Jezebel Supports Ebony Williams’ Murderer


Just when you thought Jezebel, of Gawker media, couldn’t go any lower, its writers fawn all over a child rapist/murderer – and encourage his delusional ruminations about a feminist who had nothing to do with his case.

Originally posted on Hypotaxis:

I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about a child who died over twenty years ago. Her name was Ebony Williams. Had she lived, she would be just a few years younger than me. However, in 1993, Ebony Williams was raped, her throat slit, her body stuffed into a cardboard box and burnt beneath a bridge.

She was raped and murdered by two men. Both were convicted, and Ebony Williams is still dead.

I don’t know how often you’re around thirteen year olds, but I’ve spent some time working with this age group. Their brains are cleaved in half – one half child, one half young adult. You can have grown up conversations with them, and you can also easily engage them in word search puzzles and sock puppets.

In form, in thought, they straddle two worlds.

Those of us who lived long enough to be an adolescent might…

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Convert or perish: On Germaine Greer

This post is a collaboration with the brilliant Hypotaxis.

Regular readers of our blogs don’t need an introduction to the canonical liberation feminist work of Germaine Greer, nor do they need a recap of what’s happening to her in the news this week. But, to sum up: Greer is under fire for hurting Bruce Jenner’s feels – and by extension, the feels of other men who say they are women – for maintaining that they are not, in fact, women, and that misogyny is the basis of Glamour magazine’s decision to consider Bruce Jenner for its Woman of the Year award, i.e., Jenner’s pretty hair, makeup, nails and fashion make him a better woman than someone who was simply born a woman.

Because of this, Cardiff University – Greer’s own academic institution – will not offer her an honorary degree; nor will it allow her a platform to speak. A petition with nearly 2,000 signatures accuses Greer of  “demonstrating misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.”

These are lies.

In this six-minute interview clip, Greer makes it very clear she believes male-to-female transsexuals should “carry on,” should do what they need to do to feel comfortable; and that she’s happy to use “female speech forms as a courtesy.”:

However, here’s where she doesn’t bend: Male-to-female transsexuals are men, and Bruce Jenner is angling for the kind of attention lavished on the Kardashian women.

“I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through the procedure,” Greer says. “What I’m saying is it doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion; it’s not a prohibition.”

The interviewer persists in dragging the discussion into various side alleys – What about intersex, huh? What about someone who has a uterus and testes, huh? Aren’t you being insulting? Some people think this kind of speech incites violence.

Greer, patiently, re-iterates that intersex conditions and transsexuality are two different things; reminds the interviewer that trans has never been her issue (because, guess what, her issue is WOMEN); and then cracks herself up laughing at the recollection of the many times she herself has been insulted.

“Try being an old woman!” she says, and we know what she means: An old woman is invisible; is offensive by continuing to exist long after her beauty and fertility and usefulness to men are gone.

In fact, hey – look at the first comments posted here underneath the interview:


No one is accusing these commenters – especially the second – of violent, hateful, dehumanizing speech, as they would if the comment were directed toward, say, Laverne Cox or Caitlyn Jenner: that’s because Greer is female; is elderly; is firm in her unpopular, non-male-centered opinion. So it doesn’t matter what people say about her. She no longer counts.

While older men are celebrated for their wisdom and important insight (think, for example, an entire Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War, centered on the musings of an eighty-something McNamara), society does not regard older women in the same way. We do not afford older women the opportunity to be heard – unless they are willing, as say, Betty White, to perform for our amusement.

The liberal feminist movement itself is consumed in a deep, profound hatred of older women who are feminists. “Second Wave” has become a pejorative, principally because what the Second Wave represented was women’s refusal to cater to the needs and demands of men; to emancipate themselves from patriarchy.

Liberal feminists work tirelessly to distance themselves from the women who came before – be they Second Wave or suffragette. Liberal feminists have been conditioned to cut themselves off from their predecessors because their predecessors did not prioritize the way men might feel if women earned the right to vote, take birth control, start a group, publish a book, found a magazine, apply for credit, or get a job.

Second Wave feminists, in particular, were not afraid to say men and men’s needs were the primary cause of women’s suffering – even Betty Friedan, founder of NOW, got freaked out and attempted to distance herself as feminists of the 60s and 70s started to openly, unabashedly name the problem. And though we can’t speak for Friedan, we would hazard that she knew men were the problem, but distanced herself from the claim in order that she not end up, at the tail end of her career and life, villainized the way Greer is being villainized now. (And yes, we are also aware Friedan was afraid of being labeled a lesbian, and saw lesbians as a detriment to the movement.)

Even Gloria Steinem came out in support of the idea of ladybrain – and we don’t think she believes it any more than Greer does. But because the current liberal feminist mandate is that female is a feeling in a man’s head, Greer and Steinem have both been faced with a difficult choice: Say you’ve converted to Genderism (even if you haven’t) or be prepared to have your entire life’s work eclipsed by our culture’s staid belief that hurting a man’s feelings amounts to blasphemy.  

Convert or perish.

Young liberal feminist women have been given terms like “queer” and “cis” to confuse them into believing that their suffering is not real or, if it is real, it does not result from being born female.

When older sisters, like Greer, speak, when they say, “Listen! Women and girls have real, actual problems that have nothing to do with a man’s ability to craft the visage of ‘woman’” we, as a society, are quick to censure them, to call them “mad,” to infer they are insane with old age.

This is a trope, a motif. We see this in countless so-called “classic” and “beloved” tales: Great Expectations, Sunset Boulevard, Snow White, Macbeth, to name a very small few. We see this pattern, too, in our pop culture, in our politics: an aging woman is an angry woman, is jealous, is insane, is a being (not quite human, not quite woman) bent on evil.

The only “good woman” over fifty is one who is silent, deferential, nurturing, OR willing to make a fucking fool of herself.

But if one was to actually listen to a single word Greer has said on the topic, one would hear that hers are not the belligerent ravings of a madwoman, but rational, intelligent responses to a lunatic conversation she has been relentlessly dragged into despite the fact, as she has repeatedly stated, that she has zero interest whatsoever in discussing the matter, or thinking about the matter.

Here’s the bizarre reality: this interviewer is seated across from Germaine Greer – brilliant scholar, feminist icon, a woman who has nearly eighty years of experience and insight – and the best she can do is ask her about Bruce fucking Jenner?

But we, I suppose, are in the minority in that we value older women; we have friendships with women who are twenty, thirty, forty years our senior; we look to our elder sisters for advice, and are eager to hear their perspectives. We do not see women like Greer as freakish “others.”

Cardiff will not give Greer her earned and deserved honorary degree because she, unlike Steinem, refuses to espouse a belief in ladybrain. Greer will not betray a lifetime of scholarship and activism, she will not disappear her convictions, in order to cradle the fragile male ego, in order to pander to bullshit liberal feminism, and to perpetuate what we all know is a gigantic fucking lie.

But you know who wasn’t denied an honorary degree? Mike Tyson, a man who raped and beat women. Mike Tyson, who BIT ANOTHER MAN’S EAR OFF ON LIVE TELEVISION.

Who else; who else. Oh, yeah: Kanye West, author of immortal rap lyrics including  ”We got this bitch shaking like Parkinson’s,” “Black dick all in your spouse again,” and “I keep it 300, like the Romans/300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?” has an honorary doctorate.

So does Kermit the Frog. No shit. From Southampton College.

Roman Polanski anally-raped a female child. He gets LOTS of awards and makes LOTS of speeches.  

Hurt feelings — hell, hurt bodies —  in no way jeopardize a man’s public career. Very few men are maligned for talking shit about women, and absolutely no man is shamed for speaking, as Greer has, in simple, verifiable facts.

Go back a second, though, to Kanye’s Trojans, because this whole Greer thing forcibly reminds us of the ancient Greek myth of Apollo and Cassandra.

Despite his good looks, Apollo didn’t have such a great reputation with the ladies. He had a history of attempted rape (which, in ancient mythology, is not regarded as too great a transgression), and of bribing women for sex.  For Apollo, a figure who is supposed to represent the “perfect man” in form and intellect, all women could be bought, and when they could not be bought, they could be forced, and if they could not be bought or forced, they would be cursed.

When he offered Cassandra, a Trojan woman, the power of prophecy in exchange for sex, she gave it some thought but ultimately rejected him. Apollo, in turn, cursed her: she would have prophetic gifts, but never be believed.

In fact, she would be thought a liar and a madwoman.

And so, when Cassandra foresaw the Trojan War, no one listened.

When she insisted, “The Trojan Horse is full of men hiding!” people laughed at and insulted her.

Finally, she grabbed an axe and a burning torch and ran toward the horse, in an effort to destroy it before it destroyed Troy – but the Trojans stopped her, therefore ensuring their own destruction.

The men hiding in the horse were tremendously relieved.

M(isogyny) F(atigue) S(yndrome)

Originally posted on Hypotaxis:

I’m burnt out on bullshit. I can hardly muster the energy, these days, to address the issues that populate this blog. I’m bored of the predictability. I spend a lot of time saying, “of course.” I have misogyny fatigue syndrome.

All women, who can bear to think about their lot, and the lot of their sisters, arrive at this place, and spend their lives vacillating between misogyny-fatigue and righteous indignation, swaying between the poles of “fight it” and “fuck it.”

Being a woman is fucking exhausting. When you’re a woman, your life is seen as part of an issue, the hinge on which an ongoing debate swings, a dismissive mention in some pernicious legislation that is constantly under revision.

But I’m edging up on forty. I’m somewhat inured to all this.

This week, I saw a story about an adolescent girl, in Los Angeles, who had been raped by her…

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Like Ass: Thoughts on Kim Davis of Rowan County, Ky.

I’m having an argument with a (straight) friend who, while she calls herself an “ally,” objects to several of my beliefs. They are:

My friend’s objections:

  • But, but, we’re so quick to punish with mass incarceration in this country! Can’t she just be fired or impeached or forced to do community service with LGBT youth?  Breaking the law means jail, but we have all kinds of laws that aren’t right –  stop-and-frisk; war on drugs, etc.
  • Slut-shaming is wrong!
  • We shouldn’t ever attack a woman’s looks when we fight not to be judged for our looks! Is our anger such that we feel OK making anti-Mormon comments about hair?

Let’s address point o’contention #1. Imma bring Louis Brandeis into this argument, because Louis said it best in the early part of the 20th century:

“Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

Kim Davis is an elected official. She can’t be fired. She was given the chance to resign. She didn’t. She chose jail. She considers herself and her beliefs above the law. And she embraced the chance to become a front-page martyr in the Christian persecution complex becoming stronger every day in America – a 21st century apocalyptic political fantasy about “religious freedom” and being “in chains for Christ.”  Certain verses from the Bible, removed from their true, wise and righteous context, are being used by theocrats to craft an ugly and dangerous narrative in which homosexuals and judicial tyranny are ushering in the End Times.

So it is with Kim Davis, and the only bummer re: her jail term is that it bolsters this persecution narrative. Her jail term is appropriate, because Kim Davis isn’t within shouting distance of, say,  mandatory minimums for simple drug possession – and the light leaving from stop-and-frisk will not reach her for another several billion years. The comparison is as disengenuous as it is insulting.

I wouldn’t expose “LGBT kids” to this person for any reason. Why should they have to suffer her company? Their lives aren’t hard enough?

And finally, impeachment – even if possible in this case – takes forever. Fuck that. People in Rowan County, Ky., shouldn’t have to put off their weddings for even ONE DAY because of Kim Davis.

Point o’ contention #2: “Slut-shaming,” along with “triggering,” “umbrella,” and “demisexual” are on the list of meaningless neologisms I never want to see again. (I will, however, keep “microaggressions”.) Nobody’s calling her a slut; just pointing out the hypocrisy and hetero-normative double standard.

Point o’ contention #3: My friend could be right on this one; the “looks” thing and not being anti-a-whole-religion, although you know what? Even if I was “anti-Mormon,” or anti-fundamentalist, I’d have good reasons: Please see Prop 8, Mitt Romney, and the summer of 1989, which I spent shucking corn in the blazing heat of Mesa, Arizona with approximately 2,843 of my LDS relatives. My aunties did an awful lot of work and not one of them had a college education and what I mean is that I’m not personally unfamiliar with Mormonism and fundamentalism and what both entail for women and gays, so I can mock Kim Davis’ backwoods, retro, willfully-fugly hairstyle until the cows come mooing home. Because that hairstyle is code, baby. That hairstyle is to coiffure what the phrase “family values” is to political rhetoric.

Above and beyond all this, though: Why am I, a lesbian; a female, consistently asked to be so goddamned nice to everyone – no matter how doggedly they try to deprive me of my rights? Why is my response to Kim Davis under such scrutiny; measured against such lofty standards? Why is my liberal Facebook friend, my “ally,” more troubled by the way I respond to Kim Davis’ actions than about those actions themselves? Why does a straight woman feel she can give me the same “two wrongs don’t make a right” lecture I got from my middle school headmaster when I fought back a kid who was bullying me? “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said, and then shut himself safely inside his office, where no one was calling him “Toad” or spraying shaving cream into his locker vents. This position – I never understood it. I didn’t then, and I don’t now.

But it’s because I’m a lesbian; a female. I’m supposed to be careful about what I say, because everyone else’s feelings come first. 

No. I’m not doing that anymore. The Fuck-Off Fairy visited me last night when I was sleeping and waved her magic wand over me. Kim Davis belongs in jail; she is no moral Oracle at Delphi, she isn’t being persecuted, and her hair looks like ass. LIKE. ASS.

Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille

A collaboration with Hypotaxis.

About a month ago, published a lengthy trans-apologist piece absolving men-who-feel-like-women of all culpability in the destruction of women-only and lesbian space. The article was the usual, run-of-the-mill, “Why all you dykes gotta be so uptight?” bullshit espoused by liberal feminists who are far more concerned with protecting the delicate male ego than supporting women, much less lesbians. Unsurprisingly, the article culminated with the author expressing hope that the word “lesbian” will be diluted to accommodate men and no longer denote “female homosexual.”

The article was the same old trite, man-centric, mental-Cheetos one might find on or the TransAdvocate: Lesbians are mean because they don’t want dick. Radical feminists are mean because their politics center women.

Predictably, the author of the article cited “internet sensation” Cathy Brennan as being the meanest mean of ALL TIMES, fixating on her as though she is the ONLY woman who is of the opinion that female isn’t a feeling, and that women have a right to, and need for, woman-only space. For liberal feminists, gay and trans advocates, Brennan has, in a sense, become a synecdoche.

And while many in liberal media, gay media, and trans media like to portray Brennan as the ONLY one who holds gender critical perspectives, as the ONLY woman who doesn’t believe one can identify their way into the class of female, this is, of course, not true. Many women share Brennan’s position on gender and on female-only space. Unlike her, though, most of us have been scared into silence or, at best, pseudonyms. Because even the mildest criticisms about our gender-sick, woman-hating culture are met with profound hostility.

 Also, Cathy Brennan is a person, not a synecdoche.

We’ve made no secret on our blogs of the fact that we are actual friends of Cathy Brennan. The kind of friends who talk about movies and music and many other things that have nothing to do with queer/trans politics. Because we’re, you know, human. And none of us are actually obsessed – or even care that much – about what strangers say or do. We do, however, care about women and girls and, as unpopular as it may be, dykes. We do, as friends, share a mutual refusal to accept the toxic, misogynist beliefs that are so deeply a part of queer/trans dogma.

And our words, our critiques, our questions are treated as literal Molotov cocktails, literal punches, literal knives. Histrionics, hyperbole, and gaslighting are the only rafts allowing queer/trans “logic” to remain afloat. Women know this.

Cathy Brennan knows this, and has been outspoken on the matter. She’s called bullshit on rhetoric and legislation that will directly harm women and girls, and because she hasn’t hidden behind a pseudonym, because she has been completely transparent about her identity, she has become a target for liberal feminists and trans activists (most of whom are male).

Once again, while Brennan is a prominent advocate for women and girls, she is also an actual person, and when writers make libelous claims about her, she has every right to defend herself. A lie is a lie, even when it serves your special persecution narrative so very well.

And here is a lie: The author of the article claims that Cathy Brennan “doxxed” MtT’s.

We’re not really down with techie/internet speak, but from what we understand, “doxxing” involves digging deep for a person’s personal info – like their telephone number, home address, family members, etc., collecting that info and publishing it in a public forum. Exactly like what the TransAdvocate did to GallusMag of GenderTrender, because they didn’t like her perspective on gender politics; because she sometimes offended men who identify as women.

Doxxing is actually really fucked up. It’s a symptom of an unhealthy obsession. It’s a particularly pernicious form of cyber stalking. So when you accuse someone of doxxing, it’s a serious accusation. And if it’s a false accusation, it’s defamation.

Having been wrongly accused of doxxing, Brennan filed a lawsuit.’s response to the pending litigation cited “proof” that Brennan had doxxed an MtT. The “proof”? A link to the webpage of someone who once publically threatened the lives of Brennan’s children in a terrifying Twitter meltdown that went entirely unnoticed by gay or trans media. As further proof of “doxxing,” argued that Brennan “published the whereabouts” of the original article’s author. Basically, Brennan mentioned that the author was a hairdresser in San Francisco, information that even the most cursory Google search would provide. is sad that Brennan pushed back after one of their writers made a false, defamatory claim. See, liberal feminists, trans activists, and formerly lesbian publications (like, care very deeply about “fighting back,” “speaking up” and about “justice” when we’re talking about men and men’s rights not to be identified as men and men’s rights to colonize female spaces. Liberal culture cares a lot about men’s feelings and men’s rights, and there’s simply no room for women, especially not those who are lesbian, especially not those lesbians who don’t need or want men’s approval.

By the way: We see a distinct parallel between liberal feminists who center men, and working-class people who vote Republican because they suspect, deep inside, that they’re going to be rich one day. The latter group has unhinged its collective jaw to swallow whole the lie America sells: Our nation has no class or economic system holding anybody back no matter where or when or to whom they were born.  These working-class people, who believe they’re only one genius idea or one lottery ticket away from taking their rightful place among the rich, vote with their imaginary wallets instead of the ones they actually have – and claim their allegiances are due to “morals” or “family values.”

Correlatively, liberal feminists believe that if they center men’s needs, wants and imaginings when it comes to women’s status in the world, they’ll earn “just-like-men” status (the kind of status they might earn in developing nations by having six or seven sons). “Just-like-men” women aren’t bitches who insist that “women, not people, have abortions” or object to being called “cis.”

“Just-like-men” women argue that freeing the nipple is GREAT for women because they should be able to take their shirts off in public just like men; that being fucked for money is FINE for women because it’s a woman’s empowering choice re: what to do with her body, just like men (please disregard the economic and political factors that go into that choice for the vast majority of women in the sex trade, or that that men don’t get naked for empowerment or you’d see powerful men doing it) and hey! Look over here at this privileged white university student who escorted for a year, got a book deal, and then went right back to college to get the kind of education that saves her from EVER having to fuck for money. “Just-like-men” women don’t give the tiniest hoot about lesbians unless they’re grinding on each other for male amusement.

Hell, so-called lesbian publications hardly even write about lesbian culture or issues of importance to lesbians unless it’s in the context of how lesbian culture can become more accommodating to males who feel like women. Doubt us on that? Consider that AfterEllen’s article about “Lesbian Abundance” was actually about MtT’s who feel excluded by lesbians.

Oh, and it took no time for to run a finger wagging piece written by Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn Ennis, which makes a point to, in the style of your average grocery-store checkout tabloid, use an unflattering screenshot of Brennan as a lead-up to making more false claims about what she said during an interview with Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn last month, including the statement, “she made it clear in a July interview with The Advocate that she is strongly opposed to civil rights protections for trans people.” This is a patent lie, and can be easily refuted by listening to the recording of the interview:

But no one – not the so-called lesbian publications and organizations, not the trans publications and organizations, not the liberal feminist publications and organizations – are really interested in presenting the truth about what women like Brennan, women like us, say in regard to gender politics. Men and their concerns have hijacked formerly pro-lesbian, pro-woman outposts and are now interested in campaigning, fully and decisively, against women’s rights to question gender, against dyke’s rights to say, “Thank you, no. Not interested in sucking dick,” against any opinion, any perspective, any thought that pokes holes in the collective delusion that maintains any man can be female if he “feels like it.”

These organizations and publications are hell bent on bamboozling women into believing shared girlhood does not exist, that males who feel like women suffer more than any woman or girl ever has, that failure to prioritize male beliefs in gender is an act of violence, that the denial of any man’s desire – whether it is to use female restrooms, attend female-only concerts, or be housed in female prisons – is akin to murder, is a human rights violation, and that men’s psychological needs will always be more important than the needs and safety of women and girls. In fact, if you deny a male person what he wants, he might even commit suicide.

We saw an amazing – amazing in the truest sense, e.g., we were gobsmacked – MtT internet meme yesterday.  It said: “The most important thing you can do as an ally of mine: Ask me what I want and need, then try your best to give me that.”

Really let that wash over you, women who center men. It undoubtedly feels great when men call you the sensitivest, inclusivest, bestest ally all of all time, and you get a frisson of superiority when you stick it to “TERFS”– kind of like how the Duggars feel towards the rest of the sinful, front-hugging world – but: Do you really want to be everyone’s mommy? When was the last time a trans person, or a man, asked you how they could be your ally, as a woman in this world? Not recently? Why do you think that is?

Anyway. None of this is anything new. It’s the same old male manipulation, male aggression, male entitlement designed to make women feel crazy, to make women doubt themselves, to make women turn on reality and turn on one another.

The bearers of today’s misogynist philosophies are, more often than not, men who feel like women. Their forums for espousing their shockingly anti-feminist, anti-woman ideas are often the very publications where women, dykes in particular, once sought community and solace.

Women have come to expect that when we challenge the status quo, when we question the systems put in place to marginalize us, to make us feel like shit, we will be set upon by those who need to uphold the status quo, those who built the systems. This is just a fact of life for those of us who are female; maybe even more so for those of us who are dykes. No one fucking cares what we think, or how we feel until we express what we’re thinking; what we’re feeling – and then we’re vilified. We’re not supposed to disagree. We’re supposed to always put the proverbial cock in our mouths and pretend we enjoy it.

But here’s the thing, while we have come to expect it, there’s no rule that says we have to accept it.

Despite the trans/queer/liberal feminists’ strong investment in language, thought and perception-policing, American women – even dykes! – live in a country where free speech is (ostensibly) sanctioned and where there are, in fact, libel laws. So what this means is, until further notice, women can actually have ideas and express them. AND if you make shit up about women, because our words hurt your feelings, or because our ideas don’t fall in line lockstep with the bullshit liberal drivel you’re peddling, women can SUE you.

Even if we weren’t friends with Cathy Brennan, our hats would be off to her in filing this lawsuit. We believe that women – even those who disagree with us – should be able to use their words, and use their intellect, to speak their truth, and to openly criticize social movements, political ideologies, and legislation that appears harmful. Open, honest discourse is important and healthy. Dissent is healthy. And it’s also healthy, and appropriate, that when a major publication publishes damaging, outright, lies about an individual that individual ought to defend herself by making use of the legal system.

The culture, especially in liberal circles, has done a lot of work on a lengthy fiction that portrays lesbians with a radical feminist analysis as beasts, as slightly subhuman assholes, because we understand basic biology; we reject the notion that gender stereotypes are innate realities; we’re not terribly interested in male feelings and approval, and we’re pretty blunt about sometimes wanting space away from dudes (even those who “identify as female”); we prefer romantic attachments with other female human beings, and our activism, our political discourse concerns itself with women and girls. We’re monsters because, to quote the amazing Andrea Dworkin, we’re “radical feminists . . . not the fun kind.”

And because of this fiction, the one where radical feminist dykes are virtually the same as Fred Phelps (seriously, that analogy has been bandied about a lot) or Hitler, it’s tempting for “fun feminist” writers to build on the storyline, to make shit up, to run with unfounded rumors. And it’s one thing to Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille, but it’s quite another to commit these inventions to print and call it journalism. That’s slander, sister.

So more power to you, Cathy. We’ve got your back, and the backs of all women who are done with being threatened for having a class analysis, who are sick of being silenced on matters that impact us directly, who are over being maligned and misrepresented; our characters and reputations carelessly sacrificed to the precious male ego, to the gender god, to liberal feminism. Fuck that. Fight back.

A meditation on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival : 1975-2015


The nutloaf was nutty. The drumming was drummy. I bought a dykey leather bracelet, got my period, howled like a wolf, showered in the open air and woke up in a tent underneath several inches of water during a thunderstorm. I washed dishes in a communal trough and let a silky wolf spider shimmy up my arm. I felt Lisa Vogel’s true love for each one of us in the fireworks show on Saturday at Night Stage.

It was Fest. It was the last Fest.

Before I left, I rubbed my new bracelet in the dirt and on the bark of trees in an effort to take the Land back with me. I tore off a piece of a fern, put it in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed.

I’m in the denial stage of grief: Lisa will hear our pain; feel our need; change her mind, I keep thinking. And then, more calmly: Even if Fest doesn’t continue in the same way we’ve known for the last 40 years, it’ll revamp; renew; reformat. We may not gather in 650 acres of pristine northern Michigan woodland, but we’ll figure things out on a smaller scale. Lisa gets to retire if she wants to. No one can be the lesbian Moses, leading us out of the desert of our lives, forever. Forty years is long enough for any job. It’s as long as I’ve been alive. 

“If you need it; if you want it; then create it,” we all heard from the stages – and though I appreciated the encouragement and felt a frisson of excitement at the idea of making something blossom out of the Fest seeds, I don’t think I’m alone in doubting that I can create exactly what I’ve needed, and got, in my years on the Land. The most creative idea I’ve got at this point has to do with an all-women’s potluck. And I don’t know any sisters in this town. So I feel sad and afraid.

The loss of Fest is serious and worthy of our grief. Many women depended on Fest to be:

  • The only place they ever got to fully inhabit themselves without the male gaze; without judgment; without fear; seeing themselves only through loving eyes and finding themselves enough.
  •  The only place they could set a bag down and walk away; knowing it’d be there when they got back.
  • The only place they could travel from a great distance with only a backpack; knowing their needs would be met by the Land and the women on it.
  • The only place they ever experienced a week without men – and, more importantly, with only women – and if you haven’t experienced this, I can’t explain its transformative power.
  • The only place they ever spoke – or listened – to a much older woman or a very little girl.
  • The only place no one treated them as inferior because they were deaf, or disabled, or a single mother, or had a full beard, or worked a blue- or pink-collar job.
  • The only place they really mattered to other people.
  • The only thing they were ever really a part of.

The “only place” part is, I think, a real indictment of the world we live in; of “Area 51.”

I know that women always have, and always will, find ways to connect and get our needs met – even in, or especially in, times and places deeply hostile to us. We are water that flows downward and rust that never sleeps, and this goes double for lesbians: What have we not done? Where have we not gone? When have we not carved out spaces for ourselves – and long, long before the Internet, when we were still criminals just by being who we were?

I know all this. I believe it. This loss, though, sisters. This loss.


Because I lived in South Carolina for years, right-wing arguments for flying the Confederate flag are as familiar to me as right-wing arguments against marriage equality. They’re similarly disingenuous:

  • “Heritage, not hate!”/”I love homosexuals; I just don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
  • “The flag has always flown in front of the State House!”/”It’s not for us to change God’s definition of marriage!”
  •  “The Civil War was about states’ rights; not slavery.”/”This is about religious freedom, not bigotry.”
  • “This is a matter best left to individual states.”/”This is a matter best left to individual states.”

Simple, thinly-veiled hostility, mixed with appeals to tradition, individual rights, capitalistic terror, a persecution complex, and the Lord God Almighty Himself. These arguments dry up and blow away if you have a basic understanding of our secular legal system and/or the Old Testament, which defines marriage in a drastically different way than anything now sanctioned by the strictest Southern Baptist, including polygamy and marrying your rapist. (Google that stuff. Also, remember never to wear a cotton-polyester blend or cook a young goat in its mother’s milk, OK? I went to Bible school, so don’t mess with me. We can quote Scripture back and forth until Gabriel’s trump).

The above arguments are a cover for the real arguments, which are:

  • “I despise African-Americans.”/”I’m freaked out by the thought of a penis going into an anus, as well as the idea of two women tasting other’s vaginas without a man in the room.”

We can move on now! Right-wingers are what they’ve always been. What I’m fascinated with are the progressive arguments against same-sex marriage; from people with whom I agree on most other things and who ought to be celebrating Friday’s Supreme Court decision. This set of arguments goes like:

1. All systems and modes of oppression have not yet been eradicated, therefore we shouldn’t care about marriage.

2. Marriage is a heterosexual institution and therefore unimportant for gays.

3. Marriage is a patriarchal institution about “ownership” and therefore bad for women.

4. You don’t need a piece of paper to prove the stability and truth of your love.

This set of arguments is egregiously balls, because:

1. I can care about, and work on, lots of things at the same time! Like, the other day, I did a Jillian Michaels workout involving a squat with a shoulder press! Also, why do gays and lesbians need to put on everyone else’s oxygen mask first? Why do we always have to eat the burned one? What’s up with the guilt trip? Are we everyone’s mommy? Finally, where (besides during the second wave) was all the weighting and measuring of marriage when it was only for heterosexuals? Why all of a sudden are we line-editing it as an institution?

2. Heterosexuals don’t own marriage, just like they don’t own any other integral social institution or benefit. As long as human beings feel a deep, primal need to couple up and build lives together; we all have a vested interest in the legal equality of those relationships. You’re a same-sex couple who doesn’t want your relationship sanctioned by law? Fine! My wife and I won’t choose for you; you don’t get to choose for us. It’s a lot like how I find abortion morally reprehensible in most cases, but still support its legality, because I don’t get to decide for other people. I don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions, so I don’t get in the way.

3. Marriage is only patriarchal if there’s a man in the marriage. Let’s go ahead and name the agent: Men, historically, have oppressed women in marriage (as well as outside it). Women don’t oppress one another in this way, nor can they (if you have any class analysis at all). I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings. If you’re using this argument, you’re likely a young person who wants to subvert and resist and who has never filed a federal tax return; or someone who is deeply bitter for personal reasons. It’s your own Very Special Journey. But you don’t get to dictate to me.

4. Of course you don’t need a piece of paper to prove the stability and truth of your love – but you do need it to prove you’ve made one specific, legal, and protected commitment – a commitment in which you sign on for over a thousand rights, privileges and obligations that can’t be taken away. Once you make that commitment – namely, federally-recognized marriage; not a civil union or domestic partnership – your situation doesn’t change whenever the political winds blow. You are not at the mercy of people who do not wish you well. The thought of what you do in bed squicks them out six ways to Sunday? Tough. They don’t have to host your reception at their particular church; they don’t have to send you a gravy boat off your registry, but – and this is all that matters – they can’t make you less-than.

And, a special message to the heterosexual “progressive” women who’ve always been able to marry and who dismiss marriage equality as unimportant? Fuck right off out of here. I’ve spent years caring about things like male domestic violence and your right to contraception, and you presume to tell me what is and isn’t important in my life, or what ought to be done first or beforehand?

How’d you like it if my wife and I took an Andrea Dworkin line on your relationship? Your sex life and relationship is oppressive and coercive by its very nature, ladies. How’d that feel?

You, and everyone else who purports to know what’s best for us, can throw all the shade you want. Because this one’s done. This one, as Justice Kennedy wrote from the highest court in the land, is immutable.