Over the past few months, there has been a huge upswell of people shouting at the mic about how heinous the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is. This shouting usually contains references to TERFs, old lesbians dying, and bigots.
I have been yelling into the ether about this for two decades. No joke. I have tried to have in-person conversations about this over and over, only to be rejected. I have fact-checked, hyperlinked, tried to make space for truth and been shut down. I'm not scared of folks with opinions, I have a few of my own. I'm not afraid of trans womyn (another canard that is lobbed).
I simply have the crazy belief that (a) oppressed people of any stripe are entitled to separate space as they define it; and (b) females as a class are oppressed through the use of gender; that is, gender is a caste system based upon sex assignment used by patriarchy to sort us into rank, with females at the bottom.
But none of those beliefs are ever wrapped into public discussions of this issue.
A few things:
(1) Whatever you think the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is, it isn't. If you haven't been, stop talking about it, because at best you are relying on second hand information. That is lazy activism. If you are talking about bigotry, you probably should confirm that you are experiencing it.
(2) It is a privilege to not have to fraternize with your oppressor. People of color don't get that option, women don't get that option, but somehow, when it comes to MWMF, there is no public place for discussion about this issue that doesn't involve keyboards. I don't believe MWMF is oppressing anybody. If you are gonna slag off Michigan, you better park it and be able to radically listen and have a conversation with another oppressed person. Boycotts are not what you do to your flank.
(3) Trans women who do not agree are being silenced in this discussion. Guess what? There is no single opinion on this. There are amazing women out there (some of whom are good friends) who literally do not get time to have this discussion. They get no air play. They get called TERFs and sockpuppets and are full on ignored because they agree with radical feminism.
(4) Thousands of women attended Michigan this year. Many less than the 8,000-10,000 days, but so much more than any other lesbian event in the US. Period. Plus, the year before the anniversary years are always smaller. So think about why thousands of women go; ask yourself if they flee to the woods for a week solely to pillory and cackle and plot about nefarious plans towards trans women. Having problems picturing what goes on? Mebbe this will help:
Also- I am posting this here and hope EVERY SINGLE WORKER, STAFF, VOLUNTEER- and Lisa Vogel see it..
This past October my 14 year old attempted suicide. She had been a serious cutter and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. We came to FEST because she is desperately trying to find herself, and it seemed like a good place to look.
The third day- she came to me and said the first piece of magic I saw my first time on the land.
"Mommy, its so nice to finally feel like I belong. I feel like I have no flaws here."
While we were there I watched her bloom. The last day when I watched her walk like a Goddess, through the sun- naked to the showers, no longer afraid of her body or ashamed of her scars- I GOT it. I experienced the magic that is MichFest.
From the bottom of my heart... No words can articulate my gratitude. Thank you all.
That isn't about exclusion. That is about self-preservation. That is about healing. That is about recovering from female destruction. It is about the healing that female-focus in a female-hating culture can provide.
When you talk about this place, take a second, just a second, to incorporate into your analysis what is going on in this world we live in. Contemplate menstrual shaming. Fat shaming. Contemplate the fact that girls aren't allowed to be smart, or stompy, or butch, or hairy. Contemplate the pressure put on our little ones from the minute they draw breath. Ask why anyone would need this space. Ask why female solidarity might be about recovery. Ask about why females are being told to stop speaking specifically about their bodies with regard to their own oppression?
Ask yourself why this space takes up your focus and the Paul McHughs of the world, the Republican uncles you have, the silences around some of the oppressions we face go unremarked. Ask yourself why there isn't a "cotton ceiling" analogy for briefs. Dig a little deeper, willya?
This is bigger than that. The queer community should be able to hold the ability to at least talk at the politics; at the scaffolding that form the boot on our collective necks. Instead, we are lobbing the old canards always thrown at women who don't toe party lines. It helps no one and emboldens our mutual oppressors. We are better than that.