some days ago i was at a Ladyfest meeting. we started meeting up a couple of months ago. at the second meeting the issue of using the squat / social centre came up.
and of course i felt sick of it. and at the same time desperately looking for opening up the discussion that never started. the woman who proposed using the squat for a gig, asked me if i couldn’t just stay away, when i said that it would be important to have the issue of sexism discussed, since i’ve been banned, still not knowing any clearly stated reasons. we didn’t continue the subject.
i was in my usual frantic mood of just trying anything, and knowing that there was a forum created for the ladyfest, i thought i could send an email to the ladyfest mailing list, propose this as a discussion topic. (if not amongst feminists, then where ??!)
during this whole process there’s been so many different issues i’ve had to deal with. one has been to just keep up the struggle. finding encouragement in an environment telling me “no. insane. impossible.” i’ve been really defensive when people been asking me why i just don’t give it up. that there’s no use. that i’m only hurting myself.
so it was great support for me to hear that there were women in the group that were interested in having this discussed. and one woman sent me an email encouraging me to start a discussion thread at the forum. it would have been so easy to just leave it be. it’s difficult facing aggression all the time. and as a radical feminist i’m a bit of a margin within an already heavily marginalized issue.
but it was good getting the discussion going there. having a talk with one woman. understanding that most people just take the internal power relations for granted in any political group. that of course there are some dominant people, and of course you never confront them. i think it has to do with fear. and also that most people don’t see this as structural behavior, but as a part of a persons personality, and that it therefor would be a personal attack to say anything about it.
anyways. there was another meeting where the issue wasn’t discussed. because of time. and the general fear of talking about “unpleasant” “complicated” things i guess. but there was an opinion poll made on the forum, to check what people thought of ladyfest in relation to the bans. and at the last meeting we, had shrunk to a group of five women.
i came early to the meeting. sitting half asleep reading the Dalai Lama book. a woman came in. and she has also signed the petition / joint letter that was passed around recently. i asked her about it, if she had signed it. and she wasn’t really willing to talk about it. but she said that she had gotten it sent to her, and that she had made some suggestions for changes in the letter. but they hadn’t been taken into consideration. and her name ended up on the version that was sent to her.
i asked her why she signed it. and also about the factual mistakes. that there hadn’t been any platforms for dealing with this. (yeah the woman who was over today was confirming what i’ve already heard from others. that (t) from the conflict resolution group, has done fairly good work on saying that i’m not willing to work with the conflict resolution group and that they are really doing a great job on getting a dialogue going… NOT TRUE !!) i tried to say this to the woman. but she interrupted me as soon as i tried to express my doubts about the email she signed. it was once again an unwanted subject. she said she felt blamed. and that she had a migraine. and then expressed general frustration with just wanting to be a part of a project for once where it’s not only about her coming in on the tenth meeting and agreeing on cooking the food.
i stayed calm. she was shouting at me. she later apologized. and i expressed that i’m just tired of not being able to talk about this. ever.
she had expressed before that she had felt accused of not doing enough by me somehow. that my calls for help had felt like accusations. she talked about an incident when i had been sitting on the bridge outside. some people inside at a house meeting trying to get me in. she expressed frustration with that i hadn’t shown any appreciation for that she made an effort. she said she had tried for fifteen minutes inside the meeting. and she didn’t like my attitude on the bridge. when she came and told me i should go home, because it’s cold. we remember the situation differently. i know i had a harsh attitude when speaking with her at that time. she was interrupting me when i was speaking my side on the bridge. and that’s the difficult thing for me in this story. that nobody’s ever been interested in hearing me out. but instead trying to find reasons to cast judgment on whatever it is i do. sitting outside a meeting, showing willingness to go in and talk about things is seen as a “provocation”. she said she hadn’t liked that i had told her repeatedly to just get inside the meeting and have me in.
we talked about the letter. i stated that it was a statement against having things discussed (since it claimed that there had been a function process already…) she said that wasn’t true. but then also said that she’s doesn’t want to get involved or discuss it herself.
she was crying. another woman came and comforted her. she said that she would leave. but the other woman calmed her down. made her take it easy.
then we had a meeting. and the last point was finally – discussing the bans. the woman who had expressed unwillingness to discuss it, was showing hesitation. “we can never reach consensus on this”. there had been the poll on the forum. 1) Ladyfest doesn’t take a stand. 2) Ladyfest demands that the bans are lifted during the event. 3) Ladyfest demands that the band are lifted permanently. 4) Ladyfest doesn’t arrange anything at the squat.
so. 3 persons had chosen selection number one. 7 number 2. and 2 number 3.
and then it was discussion time. it went fairly easy. and it felt really nice hearing people talking about it. that first of all it’s impossible to not take a stand. because then we would just have to deal with it right outside the door at the event. the option of lifting it during the event was what came up, but at the same time not to just ask for that, cause that would be a form of tokenism, sweeping the huge struggle i’m living with 24/7 under the carpet. so the final idea was to have the bans lifted during the event, and also to (i don’t remember this correctly, but sort of) to get the clearly stated reasons for why i’m banned, and also to hear what kind of process there has been to resolve this. something like that.
anyways i was really happy with the result. felt support. that was cool.
we didn’t do it super properly. but hopefully everybody was happy with the result that will be presented at saturdays house meeting.
it seemed like we had consensus at least.
i’m continuously asking myself why this is so difficult to deal with. and i can’t really find any answers for it. we are definitely enough people seeing the problems. so it would be absolutely possible to do something about it. fast.