i have never been more proud to go to michigan state

Home for Christmas (Auston Matthews)

Prompt: Can you do an Auston Matthews one where you haven’t seen him in a while due to you being in college in the states and you go and surprise him? Just super fluffy please :)

Auston Matthews x Reader

Requested: yep

Includes: fluff, surprises

Note: disclaimer, this has nothing to do with christmas and lets pretend its cold enough to snow already


Originally posted by mapleloafs

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slate.com
Hey, Young Queer Women, Baby Boomer Lesbians Are Not the Enemy

Dyke Culture and the Disappearing L

By Bonnie J. Morris

My generation of lesbian activists, who honed our identity politics and confronted racism and classism in the spaces of women’s music events and women’s bookstores, are approaching a cultural expiration date. Having achieved many of the radical goals we pursued through the late 20th century—same-sex marriage, antidiscrimination laws, openly lesbian celebrities and politicians—we are indeed celebrating new opportunities to be out and proud. Yet having been permitted to be “out,” many of us are now spending the energy of our menopausal years pushing back against encroaching disappearance; our own invisibility. Dyke identity, that specific nomenclature of the fierce woman-identified woman, has been replaced by the more inclusive queer, as a new era of thoughtful LGBT activists proclaim their disidentification with the categories woman and lesbian.

The recent, ongoing interrogation of those categories in academic theory and cyberactivism clashes with concurrent efforts to preserve, as historically meaningful and valuable, the past 40 years of lesbian cultural spaces. Yet making peace with the radical separatist past is an important historical step for those charting the progression of LGBT visibility, rights, and power. The present impasse, in the LGBT movement, is over how to frame lesbians’ successful construction of an autonomous subculture that was not G, that was not T, but L.

My concern is that as we advance further into the 21st century, we are witnessing the almost flippant dismissal of recent, late 20th-century lesbian culture, particularly the loss of physical sites such as women’s bookstores and women’s music festivals and their material legacies (books, journals, albums, tapes, magazine interviews with artists). This was a specific performance culture: a movement through which fresh ideas about woman-loving were transmitted via song, speech, and the written word and marketed to a like-minded audience at quasi-public but distinctively lesbian-feminist spaces. At its peak, lesbian performance culture in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s was every bit as unique as gay male drag, punk rock, Seattle grunge, and other genres, particularly because it put a new face on the tradition of grassroots American folk. However, because most women’s music recording artists earned very little money, and not only neglected but rejected commercial male approval and participation, their contributions are difficult to place on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame timeline.

Despite so many gains in LGBT rights, sexism and sex discrimination have not been vanquished, and scholarly support for examining women’s lives and communities remains contested. The traditional academic canon, with its focus on male achievement and leadership, embeds many contributions by gay men through the ages, whereas lesbians have had barely a generation and a half of scholarly scrutiny (corresponding to how recently women were allowed to attend college at all). Although women’s studies programs have always been charged with pushing a lesbian agenda, or just being controlled by man-hating lesbians, this was never true and is even less true now. In fact, as women’s studies programs expand to attract male and trans-identifying faculty and students, many administrators are backing away from the word women altogether, striving for inclusion by renaming departments gender studies.

Although various woman-identified, lesbian separatist platforms and events that characterized a self-proclaimed dyke subculture throughout the 1970s–’90s still exist, they aren’t yet popular subjects of historical inquiry. Instead, these remaining activists and institutions have become popular subjects of criticism and contempt. Despite a wealth of feminist scholarship on aging, elder abuse, and the intersectionality of ageism and sexism in older women’s economic vulnerability, far less work has been produced on the aging lesbian, who (whether activist veteran or not) offers a wealth of generational tales and insights.

The disappearance of lesbian spaces is also one aspect of the aging baby-boomer generation. Many, though not all, of the most creative, visionary, and accomplished lesbian activists from the 1970s and ’80s were born in the late 1940s and early ’50s, their politics informed by childhoods spent crouched in Cold War air raid drills, McCarthy hearings on new television sets, and the civil rights movement.  It’s not coincidental that the lesbian-feminist movement included intense scrutiny of militarism and racism and turned politics into a musical stance. Although younger women (and men) may feel that Americans born between 1945 and 1961 have been studied enough, have indeed monopolized cultural attention for decades, are a tiresomely overcredited American demographic, with lesbians it’s a different story. Despite our national fascination with the 1970s, most historians still fail to inscribe the accomplishments of that decade’s lesbian pioneers in our national textbooks. Right now, it’s imperative that we find better ways for the vanishing ideas, sites, and inherited stuff of late 20th-century lesbian culture to be valued, preserved, and known by future generations. Later, we’ll wish we had these feisty dykes in front of us to explain what they did—and what it meant—and how they did it with no internet.

Who’s still willing to bat for Team L? Once an empowered statement of out and proud, it’s now an identity buried within the topical hierarchy of queer studies, gay marriage, gender identity. The disappearance of the L may be due in part to mainstreaming LGBTQ civil rights issues into one catch phrase, but it’s also an intentional disruption of what the aging “flannel shirt lesbian” stereotype signifies: a person who symbolizes folk guitar at festivals in the woods; politically correct potlucks attended by crystal-wearing numerologists in Birkenstocks and bi-level haircuts. These images are all white, as well as derisive. If the L-defined woman and her separatist cultural spaces are troubling remnants of an exclusive, retroactive essentialism, why would anyone want to interview her now? Lost in the stereotype is the backstory of unlearning racism workshops, disability activism, drum circles, and poverty activism, which characterized events of the 1980s and ’90s.

Generational change is inevitable, healthy, and necessary to progress. What I am living through right now is a painful transitional moment in which some of those older lesbian institutions are still going strong, and seeking participation and funding, while a current generation of activists are distancing themselves from such events, or even demonstrating against them. Younger, queer activists were vocal in opposing the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival; right-wing religious groups once eager to shut the festival down had moved on to bigger targets. This dynamic—a next generation of feminists attacking earlier lesbian institutions and disparaging their participants as less evolved—is not unique to the 21st century or the United States; it is embedded in Jill Gardiner’s powerful book From the Closet to the Screen, which describes a 1970–71 Gay Liberation Front “zap” against London’s Gateways Club bar. As this generational shift grinds on, how should the most recent decades of cultural production be interpreted, understood, and preserved? How will we use the tools of history to examine something we know existed as an investigable community?

For veterans of a certain kind of lesbian activism, who poured time, energy, and resources into sustaining alternative spaces when other doors were closed to us, the triumph of civil rights is a bittersweet victory if our tremendous efforts and contributions are to be written out of the record. The fearless Amazon generation that built an entire network of lesbian music festivals, albums, bookstores, bars, presses, production companies, publications, and softball teams is teetering on the brink of oblivion, just gray-haired enough to be brushed aside with an impatient “good riddance” by younger activists, yet too recent a movement to enjoy critical historical acclaim.

The mainstreaming of gay rights and gay marriage, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the elevation of Ellen DeGeneres to talk show mogul and cosmetics cover girl on billboards in every mall, and the gradual inclusion of same-sex couples by institutions of faith was inconceivable when I first came out as a lesbian teenager—on the eve of Ronald Reagan’s election, in 1980. There were few youth support services, no anti-bullying programs in schools, no LGBT studies conferences in academia. In fact, at age 19 I attended my first lesbian concert less than half a mile from the gates of Georgetown University, then in the midst of its costly legal battle against its own gay students, who simply wanted to form a campus group. Thirty years later, this same Jesuit campus now hosts an annual Lavender Graduation, as well as funding a well-staffed LGBT Center and paying me a handsome part-time salary to lecture on lesbian history. Today we see far greater representation of LGBT families and couples on prime time television and in commercially successful films. Thankfully, across global entertainment networks there are also more and more heterosexual artists willing to speak out for equality (and/or to play LGBT roles). This gradually LGBT-friendly media is redefining who “lesbian stars” are.

But while it is a victory to see lesbians gaining acceptance into the mainstream of American culture—due to stronger civil rights protections, informed political allies, and other successful advocacy—recent media validation has been limited to those lesbian couples with “successful” roles or individual women who are beautiful, able-bodied, affluent, and white. Less often depicted is working-class lesbian culture, which thrives in small towns and urban bars; in house parties and social events where women still meet as they always have. And the politically engaged lesbian activist is portrayed as dressed for Congress. For better or for worse, the stereotype of the angry radical lesbian marching with fist raised against the patriarchy has been replaced by the embossed wedding invitation to Megan and Carmen’s nuptials.

This shift in media representation idealizes lesbians’ participation in the American dream: settling down with a partner, marrying a beautiful wife, raising children, being active in the local school PTA and church community. It’s a wholesome, nonthreatening participation in middle-class values by women who just happen to be gay. This is the image mainstream LGBT groups have promoted since the late 1990s: lesbians as soccer moms, as consumers, as participants in faith, nuclear family, and military service. Vanishing from this landscape are the many large-scale gatherings once typifying dyke subculture, where talking points included some very tough critiques of church, state, family dynamics, and military imperialism.

We’re still here. But there we were. And we remember.

Adapted from The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture, by Bonnie J. Morris. Reprinted with permission from SUNY Press.

The Progress of Nitty Scott, MC: Do We Have Our Female Kendrick Lamar? (Review/Opinion)

ssemWAs a young black girl just delving into the hip-hop scene at 17, there were so many rap albums I needed to be put onto. That was the era I was a Nas stan, and no one could tell me any other rapper was great. I bumped NWA, and that was when I slowly began to shed my image of the “good black girl” who wasn’t like those other black folks. Nitty Scott, MC came around the time I was appreciating East Coast rap in particular. As a Michigan born to Florida to Brooklyn femcee, Nitty Scott is important for rap and the Afro-Latina/African-American diaspora in general. 

 From Doobies x Popsicles to Creature!, Nitty Scott has evolved from a young Puerto Rican girl figuring out her identity to an experienced womanist and hip-hop femcee in the span of 5 years. I remember Nitty when she was in a circle discussing whether V-Nasty and other white girls can say the “N” word or not, and she had a lot of woke things to say before people even knew what the word “woke” meant. Now here we are, listening to a beautifully crafted album that brings the diaspora within the African community together, and Nitty is not to be silent anymore. For my Afro-Latina sisters, Nitty shares her identity as an Afro-Latina and like many womanists before her, she is not here for the “Are you black or Hispanic?” arguments? Pussy Powah and Negrita reveals that, and they tend to be theme songs for Afro-Latinas and girls in the diaspora who can relate to the embracing of black female sexuality and African-indigenous roots. 

 La Diaspora featuring Zap Mama is self-explanatory. No sooner than the album starts, Nitty Scott has snapped. She is done with the erasure of Afro-Latinas. She is tired of the fetishism of being mixed race and told you’re “pretty for a black girl.” She is not here for the rift between the black community and black women being pit together based on how “foreign” and “exotic” they are. She has been observing and doing her homework, and I am proud of her. I feel I have grown up with her and grown as a hip-hop scholar and womanist just as much as her, and I may have not talked about her as much as I did in 2012, but I always supported her in spirit.

 In The Water is the song that hit me hard. “Not black enough for the Ricans, I’m black enough for the blacks.” While I do not understand what it’s like to be “half” of anything other than just black, it made me cry tears of joy hearing that she does not need to go the same route as black people not accepting her while anti-black non-blacks get passes to do the same thing. As if there is not history of black people accepting one another when non-black people excluded black people from their own spaces. As if there isn’t reason why some black people may distrust other black people who are half of an ethnicity or race that may be anti-black. She then talks about her not being straight and how she is attracted to women, and as a bisexual woman, I wanted to cry. We live in a era where more femme black women are coming out and saying, “I like men and women too.” That warms my spirit.

  Nitty Scott drops all the ideas of what it means to be black, mixed, and Afro-Latina, and it shows in songs like “In The Water” and “For Sarah Baartman.” Sarah Baartman is a love letter to the legacy of a woman who was stripped from her homeland and brought to the states to be put on a circus display for her large buttocks. Nitty speaks of fetishism and the views of black women and their bodies. It’s a poem. She asks, “If you, you found me slain, would you still say my name? See I know about the black man, and what he been through. What if I sung about the woman that he brought it home too?” Yes, Nitty. I too have asked that on countless occasions, even just the other day when I revisited some of NWA’s songs that talked about being a nigga but with only the views as a black man. Nitty asks a question plenty of feminists and womanists of the black community have asked for years: Do our black lives matter? Do our black BODIES matter, or is it just for your consumption? I felt it in my soul when she said, “I be crying for my brothers, but I cry for me too.” Plenty of us have been there where we’ve cried for our brothers and fathers for far too long, we have forgotten to humanize and cry for our selves.

 “I’m pretty blended, but don’t call me exotico/As if I was half-black…and half-beautiful.” Once again, Nitty let’s people know that her being mixed does not make her beauty or strength. I’m sure so many of us have heard the stories of how so many successful girls in hip-hop or in general are only there because of their being mixed race or not being like “regular” black girls. She let’s us know that while her being mixed makes her and it is indeed a beautiful mix, mixed and black girls are not beautiful for being “half non-black.” Black is just as beautiful as her non-black side. We’ve been fed this image that while someone is half-black, their non-black side is the “beautiful” half. “Being black and [insert non-black race] is such a beautiful mix!” But have we heard we’re beautiful just for being black? Are we called beautiful for being half black, or are we called beautiful for being half not?

 For Sarah Baartman throws a nice shade to people who fetishize our bodies but don’t want to endure the struggle of being a black woman. Sarah Baartman is the prime symbol of being a black woman in America viewed as an exotic caricature for her curves and big butt, but never humanized. We have so many women who shall not be named in the media going out of their way to buy features similar to Sarah Baartman and calling it a “beauty” trend, but not knowing her struggles and how those “beautiful features” is what caused her pain and death.

 Nitty Scott has been no stranger to letting us know who her influences are. She states something I have always said since I embraced it: Born in the Midwest, raised in the South. She is a unique individual in hip-hop because her influences has ranged from Golden Age hip-hop set in the streets of Brooklyn, New York to going back to her Southern roots on songs like In The Water and Don’t Shoot! where she is not hesitant to let us know that she can spit a cypher in a minute. If she wanted to hop on a trap beat, she would kill it. Don’t Shoot! is trap meets the East Coast in an efficient way I feel other East Coast rappers today have failed to do. Kaleidoscope is a combo between trap and drill, as Nitty said, “Born in the Midwest, raised in the South.” The chorus tauntingly asks, “How does it feel to be one of us?” I still can’t help but go back to the video where the woman said, “Everyone wants to be a nigga but they don’t want to BE a nigga.” Nitty was in it, and Don’t Shoot! may be a bop, but it’s a conscious bop promoting the message that Black Lives Do Matter. If you know, you know.

 As for her being the female Kendrick Lamar, I may be reaching, but can you see the similarities? I have made health critiques of Kendrick Lamar. I can be a petty and snarky opinionator, but at the end of the day, Kendrick has influenced a generation. I believe Nitty can too. I hear the influence but I also hear Nitty’s own voice she has successful and neatly crafted in what seems to be in so little time, but it’s been a progress and journey. She has all the tools to lead a group of black girls to get in touch with their roots, blackness, and embracing their natural beauty in a healthy way that allows us to have agency. So I do ask, do we finally have a female rapper we can look to and say, “That’s that pro-black rapper who gets us lit and fired up for justice at the same time.” We have to let the hip-hop community decide. Go stream and buy Creature! on Itunes now and also check out her other mixtapes, Doobies x Popsicles, The Cassette Chronicles, The Boombox Diaries, Vol. 1, and The Art of Chill.  

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Tom Hiddleston - All the Right moves | The Observer Magazine Jan 24, 2016 (via Torrilla)

From a suave spy in the latest John le Carré to an alcoholic country star in the new Hank Williams biopic, Tom Hiddleston is set to have the year of his life. Elizabeth Day finds him utterly charming – even in an argument. Photographs: Daniel Stier

Tom Hiddleston and I are having an argument. It is about who followed who on Twitter first. Hiddleston is insisting I followed him. I didn’t. And for some reason, this is important to clarify. What happened, I explain, is that I woke up this morning and checked my phone and there was a notification saying you had followed me. So I thought it only polite to return the favour. And then I got hounded by several thousand Tom Hiddleston fan accounts, all of which told me how lucky I was.

He shakes his head politely.

“I just woke up and the first thing my phone told me was that you followed me,” Hiddleston says, leaning back in his chair. We are in Côte Brasserie in Hampstead, north London, just up the road from where he lives. He is wearing a grey T-shirt, the hem of each sleeve perfectly bisecting his biceps. The muscles are evident but not overwhelming. They are, like the rest of him, scrupulously amiable and unwilling to announce themselves with too much fanfare.

“This is a ridiculous conversation,” he says. “But it’s fine, by the way. I mean, you were doing your homework.”

And just like that, he wins the argument so effortlessly I almost don’t realise it’s happened. But perhaps that’s what Eton and a double first in classics from Cambridge does for you. It teaches you the ability to charm someone into submission without them noticing they’ve lost ground.

Perhaps it’s also why, in the BBC’s forthcoming six-part spy thriller The Night Manager, adapted from the eponymous John le Carré novel, Hiddleston puts in such an exceptional performance as the suave Jonathan Pine. Pine is a former soldier turned night manager of luxury hotels who goes undercover for the British intelligence services to infiltrate a criminal arms-dealing enterprise. Hiddleston stars opposite an impressive roster of British talent, including Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander. To prepare for the role, he shadowed the night manager of the five-star Rosewood Hotel in London.

“I found the performance fascinating,” he says now. “The manager had impeccable courtesy. If somebody asks where the bar is, you say: ‘Allow me to escort you.’ It’s about making every guest feel looked after.”

I can’t imagine it was too much of a stretch. Over the next hour our conversation covers Platonic philosophy, Graham Greene and Bob Dylan. At one point I say he has a titanic brain.

“Which means it goes down,” he bats back. “There are no survivors.”

Hiddleston, 34, is solicitous company. He admits that, in preparation for this interview, he bought my first novel and is 100 pages in. But then he is known for due diligence. To prepare for his break-out film role as Loki in the 2011 Marvel Studios film Thor, he trained in the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. When he took on Coriolanus in a critically acclaimed production at the Donmar in 2014, he would listen to Holst’s The Planets to get himself in the right mood and run up and down the theatre’s fire escape before going onstage.

In I Saw the Light, which is released in March, Hiddleston stars as the American country singer Hank Williams, who died of heart failure at the age of 29. Before filming started Hiddleston embarked on a gruelling diet and exercise regime to lose the requisite weight, spent two hours a day with a dialect coach to master the Southern accent and learned to mimic Williams’s singing voice with such accuracy that he was able to perform “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in front of 1,500 people at a Michigan country music festival.

Rodney Crowell, the Grammy award-winning country star who coached Hiddleston through it, commented afterwards: “I’m as respectful of the man’s work ethic as I’m mystified by his trans-formational skills.”

Hiddleston says he is “very” proud of the film. “I mean, that sounds arrogant. I’m just proud to be in such a…” He breaks off. “It was so far away from me; it was really not my life experience at all.” 

Performing onstage in Michigan was “absolutely terrifying” but you wouldn’t know it to look at the YouTube clip. He seems calm and confident: the essence of self-possession. What happens when he gets nervous?

Hiddleston smiles. “I think I may have played the song a little fast. My inner tempo accelerates.”

That tension between the frantic inner tempo beating hard underneath an unruffled exterior is, I think, what makes him such a compelling actor. Onscreen or onstage his smoothness hints at psychopathy, an elegance that masks villainous intent.

“I suppose I’m fascinated by the private vulnerability and the exterior of people,” he says. “I think that’s an essential truth. I sort of quite like trying to find what makes people tick behind the construction of their identity.”

It seems to be working for well for him. After a childhood in London and Oxford, he was sent to boarding school at the age of seven and then went to Eton. A lot of actors these days seem to have gone to Eton, I say. Does he ever worry that…

“There are so many successful actors who didn’t go there,” he interrupts.
No, I say, they went to Harrow.

“Like Michael Fassbender and Daniel Craig and Domhnall Gleeson and Luke Evans and Gemma Arterton and Andrea Riseborough,” he continues, ignoring me. “There’s so many, the list goes on and on and on. Idris Elba.”

He says he finds the current debate about the number of middle-class actors in the profession divisive. “It’s socially divisive in a way it shouldn’t be, because I think wherever you are from you should be able to follow your passion. Wherever you went to school, if you have something authentic to contribute, you should be allowed to. There is an acknowledged problem of access and inequality of opportunity – I don’t know how to remedy that. But yeah, I’m on everyone’s side; I’m on the side of the actors. I’m not there to divide the world into pieces.”

From Eton he got a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge, before studying at Rada. He graduated in 2005 and went straight into his first film role in Unrelated, directed by Joanna Hogg, who later cast him in Archipelago. Numerous television credits followed before Thor came along. From there Hiddleston has starred in everything from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris to Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (he has a special affinity with soldiers and feels “a sense of responsibility and a duty to their bravery and courage”) and Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror Crimson Peak. Later this year he takes the lead in Ben Wheatley’s hotly anticipated High-Rise, adapted from the novel by JG Ballard. Despite his stated curiosity for understanding what makes other people tick, Hiddleston is not particularly good at turning his attention inward.

What was he like as a child? He looks down, shifts in his seat. “I think intermittently quiet and playful.”

Did that change when you went to boarding school?

“It must have done. I mean, this is not exceptional. I was very vulnerable when I first went. I went to boarding school when I was seven and then I sort of learned how to deal with it. So I must have somehow got more independent through that experience. I don’t think it was… I’ve never sort of had analysis about this or anything, so I have no idea, but… You just kind of move on. It wasn’t damaging, but I’m sure it made me independent. It must have had some…” he drifts off.

Later he’ll apologise for vagueness over the matter. He wants to be truthful, he says, but it’s “difficult, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s so hard to unpack.”

He looks up plaintively. “Am I making any sense? Am I being extremely worthy and self-regarding? I hope not.”

His parents, Diana, a former arts administrator, and James, a physical chemist, divorced when Hiddleston was a teenager. The experience was clearly painful but, he says, made him “more compassionate”. He is the middle child, with a sister either side. His younger sibling, Emma, is also an actor. The eldest, Sarah, is a journalist. Sensible woman, I say. He grins: “The most sensible.”

He has a four-year-old niece, and when he talks about her the tone lightens and he seems less anxious that I might be trying to psychoanalyse him.

“I’m called ‘Uncle Yay Monster’ because when we run, she basically wants to run as fast as me but she can’t, so after a while I just pick her up and she screams: ‘Yay!’ It’s exhausting, but enormous fun.”

And there is a lighter side to Hiddleston. I know this because if you search for “Tom Hiddleston dancing” on Google, a plethora of videos will pop up showing him busting his moves on various chat shows around the world. Watching him, it strikes me that Hiddleston approaches his dancing with the same intense commitment he approaches his acting. There is a total immersion in the moment, even if that moment consists of doing the running man in front of a Korean chat-show host for no reason other than having been asked to do so and being too polite to say no.

“God, it’s so embarrassing,” he says. It all started a few years ago in Korea. “It was a big public Q&A, there were 7,000 people there, and I was taking questions from the audience. Somebody asked: ‘Of what body part are you most proud?’ That’s just a wrong question, to which there are only wrong answers. So I said: ‘My feet’ and they said: ‘Why?’ and I said: ‘Without my feet, I couldn’t run and I couldn’t dance.’ And they said: ‘Well, now we have to see you dance.’ So I danced… And I created a monster. There we go.”

He created a monster. But, as with everything, he did so with charm. Later I go to the loo and when I return I find he has paid the bill for our drinks and dinner without my knowing. Still, he definitely followed me first on Twitter.  

The Night Manager starts on BBC1 in February.


(eta: article on the Guardian website)

medium.com
An open letter to myself, at age 14, regarding the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival:
By Catherine Caperello

Dear Catherine,

Hey there.

It’s 1994, and there are a few things I think you oughta know:

Things are hard right now, and they will be for a little while, but things will get better. It will take some time.

Do not be afraid of the nagging feeling that knowing you are different brings. You don’t even have to hide it. You don’t need to try to be anything you are not.

I want you to know about a place called Michigan.

The first week of every August for the the past four decades, womyn have made a pilgrimage to a few hundred acres of woodland in western Michigan, where a city materializes out of the ground and sweet, sweet music is made. It’s called the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

This place is magical, and full of women and girls who will love you just as you are.

There is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to pretend you are or are not.

Note this: You will not know how much internalized misogyny you will have for your own gender until you first attend the MWMF. You don’t even know what that means yet, or why it matters. But you will.

There are a few dates which will be very important to your life and the development of your character and womanhood, but the biggest and most important date will be Friday, August 6, 2010.

You will arrive after a long day of travel, and yes, you will arrive. Don’t fear missing your first flight out of Philly because of the accident on 95, nor the rental car fiasco in Grand Rapids. You’ll arrive. Exactly at the right time.

You’ve heard about this place just a year ago, but some women have been going their whole lives. This Festival in 2010 is the 35th annual MWMF.

Yes, you read that right.

It’s going on right now. In 1994! Well, maybe not right now, now — but in August.

I wish you knew about and had access to the Festival. I wish you could feel what it feels like to be surrounded by such safety and beauty and sisterhood and self-love and goddess energy. I know you could use it right now. But you’re not alone, every girl and woman could use it. We would all be so much better off if we had access to spaces like this.

The world can be a cruel place if you were born with a cunt. You already know that, don’t you?

When you arrive, womyn will greet you and welcome you home. You will already feel at home because of your girlfriend. (Yes, you have a girlfriend! She’s great! You’ll love her deeply. You’re getting married in 2016!) Because of your wonderful girlfriend, you will meet so many friends in the preceding months, many of whom attend the Festival. You will grow very close with some of them. They will become your sisters. Let yourself be open. You are here to help each other move through life.

When you arrive at the Festival, you participate in an orientation and select two workshifts. You will load your few bags onto a tractor which will pull you into the thumping heart of the woods. Ferns unfurl up from the forest floor. You see tents, and womyn. They smile and wave.

When you arrive at the place called Triangle, a hub of transport and operations, you will arrive at 7pm, and somehow, out of all the possible permutations of circumstance, your girlfriend will come into your field of vision bouncing up and down, skipping excitedly next to the tractor on which you ride.

Somehow, despite missing a flight and additional delays, you will manage to arrive at the only moment she ever projected her whereabouts: 7pm, Friday, at Triangle, for a Parade.

I will leave the details of this part up to your imagination, but rest assured, the serendipity of this arrival is only your first brush with that benevolent force within the Land called Festival Magic. It was an anniversary year and the land was just busting at the seems with sisters. It was beautiful.

That evening you witness your first night stage — the crowning performance of each night from Wednesday through Saturday.

It is at night stage you realize what mysogyny is.

It’s at night stage you realize that you never thought womyn alone could build something this impressive. But they did.

You will not be proud of this in 2015, because you know some of the womyn who work at the festival and have sweat and sacrificed to make it the event that it has been, but honestly: you thought the show was going to be mediocre.

You thought, womyn’s music, entirely produced by women. Even the lights and the stage and the sound — everything? There was no way it could ever be like a real rock concert. You know, like one featuring men.

Womyn’s music was all acoustic guitars or piano, right? Not that those things are bad — your two favorite artists are still Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos — but as many times as you’ve seen those two musicians perform live, there are always men involved in the production some how. You just didn’t see how it was possible that womyn could put on a show like that without men being involved. You just didn’t get it, and you didn’t even realize that you felt that way, or why it might be a problem until that first week of August 2010.

The entire festival, set on this idyllic land that is for certain inhabited with wood sprites, challenges all of your preconceptions about life.This whole town materializes from the ground up out of will and sweat and smarts and braun. Every year.

You have been to Lillith Fair twice, and that means nothing compared to the legacy and intention of Michigan.

You realize that you never gave your gender this much credit. You realize that you thought it would be a lackluster stage show if men weren’t involved in the production.

You realize that you didn’t really think women could rock out that hard.

You didn’t realize womyn could feel this comfortable in their own skin.

You didn’t realize womyn could organize and govern themselves like this.

You didn’t realize the bounds of sisterhood.

You didn’t realize how ashamed of your own girlhood you were, for mistakes that weren’t even your own.

How I wish you could have visited this place in 1994, Catherine. You need it so badly.

You need to know how many different examples of woman there are. You need to know that the kind that you are in your heart, is nothing to be ashamed of. You will never feel comfortable in a dress. You wear things you don’t want to, because what you do want is deemed for boys. You’ll feel ashamed that you’re not like the others. You’ll feel different and depressed.

By this Friday in midsummer 2010, you still have not learned this yet. You are still very negative and self-deprecating. You will have been fighting obesity for your adult life, and though you have lost some weight, you will still suffer a terrible self body image.

You will see every type of womyns body at Michigan in various states of undress and naturalness. You will see a woman whose body looks like your own. You will see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

You have seen several womyn already, just walking around in the short time you have been here that likely pass for men off of the Land quite easily. But they are womyn. You see yourself in them.

You wonder what it would be like to cut your hair off. You’ve been wearing it in the same rotation of ear-to-shoulder length bowl cut since 1992, your hair was cut short and a flight attendant thought you were a boy. You were mortified. Chubby, androgynous. You’ve been growing your hair since then, and will be so excited when it’s finally long enough to pull back into a pony tail — some where around sophomore year of high school. You continue this cycle of growing and cutting, growing and cutting the same style for year after year.

You will perform your first workshift in the kitchen, where the workers (the core team of womyn who volunteer large chunks of their time to form the backbone of each area at the festival) have some of the most magnificent facial hair.

You will feel uncomfortable about this, remembering the horror of discovering your own chin hairs sprouting uncontrollably in your early 20s. Yet further proof of your failure at being a woman. That is what you will tell yourself for years, until you go for the first time to Michigan where for the first time you are exposed to true gender non-conforming females. You will finally begin to see womyn for who we are as an infinite spectrum, and not as how marketers and magazine makers tell us.

You wonder what it could just feel like to not have to pretend that your body isn’t exactly as it is.

You wonder what it could just feel like to be whoever you are, meeting yourself where ever you are at.

You will feel at home here, and even womyn you haven’t met yet have become your sisters.

I want you to know that there are so many different kinds of womyn, in every age and shape and body type and personal style. Every one of us is beautiful. They are purely who they are. The authenticity and pure presence makes everyone glow. Strong sun helps. You smile at womyn you have not met yet on the wood-chipped path. You wake up to the sound of drumming and laughter. You hear the sounds of womyn loving themselves and eachother.

You will leave knowing a little better why Festies are Festies, and the next three Augusts you will come back and sleep on the side of a bumpy dirt road to secure your place in line. You will soak up every last drop of Michiganduring those years, and you will heal considerably. You will even ask that girlfriend to marry you as you sit in the grove of ferns, too excited to feign your Sunday evening meditation ritual.

A few months before your 35th birthday you will finally have the courage to cut your hair off. You will transform overnight. Friends will tell you that you look more like yourself than ever. They cannot remember you now with long hair. You agree on all accounts. Your first festival with short, butchy hair feels like an even deeper homecoming. You feel more comfortable in your own skin than ever.

The Festival has given you the space and safety to accept and forge your own identity.

That’s why I’m sorry for what comes next.

I’m sorry to tell you that the festival this coming year, 2015, is slated to be the last festival of its kind. Many, many womyn are very sad about this. I can’t explain all of why this is happening. There are so many factors, and you’ll understand how amorphous this is when you’re witnessing it firsthand.

Even as I type this the sands could be shifting. To be clear, I have faith that there will be a next iteration. There must be. There is no way we could be silenced, or kept from gathering.

We are the daughters of the witches they didn’t burn.

I do not want to get into politics and their impact on the sustainability of the MWMF, but I wonder what you would think of kids becoming transgendered at your age.

I wonder if given the option, would you chose to reassign your gender to male? In the next year or so, you will begin feeling great pain that comes with not fitting in, teenage hormones and unrequited love.

You will cut yourself a bit. Please try not to do this.

You will have the thought that it would be so much easier if you were just a boy. This thought will persist. I wonder if the progress of the transgender movement which is happening as I write this in 2015, were happening while you were feeling alienation from your gender — I was never into pretty pink princess dresses — would you chose a different gender for yourself?

I think the toys of the late 70’s and very early 80’s were more gender neutral.There’s no way to know for sure, but I think if I were a child growing up with the hyper-sexualized pink toys for girls, signaling that these are the kinds of things that girls like over here, and these are the kinds of things that boys like of there. It’s alienating. The cycle feeds itself.

Now, I am not learned on the transgender topic. I’m the first to say it. It’s just something I think about. It resonates with me.

I fear that losing Michigan, the last true place for gender non conforming females to be be celebrated within their womynhood, will be a major erosion of butch culture.

There are people who want to see those front gates closed for good. Dead and buried. Extinct.

There are other people who believe that womyn who were assigned female at birth deserve a space of their own. I am one of those people. You deserve it.

Is the rise of the genderqueer movement coupled with the extinction of womyns spaces and the emergence of transculture the death knell of butchdom? Are girls growing up now finding it easier to reject their womynhood altogether, as opposed to celebrating the diversity of identity and presentation within womynhood?

I refuse to allow that to happen.

My greatest fear is that so many children may feel like the need to change their assigned gender to fit society’s unrealistic, narrow definition as propagated by a consumer culture hellbent on defining you before you’ve even left the womb.

Catherine, you didn’t know it was okay to be who you were until you went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

You spent the preceding 30 years agitated by the assumption that you presented as masculine because you, in fact, wanted to be a man. You hid from yourself within punchlines. Once you could see real life examples of strong butch womyn, your world opened up.

You found yourself surrounded by every example of womyn that exists, without fear of ridicule. You talked to womyn. Made eye contact. Forged bonds in the woods that will never be broken by time or distance. That magical parcel of land in the woods of western Michigan gives Festies the comfort, safety and power to be whomever they wanted to be, or exactly who they are.

That’s what I needed. Permission to cut my hair. No. I needed to know that permission was not necessary. Permission was already granted by virtue of inhabiting my own body.

That’s the magical conundrum about all of this. I firmly believe in self-actualization. I firmly believe that each is entitled to make their own way in the world. That’s all any of us are trying to do — but we have to respect each others differences, and yes, we are different. It’s okay to be different. We need to allow those differences to exist without shame or an attempt to colonize.

Have we reached a point of liberalization that we’ve actually become conservative again? That political correctness must be achieved to a level of where we cannot even be humans who have differences? Why should womyn — targeted for eons — be forced to give up our sacred gathering space?

Fear not. There will be another iteration. And another.

I want you to know, Catherine, that you are quite fantastic. There is nothing wrong with you. Mind not how you’re fitting in and dare instead to stand out. I would love for you to be a person lucky enough to grow up and come of age on the land. That would have been quite something.

I am hopeful that if I have a daughter some day there will be womyn’s land which I could bring her to. Nothing tames the spirit like walking with womyn in the woods.

I cannot wait for you to go Home.

See you in August.

Xo

~C

Submitted to me......Maksyl thoughts today.....

This has been an excellent week in the Maksyl kingdom!  I am so appreciative of the updates, gifs and pics.  Since last Wednesday, two things stand out in my mind.  Let’s discuss, shall we?

1) Monday night’s dress 2) When did the relationship change?

Ok the comment about the two snaps on the dress made me think that since last week, I don’t just have AD thoughts about these two.  I have DTD (during the day) thoughts and AA (anytime, anywhere) thoughts.  Yes, I’m crazy, a little embarrassed cuz I’m older but I certainly remember what it feels like to be young, in love and, I’ll admit horny!  All I’ll say is this - the two snaps don’t matter cuz that dress had easy access from the top and bottom!  SEE WHAT THIS HAS DONE TO ME!  Tricia, I also love the goatee.  It must tickle in all the right places!  I AM A MESS!

When did the relationship change?  I also agree with you in that it was after Italy.  I believe that it was Mary who stated that it would have been a PR nightmare had they come out together right after DWTS.  They had to keep it quiet and despite their feelings, had to be aware that it might not last the summer what with their schedules. Yes, he gushed about her continually over the summer and now the roles are reversed.  But, the turning point was after the debacle that was Italy and he knew what he wanted now!  Like my dad used to say, “Shit or get off the pot.”  Well, I think he might have said the same thing but much nicer….”look, Mer, I love you and always will. I want to be with you but we have to be on the same page and we will put ourselves out there slowly.  Yes or no?  Italy was a week before the premiere and post-premiere was glorious.  Yes, I am speculating about the change but take a look at it from both perspectives.

The Maks Perspective - this is a man with strong family beliefs who has stated what his future looks like in his mind.  He is kind, he is caring, he is nurturing but the outside persona is the bad boy who is a chick magnet.  (Not that I am a Bethenny Frankel fan, but some of the interviews on her show are great, especially the one with Hank - Kendra’s husband).  So his PR decisions for this year were based on what could give him the most exposure.  He decides to do DWTS for his grandma (watch the red carpet interview on week 8) and his life changes within a matter of minutes.  I don’t think he quite realized the full extent prior to and in week #1, he had loads of fun with the ass on week #2, realized there could be romance week #3, missed her week #4, was falling in love with her and happy to be reunited in week #5 and something happened in week #6 that changed everything.  Besides holding his hand, maybe a kiss that wasn’t supposed to happen?  We’ll never know.  After that, I think he had to re-think what he had planned for himself.  So, they spent the summer in secret.  Meeting up in LA, FL, MI, NY and HI.  And he spent the summer squashing rumors and changing the attitude of how he was perceived - slowly but surely.  Italy was a nightmare, plainly written on his face even though planned well in advance.  Your avatar was proof of that.  Dealing with bad publicity was what he has done for many years but after Italy (it wasn’t publicized), he got the People article downplayed, he has been working on his own dance studio and stage production and jewelry, supported charities and monitored what pics have been posted about him.  How quick did Alina go by the wayside? And, Meryl may have put her little foot down and stressed how important his image was to their relationship.  His foot may be bigger but how long can you publicly gush with no one reciprocating.  Besides, he knew Val was a loose cannon.

The Meryl Perspective - this is a woman kind and good, strong but shy, confident yet closed off due to her sport.  Cheryl was interviewed a few months ago and stated that she was worried about Meryl being out in the world due to the bubble she had lived under when skating competitively.  My kids were involved in sports from the age of 4, not at Meryl’s level, but still they went to school, went to sports, did homework and went to bed.  Their friends were their sports friends. I get it.  And, Meryl had just gotten out of a terrible relationship.  Unfortunately, with someone in her world of skating.  She agrees to go on DWTS for a new journey and gets the sexy bad boy Russian.  I’ll admit, when I first saw their pairing I thought he was going to eat her alive.  I kept visualizing episodes where she was in tears.  Boy was I wrong.  Her entire world flipped upside down which included new friends, a new venue of opportunity and love.  Her life had been working toward a goal which surrounded an image of America’s OGM, America’s sweetheart.  She really is a sweetheart, but that image did not include a man with a reputation.  She is known to be calm but must have been completely overwhelmed with emotion over this man whom she knew was not as he was perceived.  Deep down she could have been afraid.  It says so much for her that she secretly supported him even during the rumors and bad publicity.  I agree, it was her holding back until his arrival from Italy.  After Monday’s skybox cam, I think Val may have played a big part in coming out slowly.  Listen, Meryl I just can’t keep my mouth shut!

Theirs is an all-consuming love.  Honestly, I do not know how they are away from each other.  If you are talking every day a couple of times a day you are establishing more than just a sexual relationship.  If you are touching the way they did on DWTS, you are already closer than most relationships are.  Once the kissing starts, you know how close you want to be.  The ultimate goal of making love is becoming one person wrapped in and sharing emotions.  I believe they have achieved that.  I have said this before - I have not seen a love like this in a long time. It is absolutely amazing!

A comment regarding the Midwest Perspective…..I often hear from anons and others that they really want Meryl to move to LA or NY.  No disrespect to the East or West Coast and I understand that she does want to explore new opportunities but I know she will always be a Michigander. We are a different breed in the Midwest and are proud of it.  Michigan has taken so many hits over the last decade.  We are a hard-working people and we are resilient.  Meryl gets her work ethic from that very basis.  We spot our celebrities and are very appreciative.  That is why where Meryl is is highly documented.  Once I was in the casino in Detroit and it was right after the Tigers won the pennant in 2006, Jim Leland the manager was in the casino and as he walked through we all started cheering for him.  He was touched and very humble.  He started clapping back for us.  It was a great moment! I remember when comments were made over how Charlie dresses.  A polo, a pair of cargo shorts and dockers or flip-flops is the way we roll in Michigan.  If anyone has a question about Michigan or the Midwest please feel free to ask - with Tricia’s permission - I will try my best to answer.     

Final notes:

Meryl has to follow these blogs, she found that DWTS All Access video complete with description way too quick!

DWTS are jerks….they haven’t even said anything about Karina! 

I am beginning to love Val more than I should - from his love of Meryl to his violin video.  Wow! You have a great boyfriend!  The hidden gem is Nicole, she is the voice of reason for those brothers.

Finally, a shoutout to the wonderful fanfic by pinkcupcake.  Loved the 14 chapters.  And, I can’t remember who is writing New York, New York but it is great!  Also whoever did the photoshop of Maks in a tux and Meryl in the white dress….OMG!

Thank you for letting me babble.  The USS Maksyl and its Chmertinis (priceless) are soooo much fun!  Love you all, Anon Sue