"There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. "
April 22, 2015 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, the organizers of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival announced that this summer's festival will be their last. posted by roomthreeseventeen (53 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
That is too bad, there is a lot of history there. I was hoping this issue with trans women would end with the festival becoming a true festival for womyn instead of the festival for some types of women it became known as.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:07 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the Festival was coming to a time of closure. Too often in our culture, change is met only with fear, the true cycle of life is denied to avoid the grief of loss. But change is the ultimate truth of life. Sisters – I ask you to remember that our 40 year Festival has outlived nearly all of her kin. She has served us well. I want us all to have the opportunity to experience the incredible full life cycle of our beloved Festival, consciously, with time to celebrate and yes, time to grieve.

There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. This is part of our truth, but it is not--and never has been--our defining story. The Festival has been the crucible for nearly every critical cultural and political issue the lesbian feminist community has grappled with for four decades. Those struggles have been a beautiful part of our collective strength; they have never been a weakness.
It died as it lived, with its transmisogyny unconvincingly covered up by a thick coat of kumbaya psychobabble.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:14 AM on April 22, 2015 [30 favorites]


Given declining attendance, Lisa Vogel decided to shut it all down instead of recognising trans women as women. (Or, trans womyn as womyn)
Quite frankly I don't think it ever could have been resurrected to it's past glory unless she had an epiphany a decade ago. Now with the advent of social media, the fest has long been revealed as a hotbed of likemind organising by those women who are appallingly vicious and dehumanizing to trans women.
So even if they accepted trans women, the hate from the brazen TERFs would still be a strong current there, making it a very unsafe place for ALL women.
posted by Theta States at 8:16 AM on April 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


The tide continues rolling and what was once on the bleeding edge of progress becomes hidebound and reactionary. Plus ça change.
posted by chimaera at 8:21 AM on April 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


The only context I've heard of this festival was in regard to discrimination against trans people. So, that's what this has gotten you, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.

Similarly, seeing the spelling "womyn" now makes me think of anti-trans folks, rather than feminism.
posted by ignignokt at 8:22 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Similarly, seeing the spelling "womyn" now makes me think of anti-trans folks, rather than feminism.

Which is ironic, because "womyn" slips that y-chromosome in there, making it stealthily more inclusive even if the idea is to exclude "men." To do that the word would have to be spelled "womxn".
posted by chavenet at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


with every year the vestiges of 70s radical potential, seem to be fewer and fewer, this makes me sad. the 40 year history now only being a history of TERFs makes me sad. the wonderful history of queer seperatism, leaving makes me sad.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:40 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was definitely going to post this if someone else didn't, so thanks, roomthreeseventeen.

I think one of the more interesting legacies of MichFest is it forced feminist musicians to make a public stance on their views on transgender rights.

I respect Indigo Girls for dropping out, after being festival mainstays for years. I wonder why it took so long for JD Samson to address the issue, and why Kathleen Hanna never has. And, while my friend played me a Bitch & Animal CD in high school and I thought it was funny in whatever, I'm glad the whole controversy has brought to my attention that Bitch is a raging transphobe.

PS - If you've never reach Michelle Tea's Transmissions from Camp Trans, you definitely should. Like, right now. It's hilarious and great.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:42 AM on April 22, 2015 [20 favorites]


Even if they had managed to turn their ship around with regards to trans women, they'd probably still have faced declining attendance. Their whole vibe is very second wavey and of diminishing appeal. And even if they had turned around their transphobia, it's like the one thing they're widely known for, so.

But, yeah, good riddance.
posted by byanyothername at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


That "repeating the cycle" article is fantastic - it's a long essay that links the history of lesbian exclusion in feminism to trans exclusion and then goes into a long history of just how the MWMF became actively anti-trans.

There is also something that I had forgotten - back in the seventies, Olivia Records had a trans woman sound technician, Sandy Stone, and - when pressed by proto-TERFs - said that their politics were that living as a woman meant that you had women's experiences and were a woman. (Which isn't precisely how one would express that feeling now, but it was the early seventies.) Stone was outed nationally and got an insane amount of hate mail plus death threats - including a very specific, very real threat to her life in a particular location on tour.

Also, apparently in the early 1990s some trans activists polled as many MWMF attendees as they could and got a 73% majority to say that trans women should be able to attend the festival and then another large percent who weren't sure.

I think that this shows that being anti-trans isn't something that "everybody was before they knew better" - it was brought into feminism by proto-TERFs and it was heavily contested. Being anti-trans is bad for feminism and it's always been bad for feminism.

Also, this was very interesting:

In 1969, a certain group was being excluded from feminist spaces because they were viewed as not being “real women” by the largely heterosexual middle-class women who usually ran feminist spaces. In 1969, the group that was being excluded from feminist spaces because they weren’t authentic women were lesbians. Lesbians didn’t experience a system that produced “women” who relied upon men for their existence, who took the names of men, who provided free labor to men and who oftentimes birthed and raised a man’s children in the way heteronormative feminists of the era did. This difference inspired the larger feminist community to otherize lesbians, leading to feminist systems of lesbian erasure and exclusion.

So basically, the "liberal" TERF idea as I understand it is that you need to be "socialized" as a woman to experience womanhood and sexist oppression. (As opposed to the "conservative" TERF idea that your body determines your gender.) I have always thought this was a terrible idea because I saw the effects (and I've always taken the "if you are a trans woman, you are being "socialized as a woman" because you are experiencing your life as a woman" line). But this proves how "you aren't being socialized as a woman" means whatever exclusionists want it to mean and it always has. And the next time that I get into an argument with TERFs, I'll point out that in the early second wave, the same kind of people wouldn't allow that lesbians were women, and that will be a poke in the eye.
posted by Frowner at 8:44 AM on April 22, 2015 [30 favorites]


I'm not sure this kind of event could have continued even if they had been better about supporting trans women. A women-only retreat for a week in the woods feels more like a dated strawman version of feminism than something relevant to me. The hippie-speak on their website is makes me cringe (Join us as we celebrate our living legacy of badass females coming together for four decades – to build community, to recharge our energies, renew faded inspiration and to sit in the source of our collective power). I assume this is someone's feminism, but it isn't mine, and I can't really imagine many young women identifying with it.
posted by almostmanda at 8:45 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also apparently when some Camp Trans activists were sold tickets to Mich Fest after identifying themselves, they were instantly harassed and the youngest girl - who was 16!!! - was yelled at and threatened by a group of grown women who should all be deeply ashamed of themselves, including one who pulled a knife on her. And of course, no one said boo except, apparently, Nomy Lamm.

This is why we can't have nice things like anarchism, because anyone who is on top of even the smallest and most marginalized heap will instantly turn into an oppressive shit the minute they think they can get away with it.
posted by Frowner at 8:52 AM on April 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


I'm not sure this kind of event could have continued even if they had been better about supporting trans women. A women-only retreat for a week in the woods feels more like a dated strawman version of feminism than something relevant to me. The hippie-speak on their website is makes me cringe (Join us as we celebrate our living legacy of badass females coming together for four decades – to build community, to recharge our energies, renew faded inspiration and to sit in the source of our collective power). I assume this is someone's feminism, but it isn't mine, and I can't really imagine many young women identifying with it.

The idea of an all-women camping music festival sounds totally awesome to me (age 27), but all this 'energy' and 'power' crap just makes me think 'stereotypes of Southern Californians from 30 years ago.'

Among the young women I know, there is a lot of acceptance of sexual and gender fluidity, and of different ways of expressing that fluidity. You can shave your hair or spend an hour on it every day, wear no makeup or bright red lipstick or tinted chapstick, be cis or trans or genderqueer, date people of one or any gender, be monogamous or poly or asexual or slutty or anything in between.

And it's awesome. Because many of the older feminist messages felt, to me, exactly as prescriptive as the messages of the patriarchy. Don't shave your legs. Don't wear makeup. Don't enjoy cooking, especially for men. If you want to date women, you can't be openly bisexual, because that makes you a traitor. Basically, you must be the opposite of what the patriarchy tells you to be, and if you aren't, then you are a tool of the patriarchy.

I can see why this was necessary for the time, but today's feminism feels so much more comfortable to me. I wear long hair, makeup only once a week or so, almost always flats, almost never skirts, date women and men openly, engage in macho activities like boxing and DIY and femmy activities like cooking and gardening, and I just feel like me. It owns.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2015 [46 favorites]


I can see why this was necessary for the time, but today's feminism feels so much more comfortable to me.

I think it's worth looking closely at "the time". The more I read about feminisms, it seems like there's always been restrictive and liberatory tendencies within them all at all times, and I don't want to give the bad excuse of "it was necessary in 1975" (not that you're saying that about trans exclusion). I mean, feminism is obviously going to respond to different concerns over time, but it's not as though everyone in feminist circles in 1975 was a makeupless political lesbian who never wore dresses, any more than everyone in - for example - anarchist circles today is a black-clad squatter who never uses money. I think there's sort of a figure for Second Wave feminism that is very inaccurate to the broad range of experiences that people actually had.

I think there's always a danger that certain behaviors will be recaptured by capitalist patriarchy - like buying expensive organics at Whole Foods with your large paycheck and thinking that this is itself a radical gesture because Mother Earth, etc; and I think it's important to remember that, for example, a woman who wants to not shave her legs and not wear make-up or dresses is going to face a lot more job discrimination than a woman who does enjoy doing those things. (I feel like there's a contemporary tendency to assume that because, like, dresses and make-up and so on are compatible with feminism, there's no difference in experiences between women who wear them and women who do not.)

But at the same time, it seems like it's always been clear that "feminism which works with the inherent contradictions of beauty culture, sexuality, etc" is a better and more successful feminism than "feminism which tries to restrict those contradictions away". All you have to do is look at the huge numbers of women who get preemptively ejected from a "contradictionless" feminism; it's as stupid and short-term effective as the unions which would only organize white workers.

Also, as I thought when I watched Janelle Monae's new video, it would be pretty depressing and artistically restrictive if we can't have beauty culture until after the revolution Because Patriarchy. I don't think feminism should argue that people should cut out large aspects of human experience until they can take place in a post-revolutionary society.
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on April 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


I remember first hearing about MWMF in Dykes to Watch Out For, and certainly among the queer women's communities I was in, it was recognized as a Thing that that women did... "Have you been to Michigan"? Aaaand then a few years later, I read about a trans woman being ejected when she posted about it on the Sappho mailing list. And, well, that was that for my interest in going to MichFest.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:23 AM on April 22, 2015


Very fair points all, Frowner! I guess you can take my comment as reflecting not how things actually were, but how the rhetoric of the past as filtered up to the present feels/sounds to someone born in 1987.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2015


Keep in mind the whole point of MichFest, from minute one, was and is *exclusion*. Maybe for what seem acceptable reasons then or now, but exclusion of the non-womyn other. I attended 1979-1984, was banned, snuck back in 1988, never returned.
I recall excluding men, conventionally feminine women, women with male children, women who liked punk instrad of folk acoustic music, and what banned me, women who appeared to be participating in BDSM, after me women who preferred the" wrong kind" of rap (ie, young black women), and then transmen and finally transwomen. These were all conflicts in the lesbian-feminist communities outside of MWMF as well.
MichFest has well-practiced exclusion techniques for attendees. It also never allowed a change of leadership from the founders, just an exclusion of founders over time. Generational change and economic decline are also main reasons for attendance drop at this quintessential lesbian boomer event. Wouldn't adapt to the emergenging audiences, would have collapsed soon anyway.
I hated most of the music, too.
posted by Dreidl at 9:31 AM on April 22, 2015 [16 favorites]


Very fair points all, Frowner! I guess you can take my comment as reflecting not how things actually were, but how the rhetoric of the past as filtered up to the present feels/sounds to someone born in 1987.

I also think that a lot of movements try to suggest that they are very homogenous - definitely, conservative strains in feminism really want to give that impression about the Second Wave and that's how a lot of history gets written, excluding Sandy Stone, etc., to make the past look morally better than it was because people were "just ignorant". I mean, sometimes individual people or particular groups in particular places are just ignorant, but not a whole huge movement.
posted by Frowner at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Male children? When I was a teenager, in 1993 or so, I heard this story: there was a feminist music festival for lesbians and separatists. A lesbian couple brought their baby son. Womyn at the camp actively agitated to get them removed -- graffiti saying BABY PRICK OUT, and so forth, and told these women they shouldn't be raising an oppressor. It gave me a very bad impression of serious feminism, which is terrible for a young lady. Was that Michigan?
posted by Countess Elena at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I always hoped they'd get their shit together one day and recognize trans women as women, full stop, rather than pack up their toys and go home. Apparently that was overly optimistic of me.
posted by Stacey at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reply to Countess Elena - I don't know about the graffiti, but the discussion about at what age boys become oppressors was going on from the early 80s or so. I believe it was resolved that boys 7 and under could attend and be in childcare. I will note that WWTMF did have a breakfast-evening concert childcare cooperative from early in the event's history.
posted by Dreidl at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2015


There is also something that I had forgotten - back in the seventies, Olivia Records had a trans woman sound technician, Sandy Stone, and - when pressed by proto-TERFs - said that their politics were that living as a woman meant that you had women's experiences and were a woman. (Which isn't precisely how one would express that feeling now, but it was the early seventies.) Stone was outed nationally and got an insane amount of hate mail plus death threats - including a very specific, very real threat to her life in a particular location on tour.

I did not know this -- thanks for sharing. I took an undergrad class of hers at UT-Austin in the 90s, and she was awesome (I thought). The class was split among people who loved her and people who had inexplicably strong negative opinions about her. I didn't know at the time that she was trans -- didn't find out until I read it in Texas Monthly a few years later -- and at the time I couldn't understand what some of the students had against her. I mean, she was a really engaging lecturer, told great stories, and was very knowledgeable!

Looking back, I see that it was probably an anti-trans sentiment that those kids were displaying, not anything about her as a lecturer. And that makes me really sad, because I didn't know at the time that it was happening, right there in that room, and she almost certainly did.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:55 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember how awful little boys were to me as a kid, but I'd never take it out on actual little boys in a thousand years.

Still, as a women's college grad, I guess I have to step back and respect what the Festival did for at least some women, for a while.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:57 AM on April 22, 2015


Womyn at the camp actively agitated to get them removed -- graffiti saying BABY PRICK OUT, and so forth, and told these women they shouldn't be raising an oppressor.

...it's... it's a baby. I mean, theoretically, if you raise it right, it won't be an oppressor, right?
posted by qcubed at 10:00 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Boys under five were/are able to attend the festival with their mothers; boys from 5 - 10 are enrolled in a day camp thing called "Brother Sun" and I believe boys over 10 are not allowed. To be totally fair, I know someone who worked every summer at Brother Sun and she loves kids and works with them in her non-festival life; it's not some kind of joyless you-are-a-baby-oppressor program.
posted by Frowner at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Overzealous feminist women attack infant for being male" sounds way more like a story of "feminazi womyn" boogeymen than a real event. Like Kate Beaton's straw feminists.
posted by almostmanda at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


When I first came across this post, I did not expect to have much of a reaction - it has been nearly 10 years since I decided that the anti-trans policy was indefensible and vowed never to attend again until the policy was changed, and I've distanced myself from the whole mess since moving to California.

I feel instead like my heart is breaking a little bit for all of the potential that will be lost when MichFest permanently closes the land. It is a bit like watching somebody you love destroy their lives, and waiting for the day they finally turn their life around, but instead of turning it around, they instead die suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving you to grapple with the loss, not only of life, but of unrealized potential.

It remains profoundly true that MichFest created the kind of safety and community that I had never seen before and will likely never see again. Watching women embracing their full potential as human beings and being unafraid to take on roles that are normally jealously guarded by men, all while being supported fully and uplifted, was a transformative experience for me. Seeing the full power of women unleashed for the first and probably last time in my life was truly awesome, in the rawest sense of the word. I think nearly every woman who attends has a moment where they break down and cry upon realizing how free they feel once the weight of all the toxic oppression we carry around is lifted.

Given how profound my experience was, it is painful to know that trans women were forever denied this experience they deserve and often need. Trans women face a level of oppression that I often cannot comprehend. Their oppression by MichFest was, in a way, just another stone thrown amongst many, but seen differently it denied many of them what I believe is one of very few spaces to fully, truly, and unabashedly be *women*, without the backlash that we face when we push to be our authentic selves in a world than only accepts female-ness in tightly-controlled, male-supervised ways. I think it would have been a healing experience for many for whom it was denied, including trans women as well as cis women who refuse to support discrimination.

Part of me yearns to go one last time, to see how my own growth as a person could be enhanced by the experience of radical acceptance one last time. But knowing that that radical acceptance rests on the backs of those to whom it will be forever denied is a slow-acting poison that has slowly worked to destroy the moral fabric upon which MichFest rests. I can only hope that some of the activists who pushed to make MichFest truly inclusive to all women will pick up the ashes and revitalize the potential of something that was once wholly beautiful.

.
posted by zug at 10:22 AM on April 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


zug, couldn't this be a chance for a new, modern, inclusive women's festival to spring up in MichFest's place? Why assume your visit there was "seeing the full power of women unleashed for the first and probably last time in my life"?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:44 AM on April 22, 2015


There's always hope, I suppose, but it also all felt so fragile, like it wouldn't take much of a breeze to dislodge the emergent sense of community that resulted from the experience.

I think any spaces that take its place will likely be fully gender-integrated due to not wanting to deny trans men and genderqueer/non-binary folks, particularly those who came out of the lesbian community, access. But one thing I did take from the festival is that the exclusion of cis men was actually a pretty positive and necessary part of the community building, and so by being fully gender-inclusive what takes its place is going to look and feel very different from MichFest.

Maybe it'll even be better, who knows, but it definitely will be a different community, representing different things. Once MichFest is gone, I think it's gone forever.
posted by zug at 10:51 AM on April 22, 2015


One thing I know exists but don't really know much about is A-Camp, which is only for queer-identified people who are not cis men. I think a similar event that was hetero-inclusive could easily exist.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2015


Two takes on this buzzfeed article Michigan Music Festival That Excluded Transgender People To Shut Down...
“As their ability to attract quality acts dwindled along with their attendance, they still refused to open their hearts to transgender women fully,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told BuzzFeed News. “They have finally become extinct, like dinosaurs. But with the dinosaurs, it wasn’t something they did to themselves.”
and the article ends with....
“shocking! heartbroken! so many memories,” one fan wrote. “i sure hope that this was a decision made by lisa due to money reasons or just a desire to do something else…..and not by the trans agenda. If it comes out that it was ‘camp trans’, i would say that it is truly a sad day for michfest that such powerful women were knocked down by men…men who FEEL like women and who just can not understand that wbw have a right to their own space!”

posted by Theta States at 11:23 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Overzealous feminist women attack infant for being male" sounds way more like a story of "feminazi womyn" boogeymen than a real event. Like Kate Beaton's straw feminists.

It really does, doesn't it? If I had heard it from a person, I would probably dismiss it as a foaftale, and maybe it is. But I remember that I had read it in a cool old zine edited by Andrei Codrescu, called Exquisite Corpse, which was my rare connection to the counterculture in those pre-web days. That doesn't make it any more or less true, but it means that a Republican probably didn't make it up.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:23 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm trans, mtf. I first heard about MWMF as a place where real women could go to be free of people like me for a week. And that that was transformative. Later, after Twitter, I saw MWMFs defenders speaking online, and they cemented an association between feminism and that festival. It's probably a core part of why I never willingly allow myself to be described as a feminist. Any movement that includes those folk in any way isn't a movement I'll take part in.
posted by Ambient Echo at 11:33 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, when polls come out that show most women don't identify with feminism there is a huge clown car full of reasons why which can often easily be argued against within a few moments of engagement. There is no better choice for how to fix these issues than to be a feminist and even a few moments of honest engagement makes that clear.

But then, there are these fading TERF enclaves that even scare some women away from these spaces. There isn't much to be done aside from just saying, "You are wrong...wrong wrong wrong wrong...wrong."

I took in the FPP and a bunch of associated links, and when this festival is at it's best it is welcoming women and girls to be themselves. That is awesome. But I can't pretend I haven't also read about the type of girls they would turn away, and how amazingly awesome they would feel to be accepted in a women and girl only space with zero question. AGGGGGGH. How can you be so smart and inclusive but also so dumb and exclusive that this is the result? I don't like it.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so grateful to the internet for making queer history easier to find, and grateful to you who share about it on Metafilter. So much of this stuff was like mysterious whispered stories when I was growing up in the 90s, in the woods.
posted by beefetish at 12:14 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Overzealous feminist women attack infant for being male" sounds way more like a story of "feminazi womyn" boogeymen than a real event.

i'd heard the same kind of story back in the early 80s about a radical feminist commune in colorado - from a radical feminist lesbian who had a small boy and was concerned about how others saw her for this and had decided not to stay in this commune because of it

it was a thing - i also remember her and her partner making anti-trans comments about michfest, which they attended yearly - the lead article is wrong that the controversy started in '91 - it had been going on since day one
posted by pyramid termite at 12:38 PM on April 22, 2015


[Couple comments removed, let's not reboot the entire conversation to zero here by characterizing trans women as men.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:40 PM on April 22, 2015 [12 favorites]




"Overzealous feminist women attack infant for being male" sounds way more like a story of "feminazi womyn" boogeymen than a real event.


It does except when you read about a bunch of grown women shouting "PENIS ON THE LAND" at some teenage trans girl and telling her that she is "raping the land" and then yelling at her for two hours. ("Intergenerational", my ass. If you want to be "intergenerational" you act like you have a teensy weensy bit of the dignity that ought to come with being an adult.)

If anything, people ought to be mad at Michfest for making feminists look looney-tunes.
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


You're right, in the context of the transphobia also being so insane that it sounds made-up (but is totally real) it's plausible.
posted by almostmanda at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2015


I attended MWMF twice in the early 80s and had a good time, surrounded by lesbians and bi women. When the porta-pottie trucks arrived, we yelled "Men on the land," and anyone shirtless put on a t. I did my work once, chopping watermelons for hundreds of hungry women. There were controversies. I'm sad to see that the memories of good times are being drowned out.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


yeah too bad people had to ruin the idea of a cool music festival by being bigoted and judgy, i would totally go prance around in a field listening to cool music without dudes around like in a heartbeat, i have a flower crown and a sick hecate shirt i would hella wear as a cape, maybe we can just stage a mass queering of coachella or sth
posted by beefetish at 1:33 PM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


The "good times" are being drowned out by women who, right now, are in the MichFest tag on Tumblr blaming "men in costumes" for ruining MichFest. They are being disgusting and transphobic and loud.

It's sad that the good aspects of MichFest are being drowned out, but it's completely self-inflicted and I have very little sympathy for it.
posted by angeline at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


The "good times" are being drowned out by women who, right now, are in the MichFest tag on Tumblr blaming "men in costumes" for ruining MichFest. They are being disgusting and transphobic and loud.

The fact that people in the tag describe MichFest as a place to be safe away from trans women (ahem; sorry, "violent men") speaks to just how much the fest has mutated even in the minds of attendees (and potential attendees) as being a Protest Camp Against Progress. But if that kind of stubborn hatred isn't felt by enough people to fill a bit of campground once a year, I choose to be encouraged.
posted by these are science wands at 1:48 PM on April 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


That Tumblr tag is full of some hateful garbage. It's difficult to believe that this event could be safe and welcoming to anyone if those are the people passionate about attending.
posted by almostmanda at 3:31 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Absolutely. It's like asking gay women to just ignore a music festival organised by and for straight women, who call lesbians "homosexualists", who accuse them of violence if they are so much as glanced at in a way they don't approve of, and who really really need a special magical healing woman-power place to feel safe away from lesbians.

I don't think anyone would be sad to see that festival fail.
posted by these are science wands at 3:41 PM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


"clown car of reasons"
"easily argued with"
"even a few moments of honest engagement"

I'm going to go out on a limb, and disagree with your entire first paragraph, Drinky Die. I don't appreciate my reasons being characterized as a clown car. I don't think arguing with TERFs is likely to be short *or* productive. And frankly, I resent being told that I haven't engaged honestly with the issues.
posted by Ambient Echo at 3:53 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


these are science wands i want to build you a Favorites Crown for that comment
posted by beefetish at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2015


I'm trans, mtf. I first heard about MWMF as a place where real women could go to be free of people like me for a week.

I first heard about the MWMF when the controversy was a very predictable (and even then tiresome) pushback from cis men, about "reverse discrimination" and the like. Really soon after that was when I first read about the trans exclusion, and the whole thing just sounded awful and played perfectly into the hands of the anti-feminist men who had been criticizing feminist spaces for years.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:04 PM on April 22, 2015


AE, I think I miscommunicated in my comment, I was not intending to attribute such beliefs to you. Sorry.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:29 PM on April 22, 2015


"Overzealous feminist women attack infant for being male" sounds way more like a story of "feminazi womyn" boogeymen than a real event.

Yeah, not saying it didn't ever happen, but it does bear a striking resemblance to an incident in one of the Tales of the City books in which DeDe and D'orothea go to Wimminwood.
posted by naoko at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2015


Way to go, Task Force, NCLR and the desperate coat-riding TransAdvocate! Look what you burned all that goodwill for! Congrats!


If anyone wants to see some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that has been going around, here is some further suggestion (besides their own ridiculously transparent wording in the initial releases) that the national orgs pulled their signatures in response to TERF/cis lesbian pressure and funding threats, even though they have been and generally are trans-inclusive. My best interpretation is that NCTE's Mara Keisling's (who we also like) post defending those two orgs wasn't based on any warning of or inclusion in their plans, but solely on the trust she had in them and a desire to be diplomatic and try to prevent discord. As for the TA, I assume they just wanted to jump on the dumbass bandwagon to feel relevant. TERFs do not give a shit about the TA beyond hating it and typically use donotlink if they ever bother to mention it, so it's not like the TA removing its name from the petition was ever going to matter.
posted by Corinth at 10:35 PM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


No problem, Drinky Die. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by Ambient Echo at 2:05 AM on April 25, 2015


when i came out to my lesbian aunt in the 90s while i was in high school - the first family member i came out to - she told me about michfest - about how inclusive and amazing it was, how safe - she showed me pictures from online (and trawling the history later led me to many queer and feminist spaces i wouldn't have found otherwise) - she said that one day we'd go. i was so excited - i'd read about it from time to time, expand my queer folk artists list, think about surprising her with tickets...

...then weirdly, through this reading i found ani difranco which led to bitch&animal - and it was seeing animal that made me really question for the first time if i was actually cis. and those questions and discoveries led me to finally read about michfest and trans people. and i was horrified. i dreaded the day that my aunt would bring it up again and i'd have to tell her i couldn't participate - i feared i'd learn that she was a terf.

...except that day never came, because she died suddenly of a heart attack. michfest closing has filled me with so many contradictory emotions and i'm just not sure where to put them all.
posted by nadawi at 12:34 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


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