In the past week two events happened within days of each other that most would over look having anything in common. The first event was the email Lisa Vogel sent out announcing that this year’s 40th Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival would be the last. The second was the expulsion of the Honey Badger Brigade from the Calgary Comic Expo.
The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival began in 1976 as a retreat for women to come together in a secluded wooded setting and immerse themselves in creating womyn’s community and music for a week. Women, especially lesbian feminist culture, wanted a place where they could safely and freely express their individuality, and talk with other women about the unique experience of being a woman in what was very much in the 1970’s a man-dominated world. LGBT community was often dominated by gay male issues, and Michfest was one way to provide space for women born female to talk about issues and problems specific to them. All women are welcome to the festival, and that includes transgender women. But because of one incident in 1991 with a trans woman being removed – something Lisa Vogel apologized for and stated was a mistake – pressure to allow trans women to the fest led to outright attacks on Michfest – verbal, online and physical. There was even an incident where a trans woman stood at the gate of the fest and threated festival attendees with a spear. It’s understandable that the festival organizers chose to close the fest and preserve what it stood for rather than give in to outside pressure and change the whole point of the festival existing in the first place.
As far as a women’s group could possibly get on the spectrum of gender issues, the Honey Badger Brigade is a group of women who promote men’s rights. As odd as it may seem that women would want to advocate for men’s empowerment, their message that the only people who are victims of gender issues are those who allow themselves to become victims is compelling and thought provoking. On April 17 the Honey Badgers set up a booth at the Calgary Comic Expo to promote their comic and meet fans. After attending and speaking at one panel about women in comics, they were forced to pack up and leave when complaints of harassment were made against the group. The full audio of that panel is available and it’s hard to tell where the harassment happened. Questions are asked and people are civilly answering them. Not only were they ejected from the convention, but later when they set up their display and invited people to come to a local public park to meet them, the expo organizers called the police. The group is now banned from attending any event organized by the company producing the Calgary Expo ever again, allegedly because their presence made people feel unsafe, and the convention is supposed to be safe space for everyone.
When every day a new social justice issue is created in someone’s mind and from there a whole movement demanding an end to their victimization launches, it becomes necessary for those being blamed to call bullshit for what it is. The Honey Badger Brigade was expelled from the Calgary Comic Expo for various reasons that seem to change depending on who’s talking. After years of promoting a boycott of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival by members of the same LGBT community lesbians are supposed to be a part of, the festival organizers decided it was time to end the fest intact with its integrity rather than cave in to demands that would have defeated the original purpose.
What’s the relationship between these two groups? They were attacked by social justice warriors and for the same reason – because they don’t march in lockstep with what one group of feminists demand the definition of feminism must be for anyone who calls themselves a feminist. After the announcement that Michfest would end after 40 years, every example of women-bashing social justice warriors celebrating the end of Michfest perfectly illustrates why they weren’t welcome at Michfest. The Honey Badger Brigade was forced out of a con they paid thousands to attend because social justice warriors insisted the group’s presence jeopardized safe space for everyone.
One group was pushed out of existence by the social justice crowd because they’re bigots. Another group was excluded from a venue because they’re bigots. You can’t share our space, but you can’t have your own space either. And here is the real definition of problematic.
The social justice warriors won’t rest until they have purified every media, every social gathering and every brain of
independent problematic thought. There is no rule we have to agree with each other, but we need to respect each other. Women who want to promote men’s rights deserve the freedom to do that, especially when they paid thousands of dollars for space at a public venue. Women born female who want a whole week out of the year to create a unique place in the Michigan woods that’s just for them deserve the freedom to do that. Silencing groups and depriving them of space because an elite squad with a narrow minded one-must-fit-all-agenda are the real threat to the rest of us.
Honey Badger Brigade, good luck with your lawsuit. Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, may something even greater for women born female be created to fill the space you once occupied.