I am entirely certain that this will turn into a whole series of essays. They may vary in coherence because I had such BIG feelings over the week I was there. I’m having a hard time unpacking my feelings into easily digestible bits.
You know how I never feel like I belong anywhere? Know how I leave every community after a relatively short involvement because I feel like I am poison and I am going to hurt the people there?
Well, I had one rough day during the week but it was one of those days that my period tracker app on my phone says will suck. So I don’t think that is about Michfest. I think that is me being able to have a bad day no matter how awesome things are.
I feel like I ripped my heart out and left it in the woods in Michigan. I will never be fully whole again because I can never return to those womyn and that hurts so much. I got contact information for many and I intend to send them emails tonight after I blog. I want to maintain relationships with these womyn so so so so much.
I’m not normally big on the “womyn” spelling, but it is so integral to the experience of Michfest that I will attempt to use it when I’m writing about the festival. In a weird way it is like saying Deaf culture or Black culture. I want to respect how they think of themselves. It matters how people are represented.
I barely know how to start addressing this. Why was it so intense? I don’t even fucking know. It just was.
I talked to Noah on the phone earlier and he said that it sounds like I have been longing my whole life for a community I didn’t think existed and now I found it in time to lose it. Yeah, that’s kinda it.
Every time I felt panic because, “Ack I need help. Shit.” Someone appeared like magic. Every time I was about to scream at my kids because I was just fucking done some woman yelled from a little distance away, “Hey kiddo! Wanna play?” Then my kids were distracted and I had time to do whatever it was I needed to do.
I felt seen and important.
I have been to many events that try hard to be like this event. They always feel like they fail in some substantial way. I’m not saying Michfest is perfect and all womyn who go are perfect. I’m saying it scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had.
I spent the last day walking around crying because I wish my mom had been able to meet these womyn. I wish she had been able to meet strong, independent, caring womyn. Youngest child kept asking me all week, “What was it like when you came here with your mama when you were a little girl?” No matter how many times I reminded her that I had never been before… (s)he just couldn’t grasp the idea that my mother did not take me to Michfest. It was just unthinkable.
Youngest kiddo was thrilled to “be a girl” all week so I may just use female pronouns for her in this writing because gender neutral is so difficult.
The penultimate day there was a parade from the older girls day care place. I can’t express what it was like watching hundreds of dressed up, having fun little girls marching along yelling at the top of their lungs, “Who runs the world?! GAIA GIRLS!!!!”
I went to workshops. I’m sure I write more about them separately in the future but for now one of them was run by a woman with a psychiatric history not that different from mine. She took those horrifying experiences of being traumatized by institutionalization and became a lawyer and has spent over a decade working on a UN International Treaty for the rights of users and survivors of psychiatric care.
Basically she is fighting to ensure that my government no longer has the right to tie me to a table and inject me with drugs just because they don’t like how I’m behaving.
I don’t think she’ll win in this country. But other countries have ratified the treaty and other people are having better lives because of her work. I feel humbled by her efforts. She is really and truly helping to change the world for the better so that people like me have the right to be treated humanely.
I feel completely staggered by that. Thank you.
I met an awesome homeschooling mom from LA. She is on the last few laps of that journey. Her youngest child is 17. We exchanged emails and I told her I really want to pick her brain in the future about how she has handled issues. She says she really wants to keep talking about these things and she is glad to talk to me.
I went to many workshops that promoted the idea of transwomyn being womyn and they belong on The Land as much as every other womyn. I feel like my point of view was absolutely respected. Yes. There were Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) and we had some spirited conversations.
I got into it with one womyn who was ranting about how angry she is that anti-rape propaganda mentions womyn because “Men are the rapists and they are the ones with the problem. Stop acting like this is a womyn problem.” I said that I know for a fact that womyn rape. She said, “I know. I was raped by a womyn.” I am sure my facial expression spoke volumes. I thought for a minute and said, “I believe that anti-rape propaganda does not necessarily need to mention the gender of perpetrators at all. We need to address the problematic behaviors. Saying that the propaganda should only be aimed at men ignores valuable demographics. If every victim matters, we need to find a way to speak to all predators.”
She didn’t say that much after that. She looked like she was thinking hard.
I didn’t say that I know for a fact that womyn rape because I have done so but I thought it real loud. I had to learn what behaviors were problematic and change them. That required education, training, and effort on my part. Most predators aren’t in my position to chase that education the way I did. I wanted it more than most predators. We need to change our whole society so that the problematic behaviors are recognized earlier and people get the feedback they need to change.
Kind of like how the problem isn’t a kid kicking me in the throat. The problem is the mom saying it is all my fault.
I could barely drag the kids out of the childcare. They were there until closing every time. (Closing for dinner. We didn’t stay out till midnight. I can’t hack that. Even if it is only 9pm California time. We were great at staying on California time when we were two hours ahead. As soon as we hit three hours ahead we adjusted and had to start going to bed at 9pm because we were waking up so fucking early.) We only made it to childcare three days of the week. You had to sign up at 8am the day before and we didn’t always manage. The slots for the littlest area filled up fast.
I don’t think it was all the nekkid womyn although I will admit that I probably checked people out a bit more than was strictly polite. Oh. My. Gawd. So. Much. Hotness.
And yet… there was a fuckton of womyn who were not remotely conventionally “beautiful”. My kids spent a lot of time whispering in my ear, “I thought men weren’t allowed on The Land.” I said, “They aren’t.” “Then why is that man standing there?” “That’s a womyn, honey.” “………………..oh.”
Yup women are fucking diverse and it is awesome. They had a whole parade for bearded womyn. Rock fucking on.
Womyn walked around topless with their mastectomy scars showing. They were beautiful.
I saw womyn of every weight and possible weight distribution they were all beautiful.
I felt so grateful to be near womyn who were so comfortable in their own skins. I felt so grateful to be near womyn who feel they have the right to advocate for themselves and their issues. I felt so grateful to be near so many womyn who are not fucking doing what they are told.
It was funny how many of the older lesbians told me not to swear. Ha. Ha. Ha. No. I’m ignoring you now.
I loved getting to the opening ceremony and hearing a womyn stand up and yell that we NEED TO BE FUCKING PISSED. Rock on, sister.
That is probably enough for the first dump. So many more feelings to sort. In the trans-inclusion workshop the leader said, “This is not a utopia. It’s not safe space–it’s safe enough space. We have an agreement.”
I swear to goodness that blew my mind.
Why can’t spaces work like this when men are present? Why do they feel different?
I have so many feelings about exclusionary space and safe space and…
I need to stop. Arms are hurting. Thank you Michfest. Thank you for everything you have given me. I will try to be worthy.