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August 3, 2007
Radical Feminist Hate, Fear, or Loathing?
August 8, 2007

Michfest Music Melodrama

I really have no desire to go to the transphobic Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I don’t really care to protest the event (with Camp Trans). If the Klan wanted to have a meeting out in the midde of nowhere, I’d let em. But the one thing DOES bother me about Michfest are the performers. Artists like Alix Olson, Melissa Ferrick, and Ferron are playing at an event that actively excludes transwomen. I keep thinking, should I refuse to go to any further shows or buy their albums? Is it anathema to support any of these artists?

🙁 I really do love Ferron.

Some music under the cut…

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  • Karen S

    I am firmly against boycotting artists who play at , and I have also spoken against dis-inviting Bitch from the Boston Dyke March.

    First, it accentuates dividing feminists into pro and anti trans camps. That’s what our opponents want! Um, bad move.

    Next, I can’t talk to someone I’m avoiding.

    There is only one message in a boycott…”My way or the Highway” Just out of sheer cussedness, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t choose the highway, myself. In fact, I know I would. And I would be muttering to myself, and anyone who would hear me, “Uppity so and so’s, up theirs!” especially if I had not previously been working against them actively. Most artists come to Michigan to support women, not to disenfranchise the womanhoods of transwomen. They may not have given much thought to the implications of Michfest’s policies until confronted by them.

    How we confront them is where the artistry is. Why not confront them with comfort instead, and ease their fears?

    To be ameliorative disarms some of the arguments used against us vis a vis our womanhood. That we are not listening to their concerns. I don’t agree with their concerns; but I would like to heal them. The best strategy is to disarm our foes, or at least those who listen to them. To add our words to their words. While we’re at it, to listen to their concerns, and insist they let us speak ours.

    Then speak them, articulately, from our own centers as women.

    And yes, I do know that all of this is hard as hell to do. Then again, harder things are done daily by the saints. *smile*

  • Karen S

    I am firmly against boycotting artists who play at , and I have also spoken against dis-inviting Bitch from the Boston Dyke March.

    First, it accentuates dividing feminists into pro and anti trans camps. That’s what our opponents want! Um, bad move.

    Next, I can’t talk to someone I’m avoiding.

    There is only one message in a boycott…”My way or the Highway” Just out of sheer cussedness, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t choose the highway, myself. In fact, I know I would. And I would be muttering to myself, and anyone who would hear me, “Uppity so and so’s, up theirs!” especially if I had not previously been working against them actively. Most artists come to Michigan to support women, not to disenfranchise the womanhoods of transwomen. They may not have given much thought to the implications of Michfest’s policies until confronted by them.

    How we confront them is where the artistry is. Why not confront them with comfort instead, and ease their fears?

    To be ameliorative disarms some of the arguments used against us vis a vis our womanhood. That we are not listening to their concerns. I don’t agree with their concerns; but I would like to heal them. The best strategy is to disarm our foes, or at least those who listen to them. To add our words to their words. While we’re at it, to listen to their concerns, and insist they let us speak ours.

    Then speak them, articulately, from our own centers as women.

    And yes, I do know that all of this is hard as hell to do. Then again, harder things are done daily by the saints. *smile*

  • Deborah, Chino, CA

    This form of discrimination against trans-women has been going on since at least the 1970’s, and it is truly time it came to a stop. The question, of course, is how?

    A boycott of performers and sponsors would not work in this case. Let’s face it, we would represent less than a 0.01% loss of income to them from this event. It would also play into the hands of the radical lesbian feminist separatists, who are themselves a tiny minority, albeit a vocal one that controls most “women only” events. They want us to stop spending our money with their sponsors and performers, and in return they hope that those same parties would stop supporting us.

    What we need to do instead is educate those who will listen, and challenge the bigotry of those who won’t. We do this by no longer hiding. We tell them of what we see, how we feel, and of the reality that is our lives. We go to the women’s groups, speak at the colleges (especially the human sexuality, psychology, and women’s studies classes), and in general get way more active.

    We must also be able to listen to the concerns of the average woman as well. I cannot tell you how many times I, and every woman I know, have heard the line from men who claim to be “lesbians trapped in a man’s body.” I, and nearly every woman I know, have been victimized by men we knew and trusted. I for one understand the need for “women’s only” spaces, the need to feel safe and free from male influence, even if just for a little while.

    So, I find myself considering the source of whatever rules are set forth. In this case, it is a group of radicals with a long track record of attacking trans-women at every opportunity. It isn’t the attendees, the sponsors, the performers, the vendors, etc. This tiny minority that holds so much sway over the womyn’s community is the problem. We will not be able to change their minds, because they have closed them. We need to focus instead on the rest.

    In this way, we can marginalize the bigots, and turn this very unique and special event into something all women can enjoy, not just those who meet stereotypical guidelines set forth by an aging and fading handful of women with no clue about the real world.

  • Deborah, Chino, CA

    This form of discrimination against trans-women has been going on since at least the 1970’s, and it is truly time it came to a stop. The question, of course, is how?

    A boycott of performers and sponsors would not work in this case. Let’s face it, we would represent less than a 0.01% loss of income to them from this event. It would also play into the hands of the radical lesbian feminist separatists, who are themselves a tiny minority, albeit a vocal one that controls most “women only” events. They want us to stop spending our money with their sponsors and performers, and in return they hope that those same parties would stop supporting us.

    What we need to do instead is educate those who will listen, and challenge the bigotry of those who won’t. We do this by no longer hiding. We tell them of what we see, how we feel, and of the reality that is our lives. We go to the women’s groups, speak at the colleges (especially the human sexuality, psychology, and women’s studies classes), and in general get way more active.

    We must also be able to listen to the concerns of the average woman as well. I cannot tell you how many times I, and every woman I know, have heard the line from men who claim to be “lesbians trapped in a man’s body.” I, and nearly every woman I know, have been victimized by men we knew and trusted. I for one understand the need for “women’s only” spaces, the need to feel safe and free from male influence, even if just for a little while.

    So, I find myself considering the source of whatever rules are set forth. In this case, it is a group of radicals with a long track record of attacking trans-women at every opportunity. It isn’t the attendees, the sponsors, the performers, the vendors, etc. This tiny minority that holds so much sway over the womyn’s community is the problem. We will not be able to change their minds, because they have closed them. We need to focus instead on the rest.

    In this way, we can marginalize the bigots, and turn this very unique and special event into something all women can enjoy, not just those who meet stereotypical guidelines set forth by an aging and fading handful of women with no clue about the real world.

  • pj

    One other thing to consider is that some of the artists playing MWMF actually voice their trans support on stage and play at CampTrans (e.g., I know Lesbians on Ecstasy did). Playing at MWMF may not necessarily be (and probably isn’t for many) an endorsement of their policy and some artists you might protest are actually supportive and attempting to affect change from within the system. Just a thought.

  • pj

    One other thing to consider is that some of the artists playing MWMF actually voice their trans support on stage and play at CampTrans (e.g., I know Lesbians on Ecstasy did). Playing at MWMF may not necessarily be (and probably isn’t for many) an endorsement of their policy and some artists you might protest are actually supportive and attempting to affect change from within the system. Just a thought.

  • Oliver/Danni

    I also want to add to my previous comment: just because I personally don’t feel a need to boycott artists whose opinions/beliefs/actions/politics I disagree with doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong or a poor choice for someone else to boycott an artist. I just personally do not choose to do it. So, I’m not arguing that you should not boycott artists who play at MichFest…if it feels like the right choice for you to make, then I totally support your choice to do it.

  • Oliver/Danni

    I also want to add to my previous comment: just because I personally don’t feel a need to boycott artists whose opinions/beliefs/actions/politics I disagree with doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong or a poor choice for someone else to boycott an artist. I just personally do not choose to do it. So, I’m not arguing that you should not boycott artists who play at MichFest…if it feels like the right choice for you to make, then I totally support your choice to do it.

  • eastsidekate

    how far do we take that? do we no longer buy records (or books, or art work, etc) from the corner record store because the owner is a bigot? or the salesperson? the record producer? the distributor? where does it end?

    Sure. It’s just a matter of personal preference as to where you draw the line. I guess there are two issues at play here. The first is when one should decide not to buy consumer goods. There are plenty of things I don’t buy based on my own beliefs (SPAM, anything from a Wal-Mart), and there are plenty of boycotts I don’t participate in (grapes, Taco Bell). We all have to choose our own fights.

    The second issue is whether art is different than other commodities. I dunno. To me, it’s the same thing. I certainly don’t buy CDs at Wal-Mart, and I definitely don’t want any of my money going to Russell Simmons.

  • eastsidekate

    how far do we take that? do we no longer buy records (or books, or art work, etc) from the corner record store because the owner is a bigot? or the salesperson? the record producer? the distributor? where does it end?

    Sure. It’s just a matter of personal preference as to where you draw the line. I guess there are two issues at play here. The first is when one should decide not to buy consumer goods. There are plenty of things I don’t buy based on my own beliefs (SPAM, anything from a Wal-Mart), and there are plenty of boycotts I don’t participate in (grapes, Taco Bell). We all have to choose our own fights.

    The second issue is whether art is different than other commodities. I dunno. To me, it’s the same thing. I certainly don’t buy CDs at Wal-Mart, and I definitely don’t want any of my money going to Russell Simmons.

  • yes, i’d agree it’s a little different from book burnings, which is why i chose the word “remind” as opposed to making a direct comparison. i’d suggest that correcting a colleague who’s made an off-hand offensive remark, is quite a bit different from no longer purchasing art from someone whose political views are different. how far do we take that? do we no longer buy records (or books, or art work, etc) from the corner record store because the owner is a bigot? or the salesperson? the record producer? the distributor? where does it end?

  • yes, i’d agree it’s a little different from book burnings, which is why i chose the word “remind” as opposed to making a direct comparison. i’d suggest that correcting a colleague who’s made an off-hand offensive remark, is quite a bit different from no longer purchasing art from someone whose political views are different. how far do we take that? do we no longer buy records (or books, or art work, etc) from the corner record store because the owner is a bigot? or the salesperson? the record producer? the distributor? where does it end?

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  • eastsidekate

    I guess I don’t understand the “unproductive” angle on this one. It would be one thing if we were talking about Camp Trans, but it’s another to claim that not paying people money or otherwise publicly supporting them is not a good use of one’s time. How much time does it take to not attend a concert, not buy a CD, or write off a quick e-mail? I see it as similar to correcting a colleague who’s made an off-hand offensive remark. Correcting them isn’t the most pressing issue of the day, but it is the right thing to do, and only takes a second.

    As for relating a boycott to book burning, I’d say this is a little different. A boycott isn’t censorship. Nobody’s arguing that these artists don’t have the right to perform– some of us are merely arguing that we have the right to not give them our money.

  • eastsidekate

    I guess I don’t understand the “unproductive” angle on this one. It would be one thing if we were talking about Camp Trans, but it’s another to claim that not paying people money or otherwise publicly supporting them is not a good use of one’s time. How much time does it take to not attend a concert, not buy a CD, or write off a quick e-mail? I see it as similar to correcting a colleague who’s made an off-hand offensive remark. Correcting them isn’t the most pressing issue of the day, but it is the right thing to do, and only takes a second.

    As for relating a boycott to book burning, I’d say this is a little different. A boycott isn’t censorship. Nobody’s arguing that these artists don’t have the right to perform– some of us are merely arguing that we have the right to not give them our money.

  • i’m with sabrina on this one. i don’t think it’s productive to boycott michfest supporters, and i also publicly disagreed with the decision to dis-invite bitch from the boston dyke march. on the other hand, i don’t necessarily think any less of people who don’t support artists because of their politics.

    the whole thing reminds me of book burnings. or the dixie chicks incident. or for us old folks, the john lennon incident.

  • i’m with sabrina on this one. i don’t think it’s productive to boycott michfest supporters, and i also publicly disagreed with the decision to dis-invite bitch from the boston dyke march. on the other hand, i don’t necessarily think any less of people who don’t support artists because of their politics.

    the whole thing reminds me of book burnings. or the dixie chicks incident. or for us old folks, the john lennon incident.

  • eastsidekate

    You know, post-op Transwomen are only excluded when they choose to say they are Transwomen.

    True. Those of us who haven’t had SRS are SOL. The attitude seems to be that MWMF only allows women, and that trans women aren’t really women. It doesn’t seem constructive to argue with Lisa Vogel over who is or isn’t a woman, because I don’t see her changing her mind (or holding much sway).

    I don’t want to go to MichFest, because I’m clearly not welcome– it’s not fun to have to pass as something you’re not (namely, cissexual). Does Lisa Vogel have the right to invite whoever she wants? Probably– it seems reasonable enough. Thing is, there’s no excuse for MichFest policy other than outright bigotry.

    It really sucks to see otherwise cool artists– queer artists attending an event with a bigoted policy. You’d think they’d know better. If the artists didn’t perform, there wouldn’t be much of a show, right? MichFest would either have to change its policy (not likely), or close. Given the demand, there’d likely be a similar, more tolerant festival started a few years down the road– actual progress.

    These artists are enabling bigotry against other sexual minorities. I just can’t support their careers without feeling a little guilty.

  • eastsidekate

    You know, post-op Transwomen are only excluded when they choose to say they are Transwomen.

    True. Those of us who haven’t had SRS are SOL. The attitude seems to be that MWMF only allows women, and that trans women aren’t really women. It doesn’t seem constructive to argue with Lisa Vogel over who is or isn’t a woman, because I don’t see her changing her mind (or holding much sway).

    I don’t want to go to MichFest, because I’m clearly not welcome– it’s not fun to have to pass as something you’re not (namely, cissexual). Does Lisa Vogel have the right to invite whoever she wants? Probably– it seems reasonable enough. Thing is, there’s no excuse for MichFest policy other than outright bigotry.

    It really sucks to see otherwise cool artists– queer artists attending an event with a bigoted policy. You’d think they’d know better. If the artists didn’t perform, there wouldn’t be much of a show, right? MichFest would either have to change its policy (not likely), or close. Given the demand, there’d likely be a similar, more tolerant festival started a few years down the road– actual progress.

    These artists are enabling bigotry against other sexual minorities. I just can’t support their careers without feeling a little guilty.

  • BEAR Rodgers

    An Artist has a right and need to take their art to whatever forum will promote and feed them. If a huge Trans Music Festival offered them the same benefits to perform they probably accept. If not, THEN boycott them.

    You know, post-op Transwomen are only excluded when they choose to say they are Transwomen. There is no genetic test to get in. Checking IDs proves nothing, by that time you could have it changed already. If the application asks for your birth gender then ask yourself: Just because a Doc put M on a piece of paper, did that make me male? If you are a post-op Transwoman then the answer is “NO” and you decided that a long time ago. Right?
    When I was considering go to MWMF, which they would allow since I had a vagina, they did not ask for my birth certificate. I’m from TN, whatever you were catalogued as at birth you are stuck with on your BC, but 47 other states can correct that so if my Transwoman girlfriend was asked for a BC she would have made it in. I chose not to go in the end. Though it would have been a smorgasborg for me (some of those women adore FTMs when we shave), I do not consider myself female. Plus I detest the attitude of active discrimination, which is hate no justification.
    Got to discriminate, then ban violent criminals, because they may commit those crimes against the participants. But while my Transsisters are being shuffled aside based on a natural gender variation, natal-female ex-con child molesters, rapists, thieves, spousal/partner abusers, have been known to participate. (Maybe it’s safer to stay home, ladies)

  • BEAR Rodgers

    An Artist has a right and need to take their art to whatever forum will promote and feed them. If a huge Trans Music Festival offered them the same benefits to perform they probably accept. If not, THEN boycott them.

    You know, post-op Transwomen are only excluded when they choose to say they are Transwomen. There is no genetic test to get in. Checking IDs proves nothing, by that time you could have it changed already. If the application asks for your birth gender then ask yourself: Just because a Doc put M on a piece of paper, did that make me male? If you are a post-op Transwoman then the answer is “NO” and you decided that a long time ago. Right?
    When I was considering go to MWMF, which they would allow since I had a vagina, they did not ask for my birth certificate. I’m from TN, whatever you were catalogued as at birth you are stuck with on your BC, but 47 other states can correct that so if my Transwoman girlfriend was asked for a BC she would have made it in. I chose not to go in the end. Though it would have been a smorgasborg for me (some of those women adore FTMs when we shave), I do not consider myself female. Plus I detest the attitude of active discrimination, which is hate no justification.
    Got to discriminate, then ban violent criminals, because they may commit those crimes against the participants. But while my Transsisters are being shuffled aside based on a natural gender variation, natal-female ex-con child molesters, rapists, thieves, spousal/partner abusers, have been known to participate. (Maybe it’s safer to stay home, ladies)

  • I wouldn’t protest them, but I feel kinda iffy about attending a show of an artist that feels OK with playing Michfest. I kinda feel like they don’t support me, why should I support them?

  • Oliver/Danni

    Personally, I’m a lot more okay with MichFest than I feel like most trans people are. I don’t LIKE that trans people are excluded from the event, and I don’t like the reasons behind the exclusion of trans people from the event, but I don’t feel that it’s a violation of my rights that I’m excluded from the event. Honestly, I think that if I felt woman-identified enough to attend, I probably would not choose to attend because I wouldn’t WANT to attend an event that excluded transgender women and/or female-identified people who have or have ever had penises, but I don’t expect women to refuse to attend or perform at an event like MichFest in protest of its exclusion of transgender people.

    But even if I did feel that it was wrong for people to perform at a music festival that excludes transgender people, and had the expectation that those people would refuse to perform at the event, I probably still would not boycott their music. I don’t really believe in boycotting music (or any art form) that I enjoy listening to (or looking at or whatever) just because I disagree with an action or political belief of the artist. One of my favorite classical composers is Richard Wagner, for instance. I love his music, and the fact that he was a devout Nazi doesn’t really change the fact that his music speaks to me really powerfully.

  • Oliver/Danni

    Personally, I’m a lot more okay with MichFest than I feel like most trans people are. I don’t LIKE that trans people are excluded from the event, and I don’t like the reasons behind the exclusion of trans people from the event, but I don’t feel that it’s a violation of my rights that I’m excluded from the event. Honestly, I think that if I felt woman-identified enough to attend, I probably would not choose to attend because I wouldn’t WANT to attend an event that excluded transgender women and/or female-identified people who have or have ever had penises, but I don’t expect women to refuse to attend or perform at an event like MichFest in protest of its exclusion of transgender people.

    But even if I did feel that it was wrong for people to perform at a music festival that excludes transgender people, and had the expectation that those people would refuse to perform at the event, I probably still would not boycott their music. I don’t really believe in boycotting music (or any art form) that I enjoy listening to (or looking at or whatever) just because I disagree with an action or political belief of the artist. One of my favorite classical composers is Richard Wagner, for instance. I love his music, and the fact that he was a devout Nazi doesn’t really change the fact that his music speaks to me really powerfully.

  • Ultimately, it’s up to you, Marti.

    IMO it is not constructive to talk about boycotts over support for MWMF. Protests and boycotts are the kind of action we should reserve for serious enemies of this community — people who fire us, beat us, berate us in public, lobby against laws protecting us, leave us bleeding by the road to die, that kind of thing.

    I disagreed publicly with the decision of the Boston Dyke March to dis-invite Bitch (which came from a person who was not trans, but we get the blame for it anyway), and i don’t necessarily agree with the idea that we have to boycott performers who perform at MWMF. So, i personally wouldn’t stop listening to an artist because they performed there.

  • Ultimately, it’s up to you, Marti.

    IMO it is not constructive to talk about boycotts over support for MWMF. Protests and boycotts are the kind of action we should reserve for serious enemies of this community — people who fire us, beat us, berate us in public, lobby against laws protecting us, leave us bleeding by the road to die, that kind of thing.

    I disagreed publicly with the decision of the Boston Dyke March to dis-invite Bitch (which came from a person who was not trans, but we get the blame for it anyway), and i don’t necessarily agree with the idea that we have to boycott performers who perform at MWMF. So, i personally wouldn’t stop listening to an artist because they performed there.