Priorities Askew

I spent today in Glastonbury as I had been asked to help out with an event being run by Feminist Archive South. It is part of a project called Hatpins to Hastags which charts the history of femimist activism. There’s a wonderful traveling exhibition of posters from women’s liberation activities over the decades, and two strands of workshops. Some of the workshops are on digital democracy, which I’m pleased to see is focusing more on communication tools and website building than on social media. Alison Bancroft has done a fabulous job building the website for the project so if you want to learn some of this stuff and are local do check out future workshop dates. There will be some in Weston in October as well.

The other stream of workshops is called Femimist Futures and it is intended to look at what feminism still needs to do, and where we go from here. This is what I was invited to help out with. There’s a lot that we could have talked about. I offer the WEP list of objectives as a starter. Unfortunately we didn’t get to talk much about any of that.

This being Glastonbury, we had a small group of people along from the Goddess Movement, and mostly what they wanted to do was complain about how words like “intersectional” and “non-binary” were too complicated, and how we had to simplify feminism by only doing the things they wanted us to do.

I think what offended me most about this was their ignorance of human spiritual traditions (I love Inanna/Ishtar precsely because her temple was always welcoming to queer folks of all types), and their insistence on imposing Western European notions of a strict gender binary on the rest of the world. If you are going to claim to tap into ancient spiritual traditions you can at least try to do a bit of research.

I’m also seriously unimpressed with their disingenuous approach. Rather than admit that they didn’t understand this stuff and ask to learn, they complained that we were making things too complicated for girls today. Given that the young feminists they were abusing had no trouble with being intersectional, but these older women clearly did, I think the problem lies elsewhere.

If any of you are worrying about me, please don’t. I’m mostly annoyed that an opportunity to have a useful conversation about the future of feminism was totally derailed by people whose only priority appears to be excluding trans people from feminism. When there is so much still to do, it infuriates me that we are wasting our time like this. Besides, they really didn’t care about me. Their main concern was telling off the young women who didn’t share their views. I might just as well not have been there for all they cared what I thought or felt.

I’m looking on it as good practice for next weekend, which I will be spending at the Women’s Equality Party conference. I expect that experience to be far more unpleasant.