
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Out of Body Experience
Word Count: 4.9K
Warnings: semi-public
AO3 Link
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[You matched with Maru!]
[Send Maru a message!]
Maru: Hey.
(username): hiii!!
Maru: You look cute in your pictures on your profile.
(username): omg you think so?? i’m really happy!! i thought you had a rlly cool bio,,, i guess i did the right choice to like your bio
Maru: Thanks. I was surprised to get a notification that we matched. You’re way out of my league.
(username): don’t say that maruuu~ i bet you look handsome irl
Maru: I don’t.
(username): hmm, wanna prove it?? >.<
Maru: I don’t know.
(username): don’t be shy!! ur bio said you lived in kyoto, wanna meet up this saturday?
Maru: You’ll be disappointed.
(username): i promise i won’t!!! i like meeting new ppl!!! besides if we didn’t click we can still be friends?? i feel like you and i will be close no matter what!!
Maru: Are you sure? We just met.
(username): yep!!! come ooooonnnnn it’ll be fun to hang out!!
Maru: Fine.
(username): yay!!! let’s meet in front of the train station!! ahh i’m so excitedddd i can’t waittt TwT
Maru: Me too.
(username): <3
[Maru: <3………….. (send)]
Kokichi paused and deleted the message.
Maru: See you.
~~~
Kokichi’s first impression of you was that you were naive and careless. You wanted to meet up with him without any hesitation, what if he was someone who could harm you?
He stared at his screen and at your pictures.
You were gorgeous, he had never seen someone as pretty as you. On top of all that you wanted to meet him.
It made him feel special, wanted even.
~~~
When a notification sound filled his ears, Kokichi immediately checked if it was from you.
(username): maruuuuu!!!! i missed u  ))):
He stared at the message and read it three times but didn’t quite understand why you would miss him.
Maru: What?
(username): i thought you’d text me but u didn’t,,, i couldn’t sleep cuz i was thinking about u
Maru: I didn’t think you wanted me to text you.
(username): )):
Maru: ?
(username): )))):
Maru: (:
(username): (((((:
Maru: You’re childish aren’t you?
(username): what about it q;
Maru: Nothing. How old are you anyway?
(username): old enough to drinkkkk!!!
Maru: Me too. Which Jujutsu college are you going to?
(username): ohh, hehe… i dropped out cuz it wasn’t my thing
Maru: That’s irresponsible. Did you drop because you couldn’t keep up with your curse classes or was it for some other reason?
(username): maruuuu stop talking about jujutsu with meee!!!
Maru: Then what should we talk about?
(username): about our date >.<
Maru: Date?
(username): did u forget already )):
Maru: Forget what?
(username): our date on saturday )):
Maru: That’s a date?
(username): TwT ur making me sad maru
Maru: I don’t understand it, we just said we’d meet up.
(username): this is a dating website for ppl like us ///:
Maru: You want to date me?
(username): idk anymore,,, seems like ur a heartbreaker and i feel like u don’t feel a connection between us as i do
Maru: Wait! Don’t jump to conclusions all by yourself! You don’t even know what I look like, how can you be so sure that you want to date me?
(username): i mean,,, we matched for a reason,,, i liked ur bio and wanted to get to know u better is that bad??
Maru: No. No, it isn’t. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I'm new to this sort of stuff.
(username): apology accepted!!!! ahhhh ur so cute,,, i can’t wait to meet u
Maru: Same here.
~~~
His classmates knew something was up. Robotic demeanor was gone and instead, it was actually a part of himself as Kokichi that was showing through.
“Mechamaru looks happy nowadays,” Kamo noted.
“It’s relieving that he shows us a softer side of himself,” Miwa added. “Makes me feel happy for him.”
“I wonder what caused him to become this way.” Kamo was talking to himself but Todo took it upon himself to answer.
“He has finally found himself a Takada-chan.” Todo grinned. “Reminds me, I never asked him what his type of woman is.”
There was a moment of silence before Todo walked out into the campus garden to make his way towards Mechamaru.
Mechamaru didn’t notice his presence as he was watering the flowers.
“Yo.”
“Todo. Did you need something?”
“What’s your type of woman?”
Caught off guard, Mechamaru dropped the watering can. “I… I think someone who’s kind and cheerful.” Someone who’s submissive.
“Like I guessed.” Todo held his chin between the knuckle of his forefinger and thumb as he hummed thoughtfully. “You’re as lifeless as your puppet.”
~~~
What did that suppose to mean?
Kokichi was just telling the truth.
Right?
~~~
Days passed until Friday came.
Kokichi talked to you almost every day and whenever he could. He seemed to enjoy your company more than he thought he would when the two of you first matched.
He woke up to your messages and went to sleep only after he texted you goodnight.
Today, he felt like his heart was going to jump out of his ribcage, he could hear his own pulse when it got too quiet and it was dead silent in his hideout… as always.
All he could think about was your date tomorrow. He had made sure to dress up Mechamaru nicely for the occasion and checked the weather report thrice so the date wouldn’t be ruined because of anything out of his control.
There was still something that made him extremely anxious. What if you didn’t like him? What if everything went terribly and you blocked his number?
He needed something to distract him from these negative thoughts.
Maru: Hey.
(username): maruuuu!!!! what r u doin??
Maru: Going to sleep soon, I think.
(username): without me (;
Maru: Never.
(username): i’m blushing
Maru: How are you?
(username): fine, i'm doing skincare tonight to get ready for our date!!
Maru: About that...
(username): ....
(username): are you going to cancel our date?
Maru: No! I’m just anxious about it.
(username): good cuz i’d block u
Maru: I don’t think you would.
(username): you don’t know me
Maru: Because you never told me about yourself.
(username): ^-^; haha yeah,,, so,,, what would you like to know?
Maru: Everything.
Without even noticing the passing time, Kokichi chatted with you until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.
He learned everything about you. From the earliest memory, you could recall about your first interaction with a cursed spirit to your latest obsession with an online game about cute animals.
His eyelids were getting heavier, he texted you goodnight and how he was excited to meet you tomorrow.
When he closed his eyes, this time he managed to fall asleep.
~~~
You pressed your phone to your chest and kicked at your sheets. The excitement was eating you up, the butterflies in your stomach wouldn’t calm down either. All because of someone you met online a couple of days ago.
It wasn’t something new to you to meet up with people you met online but this felt a lot different.
Previous times, you had used different dating apps or social media websites to make friends but this was the first time you had used a dating website specifically for people who knew the existence of curses.
Jujutsu sorcerers often found it hard to find someone they could click with because of their field of work but this website had risen up to popularity from day one. Your old classmates from your jujutsu college wouldn’t shut up about it so you gave it a go after their insisting.
Maru was one of the first people you matched with on the website. In his profile, he had written about how he wanted to find someone he could be himself with and date them.
That’s why tomorrow, you had to be on your best behavior so he could be himself around you.
~~~
You were twenty minutes early.
It wasn’t your intention to arrive this early but whether it be the excitement to meet up with Maru or not wanting to make him wait if your train was late-
Wait, those were all connected.
Letting out a sigh, you checked your phone. Yep, still twenty minutes. Once you put it back in your purse, your eyes scouted around the station. There weren’t any empty spaces for you to sit so you were standing by a meeting point next to the maps, hoping Maru would see you.
Although you didn’t know what he looked like, you had put effort into how you looked today so you could impress him. Deep inside, you hoped he would take notice of your appearance and compliment you but some men were just too dense.
From the way he had started texting you, he gave you the impression that he was one of those stoic and dense men but as you started to get to know him better, he turned out to be quite a friendly person. Very talkative and caring.
You pressed a hand on your cheek, you were burning up. Geez, were you really blushing this much because of him?
When you told your friends about this date, they had told you not to have too many expectations about Maru. They believed you were being catfished but it wasn’t possible, you didn’t want to meet him because of his appearance after all.
“Um, excuse me-”
Startled, you lifted your head to stare at a… robot?
You stepped away from its way, thinking that you were standing in front of its charging station or something. How long had it been since you had gone out? Had robots already taken over? Or was this one of those public pranks?
The robot was staring at you even after you moved away.
“(username)?”
You lifted your gaze and looked at the robot with wide eyes. “M-M-Maru?”
It nodded, “Mechamaru.”
No, it wasn’t a robot. You could sense cursed energy oozing from it. More like a cursed doll. Nevertheless, you were speechless.
There was a long pause before you spoke. “Ah, I...” You looked around as if you were searching for an exit and anxiously clutching on your purse.
Great, you were going to make up an excuse and go away. Just like he thought you would.
“I thought I was going to meet you, not a puppet.”
“I’m here,” he said, static sizzling noise coming from him was like nails on a chalkboard. “I just can’t be physically here because of my condition.”
“You could’ve told me about it first… ahh, sorry.” You sounded more annoyed than you would have liked but quickly covered it up by bowing your head to greet him. “Nevermind, I’m (name).”
“Are we going to use real names?”
“Well, I’m not gonna call you Megaman.” There was a smile.
“Mechamaru,” he corrected. After a short silence, he added, “Kokichi.”
“Nice to meet you Kokichi, I hope we can get along well.” You bowed yet again.
“Why are you being so formal?”
“It’s cuz…” You pointed at him.
“What?”
“Well…” You used both hands to gesture his whole body.
“If you say it’s because I’m a robot or anything similar to that, I’ll go home.” He sounded serious, or maybe it was because of the static.
You pouted and leaned forward on your tiptoes, “If I can’t even joke around then I’ll go home.”
“I thought you were looking forward to our date.” When you blushed at his words he spoke again. “You look cuter than your pictures.”
“Ahh, you really think so?” You started walking and he followed after you.
“I do.” He was keeping a large space between the two of you, whenever you tried to walk closer to him, he would move away but now when you were caught in the station with the crowd who were going home after work hours, you had to stay close to him.
You were being pushed against Kokichi thanks to the crowd trying to walk out of the station and he didn’t complain about it. Kokichi didn’t look at you, he thought about the things he read on the internet instead.
‘If you want your date to consider you as manly, you have to invest yourself to talk to her.’
“Your dress looks cute.” Kokichi came up with ‘the compliment her outfit’ route, he had seen men flirt before, he could do it too.
He stared down for a moment to see your reaction.
Bingo!
You smiled brighter than the sun, you played with your hair to give him a playful answer. “Thank you, I wore this just for our date.” Your eyes shined with small sparkles in them. “I really like your collar.” You pointed at his face, not too close, hesitant to invade his personal space. I’m here with his puppet not him, you reminded yourself.
“Thanks.”
When the two of you finally exited the station, you walked alongside him.
“Where to?” He nonchalantly asked while you were looking around the streets.
“What about karaoke?” You gave him an inviting smile, “It’d be fun.”
“Whatever you say.” He wasn’t sure which way you were taking. There was the main street and Kyoto's red-light district, of course, he knew you wouldn’t be going there. “Which street are we going for?”
You pointed to your right, “The main street, there is a karaoke place I know.” Your smile altered when you noticed how this time when you walked together to cross the street, it was close, your shoulder touched his fake biceps.
“I’m not good at singing for obvious reasons.” Back in his bathtub, Kokichi said it in a joking manner but thanks to the cursed puppet, it sounded a lot as if he was annoyed about the idea of going into karaoke. He bit his tongue and cringed, waiting for your reaction.
“You can still try, can’t you?” You gave him the best puppy eyes you could. “For me?”
Kokichi blushed but you weren’t able to see it through Mechamaru. “Y-yeah.”
“Oh, I didn’t know robots could stutter.”
“I didn’t stutter and I’m not a robot. This is a cursed puppet and sometimes the commands I give are interrupted, that’s why I-”
“You’re so easy to tease just as I guessed!”
Kokichi covered his mouth with his hand, watching you giggle at him through his screen.
“Here it is.” Pointing at a sign, you grabbed his arm and dragged him with you.
While you were showing him the prices, he was busy staring down at your shirt. He could… he could see your cleavage.
“The menu says they serve alcohol at this hour! Ahh, the prices are cheaper than the last time too! We can share the tab-” You stopped yourself from talking. Silence brought him out of his trance. “Oops, sorry. You can’t eat or drink through Megaman, right?”
“Mechamaru,” he corrected. “No, I can’t… But it’s on me anyway.”
“You’ll pay?” Your eyes sparkled brighter than the stars. Your pouting lips and hand on his chest didn’t help.
Kokichi looked away, blushing. “Y-yeah.”
“Y-you’re the best!” Mocking his stuttering, you offered him a cute smile. Then you went on to drag him inside while telling him about how this place was the best karaoke place in Kyoto because they served desserts and your favorite cocktail. All the while renting a room for the two of you.
“Would you like to share with others?” The employee asked.
“No.” Your answer was instantaneous.
Behind the register, the employee stared at Kokichi and down at you. It was easy to tell he thought the two of you were a mismatch. “Your room is to the left, you can order through the smart tablet. Have fun.”
“Thanks,” you said before walking past the register. When Kokichi caught up with you, you turned around. “Did you see the way he stared? So lame!”
“Well, anyone would have stared if they saw a pretty girl next to a robot.”
“So, you’re accepting you’re a robot?” You grinned, opening the door to the private room.
“That’s not what I meant!” He didn’t know what he was expecting. From the way you texted, he should have known you were this childish and unable to have a serious conversation.
“Hmm?”
“Nothing.” He closed the door behind him as you were ordering as many drinks as you could. Once he noticed you were about to order the entire menu, he barely managed to stop you by taking the smart tablet away from your hands. “Hey, I’m not rich!”
“It’s cheap, trust me!” You pouted your lips again, reaching for the smart tablet he was holding above your head.
His stare found the menu and froze. It was cheaper than he had thought like you said. He had never been somewhere like this, nobody could blame him for it.
“Sorry, I didn’t notice,” he said as he handed the device back to you.
“I was showing you the menu earlier, you weren’t listening, were you?” Your smile widened, eyes squinting knowingly.
“I was listening! You’re talking way too much, I can’t keep up!”
You crossed your legs, continuing to add stuff to your order.
It got quiet.
Realizing what he had said was rude, he apologized.
“It doesn’t sound genuine.”
“It’s because I’m talking through a puppet.”
“Exactly.”
You weren’t looking at him. Putting the tablet aside, you leaned back on the soft cushions. The mood had changed. When you weren’t talking, it was too quiet.
Decidedly, he walked over to the karaoke machine and grabbed two microphones. He sat next to you, placing one of the microphones next to you as he reached for the tablet.
There were way too many songs in the system and he knew none of them.
Scrolling further, he found Takada-chan’s songs.
“You like Takada-chan?” you asked, noticing how he had stopped scrolling.
“No,” he replied. “My friend-” Was he really his friend? “My friend likes her, he won’t stop talking about her and all.”
“I like her,” you said. “I’ve been to her meet and greets many times but they’re always ruined by some buff dude who has the most tickets. He’s always at the events, kinda creepy but seems like he supports her. He once beat up some guy who insulted her.”
Kokichi didn’t say anything. He didn’t want that guy to be the icebreaker on his date.
“Creepy,” he uttered before putting the tablet on your lap. “You should sing, I don’t know any of these songs.”
“None of them?” You raised a brow.
“None.”
“You’re so boring,” you murmured, clicking on the first song you saw.
The loud music filled the room and his hideout. You tapped on the microphone, “Check, one, two. Kokichi is sooooo boring!”
Your laughter was the next thing that filled his hideout. He chuckled but it came out as a static noise through Mechamaru.
While you were singing, the same employee came with two trays full of drinks and snacks, he left them on the table before leaving immediately. None of you paid any mind as you were changing the lyrics to tease Kokichi.
“Are those really the lyrics?” he asked.
“Yep!”
Another giggle.
Too cute.
Very cute.
He watched you stop singing for a brief moment to chug down your third drink. Your cheeks were flushed red from the booze and your neck was sweaty, you kept fanning your hand towards your face.
His gaze focused on a particular sweat droplet on your neck and idly watched as it drizzled down to your cleavage before disappearing under the fabric of your dress.
Kokichi tried focusing on something else but he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from you. Every single thing you did was seductive. When you bit onto a small rice cake or the way your lips closed around the straw of your drink and how your cheeks hollowed when you tried sucking the last bits of your cocktail in your mouth.
The last drop had to be when you grabbed an ice cube from your drink and held it over the skin of your chest.
His hand pressed on his lower half. He was thankful he wasn’t physically there or he would have been labeled as a pervert. Under the soothing medical liquid, he had a problem you didn’t need to see.
You weren’t singing anymore but the music was playing nonetheless to suppress the silence as Kokichi was practically undressing you with his eyes.
“Heyyy, Kokichi~” you slurred, sitting closer to him. “You’re being too quiet!”
Taken aback, he spoke. “I’m not sure what to say?”
“Just talk…” you whined, putting a hand on his knee.
Oh, how he wished he could feel the warmth of your hand.
“Or better… Sing!” You held a microphone up to his face.
“I can’t sing,” he reminded.
“You said, you’d sing for meee~”
He blushed, taking the microphone from your hand. “I don’t know the lyrics.”
“It’s on the screen.”
Yes, the lyrics were on the screen.
He felt embarrassed, this was stupid. He wasn’t even actually in the room with you but he felt so nervous. His actual hands were shaking as he gulped.
When he started singing, you started laughing.
The static made it sound like he was an actual robot. Yet, Kokichi didn’t stop despite how tone-deaf his voice was coming through Mechamaru. He wanted to make sure you were having fun but the music stopped.
Both of you stared at the notification on the tablet, asking if you wanted to add another hour to your stay.
Had it already been an hour? Time was going fast when you two were having fun.
You looked at Kokichi.
He pressed to accept.
The music continued playing.
This time, Kokichi didn’t sing. The two of you started chatting about everything and anything until there was a lull in the conversation.
“Lemme see your hand,” you said, reaching your own towards him. He slowly placed his hand on your open one and you compared the size. “Wow, your hand is hugee, is your real hand this big?”
Funny, if not absurd. You were on a date with a puppet but you were getting turned on.
“It's the same size as my own hand.” His gaze dropped to his actual body. “At least one of them.”
“Can you feel that?” You intertwined your fingers with his.
“No.” He wasn’t looking and he didn’t need to look. The depressing realization that he was always going to watch people behind a screen and in this damn bathtub was starting to sink in once again.
“Can you feel this?” You were giggling.
“I told you, I can’t feel-” His breathing stopped at the sight of you pressing his hand on your breast.
“I wanna meet you, Kokichi~” Smiling enticingly, you sat closer to him. “It’s no fun when I can’t see if you’re blushing right now.” Your hand over his hand moved on your breast, the supple flesh jiggled under the front of your dress. “Are you blushing right now?”
“I am.” His answer was instant.
“You know,” you started, putting your free hand on his thigh and lifting your leg up on the cushion to face him. “I got all dressed up ‘cause I wanted you to lose your composure. You sounded so uptight and stoic. I wanted to see you lose it.” Tilting your head, you puckered your lips. “But you didn’t even come to our date.”
“I did.”
“Megaman did.”
“Mechamaru.”
“I wanted Kokichi to come.” You pulled his hand away from your breast and led it down to your stomach and even lower. “I wish you were here so you could feel how wet I am.”
“(name),” he said. “I can’t feel my fingers through Mechamaru.”
“Mm?” You placed his hand under the skirt of your dress. “But I can feel them.”
Kokichi’s actual hand started shaking in excitement as Mechamaru’s fingers brushed against your panties.
“Can’t I meet you?” Your voice was faint compared to the music but he heard it. “I wanna meet you.”
“You’ll be disappointed, I don’t look… normal.”
“You don’t look normal right now either.” Biting your lip, you moved against his hand. A soft gasp left your lips. “Yet, I’m so turned on right now.”
There were a thousand different thoughts invading his mind but Kokichi felt like he was hypnotized by your hips.
“Kokichiii, move your fingers,” you whined softly, your eyes hazy with lust.
“I need to see them,” he said. Back in his room, his own hand was pressing down on his growing erection. “Or I may move them wrong.”
“Pervert~” you teased, lifting the skirt of your dress up.
He didn’t say anything, instead focused his attention on your soaked panties. How long had you been this wet? From the moment you two rented the room or-
“Kokichi.” Your needy voice brought him out of his dirty thoughts. “You don’t have a cock under your pants, do you?” Your hand pressed against Mechamaru’s groin.
For the first time in his life, Kokichi felt his entire body jolt. Your vulgar way of asking was enough to get him rock hard. “No-”
“What a waste.” Sulking, you retrieved your hand. “But are you hard right now?”
“I… I am.”
A dangerous glint sparkled through your eyes. “If only you were here… I’d make you feel sooo good.”
Mechamaru’s fingers pressed against your clothed folds before moving along them. A soft moan left your lips and you balanced yourself on your hands.
“I look like a freak-”
“You keep saying that.” Your hips moved against his hand. “As if that matters to me.”
Mechamaru slid your panties to the side and spread your folds with two of his fingers, he carefully watched as wet strands connecting them together broke apart. Kokichi’s own hand was pumping his cock.
“What are you doing right now, Kokichi?”
“I’m putting a finger inside.” He inserted one of his fingers inside you.
“No, what are you really doing?” You bit your lip.
“I’m… I’m jerking off.”
Satisfied with his answer, you crossed a leg over his to settle on his lap with your back against his chest. Spreading your legs wider, you allowed him a better view of your wet pussy. Mechamaru’s digits slid inside as Kokichi moved his hand along the length of his cock.
Mechamaru’s other hand went to cup your breast over your shirt, making a moan escape your lips.
His fingers were reaching deeper than your own fingers ever could. The digits moved in a scissoring motion and curled against your gummy walls, pressing against the spot that made your vision blurry.
“Kokichi,” gasping, you squirmed on his lap, your back arched when his thumb grazed over your clit. “I wanna kiss you so bad.”
Kokichi’s hand tightened around the tip of his cock, he pulled the sensitive skin down to expose the pink tip and massaged it using his thumb. When his hand started moving along his cock again, the device helping him talk through Mechamaru picked up the clicking sound rather than the medical fluid splashing.
You moaned at the realization of what you were hearing.
The feeling of the metallic firm fingers stroking your clit made your hips buck against his hand. Your eyes roll to the back of your head, panting, you pressed your thighs together.
Mechamaru’s hand on your chest moved down on your thigh to hold you in place as his fingers inside your pussy started to vibrate. The sudden pleasure made you scream but the loud music concealed it.
Kokichi couldn’t breathe normally, his pulse had gone haywire as his hand was moving hastily around his cock while Mechamaru’s digits were messing you up.
“S-s-s-stop!” Your voice broke into a moan.
“Do you really want me to stop?” He barely managed to ask, his hand wouldn’t stop.
You shook your head rapidly, biting your lip.
Your walls clenched around the digits, sucking them in deeper. Kokichi’s own hand was moving faster than his heartbeat. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and his shoulders tensed.
He was close.
From the way you were shaking, he could say the same thing for you.
So, when Mechamaru pushed his digits further inside, the vibration got stronger and stronger until your legs shook. The pleasure that was building in your gut suddenly got released, shaking you to your core.
Kokichi followed suit, his cock spurted thick clumps of cum and they landed on his stomach, his bandages absorbed his seed.
By the time he caught his breath, he realized you were still on his lap.
Mechamaru had gone limp as he had gotten distracted because of his orgasm. He revived the cursed doll while you were trying to fix your dress.
You wanted to say something but you couldn’t find something to say.
To your rescue, the music stopped.
The tablet had the same notification from before. Informing you that the second hour had ended and if you wanted to rent the room for one more hour.
Kokichi leaned forward and pressed on the tablet to end the session.
“We’re leaving already?” you pouted your lips.
“You said you wanted to meet me.”
Kokichi watched as the brightest smile he had ever seen formed on your face.
After he paid the tab the two of you exited the building as he held you up with one hand because your legs weren’t functioning properly.
“The employee behind the register noticed your wobbly legs,” Kokichi said.
“You think so?” you whispered, cheeks and ears colored in bright red.
“He was looking, so, yes.”
“You kinda went overboard by using Megaman’s vibrator hands.” Your giggle filled his ears and he smiled to himself.
“It’s Mechamaru.”
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marylovettpostgradblog · 10 months ago
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3. BOUDICCA, PATRIARCHY AND HOW SHOULD WE BE TALKING ABOUT GENDER DISPARITY?
Note: When I talk about women I am including those who identify as women and non conforming genders.
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During conversations about gender disparity with my male peers, whenever I have used the word patriarchy, I am aware of visible discomfort in the facial expressions reflected back to me. It’s one of those “difficult words.” A word describing culture, structures, institutions and attitudes that surround us all. The London Feminist network define patriarchy as, “characterised by current and historic unequal power relations between women and men whereby women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed…..” (ND) The Oxford Dictionary definition of patriarchy is- “ruled or controlled by men; giving power and importance only to men” signifying an overt intentional ruling and controlling of women. Historically this has been the case, one example being the struggle for women’s suffrage. It might be easy to frame this as historical repression and that we have come a long way since, then haven’t we? In the UK ,“Prior to 1992, forced sexual activity within a marriage wasn’t illegal, as a husband could enforce conjugal rights on his wife without committing an offence based on the belief that a wife had provided their ongoing consent through the contract of marriage.” (Titchener N 2019) It was only 28 years ago that a man could not be prosecuted for raping his wife. What’s all this got to do with the music industry? Well, everything…
Attitudes and practices inherited from the past are difficult to erase, even when they are legislated against. Women victims of sexual assault and rape are still questioned about what they were wearing, as if in some way this could have provoked the attack.  High school dress codes have been informed on the same basis. Girls are told not to show too much leg, or be a distraction to the boys.  2016 Deputy Principal Cherith Telford High school in New Zealand made headlines when telling female students to wear knee length skirts. This was to  “keep the girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas, and create a good work environment for male staff.” Reactions were mixed. Singer Erica Badu felt that girls had no business wearing skirts above the knee to school. Reagan Gomez (actress) argued that it wasn’t the responsibility of the girls to avoid being a temptation to men.’ (Kendall M 2016) According to Kendall, M. (2016) “If our culture insists on perpetuating the lie that clothing leads to rape, despite all evidence to the contrary, then the problem is our culture.” I would argue that the problem is a Patriarchal system that blames victims of crime perpetrated by men.  Jackson Katz goes further to say in his Ted talk.  He offers a paradigm shifting perspective on the issues on gender violence. He makes the argument that Violence against women is a men’s issue. “We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women.” (Katz J )  The language used around this issue is problematic for example the term  ‘victims of domestic abuse’ leaves Men out of the sentence and out of the conversation.
So here we are in the Patriarchy, a system so established and embedded that the privileges of being male (especially while and middle-class) are invisible to those that it favours. If one is not obstructed by it, then it is much harder to see it as an obstacle for others. 
It is much like the strongly held believe in meritocracy, the belief that if you work hard, you will succeed, but the playing field is not level. The game is rigged! Strong asserts that“Cultural workers often strongly buy in to the notion of the existence of a meritocracy which supposedly ensures the success of the most talented and hardworking people regardless of their identity”(Strong C & Cannizzo 2017: vi). Is this the reason for the discomfort I perceive coming from male peers when gender disparity mentioned? The idea that simply hard work and talent are the ingredients for success. An inability to see the problem because it has not been directly experienced.  After all it’s difficult to see things that are invisible to you right? 
I have experienced only one stand out sexist comment worth mentioning in my career so far. In 2005 when in conversation after taking part in a student recording session. I asked the studio owner if there were any openings for jobs or work experience. His response, “Yeah, well we do need a cleaner.” Just to qualify, I do not think being a cleaner is a demeaning occupation. It is however low paid, undervalued and predominantly carried out by women. I was not applying for a cleaning job. I will never know if he would have responded in the same way to a man asking the same question. I doubt it. Largely my experiences have been positive and have not felt directly excluded based on my gender. I really value collaborating with my male colleagues. 
However I can not claim that it has been easy career choice. Here I am doing a Masters in Creative Music Production now that my four children have reached adulthood and live independently. Now that all my extra workload of unpaid labour in the realm of motherhood carried out simultaneously as my career has changed. I am free to REALLY focus on my art. That irony is not lost on me.
It has been difficult to find a way to effectively articulate the issue of gender disparity in the industry without counter-productive accusatory finger pointing.  Alison Wenham, the Chair of The Association of Independent Music, succinctly expresses what I am attempting to express. “We remain one of the most white-male-dominated industries in the world. I do not believe the men in the industry have ever deliberately exercised prejudice, it is more a deeply ingrained set of customs and habits that has resulted in this imbalance.”  AIM AGM, London, Wolfe P (2009). There it is again, the gosh darn patriarchy!
On the 15th November I attended Boudicca Music conference a live stream conference. Magdalena Jensen from Key Change hosted a “A Conversation Exploring The Disparity Of Gender Throughout The Music Industry,” with a panel of women working within the industry. From management, agencies set up to chase royalty payments to DJ’s and Producers.
The discussion was both depressing and heartening, with some interesting insights and thought provoking dialogue. Although the world of the London DJ scene has never been on my radar, it was a glimpse into a world I know nothing about. It revealed the challenges for women to break through and also the sense of community and safe spaces that club nights can offer. The music being the unifying factor.  It also revealed a whole host of organisations actively working towards supporting women and redressing the imbalance. One influential organisation being Keychange funded by the PRS Foundation in the UK and has Swedish and german branches, and the movement is gaining momentum. https://www.keychange.eu/about-us
How do we  frame the ongoing discourse without using the “P” word or acting in a way as to alienate potential and existing male allies? Should we temper the discourse because it makes for uncomfortable conversations? Shauni Cabellero believes that“People have to be made uncomfortable to make changes.” Cabellero S (2020) 
How do individuals within the industry respond to change without feeling attacked or obliged to recruit woman because of arbitrary quotas, (which don’t actually exist in the music industry), and if they did, would it be  representation or tokenism? Cabellero believes that because women are not currently represented in numbers so we have to rely on people adopting voluntary policy until we are. (Cabellero S 2020). An important point that was  made is to celebrate individuals and organisations that  are actively embracing the need for positive change. One of these is Crispin Hunt of PPL stepping down from the board on the Ivor Novellos, to make room for Women.(Cabellero S 2020).
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One of the themes that seems to come back though my research is one that that  DJ Syreeta Echo’s, that of knowing your worth. Important for everyone regardless of gender but in my observations is something that women can all too easily lack.  The precise reasons why this might be  the case are far to complex and nuanced to include in one blog post. 
The takeaways for me from the conference were that:
Change has to be also implemented from the top down.
Investment in research, education, funding targeted  programmes 
More women in powerful positions
Calling out prejudice
In education, encouraging girls into music, having female role models
Having mentors 
Building teams and being conscious of recruiting from diverse backgrounds. 
The 50/50 pledge from Keychange Inclusivity contracts.  
Being aware of the organisations campaigning for change 
The need for male, and organisational allies in embracing change.
Celebrating those that actively facilitate change.
Below are Screen shots from the Key Change Website setting out the aims of the movement
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Boudicca Online Conference November the 14th 2020 
Magdalena Jensen (Keychange) https://www.keychange.eu/about-us 
Shauni Caballero (The Go 2 Agency)https://thego2agency.com/
Syreeta (He.She.They) https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/syreeta-uk 
Cori Chinnici (AWAL / The MMF)https://themmf.net/ Faux Naïf ( M II M)
https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/fauxnaif
https://www.nme.com/news/music/nadine-shah-vows-to-run-for-ppl-chair-as-previous-steps-down-2700372
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/patriarchal
https://www.bl.uk/votes-for-women?gclid=Cj0KCQiAqdP9BRDVARIsAGSZ8Al-KdHFHyiPDSuXAAbXnrEOfg3Lov3jaYhCJHz_jqat1XtwCG-ApxIaAqdvEALw_wcBhttps://(Titchener N 2020)
www.lawtonslaw.co.uk/resources/what-are-the-legal-penalties-for-marital-rape/
https://iaspmjournal.net/index.php/IASPM_Journal/article/viewFile/906/pdf_1
https://www.arpjournal.com/asarpwp/a-studio-of-one%E2%80%99s-own-music-production-technology-and-gender/
Fig 1 https://www.girlmuseum.org/alternative-girls-being-a-female-vinyl-dj/
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