Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To those who worked to destroy the Michigan Women’s Music Festival and are now reveling in their victory:


I want to tell you about Dorothy.  She had a small tent right next to the path I had to go down to get anywhere.  She had a table outside her tent, a good chair.  Lots of food and cold drinks.  A nice set-up.  Clearly she was a veteran of Michigan.  She knew what she needed to be comfortable, and brought it.  

I think she was probably over 70.  Longish straight white hair.  Tanned face.  Sturdy.  Every time I went down the path, she was there, drinking a beer or sipping a cup of coffee, often reading a book.  We would make eye contact, give a little smile.  I didn’t feel drawn to her or motivated to make more contact than that.  I never saw anyone else talk to her either.

Then at some point I realized that every time I walked that path, she was ALWAYS there, in her chair, sipping and reading or just looking.  She wasn’t going to any of the concerts or the workshops or visiting friends in other tents.  She was just SITTING OUTSIDE HER TENT ON THE SIDE OF THE PATH BY HERSELF!  What was THAT about??!?

So I stopped to talk to her.  She was very pleasant and open to chatting.  Dorothy was from Chicago.  She was a dyke.  For whatever reasons, her life had led her to isolation from her fellow humans.  She was a hermit.  She lived in her apartment in Chicago without contact with other people.

She said what saved her sanity was her week at Michigan sitting in front of her tent next to the path.  Surrounded by thousands of women, feeling their energy.  She didn’t need concerts or conversation.  The only place she felt safe around others of her species was in those scrubby woods, alternately dusty and muddy, with the endless sounds of music playing, and women laughing and singing far into the night.

“It recharges my batteries,” she said about her one week a year at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival.  She said that one week made it possible to survive the 51 weeks of solitude that followed.  And then, by golly, she’d be there next to the path again, with her sweet little set-up.

Dorothy was an extreme example, but there are thousands of lesbians at Michigan who go back to lives where they can never be themselves in public, where they feel they must stay in the closet.  For these women, Michigan has been a very special place, a lifesaver, a battery recharger, a sanctuary, a week of pure, joyous freedom. 

And now, after 40 years, it’s ending.  Yes, all cultural institutions wither and die eventually.  But this is not a natural death.  Sophisticated people organized to kill Michigan before its time, because it outraged them that women had created a safe space for themselves. 

Dear self-righteous people:  What do you suggest Dorothy do next year?



7 comments:

  1. Who fought to shut this down?

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    1. The men who demand we accept them as women and as Lesbians. The men who demand sexual access to Lesbians.

      We are not allowed to say no. Men have always perved on Lesbians. It's their favorite kind of porn. But this is their most clever ploy -- to get women and Lesbians to support them against us, destroying our last safe spaces. Besides the private death, rape, and mutilation threats they send those of us who dare blog about it, they got "Lesbian" organizations, like NCLR, which already priotizes men over Lesbians, to boycott Michigan and the women who perform there.

      https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/please-if-you-love-lesbians-and-other-women-think-about-this

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  2. Thank you so much for this, Terry. We have no space left now. Even OLOC capitulated, though we will never know what most members think since they went against concensus.

    Lesbians are again back to meeting in public places with no privacy. Every Lesbian meetup group has at least one man member who makes sure we have no women only space. They even subject us to their porn at "women's" open mics. But they will never get complete access to Lesbians because no Lesbian will give them intimate access.

    I want those women, especially those falsely representing us, to be held accountable for what they have done.

    If all had your courage, everything would change.

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  4. Thanks Terry. This has been a huge loss for our lesbian community, and even more disappointing knowing that many women were manipulated into helping to tear down this last female only space. Now what? I just pray we can figure out another way to build once again what we had in Michfest.

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  5. Well fucking said and very moving, this especially, "Yes, all cultural institutions wither and die eventually. But this is not a natural death. Sophisticated people organized to kill Michigan before its time, because it outraged them that women had created a safe space for themselves." I was shocked when I mentioned on the Michfest page that I blame the trans agenda for this, and that it makes me furious, that they robbed women of one of the last remaining openly women-only events, to have some women respond with, "Get over it and love," and start explaining how it was so unfair that last year some trans "women" in attendance had to wear name tags identifying themselves as trans. No, I won't get over it. It makes me question whether or not I should even try to go to this event, but I thought it was supposed to be a space for women who do not accept the bullshit that someone with a penis is a woman. Is it that or is it not it? Are there already trans allowed in the festival itself? If so, was it kind of already over? I don't want to go to something that's like, "Oh, I'm sorry for being a woman who put women first and that our anger ruined this for everybody," when really men who wanted in ruined it.

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  6. There are so many different reasons that the festival is ending, such as the increased cost of running the festival in the midst of a long economic slump in combination with aging lesbians who find it more difficult to camp. Also, because of greater societal acceptance of lesbians some of the younger generation does not feel the same need for the festival, unlike many of the older womyn and lesbians (but we know there is so much more work still be to done...). Although I do resent the small number of people who celebrate the end of the festival, I recognize they are only a small subset of a larger group - I try not to lump that whole group together as responsible for the festival's end. In addition, the festival was and remains much too sophisticated for there to be one primary reason for its end, and to simplify it down to that does the festival itself an injustice. The festival is a multifaceted community and there have been many intersecting complex reasons for its ending.
    40 years is a long time, yet for most of us it simply is not long enough... It has been our touchstone for survival in area 51.
    In the midst of my grief I also try to have hope for what doors might open once this one closes. (Note: Here I first wrote "what might fill the void left by the festival" but decided that was not just not possible. I do not believe anything will ever fill the void left by the festival. People who have never experienced it will never understand that.)

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