There has been some struggle and controversy over the long standing tradition of one of my favorite places on earth to remain a woman born woman space. People are now trying to take away this space, to say that womyn who were born womyn do not have the right to gather together. I don’t understand this debate. We are not haters. We are not bigots. We are simply womyn. Womyn who have struggled many years with abuse, womyn who fight patriarchal privileged on a daily basis, womyn who are called sir in public, womyn who are subjected to wolf whistles and catcalls on the street, womyn who want to be in a place of safety and love, and womyn who just want to have a great time with other womyn – and we gather once a year for a week long womyn’s music festival in Michigan. It’s called, appropriately, The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
This festival has been suffering some damaging blows from people who are so het up about the intention to keep this womyn’s space for womyn that they sling insults and hate campaigns at the musicians who are chosen to play at fest. As a result, some musicians have dropped out. I don’t fault them for this. I think they didn’t understand the torment they would suffer when deciding to play.
Sadly, all of this warring is putting my safe space, my beloved fest in danger. I don’t want to lose my safe space. But I am not a fighter and I am not a hater. I am about love. Long ago, I had a dream in which a friend’s deceased mother appeared to me and told me to “paint love on my forehead.” I’ve spent the time since then doing just that. I put love out to the universe and the universe has given me love in return. I am not cheap with my love. I spread it around and try to bring joy and happiness to everyone who comes into my world.
So, in trying to protect my safe space, I’m between a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to jump into the war, and yet, I think it is beyond important to make a stand to protect something that is nothing but good.
I decided that the only way I could fight was to follow my own preaching and to promote what I love instead of bashing what I hate. Instead of arguing with the people who want to tear down this place of love and healing, I am going to describe why I love it in hopes that I can convince other womyn to go and experience it for themselves.
Fest is a place where womyn can walk down a wooded path after dark alone without fear of being attacked. Fest is a place where a woman can wear whatever she wants and not have to worry about being raped, nor suffering the aftermath of hearing, “Well, look at what she was wearing.” Fest is a place where womyn who have spent their entire lives hearing that they aren’t pretty enough or thin enough or subservient enough start to realize that all of those “enoughs” are a fat lie designed to keep them insecure and in fear of how they measure up. Fest is a place where a woman can do yoga in the sunshine, meditate in a field, take a group journaling workshop, wash dishes in a baby pool, throw a tomahawk into a target, watch a movie under the stars, walk hand in hand with other womyn without being looked at strangely, laugh, cry, dance, make love, smile, meet new friends, drink copious amounts of alcohol, not drink any alcohol at all, sit quietly under a tree without being disturbed, sit around a campfire singing songs, learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, and fall asleep to the far off beating of the drums.
And there’s also music.
And hot showers. And healthy meals lovingly served three times a day. And gorgeous smiling womyn everywhere. And love.
Fest is for any woman who has ever been afraid. Fest is for womyn who haven’t yet realized that there is a place that for one week, they can be completely themselves, no matter what that entails. Coming to fest is akin to sinking into the world’s most comfortable armchair, only the arms belong to your sisters and they are there to help you heal from a world that doesn’t want you to have a place of your own.
Fest is about love.
Fest is about love and healing.
Womyn need this place because womyn spend their lives loving and healing others and fest is the place where they can come to be loved, to be healed.
And I love fest. I therefore ask all of the womyn born womyn in my life to consider making it a priority to come to fest just once to experience the love and safety and healing for yourself. You can save fest while saving yourself.
It will change your life. It changed mine.