You are the next ones.

“In 1976, when we started the festival, we were living like we are now in patriarchy. So we had to think about every decision we made, because we realized, we’re thinking like men, because that’s all we really knew. So we really were in consciousness-raising groups all the time about how do we think like womyn? What is it to be womon-identified? And what are the values that womyn would bring to the table to create something?

So I want to say that we’re still living under patriarchy, and it is absolutely revolutionary to love and respect womyn under patriarchy.

It is a revolutionary act to create space that nourishes our essential Amazon spirit.

The revolutionary act I want to ask of you, is to take what you love from this land and plant something beautiful all over the world.

I love you.”

Lisa Vogel, From the closing night of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival Night Stage

August 2015


am I the only one who thinks it’s not the end of Michfest?

Lisa Vogel worked hard for 40 years and honestly she deserves rest. Now where so many young women find their way to radical feminism and see just how important spaces for females only are (and know how gross trans women behave) - I think there will be a new “Michfest”.

Perhaps on another place with another name but as long as the ideals of the original michfest are still alive it’s never truly dead.
Michfest Has a Few Demands Of Its Own

With another festival come and gone, Michfest founder and organizer Lisa Vogel laid out a list of ‘demands’ she’d like her critics to meet.

In other words: Lisa Vogel is still a transmisogynistic bigot who is tired of people telling her that she is a transmisogynistic bigot.

Same shit. Different day.
Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family,... - Michigan Womyn's Music Festival | Facebook

Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family, It has been my honor and privilege to produce the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for 40 years. It has been my…

Breaking-ish news via facebook, this year’s Mich Fest will be its last. About goddamn time.

I had a vision

So I have had the following post in Drafts for a little while:

Right after the first Fest woman talked to me about doing the detransition workshop, I had this vision. I’d never even been to Fest but it had started taking shape in my consciousness. The idea that there was a place for us took root in my mind. 

It was a vision of a cavalry of young women–disillusioned and dissatisfied by the queer scene–coming to the defense of Festival in force. A critical mass of womyn loving womyn. Clear, purposeful, done with all mindfuckery, and ready to throw down for this place.

It’s happening. Army of lovers, come with us.

And the vision still matters but it has a different dimension. We will not get to inherit Festival; her time is passing quickly. But as many of us as possible need to come, so that we have taken part in the community, so that we have experienced Fest, so that we can take that experience to build on as we create the home we need for the future.

Lisa Vogel has been doing this job for 40 years. Anyone, no matter how Amazon, needs to retire sometime. Hers has been a hard labor, let alone the additional burden of being demonized, attacked, and misrepresented at every turn.

So young ones, we’re the next ones. Let’s choose it well. Come experience your heritage and let’s carry it forward in the best way we can.

Cathy Brennan:  Interview on the Line for MichFest2015 August 3, 2015

Interviewer:  Thistle Petersen

********Begin Transcript********

Thistle:  Alright. Alright, I am here with Cathy Brennan, standing in the line, the, the line is about 4 miles long?

Cathy:  It’s pretty long. [laughter]

T:  Yeah it’s the longest they’ve ever, uh had it, it’s out onto the highway, and so some um, health department people and police officers are trying to get us to go into the gates earlier this year so that all the women can get inside.

C:  And we thank them for that, thank you. [laughter]

T:  Yes, so um, Cathy could you [loud ambient sounds, possibly cars passing by] – we’ve got a few ambient sounds here, on the line – could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and how long you’ve been attending MichFest?

C:  My name is Cathy Brennan, I live in Baltimore, Maryland, uh for the last 20 years, and I’m an attorney and a lesbian activist and this is my second festival.

T:  And, let’s see, what do you think makes MichFest different from other women’s music festivals?

C:  Um, I think the commitment to women and having a woman-focused experience and allowing women to establish their boundaries and have a safe space away from a male-dominated world distinguishes this festival from any other that I’ve ever been to and I’m extremely grateful to Lisa Vogel for that opportunity and I think I know a lot of women are too.

T:  Could you compare it to like you know specific other women’s events like the National Women’s Music Festival?

C:  No, I don’t think you can compare it.  Michigan, if you’ve never been, it, it is really like coming home, like I said last year was the first time that I came and as soon as I walked onto the land I realized that I have been here all along, that this was a space that was created for women like me, and um, I, I have regret that I didn’t come sooner, in the ’90s I tried to get some of my friends to go and they were like, “Ew, no, woods” you know, we’re from New York so we’re snotty [laughter] like that you know, and you know, immature, but I’m grateful that I got to come last year and I’m grateful this year because this year I brought my 7-year-old daughter to the festival with me, so I’m really excited about that.

T:  Lovely.  Uh what do you think, or why do you think Fest is ending after 40 years?

C:  Lisa Vogel’s been doing this for 40 years, and she certainly has earned her retirement, and it’s her, it’s her festival, and she can decide what she wants to do with it, and she’s decided now is the time, and I, I would never question her, I think she’s an incredibly thoughtful woman.

T:  And how do you think women should move forward now that festival is ending?

C:  So, this, this might sound corny, but to the extent you’ve come to this festival, or to the extent you haven’t come but you’ve embraced the culture of it, you have the, the kernel of organizing for women’s space inside of you, and I really do hope that, you know, it blows like dandelion seeds across the country and across the world because there’s women who come here from, you know, many different countries, um to organize locally, and I think, you know as we’ve seen over the last 20 years with the gay rights movement, now the GLBT movement, um women have really been marginalized, and I think it’s time for women to look inward to put our attention back into women and women’s space and to withdraw our resources from the male-dominated GLBT movement, and I, I think we’ve, that’s already happening, over the last 5 years you’ve seen, you know, women have the ability now to actually question where the GLBT movement has gone and I’d like to see that continue and I think it will continue, and part of that has to do with the, you know, the recharging that women can get from women-only space, and Michigan has been an incredibly important part of that.

T:  Alright, and is there a message you would like to send to society at large?

C:  [laughter]

T:  About MichFest?

C:  Um, Michigan is about love, and it’s about love of women, and there’s nothing here but love for women.

T:  Mhm.  Is there a message you’d like to send to the activists who have sought to shut down MichFest?

C:  You know, I, not really, they’re miserable people, I try not to pay attention to miserable people because ultimately they eat themselves, and you know, people view things in a very like, “Oh we lost this, someone wrote a bad article,” or, “Oh, this thing happened,” this is a movement that is going to go on for decades, so, take the long view, these folks eventually women will get tired of them because women aren’t stupid, I have great faith in women to figure it out because even over the last 5 years, there’s, there’s women 5 years ago, were telling me I was, know you, a horrible person, now they’re like, “I love you Cathy Brennan, you were right” and I’m like, it’s not me who it’s just, this is just, it’s radical feminism is just an accurate reflection of women’s reality on this planet, so great, you know –

T:  Yeah.

C:  Like, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about those people who try to shut down and rain on everyone else’s parade, they’re like I said, they’re miserable.

T:  And, finally, why do you think women-only spaces are important?

C:  Women, from the moment the doctor declares “It’s a girl” we are slotted, um into uh, roles, this is the system of gender, and we don’t even know that this has happened to us, it’s so, it’s every decision that’s made about girls and for girls is infused with this, with these assumptions about who we are, and it takes time to unpeel that and to unpack it and to realize, you know this isn’t actually, like necessarily innate, this isn’t actually like, who I am and women, women need space, because you know, we live in a very quick [snaps fingers twice] you know 140-character culture, but that’s not how you actually become a thoughtful person, you need time and space, and Michigan and women’s-only space gives women time and space, and also, it gives us safe space, because the reality is that male violence is a plague on this planet, and the primary victims of male violence are women and children, and it’s good for women to take space away from a class that has oppressed them globally, so like I said, spread your seeds, your dandelion seeds widely and do this in your local community because that is how you will achieve change.

T:  Lovely, thank you so much Cathy Brennan!

C:  Thank you!

T:  Awesome, that’s great… [audio trails off and ends]

********End Transcript********
Dear Lisa Vogel

“Dear Lisa Vogel”, by Beth’s New Life:

“Dear Lisa Vogel,

I saw you in the ferns and I saw you at night stage. I saw you in the blond curls of the naked girl running safely through the grass. I saw you in my lover’s smile when she turned to me during Ferron’s set and took my hand. I saw you in my chosen daughter’s eyes as she stroked her facial hair and came to the realization that she was beautiful. I saw you in Elvira’s laugh and Ubaka’s drumming and in the smile of the womyn who sold me ice cream at day stage. Lisa, I saw you in the girls running wild through the woods and the womyn slowly opening their eyes. I saw you in the festie firstie who, after our shared shower, told me with wide eyed wonder that she’d never showered in front of anyone before. I saw you in the belly laughs of the audience at day stage. I saw you in the triumphant raised fist of a woman walking a slack line and realizing, for perhaps that first time in her life, that she could truly lift her feet off the ground. I saw you in the tears rolling down our faces. I saw you in my own reflection.”

Do you want to tell your story of MichFest ? We wanna hear it! Send your contribution to
My First Festival by Lisa Vogel

It was a couple of weeks before the festival, and I was on a weekend trip to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing in my 20 year old Rambler to pass out our newly minted brochures and meet with our sound company outside of Ann Arbor. I pulled up to their warehouse, a 12 pack of cheap beer in tow, and proceeded to act like I knew what I was doing, even though it was the first concert I had ever produced. I hit it off with Mr Sound Dude as we talked about shows we had both been to in recent years. Jefferson Airplane. The Eagles. Buddy Miles. Bonnie Raiit. Rolling Stones with Stevie Wonder. Everything was going great with our shared rock & roll hippiedom until he asked me how many people we thought we would have at the show. “I think we might have as many as 1000 womyn” I said, still not believing my own number. “How many men?” “Ugh….none. It’s an all womyn’s festival…no men.” Our sound engineer from San Francisco who had booked the sound company had not discussed this fact, and right there, ¾ of the way through my 12-pack of beer, the sound was cancelled for our festival. No men – no sound.

We had no absolutely no idea what we were doing when we produced the first festival. None. I personally had produced nothing more than a few major keggers, and though we were swimming in the exciting energy of lesbian feminism that we found in books and on trips to cities like Chicago, Boston, Lansing and Cleveland – creating a space on our home turf bigger than what our living room could hold, and doing it with zero money, meant creative and old-school working class sketchy skills had to come into play.
To buy postage we had yard sales. We first promoted the festival with fliers we made off the ditto machine at the local university that we snuck into at night. To print a real brochure we had a car wash, ran a kegger, borrowed money $20 at a time. To rent the festival site I met with a man in the Holiday Inn bar who had advertised in the local paper he was selling lots of land outside of town. He had 120 acres and was selling them 10 acres at a time. I think we could really sell many of these lots to the people who attend this musical retreat….we will happily hand out fliers and promote the parcels between each concert. To get a baby grand piano from 100 miles a way delivered for $150 – we will happily hand out fliers promoting your piano company and announce your company between each performance. This festival is pretty much a festival of pianists, the performers and the audience. All pianists.

We decided we would build the stage like we saw at many rock shows – scaffolding with lumber laid flat then covered with ply wood. Kristie and I did reconnaissance as they set up one afternoon for an Alice Cooper show at the Saginaw Arena. This looks doable. We didn’t see how they did the stairs though, and we started to wonder, how are we going to get UP on that stage… anyone ever build stairs? The scaffolding was 6.5’ high…hmmm…have to figure that out soon. Problem solved when Digger rolled in with two stair stringers (the zig-zag side boards that make a set of stairs so you can put tread boards (the part your feet actually go on) hanging out of her car window that she had borrowed from a building site the night before. We didn’t have the money to buy the wood to build the stage, and we convinced the lumber yard to rent us the 2×10’s at $1/board. “We will only put two little nail holes on each end. No one will even notice them.” Most of our asks were so weird and yes, desperate, that we got confused yes’s before anyone knew what hit them.

This land we rented had no water and no electricity. We thought we could “drill” our own well, and off we went with a couple of friendly guys from the water dept where Kristie works and a 2” pipe to manually bang this point into the ground until we reached water (one early massive failure, accented by massive blisters all around). I called milk companies, farmers, anyone I could think of who would have huge containers for potable water, because in the day before bottled water was anyone’s idea, surely we would have to haul drinking water – and lots of it. The Army! They have to haul everything – water for sure – and tents! They have tents! I discovered that if I was a reservist (in theory) I could buddy up to the local commander, and borrow all kinds of things. I collected names of the Lieutenants and Commanders in 150 mile area, and would call one post and say…”Captain Big Dude from Grayling said to call you, that he thought you had a water tank I could borrow for this community event”…or some big tents, or some cots. The army guys really helped each other out, and I found that they were very nice to one of the few (faux) female reservists that were in the know of all the officers. We pulled off the army borrow trick for three years before they caught up with us.

The first festival ran Friday – Sunday. Digger and Kristie were both off on an airport run, and womyn were flooding into the land. From everywhere. And these womyn – wow – they were so much more sophisticated, political, and just generally awesome than we were. They were from Chico and DC, Toronto and St. Louis, places I couldn’t begin to find on a map. I was intimated to even talk to some of them. Up the dirt road and turning on to the property came this huge Army truck decked out in full fatigue with the total iconic jarhead behind the wheel. Panic filled these radical 70’s hearts and minds of the newly arrived womyn, then came the start of retaliation. Our worst fear – we were being invaded by the fucking army! I was the only one who understood this guy was delivering a tank of water for us. I jumped up on his running board, one foot on the step-up, one arm slung around the driver’s mirror and told him to just keep driving (5 miles per hour) and let me talk to the womyn. Keep your eyes straight ahead, don’t talk to anyone but me, and you’ll be safe.

We actually no longer needed the damn water truck, but we needed the tents and we didn’t have a lot of hoses so a water tank was still super cool. Literally days before the festival was to start, a local well driller, the father of a straight but not narrow womon we drank and flirted with at local bars, took pity on us through his daughter’s story of us banging away on that pipe, believing we could manifest water. He put a well down, installed a pump and few spickets, we used it for a few days, then he pulled it back up. Now that we’ve had eight well drilled and paid for them, I realize what a miracle that really was. Everything was a miracle, and everything was happening so fast, and so…slip-shod, we just kept moving until the next thing that blew up in our faces, a steady mixture of terror, bravado and cheap beer pumping through our veins.

Deciding where to put the well seemed logical, it needed to be near the generator we were renting to run the electric for sound and lights, so…how about near that hill so we can put the showers on top and the water can drain down the hill? Excellent idea when it was just a handful of us out on the land putting the stage together just days before festival. But that sleepy 120 acres in what we thought was very remote country, where we never saw or heard a car go by in the days leading up to fest, was suddenly bumper to bumper with locals gawking as the nearly 2000 womyn arrived, spread out their pup tents and started to shower in the freezing cold water in that funky little shower up on the hill. Some enterprising guy sold time on his telescope from a parallel hill across the road, a straight shot to our showers, as whole families pressed their faces to their car windows to get a good look at the “international gathering of weirdoes” as we were called in the local county paper.

The gawking turned to name calling which morphed into sisters who were not having it. “Always wanted to give a dyke 10 inches” he said, safely behind his truck door. “If you want to leave with those 5 inches you better get out of here now” she said brandishing a machete like she knew how to use it. Who the fuck travels to a festival with a machete?!? We were in over our heads. We were in the crazy position of being between the local dudes who were trying to prove their manhood on the road and the dykes who were ready to send their manhood home with them in a bag. Let’s be calm sisters…your inclination and anger is understandable, but this is really not a good idea. Please keep your truck moving…not much to see here, just keep driving, keep it moving. A womon named Keyosha from Lansing had a Doberman, a van, and a calm that was lacking in most of us. We hadn’t thought of anything remotely like security…but Keyosha threw together an idea that seemed to match the seriousness of the situation. If you heard a car horn, everyone east of the Mississippi go the front gate road, everyone west of the Mississippi go to the south road, and so on. Every time a horn sounded womyn scrambled to their positions. It was intense, over-kill and kind of insane – but we were protecting our newly formed lesbian nation, and all methods were reasonable.

I didn’t own or have a tent that first year but that was okay. I was so afraid someone would party on the Kauia grand piano late at night that my plan was to sleep right there, on the stage, directly under the piano. I was so screwed if anything happened to that piano. Saturday night Be Be K’Roche, a rock band from San Francisco, played the closing set, and then following their set the band headed out to do a security shift through the woods at a perimeter location we had discovered guys were coming through. I joined them, and we proceeded to party and get to know each other in the dark of the night. None of us were particularly nervous about the situation, so when we heard some noise in the woods, Peggy, the bass player, went off by herself to check it out. She came back with a drunk man hanging from his shirt collar at the end of her hand, bare foot, scared out of his mind.
He had come into the land on a dare, got lost, and was roaming around in the pitch black woods getting his feet cut up. We put a hooded sweatshirt over him and told him to look down, don’t say a word, and we’ll take you to the road and then you should run like hell. As we were exiting the woods the horns went off. Womyn were scrambling everywhere. This made the guy absolutely shake. I told the band I was heading over to the stage, I had to secure my piano position, and off I went through the half-asleep half-drunk trails of womyn heading to their positions. A sister ran up to me – “where are you from?! – where are you from??” “ugh…michigan?” “You are going the wrong way! Michigan is at the front gate – it’s thata way!”.

We were freshly politicized lesbian feminists in 1975-1976 as we began to scheme about a festival, but we were already dyed in the wool leftist hippies. Both truths influenced a lot of how we wanted to do things, and one of the clearest directions we went in from the beginning was deciding to have communal food. It didn’t matter that we had no idea how to do this, and we hit learning curve after learning curve, mess over madness. Lucky for us that in the glow of 70’s feminism, expectations from our sisters were extremely low. Cooked corn and potatoes over an open fire in a drum, salad, fruit, bread, cheese, lemon juice and water. I had originally asked one of the womyn from the food co-op to be part of the first collective, because she loved music and knew food. She passed. I came back around and asked a group of womyn from the co-op if they would organize the food. I would do the ordering, they would prep on site. They agreed! They were music lovers, straight and mixed well with dykes, and they could all do it together. We got the celery from the celery farmer. We got a 40lb block of cheese from the co-op. We rented a little milk truck, no bigger than a pick up, to keep the dairy cold. We got bread from the bread delivery truck. We bought knives at K-mart. We had one table. Late in the morning on Saturday before the first “meal” was to be put out, it was already getting hot and the kitchen womyn headed out to the nearby swimming hole to cool off. They never came back.

I started the fire under the corn and potatoes and went to the stage to continue to try and smooth the revolving arguments flaring up between Margo the sound engineer and the womon who came with the sound gear I found last minute out of Chicago. I looked back towards the little kitchen area – to see a steady line of fire making its way from the potato pot to the stage, licking at all the dried grass in between. The potatoes were never really cooked that year. We had a 40# block of cheese on the table with a knife stuck into it – cut what you need sisters. We had watermelon, and carrots, and beautiful celery from down the road. We had the start of home.
Sunday morning came and I realized we had to organize the money so we could pay the artists. We didn’t have a box office trailer or even a tent, just a little table with a tarp over it to block the blazing sun. I stored the money in my boots in the trunk of my rambler. I got my boots, headed out to the back of the listening area, grabbing a few womyn out of the audience as I went. “Got a few minutes to help me count money?”. We sat in the back of the bowl during the Meg, Holly, Linda and Teresa concert….organizing 5’s, 10’s, 20’s…catching them as they floated in the wind.

After we paid the artists, sound, lights and food…we had roughly $400 left. We could divide that up as our pay for our months of work….but we had a problem we hadn’t considered. We had a huge mound of garbage bags that had collected over the last three days, the trash of 2000 womyn – before recycling part of anyone’s program. The garbage had sat in the 90+ degree heat for days now, and the bags were exploding. It was a shitty gross mess. We decided as badly as we needed that money, we would hire a garbage company to haul the bags. We called everyone. We were told they would not come and get lesbian garbage. While we were on the land and having our little private festival in the woods, we had become infamous in the county.

There were five womyn who were the festival’s first “cling-ons” who just stayed after everyone left on Sunday…bless their hearts. With a borrowed truck from a neighbor (we didn’t have a pick up between us) we tore down the stage, returned the rented lumber, made plywood sides so we could pile the garbage high, and started the long gross process of hauling the exploding garbage bags crawling with maggots to the dump. We were amazons, we could do this. Rags wrapped around our mouths and noses, exhaustion as our bond – we could do this. Gagging as we worked – we would do this. But there was no doubt in any of our minds – we would never attempt to do this festival thing again.

My latest response to Lisa Vogel.

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is not a private event, no matter how many people would like to believe so. It is by every definition of the term a public accommodation, and any intention of its founders is entirely irrelevant, so long as MWMF continues to offer ticket sales to the public.

As the saying famously goes, “Intent is not Magic.”

I am very glad that MWMF does not seek to confront trans women who choose their own intentions for their own lives. I am proud of my own role in seeking to defuse what would have almost certainly devolved into violent conflict on the Land. But, holding a different opinion than Lisa Vogel and seeking to influence others to understand and adopt my point of view does not constitute “bullying” in any way, nor does it constitute “maleness” in any way. The fact that you would use these words blatantly erases the agency of the women who have found compassion for trans women and truth in our words, and that is something I find repugnant. If you feel “shamed” by that, well you should.

Let me be crystal clear: I am under no obligation to respect the opinions of people who believe my nature is theirs to define, who believe my existence is a matter for their debate, who believe that the validity of any part of my identity is theirs to decide.

A comparison to the Roman Catholic Church reviling Galileo for daring to claim what is simple truth would not be out of place here. There is no more any attribute or group of attributes, be they biological in nature or sociological, of femaleness or of womanhood that can objectively determine whether a given human being is female or woman that would not also exclude large numbers of cis women, anymore than the Sun revolves around the Earth. 

How ironic that we must point out that only a holistic, subjective, intuitive determination that elevates the agency of the woman in question is the only true determinant of identity to those who stake a claim of feminist righteousness! The self-contradictions espoused by transmisiast and transphobic feminists are astounding to witness, and inspire a sense of unreality that we are commanded to weigh ourselves in the balance with them.

May the Peace, Wisdom, and Love of the Goddess be upon all of us, and may her Light ever shine upon our Paths and bring us Happiness, all the days of our lives. Blessed Be, Sisters, One and All.


Gemma Seymour
Birth Rights and Wrongs: Response to MWMF Official Policy

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, but when I do I feel awash with difficult and sad feelings. I don’t like to talk about them though, because of how heated and defensive

“ It is so sad to me that anyone I know, let alone share “community” with, would even consider supporting something that does not validate trans women as women. And people, please do not make something that is simple complicated; this festival is for women and will not recognize that a trans woman is a WOMAN. If you support it in any way, shape or form, you are supporting this notion. Consider this before buying your ticket and throwing on your apologetic “Trans Women Belong Here” t-shirt and heading off to a land that has made it loud and clear that that statement is nothing more than a halfhearted, guilty, selfish apology and a cop out. If you don’t support transphobia, please go all the way with your words and your heart and your actions. It would be so radical if people would align their politics with their practice.”
My Wild Self And First Year On The Land by Tina Horth

I was partially ready.  The mandatory lesbian hair style (mullet) was donning my head, and my lesbian born heart was ready to burst out of my chest. I hadn’t heard of The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival until my best friends’ sister told us about it and asked us to go with her. We had a day to get ready. What the hell, we had nothing to do that summer before my senior year, in our small , sleepy farm town except the usual hiking into the woods with our weed, peach schnapps, and cheap genesee beer, our laughter and our creative, intelligent minds that would transport us out of the closed-minded attitudes and ghosts that lurked in the shadows of this place we hated. It couldn’t handle us.

The day of our departure we threw nearly not enough camping gear in the car and left on our adventure without looking back. Radio blasting, joints being passed around, we took turns driving the stick shift (some of us for the first time and without licenses) and arrived many hours later in the middle of the night.  For a while we were driving aimlessly along those back woods, d Michigan dirt roads, the very roads whose sound and color would later be part of that spiritual tingling I would get every year as I turned onto them, crossing the veil that lead me Home.

Laughing and high in the pitch blue/black night, we found the massage tent.  It was located in a very different place from where it is now, kind of where the Flamingo Room is.  We slept there that evening and I remember waking up to sounds in the night….Breathing, Laughter in the distance,  Wimmin kissing a few beds over, cicadas and other creatures of the forest singing their songs…I was relaxed and smiling, being lulled back asleep by a choir of wonder all around me. So very different from being awoken from the sounds in the night in my small town…of fighting, yelling, the creak of the door as the male neighbor entered my room uninvited. I stayed awake many nights, ready for battle. For the first time in as long as I could remember, the sounds and shadows of the night were comforting.

The next morning my friend and I awoke, dressed quickly, and as we crouched one over the other wide eyed, we slowly opened the screen door of massage into a world that in that moment transformed my life forever. Wimmin everywhere! Sleepily walking around, getting breakfast, and starting a new day. Lots of leather, lesbians, laughter, loving, longing.  My inner longing to be with and among this amazon tribe of my dreams, my amazon tribe that I intuitively recognized as my familiars, had me jumping out of my skin. I’m pretty sure I smiled from that moment and continuously for the next couple of weeks.  We knew nothing of how to navigate this place, so we took our gear, walked down the road for what seemed like miles and set up…on a slope, off any recognizable path. This would prove to be one of MANY lessons of what not to do later in the week as there was many a night we wandered around high and lost trying to find our tent, and as a rain storm came down that slope, drenched our shit and collapsed part of the tent. We were so happy to be there we didn’t care, and we high fived each other ’cause the weed stayed dry!

It was off to work the following day. That year we worked at signs, cunttree store, and balloons crew.  Yes, all three. And yes I said balloons. We used to blow up these huge balloons with the helium tank, tie them together, make an arch over the night stage and decorate the front gate. They were passed out amongst the audience as well. (I can’t remember if we sold them). Of course once we learned from and processed, over and over, with one another (as we still do) how damaging they were for the birds and the rest of the environment, we stopped using them. The feel of the blisters that formed from tying what felt like thousands of those fuckers, is still a strong sensation. I remember not caring about the pain then because I knew that very first year I would do anything, endure any pain to be a part of making this festival happen. Forever. As I worked along side so many incredible Wimmin, tying balloon after balloon, selling tampons, painting boards, telling our stories and weaving our lives together, falling in love and lust, I knew without a doubt This. Place. Is. Magic.

I think I fell in love at least five times that first year. And every year since. Not always the falling in love where I jumped into some womyns air mattress and then into a u-haul, (oh wait, there were a couple years that happened), but the kind of in-love where looking into each other’s eyes brings recognition of a kindred spirit, or competency crushes for what so many wimmins minds and bodies can do, or the in-love/ lust for lovers, and definitely walking a path of being in love with self.

One day, I was standing in line to get some lunch when I glanced across the belly bowl and Saw. Her.  Standing there with her ripped jean shorts, tanned skin, arms crossed in what looked like a serious conversation with a performer, was this womon, exuding such competence and fierceness in her stance and her energy. Talk about instant competency crush. A couple days later I was hanging with some friends at dinner time and She walked by. I elbowed my friend and  pointed, saying “who is that?”  “Oh, that’s Lisa Vogel”. Shit. I don’t think I got up the nerve to talk to her for a couple of years. Yet she had a piece of my heart then, and a growing piece for every one of my 28 years since. One only dreams that in a lifetime one would have an opportunity to break bread with a true visionary. She is that, and so much more.

The music rocked my world! Wimmin were doing every fucking part of producing this whole thing!  I had imagined a world like this. At my young but “old soul” age of 16 I was already a lesbian separatist. I knew organically, to the core of my being, I was meant to live in a world that focused on, celebrated, and gave all of my energy and love to Wimmin. As I walked and worked among these Wimmin my first year, I walked taller, prouder and bigger than I ever had. The truth of my life was filling my body. I used to make myself bigger and take up space as I walked the streets of my small town, putting on my armor as I rounded the corner where the cowards that were my abusers, or the police that followed me threatening this despised lesbian by saying I needed to be “taken out back and shown what a real man could do”,were laying in wait. At festival, my walking taller, prouder, bigger was about my truth filling my body and my amazon wings unfurling. This lesbian, feminist womon with a cunt was emerging, laying down my armor and picking up my labrys. Every year this sacred ritual happens at some point. I become armed for the patriarchal battle with teachings from my tribe, heart and wings opening wider, and filled up with the most powerful tool…love.

I never had what we lovingly refer to as a “michigan meltdown” that first year. I have had at least one a year for 28 years since. I was vibrating so intensely that year. My last night on the land, I walked the paths in the woods with my shirt off. I don’t go topless very often but I love that my systers do. All bodies are beautiful. That feeling of momentary pure freedom and safety is indescribable. Every part of my untamed, wild self was unleashed that night. This place spoke the language of my heart. I promised myself and the trees, that very night, that I would return each year to add my energy and love into making this vital and sacred festival happen. Because it meant survival. And thriving. For Wimmin. For me. It is lifes’ breath.

Michigan Women’s Music Festival Ends After 40 Years

Michigan Women’s Music Festival Ends After 40 Years

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Since 1976 in a secluded wooded setting in Northern Michigan women from all over the world gathered to share space and music at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. This haven for lesbian and feminist folk began for the purpose of creating women or womyn-only space where lesbian feminist issues could be discussed in a safe and free community. It was with shock that an email from founder Lisa…

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Lisa Vogel - Founder LUXE by Lisa Vogel Swimwear

Lisa Vogel loves what she does. What she does is design and manufacturer some of the leading swimwear brands in the world, and of course she should, the quintessential Southern California beach girl. Her parents started RAJ Manufacturing some forty years ago. When Lisa was young she would model the swimsuits for print ads that her parents manufactured. Now she and her brother, Alex, run that same company.

Today, RAJ Manufacturing’s portfolio of labels include: Athena Pick Your Fit, Next by Athena, Ella Moss Isla, Splendid Swimwear, GUESS Swimwear, Hurley Swimwear, St. John Swim, Tommy Hilfiger Swimwear, and Reef Swimwear.

Lisa is most proud of her own label LUXE by Lisa Vogel which launched in 2009 to a wide distribution and celebrity fan fare. LUXE by Lisa Vogel is the smart, stylish and sexy swimwear solution for beach sophisticates and stylish moms across the globe, and why not for someone who has traveled the world and spent her whole life living on the beaches of Southern California.

RAJ Manufacturing is located in Orange County, California, and all her labels including her own line are manufactured at that plant in the O.C. by workers, who, in some cases are 3rd generation employees.

This is truly a great American dream. A family business built on love of the beach, the sand, the surf, and of course the swimsuits that go along with the described life.

As Althusser put it, speaking of Marx’s Capital

Despite appearances, Marx does not analyze any “ concrete society,” not even England, which he mentions constantly in Volume One, but the capitalist mode of production and nothing else. This object is an abstract one: which means that it is terribly real and that it never exists in the pure state, since it only exists in capitalist societies. Simply speaking: in order to be able to analyse these concrete capitalist societies (England, France, Russia, etc.), it is essential to know that they are dominated by that terribly concrete reality, the capitalist mode of production, which is “invisible” (to the naked eye). “Invisible,” i.e. abstract.

From this perspective, theory is necessarily abstract as well as severely constrained in its implications. It can point to key elements and tendencies but it cannot provide richly textured accounts of social life. Even less does it directly explain events, suggest strategies, or evaluate the prospects for political action. These are matters for a qualitatively distinct kind of inquiry— — one that examines the specifics of particular historical conjunctures in existing social formations. 

To put it another way, this alternative approach conceptualizes theory as a sort of lens. By itself, the lens tells us little about the specifics of a particular society at a particular moment. It is only by using the lens that observers can evaluate such specifics and strategize for the future. Compared to theorizing— producing the lens— these tasks of empirical investigation and political analysis constitute intellectual work of a different and, I would argue, more challenging sort. 

Me and Michigan by Maggie Jochild

“Turns out, the way a woman could look covered the entire range of human expression….”

The summer of 1977 began as one of the worst of my life.  On May 1, my lover of five years, “Astrid,” dumped me without warning in a particularly brutal manner.   I had almost nowhere to take my devastating grief.  I was daily suicidal, and only a couple of close friends plus my mother kept me going.  Astrid immediately moved in with her new lover, taking all our belongings and the daughter I’d been helping to raise for five years.  I was 21 years old and had no recourse to whatever Astrid aimed my way.

I turned to feminism in full force, and found answers, empathy, the kindness of strangers.  I wrote anguished letters to Ginny Berson of Olivia Records and Alix Dobkin, and got back personal letters full of encouragement.  Alix wrote me several times.  I read everything I could, I listened to wimmin’s music daily, I traveled to more urban gatherings where I could find dyke feminists, and I began exploring the idea of joining a women’s land collective.  Eventually, I narrowed my choices down to either a group in Durango, Colorado or the Red Bird Collective in Burlington, Vermont, both of whom extended invitations to check them out personally.

In August my best friend Jean told me she’d gotten a dream job in Cincinnati, and offered for me to move with her.  I didn’t know what to do:  I didn’t want to be a burden she took with her.  Instinctively, I felt I needed to broaden my community, somehow, somewhere.  In the end, we compromised on me traveling with her as far as Michigan to attend the second year of the already famous Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, saying I would decide after it was over in the path I would take.

We caravaned to Michigan in separate small cars, each with a helping-with-the-gas female passenger we’d picked up from Lesbian Connection or some such network.  Mine was a 17-year-old singer/songwriter named Dawna Price.  Somewhere in Missouri we picked up an Israeli hitchhiker named Mikki Gvilli who was not a lesbian but still amazingly powerful.The minute I set foot on the land, I knew This Was Different.  A space energetically distinct from anywhere I had ever been — me, who had already traveled around the world.  The variety of wimmin was staggering.  Turns out, the way a woman could look covered the entire range of human expression. 

Every single structure and process on this large tract of land had been assembled by someone who had survived girlhood.  All the work was done By Us For Us.  There was nothing we could not do.  Cooperation was instant and brilliantly effective.  Kindness and generosity flowed without limit, and we knew every interaction was with another who had been presented with the lies of what female can be in our culture yet had found her own way through it.

The third day, I cut my hair off and shed my clothes.  By the fourth day, I’d decided to go to Durango, to pursue separatism and alternate spirituality and vegetarianism, to continue this route of uncovering and clearing out the damage done by the patriarchy.  I have not deviated from that latter choice for one second since.

And I tell you:  If I had had to deal with male socialization there on that land, I would not have found the freedom to become who I am now.  It simply would not have been possible.  When you grow up behind bars, progressing to light leg irons is not going to free you from the experience of confinement. Michigan is the product of thousands of grown-up girls deciding to do all the work necessary to create a week-long town where the values left to us by the patriarchy are redefined and blossom into powerful, complete functionality.  Who on earth, besides us, is going to do this job?
Maggie Jochild, August 2014

Florida, here I come!

Yes, I am off to Florida and yes I might forget about my blog for a little while (I insist on the LITTLE, because it seems like I am quite obsessed with blogging). I’m trying to pack, and god knows I hate this part, I can’t figure out what to take with me. And for the swimsuit, one piece or two piece? both? Either way, I went online for some inspiration and now I am here again (avoiding my luggage)…! And then I tell myself, Marilyn would wear a one piece, right? Exactly at that moment, I see a picture of her wearing a gorgeous orange two piece… aaaaah help me!

From top to bottom: 1.Jason Wu; 2.Marc Jacobs; 3.Michael Kors; 4.J Crew; 5.Lisa Vogel