Change Your World-NOT your Body

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Topic Tuesday-Women Only Spaces

Todays Discussion topic is Women Only Spaces, feel free to comment however you like, so long as its on topic.

Some possible questions:

1) Do we need more women centered spaces?

2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?

4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?

5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?

dirt


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33 comments:

  1. 1) Do we need more women centered spaces?
    Yes. That would be so supportive to lesbians. Unfortunately women who have never benefited from heterosexual privilege financially and who have been discriminated against by male centered and lesbiphobic society since birth tend to have paid a financial price for their hetero-nonconformity. We are damn broke compared to those who benefit from male identification and so have less resources to create such spaces, and when we do create them publicly we are inundated with males and female swinger types who want to exploit us. These days lesbian spaces are very private and word of mouth, by invitation only for these reasons. This makes it hard for womyn to meet other womyn.

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

    Transvestites (male transgender fetishists) and hetero-centric female curiosity seekers with their lack of respect for boundaries and their sense of privilege over lesbian spaces have rendered any public lesbian spaces impossible. That's why lesbian spaces have all been driven underground. We maintain networks among those we know, and meet privately now. There are no womencentric public gatherings anymore (except michfest and a very few other places).

    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?
    By attending, connecting other women to the spaces as they seek the lesbians that all seem to be missing,lol.
    4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?
    The sympatico, the ease, the comfort, the sisterhood, the family.
    5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?
    No the lesbians in my community are already in touch with ourselves we just like the wonderful feeling of being among like minded people who have a shared experience.

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  2. 1/ Yes: more than ever. It is astonishing to see how our spaceshave disappeared. We need them to feel safe, we need them to have fun together. We need them to rebuild a dead activism.
    2/ By excluding all males: bio males, MTF and FTM and drag king.
    3/ By using social network and customer ranking sites to make them visible to the young generation. By inviting friends. By applying charging policy in line with our socio-economic background. By developing events like a L day different from any gay or T-Dor day...
    4/ I like cruising. I feel safe. It is relaxing after a week at work spent with macho redneck homophobic males. Even the drama is entertaining.
    5/ Yes definitely as I can be among all type of feminity without having people judging me or my sista's

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  3. //1) Do we need more women centered spaces?//

    Yes, even straight women feel this need. I spent a long time in a gender segregated subculture here and overseas in countries where it is the norm, and while it was all about patriarchy and oppression, etc. there was still a very positive, supportive atmosphere in these women's only spaces. Though they were largely created from force or coercion, out of necessity and inequality, I still benefited from being in them. I wasn't friends with women at all until I was in these spaces and now I find it easier to relate to women on a non-romantic level.

    //2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?//

    I wish I knew. Obviously the answer is to be more exclusive, more forceful about saying "Sorry, but no" to FTMs, MTFs, and straight men who "just love women" and "are feminists too." But a lot of us have been conditioned to accept, expand, be kind, give in... it's hard. We also have to do "consciousness raising" with the funfemmes/ "queers" who pressure other women - straight or not - to let men into women's spaces. There is nothing wrong with having male friends or with straight women loving men, but that doesn't mean that they have to be everywhere we are either.

    //3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?//

    Give them more than lip service. Money, time, real commitment. Network - spread the word with WBW to keep these places alive.

    //4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?//

    LOL all the women in them. I feel more relaxed and at ease, and less self-conscious. There isn't that gaze - if you're Femme, men usually assume you're straight a lot of the time and just in everyday life you have to deal with the gaze - and the cat calls, jeers, "accidental brushes," etc. I feel that you can sense that lack of competition and whatever else that exists when women are in spaces with men (I'm talking about all women, not just lesbians).

    //5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?//

    I would say yes. Or that they have helped me do such. I never wanted to be a boy or anything, but when I was younger, I was almost exclusively friends with guys, I wouldn't befriend girls, etc. So being in women's-only spaces forced a change in perspective in me, opened my mind. Being in lesbian only spaces or mostly-lesbian spaces makes me a lot more relaxed and comfortable. I feel energized after that. Even in spaces that are mainly gay men and women - the scenes that don't have the FTM/MTF stuff very much- I feel that.

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  4. So are we talking about women only spaces or lesbian only spaces? By the comments left so far it's pretty confusing what the actual topic is here.

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  5. TT,

    Lesbians are women, some were merely talking with regards to even spaces that are womencentric being more supportive of lesbians.

    dirt

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  6. What do you call a straight woman who is like a butch in her dressing and mannerisms just not her sexual orientation? I think that is one group of women who are in desperate need of woman only spaces where they will be supported.

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  7. 1) Do we need more women centered spaces?

    Yes. Until any of us can live our lives without depending on men for work, shelter, etc. and until we can choose whether to relate to them or not to, we won't control the terms of our own lives.

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

    Not sure, just thinking out loud. Maybe setting priorities? Ask which spaces and events need to be trans-exclusive. Don't give FtMs a free pass into female-only space. Ask which events can afford to allow MtFs and/or FtMs. Play the MtFs against the FtMs. Point to the inclusive spaces to stave off accusations of transphobia and keep the exclusive places exclusive. Be clear about who's welcome and who isn't.

    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?

    I don't know.

    4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?

    5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?

    Unfortunately, even after being beaten, and being sexually assaulted, when I most needed woman-centered space, I had no idea where to turn.

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  8. 1) Do we need more women centered spaces?

    I definitely think so. There are many more spaces dedicated to specific orientations/queer genders than there are devoted to nurturing and growing strong women.

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

    First off; I believe that FtMs should absolutely not be allowed into women's spaces. Unless they're considering detransition; or no longer ID as male; it's an insult to both them and women to allow them. For a group who fights so hard to be accepted as the gender they identify with, making a statement about how much their female sex should count is nonsensical.

    Secondly, I believe that women's spaces should stand up for what they believe in; and put helping each other out + raising awareness against misogyny at the forefront of things as opposed to worrying so much about issues within the gay/queer community [getting rid of misogyny would eradicate most of those problems, anyway].


    Thirdly; I believe that women's spaces should stop being hostile towards MtFs. I know that a lot of males do transition due to fetishism and homophobia; but once they're transitioned and in the new world of passing as a woman, being rejected by ciswomen is the last thing they need. Instead of 'growing up', in a way, with new female friends and role models that could show them that being a woman is more than being someone's fetish; they often end up going straight to men with a thing for trannies who show them further that being female is just being hot. I don't know if anyone else thinks this way or kind of 'sees it', but in my opinion it effects women, gays, and transpeople very widely without much notice.

    I don't think that making all women's spaces automatically open to transwomen would be a good idea; but...maybe holding groups where transwomen were welcome to discuss things with biowomen would be a good idea?


    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?

    I believe that keeping strong and being accepting of the decisions of all the women in our lives is the best thing. There's really nothing more I can say about that; most of the women in my life are really smart and good at knowing how to take care of each other without much being said about it.

    4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?

    I think that women are very nonjudgmental while at the same time being honest; and that a good womancentric space can be like a family. I like tht.

    5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?

    Yes! I enjoy the discussions and camaraderie that take place in womencentric spaces and it helps keep me feeling secure and happy with my body. I identify as genderless so if a space declines me I'm fine with saying no, but I do ID very much with my female body and the traits within me that women helped to foster and maintain.

    -Sorry that that was so long-written!!

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  9. 1/ YES, we need more women-ONLY spaces. We probably also need more Lesbian only spaces too. They are BOTH important and not the same. Lesbians can and should be welcome in Women-only spaces, but as a straight woman, I don't belong in a lesbian-only space and think all straights should respect that. I also FIRMLY believe that if you have EVER been a man, whether mtf or ftm you do NOT belong in women-only space. Should we have spaces that are only for people with those issues? YES. but not in women-only space. I'd like to see places like labour and delivery rooms designated as women-only spaces so that all professionals working in these fields are women. I bet the c-section rate would start going down if we could change the culture of men OWNING their patients and treating them worse than livestock.

    2/ how do we keep women's spaces womencentric? police it. as forcefully and firmly as we have to. you don't get in unless you are absolutely prostate-free. whether that's because you are vouched for by someone who is absolutely trustworthy or because you provide that proof yourself i don't really care.

    3/ how can we nurture the spaces we have? for me, the only woman-only space i have is when my fellow Moms and I get together. we do what we can to defend and cherish that time but there really isn't enough of it. there just is no woman-only space around here that isn't completely private

    4/ the best woman-only space for me is worship space. only then can we commune with the Goddess in the most intimate way. it is private, sacred, peaceful, healing, SAFE

    5/ YES, ABSOLUTELY. only women understand women's experiences.ie: a birth story doesn't have the same resonance unless you have birthed too.

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  10. Cassaundra,

    "only women understand women's experiences.ie: a birth story doesn't have the same resonance unless you have birthed too."

    So women who have not had children should be excluded? That might make sense for specific spaces, but not for most women's spaces.

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  11. I used to work at a women's emergency dv shelter, clearly a space that needs to be women only. We would take in anyone who identified as women; however we asked trans folks to stay in a separate area, out of respect for the traumatized women. We never had a problem with transmen, or the types of transwomen that Blanchard would categorize as homosexual-transexual (ie: self-hating gay men).

    However, on two occasions we hosted autogynephile types, both who had been abused by fellow transwomen. They were the only ones who made an issue about separate accommodation, and they were so clearly male in behavior, attitude & demeanor. Before that experience, I thought differentiating between types of transwomen was splitting hairs, however now I currently think the autogynephiles are really a threat to women/lesbian spaces, while homosexual-transexuals are happy to go off in the straight community & only need women's services in emergencies.

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  12. Self hating women who despise their identity and every stripe of male DO NOT BELONG IN WOMENS SPACES PERIOD!

    dirt

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  13. 1) Yes. Women deserve to have safe places where they can converse and feel just plain comfortable. There's not enough by any means.

    2) Stop being so universal, be picky. Don't pick by socioeconomics or anything, but pick women only. That's pretty basic. As well, emphasize the importance of feminism and feminists and amazing women. Let women know they are amazing and that they can become even better.

    3) Invest. $5 to one near you. Volunteer. Anything you can do, do it. Because, if you are passionate about women's spaces, do what you can to support them. Make it so that newer generations of women feel safer than you did. Better the world.

    P.S. I am a transman. As well, I want every lesbian and straight woman to know that you are valuable. You don't need a man or a woman to tell you you're pretty or studly. You got it going on. Think what you will of me. It's fair game...but hey, keep your head up. Much peace and love, DL.

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  14. 1) Do we need more women centered spaces?

    I don't know...honestly I've always fared much better in mixed-sex spaces. Even now, for some reason, many of the girls in my class find me very strange. I'm tired of this invisible "girl barrier" (which especially happens if the women are Barbielike "feminine straight"). Would a women-only space solve this problem by freeing being female from being "feminine" or would it make more evident?
    If by "women-only" spaces you mean something like rape/pregnancy crisis center, then sure. If that's what you meant then MTFs have no space there because they don't have a female reproductive system which can allow them, I don't know, to get impregnated without their will. But then again, many FTMs do, so I guess they would be in...?

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

    A simple catch: make them FAB spaces, because they should resolve problems FABs face and which are connected to their biology. Being FAB, not "female IDed", is a thing that puts you in constant danger (well, being openly trans too, but that's a separate issue with different problems).

    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?

    Uh...same as before. There could be something like a "FAB and MTF" day where the two might exchange opinions and discuss, but the two groups should stay separate (reasons listed before).

    4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?

    I don't know, every time I've been in a mostly female environment I've actually always been treated much worse. Well, they weren't feminists for sure...

    5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?

    I have no idea. My womanhood is due to my reproductive system and also to my reaction to society's ridiculous female standards. So if those spaces challenged the ridiculous constraints of the female box instead of encouraging them then I'd be in.

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  15. 1) Do we need more women centered spaces?

    YES YES YES!!!!

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric?

    by keeping them as wimmin only! and asking our brothers and other gendered allies to support us in our desire and need for these spaces. by creating more of these spaces, even if they are only temporary. BY FUCKING OFF QUEER ROOMS CO-OPTING WOMEN'S ROOMS AT CAMPUS!

    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?

    by inviting more women to enjoy these spaces, so they will feel and know how sacred and awesome they are. by keeping the few sacred spaces we have and not letting them go and be opened up to other gendered people.

    4) What do you love about being in womens only spaces?

    the feeling inside we know once we have walked upon wimminsland. it is something i never take for granted.

    wimmins only space makes me put wimmin first. and that makes me feel great. because in the world, that does not happen to wimmin or girl children enough.

    i love wimmins only space because there is always less agro.

    and because i love wimmin.

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  16. MTF should not be allowed in women only space. Women space = cisgender women space. No fake allowed.

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  17. Anon@7:30am,

    While agree with your point, "cis" is an trans slur utilized primarily to assume a step above women and/or anything NOT trans. There is never a reason to use this misogynistic term unless you are trans or a trans apologist.

    dirt

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  18. @DL,

    Its interesting that YOU didnt pick woman only and instead pathologized the misogyny that surrounds us all to such a point you have tried to eradicate yourself from being a woman by embracing the male medical machine.

    dirt

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  19. Anonymous at 7:40.
    do you know what i.e. means? clearly NOT. I will decrease your ignorance so as to prevent you from making an ass of yourself when you are NOT anonymous.

    i.e. means FOR EXAMPLE. i was not saying that only women who have given birth are women. you'd have to be pretty stupid to assert that. actually, you'd have to be pretty facetious to even think anyone would assert that.i was giving ONE EXAMPLE of an experience that only women can understand. there are others. i do not need to create a definitive list and argue about what should or should not be on it. but birth would definitely be amongst those things that only a woman can understand.

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  20. I was interested in the "Butch Voices" conference until I found out its goal was "to create a space for butches, studs, FTMs and other masculine identified folks to share their experiences". If it was for butch WOMEN, I would have wanted to attend.

    I specifically like women's spaces which emphasize feminism, like the women's bookstores and coffee houses that used to exist. Some of the bars are OK too- I'm not a drinker, but it's sad to see the dyke bars shut down.

    I have attended some local social groups/events that include anyone who identifies as female (feminist groups and dyke groups.) Several MTF's have attended some of the groups- most of them are just fine-in fact I wouldn't have known two of them in particular were MTF if I hadn't been told. There was another MTF who was obnoxious, but then there have been women-born-women who were equally obnoxious (as in rude or not respecting people's boundaries), I've got to say. So I have mixed feelings on the MTF issue, because while I believe no one should have to change their body to be themselves and live the way they want to, I also have had mostly good interactions with MTF's as individuals.

    In summary, I think that women's groups & events can be for women-born-women, or they can include people who identify as women, and I feel there's room for both types of venues. And if anyone acts like a jerk and behaves inappropriately, that should be dealt with on an individual basis. But if someone identifies as male, then what are they doing at a women's group or a dyke group???

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  21. @Dirt 9:19 That seems a bit counterproductive in light of your message. Seems the whole premise of your journal here is that women are victims of patriarchy/misogyny and especially FTMs. If they are victims as you seem to be claiming, it seems to me that they would need those spaces more than others.

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  22. @latic,

    You cannot saved the drowned, it would "counterproductive" to try.

    dirt

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  23. @Dirt 2:20 They aren't dead, Dirt.

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  24. Fralic,

    I didnt say they were. I said our efforts are better spent at females who havent drowned themselves into maledom.

    dirt

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  25. Cassaundra, i.e. (short for "id est" in Latin) means "that is." E.g. ("exemplo gratia") means "for the sake of example."

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  26. Tuesday, December 14, 2010Topic Tuesday-Women Only Spaces
    Todays Discussion topic is Women Only Spaces, feel free to comment however you like, so long as its on topic.

    Some possible questions:

    1) Do we need more women centered spaces? We not only need more women centered spaces, we need specifically Dyke centered spaces. As a Butch, I dont' feel comfortable in mostly hetero or feminine female spaces...where there are few or no other Butches. But Butches are abandoning women only spaces and women only events at an alarming rate. There is definitely a different and more radical feel to dyke centered spaces of all types, that may or may not include other women, but that is exceedingly rare. As long as they are Dyke positive and bio female, I feel comfortable in such spaces.

    2) How can we keep womens spaces, womencentric? Keep them for ONLY those who are fully PROUD to be female. Lesbian and womon positive, whether it's women only leather spaces, social spaces, ritual spaces, ect. And preferably for women born women only or primarily. Perhaps there needs to be an 'outer' type space for all females(so the MTF's don't close them down) and an 'inner' type space for bio-female only.
    I will NEVER see MTF's as women...though certain ones I may treat 'em as such, and sadly, most FTM even genderqueer types are so male identified they've fallen out of the Butch energy...but some have not....if they wanna be a dude, why are they crashing all our dyke/women only spaces?

    3) How can we nurture the women spaces we have?MONITOR them and have Amazons and DykeAMazons ENFORCE them as women only spaces.
    Don't be beholden to groups or grants that would stop us from organizing and having OUR OWN spaces BY AND FOR ourselves. This means they'll have to be 'membership only' even if membership is only $1 a year, and members are vouched for as friendly to the intents of the space(bio female only, dyke centered or dyke only, or 24/7 living as female only).

    4) What do you love about being in womencentric spaces?
    I can be all of who I am in most such spaces, providing they're not lesbophobic and Butch positive or Butch welcoming, and not too 'girly girl'. I am going to one or two women only rituals this weekend cuz I need that infusion of Female energy, which I LIVE for. Also I am on women's land for 5 days every summer, and only there do I get to be MY WHOLE, REAL, MAGICAL DYKEAMAZON WITCH/WARRIOR SELF, AND RECOGNIZED AS SUCH. When I have to be around men, even gay men, there is a certain kind of invisibilizing or lack of recognition because men always put themselves and their egos first and foremost, and they also hit on women, even lesbians, they drain our energy and divert our attention AWAY from each other!
    Only in women only space do we put ourselves FIRST AND FOREMOST!

    5) Do womencentric spaces put YOU more in touch with your own womanhood?
    Yes see above. I come out of my cage, and CAN BE MY FULL, DEEPEST MOST POWERFUL SELF IN AN AMAZON WOMON CENTERED EMPOWERED ENVIRONMENT.
    -In Sisterhood,
    -MasterAmazon

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  27. Here's another way to say it: "For those proud FEMALES who bleed or have bled the sacred montly moonblood." That will absolutely disqualify MTF's, but still include Crones. FTM's are not Female proud. Not all women have given birth or want to, that is it's own mystery, and one I don't care to experience and known that since age 12. However, we all bleed or have bled at some point in our lives. Thanks for this survey/questionnaire. I will post my response to my blog.
    -In Sisterhood,
    -MasterAmazon

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  28. I like the way you think Master Amazon. and the way you said it: PROUD females who have shared the monthly blood. And yes, Dykes or Butches that I have known are all woman but also special and unique and need a place of communion too.

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  29. @MasterAmazon just wanted to point out there are some bio born females who never bleed due to medical condition (not trans related).

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  30. Where I live, there are only two female-centered places: the pregnancy centre and a women's shelter. I'm glad that both exist but there are lesbian groups, no women's only space. It's depressing. I've thought about starting my own group but I'm not quite ready to.

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  31. Do we need more women centered spaces? We not only need more women centered spaces, we need specifically Dyke centered spaces.

    blood oath we do!!!

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  32. Lily,

    Thats too bad about the lack of lesbian spaces, but sadly not at all uncommon amid "queer" everything these days.

    Hope you do get an opportunity to start something!

    dirt

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