Earlier this month one of Glastonbury’s official sponsors took great pleasure in reporting the scoop that this year’s festival will have an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space staffed entirely by people who identify as female’.
“The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women-only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men. Oppression against women continues in various manifestations around the world today, in different cultural contexts.”
Predictably enough, not everyone was happy about the news but then again surely that’s the whole point of reporting this relative non event in the first place.
Over 2000 contributions were left below the line after the Guardian’s feminist friendly editorial team opted to leave the comments open for one of the rare occasions they’ve dared since launching their web we want campaign (against silencing voices on the internet apparently)…
Ella Whelan (writing in the spectator) reckons that the venue deserves to sink into the mud and ultimately hopes that a big bunch of drunk people representing the two genders (controversial) crash the party, vomit on the dance floor and ‘rubbish the idea that women need to feel protected to have a good time’.
Aside from it sounding like the most boring venue ever created, the whole thing sends out the message that women can’t engage in political discussion unless there are safe parameters provided for them. And at the safest place imaginable, Glastonbury festival – home of the yoghurt-weaving dippy-hippy – this is frankly insulting. Ella Whelan
EYEhas a lot of love for Whelan and much sympathy for her perspective but, speaking as a regular previous Pilton patron, have to admit that ‘The Sisterhood’ sounds entirely in keeping with the ‘something for everyone‘ spirit of the festival and I sincerely struggle to give one single fuck that a tiny piece of England won’t share the love simply because EYEis Bloke.
The reality is that any trans, intersex or cis women, or non binary gender non-conforming people hoping to find sanctuary in an inclusive, yet entirely exclusive, safe supportive space for sisters are going to have to wait till midnight and then shuffle through the heaving many gendered masses all the way across town to the madness that is Shangri-La.
(Not to mention find the secret entrance).
This year’s theme for the late nite venue is ‘Media heaven / media hell’ and, according to it’s creator Kay Dunning, the 150 (ahem) person capacity Sisterhood represents an ironic vision of media hell. Kay reckons ‘women are never really celebrated in the press‘ so I’m guessing she doesn’t read the Guardian much but in fairness, if you can curate something as brilliantly bonkers as Shangri-La then you probably have to get a little high on someone’s brand of cool aid, so good luck to her.
Let’s be honest, by the time Adele starts rolling in the deep on Saturday night there will be at least a few put upon ‘persons’ wishing that the ‘no blokes or Irish’ sentiment extended all the way to Pyramid stage but in reality no one’s going to get turned away from the proper party.
But if ‘The Sisterhood’ is still grinding your gears, my advice is to head to the Leftfield stage in time for the Sister’s Uncut starring discussion panel who are asking the question Is Feminisim for Everyone?
Just stand there for five minutes in quiet, dignified, gentlemanly silence politely holding up a sign saying:
Otherwise you wouldn’t be leaving male victims of domestic abuse out in the cold you self obsessed selfish sexist hypocrites”.
And while you do, say a silent prayer for the mortal souls of all those brave chaps that are going to do the decent thing and chaperone their good ladies as they drunkenly sing along in the dark to Chasing Pavements…
May their god carry them softly to that sweet, special cider saturated safe space that we all aspire to find somewhere on this green and pleasant land…