As if going to Glastonbury were not already insufferable enough, now those who do will implicitly be condoning segregation – in the year 2016.
When you’re a woman, going to a festival brings a new set of problems, whether it’s batting off the advances of some limp chirpser in the healing field, or, worse, feeling unsafe in a space that has a serious and unaddressed problem of sexual assault. While some festivals have been attempting to tackle the issue with safety awareness campaigns, sometimes all you want to do is drink and dance in a space where those problems are less likely to occur.
This year at Glastonbury, for the first time, there will be a venue for women only, which will be tucked away in the Shangri-La zone of the festival. The venue itself is ran by an organisation called The Sisterhood, who describe themselves as an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space open to all people who identify as women”. All staff working in the venue will also be those who identify as women, whether they are the acts who are performing, bar staff or security guards.
“The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,” the festival organisers explained. “Oppression against women continues in various manifestations around the world today, in different cultural contexts.”
“In the UK, the gender pay gap in the workplace, cuts to domestic violence services and sex worker rights are current talking points that highlight this issue. Sisterhood seeks to provide a secret space for women to connect, network, share their stories, have fun and learn the best way to support each other in our global struggle to end oppression against women and all marginalised people, whilst showcasing the best and boldest female talent in the UK and beyond.”
If you think this defence of sexual segregation at Britain’s most popular music festival sounds more like a spiteful two-fingers up at men in general rather a defensive act in response to a specific threat, you would be quite right – The Sisterhood spent more time ranting about the “oppression” of women around the world than fretting about any specific perils faced by women at Glastonbury.
Digital Music News also questions the rationale:
The group dubbed this ‘the 1st ever women only venue’ on Twitter, though the rationale for the space seems less celebratory and pro-women, and frankly, more anti-male.
Still, ISIS would be thrilled with this segregationist nod to their hardline Islamist ideology. Or they would, if only music festivals weren’t themselves haram.
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This is one of the few topics where I don’t agree with you. It is sometimes more crap being a woman than being a man (yes, at music festivals too). And while I share your questioning of the presumption of fragility that drives modern victim politics I can see some genuine value in having a zone at Glastonbury where a woman could, for example, retreat for example if she lost her friends and got too shitfaced to feel safe wandering about relying on the kindness of strangers. Not all strange men are kind to isolated, drunk women – even at music festivals. If you possess a vagina rather than a penis you live with this reality.
What I do think is barking mad is to declare this some marvellous safe place for women and in the same breath acknowledge that it is in fact not for women only at all, but rather everyone who ‘identifies as a woman’. All a man would have to do is declare, with a straight face, that he identifies as a woman, and hey presto, he is one and is welcome.
With perhaps unintentional irony, you prefaced this post with an advertisement for Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. You may not be aware of this, but MichFest closed its doors for the last time in 2015, following a sustained onslaught of aggressive protest over many years by delusional men in dresses who insisted that their ‘feeling like a woman’ takes primacy over the fact that they manifestly are not women, and, further, that exclusion from a women-only event represented actual violence against them.
You might read this as a gloriously bitter internecine SJW spat but as the owner of a vagina I can tell you that I do not welcome a shift in culture towards privileging something as nebulous as an individual’s inner conviction about what ‘gender’ they are over the observable biological facts. There are simply too many downsides to humouring this kind of nonsense, particularly for the people whose biology makes us on the whole physically smaller, weaker and – yes – sometimes in need of segregated spaces for our physical safety and dignity.
You can’t target a specific religion for extra checks at an airport because they’re more likely to commit terrorist attacks. You can’t stop a man of a certain color from entering an expensive shop because they’re more likely to steal, or stop him more often for ‘random searches’ in the street. You can’t cut the wages of a certain sex because they’re more likely to go away on m/p-aternity leave.
This is because if you treat muslims like terrorists, you’re more likely to push them to extremism and terrorism. If you treat black people like they’re criminals, they’re more likely to have a poor relationship with the police and the law in general. And if you discriminate based on someone’s gender… well it’s just unfair.
So it stands to reason, you shouldn’t block a man from entering a tent. If you treat every man like they might be a rapist, it’s not going to make you safer in the long run. And it’s unfair.
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Comfort yourself, Sam, that most of those going to this festival will not be bothering to vote in the EU ref!
(and on another note……. what is to stop normal, heterosexual, testosterone filled MEN – yeurgh! – from self identifying themselves as women? although they may not be attracted to the sort of ‘women’ in this safe space. Lol. The world has gone mad!)
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True – though I did note that Michael Eavis the festival organiser did exhort everyone to fill in their postal votes for Remain ahead of time.
It’s really come to something, hasn’t it, when young people – supposedly adventurous, daring and counter cultural – have been co-opted as cheerleaders for the stale, deadening, anti-democratic hand of the European Union?
I keep wondering where the high water mark for all of this social justice / identity politics claptrap will be – I don’t yet know, but it’s clear that we have a long way to go yet. Things will get worse before they get better.
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