This is a guest post by Jane Glascock. Jane is a Cognitive Psychologist and Partner/Principal of D5 Research Group, a Seattle-area Market Research firm.
[Note from Jill: Jane is also a neighbor from where I grew up, and a close friend of my mom's. I solicited this post from her, so let's remember the usual guest-blogger rules -- treat the guests like they're a neighbor coming over to visit. Since Jane literally is my neighbor, I'd appreciate it if the comments remained respectful.]
My mother’s generation of home-making women spent their work days cleaning, washing, cooking, preparing for the big event-– return of the Man. And also getting together over coffee with other women.
My mother would sit at the kitchen table with Trudy LoSasso’s mother from the next apartment building. My step-sister would chat over coffee with her next-door suburban neighbor. But these little coffee klatches were really small pockets of isolation. They were one-on-ones; they were get-togethers of geographic convenience; they supplied veneers of friendship; they were apolitical. While I never discussed this with my mother, I’d wager they were un-fulfilling, pedestrian, disappointing.
These days of course there are so many added venues for women to get together -– drinks after work, lunch, maybe a film, etc. My experience with such opportunities often, however, did not seem to me so different from my mother’s day. Often isolated, often individualized, often professionally segregated or age separated.
Considering this a few years ago, I decided a new, big gathering of women was just the ticket. Intuitively this seemed an antidote to the busy life as we know it, and even -— dare I say — a feminist action, bringing like-minded women together to enjoy and appreciate one another, share experience, be reminded together we are powerful.
I invited all the smart, liberal, funny, fantastic women I knew over for a summer afternoon-evening of eating, drinking, discussing everything from politics to recommended books. Many did not know one another. Ages ranged from nearly 80 to barely 20. I supplied the (now-requisite) margaritas and some appetizers. Others brought wine, more food, non-alcoholic drinks. Importantly, no children were permitted; this was just for women with no strings attached. And no men of course.
We played loud music, swam, laughed, drank to tipsy, stuffed ourselves, traded booklists, slammed the prevailing political uber-masters, and had a great time.
And so Womanfest was born. It has continued yearly as an exuberant example of the happy comingling of an entire, large coven of sharp, political, fun, engaging women.
Each year it grows a bit, as new friends are included, and anyone can bring a guest or guests.
There is something I can’t quite describe about this annual gathering of great, interesting women. Something tuned in and comfortable but electric as well. I think it comes from being free, for a long afternoon, from it all. From the simple conspiracies of living that keep old and young at a distance, that tend to segregate so-called professionals from non-professionals, that lean to the assemblage of couples, that enervate the woman juggling work, children, life to the extent that all she wants is sleep.
To be supported this fun and caring way by like-minded friends is a powerful, connecting act.
To find that one’s children’s 20-30 something friends want to be included each year in the celebrations is enormously gratifying.
To be apart and distanced from needs and demands of life, together for even a brief time, is uplifting.
I encourage Feministe readers to give it a try. A national — hey international — web of Womanfests happening, celebrating, just having a damn good time.