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After 40 years, It’s Goodbye to Womyn’s Music Festival

Well, this really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but after 40 years, Lisa Vogel, one of the founders of Womyn’s Music Festival, or MichFest, announced she’ll be closing down the festival after this year’s bash in August. The festival has not been profitable for some time, and an immense amount of pressure to change to a more open format has come from performers, corporate sponsors, key state and national LGBTQIA organizations, and those who refused to be a part of it without changes being made. The festival simply buckled under. Lisa Vogel made the right choice.

While I don’t think ignoring the venomous anti-trans hate from TERFs is in our community’s best interest, I hope no one believes closing down this festival will do anything to end the hate. To be fair, the festival changed, indeed saved, lives. I have heard the stories. It was a healing place for women who had been abused in ways that very few men have ever known. While the festival was a safe space for thousands upon thousands of women over the years, it wasn’t just for women who had been abused. It was a festival for all women, regardless of their sexual orientation, marital status, ability, and core beliefs. Women at the festival were empowered to lift themselves and each other up, stand strong, and rest without fear. And that is a good thing.

But all that healing and empowerment should have been the common thread that brought us together, because Trans women tell the same stories of abuse, stories that few men have ever been able to tell. It’s not like this topic has never come up before. Look at this article from AutoStraddle or this one from the blog, Trans Women Belong Here, both from 2013.

What about that common thread that should have linked all women, including Trans women, to each other? What festival do we have that will bring healing to Trans women? Who comforts and empowers Trans women who have been abused, discriminated against, ridiculed, spit upon, and denied access to society’s public spaces? It’s easy for those at MichFest to say, “Get your own festival and leave us alone.” But if they came to the gate with the same needs as the women already openly accepted into the festival, shouldn’t Trans women have been offered healing, too? What festival organizers and TERFs always refused to accept and respect is that Trans women are women in need — in very great need. Our homicide, violent crime and suicide rates are astronomically higher than for those women who were made to feel welcomed to the festival.

What differentiates me, a Trans woman, from almost every woman I know is not where we are and who we are at this moment. We are women at this place and at this moment. What differentiates us is the same thing that differentiates us all, and that is our journey to get here. When I call myself a Trans woman, it is not to warn anyone or to make sure they understand that I have special needs. When I tell someone, or when I tell a crowd, that I am a Trans woman, I am honoring myself and my journey. I want others to know that I have been through hell to get here, but I am here . . . and ain’t I a woman, too?

We needed comfort, and you made sure we knew that we would find very little if any at MichFest. It was a good festival, and it could have been even more incredible if only you had reached out to us and told us, “We see your pain and we recognize it as our own. You will find some comfort here.”

Instead, Lisa Vogel and the TERFs decided that our journeys, that which defines us and gives each of us our own identities, is what separates us. We all know that hate comes from ignorance and fear, and now, after 40 years, it’s time to shut down MichFest, which did so much good work for so many women. Let’s hope we can replace it with something that is more inclusive and even more meaningful.

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8 comments on “After 40 years, It’s Goodbye to Womyn’s Music Festival

  1. Cai
    April 23, 2015

    I’m glad it closed. Transphobic feminism hurts all women. I don’t like that trans men were allowed in, but not trans amen. We’re not women, U.S. Trans guys! Wtf?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charin Davenport
      April 23, 2015

      I would like to learn more about that Cai. Have you written about this? Would you like to write about it? I could post it on my blog.

      Like

  2. k8monsta
    April 23, 2015

    Lesbian feminism is about wimmin born wimmin supporting and loving wimmin born wimmin who support and love wimmin born wimmin.

    It’s really isn’t about men… *sigh*…

    You lot are soooo boring going on and on about hate while spewing this vitriolic bile of “terf” and trying to reduce us all to vaginas and a heap of pills…

    You will never be wimmin. You will never be mothers. Or daughters. Or lesbian lovers.

    I wish you all joy and acceptance. You obviously need it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charin Davenport
      April 24, 2015

      How odd that you find my words to be vitriolic and I am “trying to reduce [you] all to vaginas and a heap of pills . . . ” In fact, It is precisely because MichFest limited itself to such a strict socially constructed fantasy of binary sex and gender that the festival has become or soon will be irrelevant in the face of a non-binary reality that was not created, but was always there waiting to be discovered.

      Like

      • k8monsta
        May 11, 2015

        you say above “the venomous anti-trans hate from TERFs”.. this is what I refer to as vitriolic.
        I would have thought that was obvious.. come on, keep up…

        The possibilities of free expression will come about when the abolition of gender is a reality…
        Big Daddy doesnt really give a fuck about a bunch of queer trns boys who dont know how to behave. Hes just using you all to shut down us wimmin.
        Like the good eunuchs you are, once youve done your desperate male approval seeking fetishised work, he will round on you and revoke the status youve been awarded.

        abolishing gender is the work of a feminist revolution.This is not the same thing as the games you guys are playing with your pills and potions and drag acts…

        The Michigan Womyn’s Music festival is relevant for this generation… there will be others… since childbirth and motherhood are key aspects to womanhood.
        As long as patriarchy edures, wimmins resistance to it will endure…

        and wimmin like to make music…

        Like

  3. YourSillySister
    May 5, 2015

    What differentiates you is that you are male, and you believe we should just do our festival your way, then there would have been no problem. As shocking as it might seem to you, your opinion is not required.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charin Davenport
      May 7, 2015

      I don’t know if I should be sad, but I sure am perplexed by your response. For instance, I am uncertain what you mean when you say “male.” Does being male mean being born with a penis or does it mean that one currently has a penis? Is being male limited to just 46,XY chromosome? There is a lot to consider beyond this.

      So, you disagree, regardless of how you are using the term . . . . Of course my opinion isn’t required, nor is yours. But, here we sit, having expressed them. But, you know what? Your opinion is exactly the same opinion that a lot of men have about me. So it looks like you and your kind and the right wing men have a lot in common. LOL . . . good luck with that!

      Like

      • YourSillySister
        May 7, 2015

        If you think I agree with right-wing males on this, you have no understanding a radical feminist analysis. I am not at all uncertain about the meaning of male. Sex is a biological state, and male is XY, And yes, we all know there are intersex people, but they are a very small percentage of humans, and not at all what is under discussion. All the post modern pretenses and convolutions about gender will never make it the same as biological sex. As a radical feminist, I don’t think that your biological sex need be stuffed into any particular gender construct, but that is not the same as complying with the delusion that males can become females and vice-versa. Women have the right to define our own boundaries.

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2015 by in Viability and Visibility and tagged , , .
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