Celebrating Womanfest

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.

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19 Responses to Celebrating Womanfest

  1. tmc says:

    Is Womanfest welcoming to trans women?

    • Jill says:

      I think we’re all on board that trans women are women, so yes.

      • Amelia the lurker says:

        I think it was a reasonable question given the sad reality that a lot of women’s festivals (including the One I Need Not Name) are violently transphobic. Yes, we should probably assume that a guest blogger on Feministe wouldn’t be transphobic, but there have been snafus before. We don’t know this person, so I think it’s a fine thing to just double-check.

      • Jill says:

        Oh totally a reasonable question. Sorry, didn’t mean to sound snarky or rude (damn you, internet, and your lack of ability to accurately convey tone!). I was trying to shut down any future discussion along the lines of “Well it would be ok to exclude trans women because…” etc etc.

      • Amelia the lurker says:

        Yeah, I realized just after posting that you didn’t mean to sound snarky, just diplomatic (enthusiastically affirming the trans-inclusive nature of the event while also condemning transphobia in general). Damn my impulsive commenting.

      • tmc says:

        Always good to hear.

  2. Gwen says:

    I wish we could just have FeministFest instead. I spend enough time feeling frustrated and lamenting the existence of male-only gatherings (whether or not they’re explicitly billed as such) that I’d feel like an awful hypocrite if I excluded non-women from my gathering.

  3. FYouMudFlaps says:

    Yep I’m a male and am ok with stuff like this. Men who feel excluded from such things, well, welcome to how women feel everywhere else.

    • PM says:

      Men are responsible for creating mens’ groups and events. I’d consider going to one, but there’s always you-know-who to hijack any discussion of gender.

      Anyway, Womanfest sounds really awesome!

  4. doberman says:

    I’m a little uncomfortable with this deliberate exclusion of men. Although I understand the value in women having their own space when they are excluded from others, I feel that this sort of thing contributes to a big gender divide.

    It’s like that film from the 80s about the women from the south of the USA. They have good relationships with each other which helps them to be strong, but if you look at the inter-gender relationships in the film, they are very poor. It’s not that there’s misandry or misogyny, but that just don’t identify with each other. Now part of that would be because of gender, but also part of it is arguably because the men and women willingly segregate themselves…

    • TomSims says:

      “because the men and women willingly segregate themselves”

      You’re spot on.

    • Jadey says:

      Or men and women have been socialized to think of themselves as being different as well as are generally treated differently?

      Seriously, women-only spaces doesn’t mean “never ever talking to or socializing with men”. It usually means “taking a small break from a life otherwise completely dominated by men and their interests”.

      Trust me, women aren’t going to suddenly forget how to empathize with men just because they hang out with some ladies every once in a while. You can just concern-troll yourself back into your cave.

      • EG says:

        But Jadey! If women spend time with other women unsupervised by men, what’s to stop us from thinking we matter as much as they do?

      • Jadey says:

        Gasp, you’re right! What was I thinking?

        Oh shoot, I’ll bet that’s it – I was thinking again. Too bad, I was certain my lady-hormones had already performed a full frontal lobotomy on me. They must have missed a bit.

      • TomSims says:

        “Seriously, women-only spaces doesn’t mean “never ever talking to or socializing with men”. It usually means “taking a small break from a life otherwise completely dominated by men and their interests”.

        I agree and never stated otherwise. I think it’s normal and healthy for women to have their own space. I support that idea 100%.

    • Li says:

      …did you just repurpose Steel Magnolias into an argument against autonomous spaces?

      • LotusBecca says:

        I know, right? Wow. I’m a little in awe actually.

        I think we should all start a pool as to how long doberman will continue slowplayed, low-level, war-of-attrition-style trolling before he finally gets himself banned for something. I’m gonna go with six weeks.

  5. Athenia says:

    My mom is going through a rough patch right now and she’s recalling her time being a SAHM—she said she was incredibly lonely. In my case, even though I’m not a SAHM–a single working lady–I still feel lonely too. Hanging out my bf’s friends just isn’t the same. So, I think this is a great idea!

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