Ladyfest Edinburgh mini write up

// 29 September 2009

Ladyfest Banner

Just a quick post to say congratulations to the organisers of Ladyfest Edinburgh which took place over the weekend.

I didn’t attend everything, but have a few pics from the things I did attend to share.

On Thursday there was a comedy night hosted by Sian Bevan which by all accounts went down well.

On Friday night, I attended the Sister Spit* spoken word performance, which was the last night of their European tour. Whilst the set was much shorter than I had expected (maybe due to the group’s need to rush back to Heathrow immediately after they’d come off stage) the readings were interesting. [*Website seems to be down at time of writing, but link worked yesterday]

Cristy C Road Kat Marie Yoas Amos Mac

They included Cristy C Road’s account of growing up as a Cuban-American in Miami, with her art as a backdrop (above left).

Kat Marie Yoas gave a hilarious account of attending a training school for aspiring dominatrixes (sorry, I don’t know what the plural of dominatrix is. Dominatrii?). She was very entertaining (middle).

Amos Mac introduced us to a slideshow of images from his new magazine for/about trans men, called Original Plumbing (you can read more about this here) (above right).

And from the UK, Em Ledger from Sheffield based DIY/feminist/queer collective Lola and the Cartwheels read out a piece from a zine in which someone wrote about how much feminism and riot grrrl meant to them:

Em Ledger

After the performance, someone from the audience read out a couple of really fantastic poems from a book called Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken word Revolution.

Saturday was a day of workshops. Most Ladyfests I have been to have had an explicitly poltical element to them, in the form of panel discussions, debates or showing of feminist documentaries, but this Ladyfest seemed more about art, music and culture (which in a way of course you could argue, is poltical in itself). So, workshops involved DIY herbal potions, knitting, good cause banner making, comedy, poetry, and life-drawing (which I was excited to try, and in the spirit of Ladyfest, had a male model instead of the standard female model, yay). Unfortunately, it seemed that a couple of planned discussions (e.g. masculinity) didn’t take place in the end.

Men knitting at Ladyfest More cakes! Poetry workshop

(above: men knitting, feminist cakes, poetry workshop)

There was also a zine / book library and reading area, and I picked up several really interesting ones including Raise Some Hell! A feminist child-rearing zine by the CRAP collective (Child Rearing Against Patriarchy). Excellent!

I wasn’t able to attend the bands on Saturday or the Sunday events, so if you have any comments on those, please share!

Finally I’d like to point out some cool places to visit if you’re in Edinburgh any time.

Word Power Books Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh

First of all is the political, independent bookshop Word Power where I picked up a lot of feminist publications and learned that there is going to a be a Trouble & Strife Reader published soon (Trouble & Strife was a British radical feminist magazine that was published between 1983 – 2002). That should be a really interesting one to look out for. (above left)

Next I would recommend a visit to the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh who sell food, maga/zines, have an extensive political library and who run various community activities. And they are very friendly as well. (above right)

So that’s the end of my mini review (which turned out to be not so mini). Did you go to Ladyfest? Send us any links to any reviews or info, or comment below.

Finally, good news for Edinburghians – a chat with one of the organisers revealed that they are thinking of having a Ladyfest on a regular(ish) basis, so there is (hopefully) more to come!

(p.s.Thanks to all the people who kindly said hello to me – you know who you are!)

Comments From You

Elmo // Posted 29 September 2009 at 4:20 pm

I went to the comedy workshop-really enjoyed it, sian was a great teacher! also had a very nice feminist cake :)

Oliver // Posted 29 September 2009 at 10:16 pm

“Celebrating women in arts, culture and society” eh?

I am so bloody sick of WOMEN’S events being full of trans MEN. I note that Ladyfest London is sponsored by FTM London.

I don’t care how feminist all these men are, their issues have nothing to do with women, and I bet their participation as honorary women discourages trans women from coming to these kinds of events.

I’m a trans man myself. Ladyfest sounds awesome, and I would definitely encourage my female friends to go. But why the hell would I barge in on a women-only event with my trans male issues? It’s disrespectful to the cis women there, and even more disrespectful to trans women who might want to be.

OP seems to be a magazine about and for trans men. There is no difference between a trans man giving a talk about that and a cis man giving a talk about a generic men’s magazine, in that they’re entirely inappropriate for a woman-focused event.

It’d be nice if a trans woman had given a talk, about her magazine concerning the lives and sexuality of trans women.

But while trans men are considered, to all intents and purposes, women in feminist circles, that’s not going to happen.

Obviously this is a widespread problem, and not just the fault of Ladyfest organisers… but it’d be nice if they didn’t play into this bullshit.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 30 September 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi Oliver,

I think this is a misunderstanding. Ladyfests are not women-only events. They’ve always been open to all to participate and attend (as you can see from my picture of men at the knitting workshop!). Although it is true that they are female-focused overall, there are sometimes one or two male-focused events such as discussions on men in feminism, deconstructing masculinity etc.

Ladyfest Edinburgh made it explicitly clear that all trans people are welcome at Ladyfest, as well as men generally (it is on their website under FAQs).

Amos Mac’s piece was about 2 minutes at the end of a Sister Spit performance. He didn’t ‘barge in’, he came as part of the invited Sister Spit troupe (this troupe is not women-only either). Sister Spit decided who to have on their programme. Anyway, I found his session very interesting.

Many Ladyfests have and do have sessions by/about trans women – such as Ladyfest Manchester which had a session about the exclusion of trans women from certain women only spaces, or Ladyfest London which had a series of films by/about trans women. But each Ladyfest is different and not all of them have trans women based workshops, although I believe that many of them do. The workshops vary from festival to festival. For example, one Ladyfest might do something about feminism and race, and another one about bisexuality.

About Ladyfest London and FTM London – I think the word ‘sponsored’ is probably misleading here as that implies some sort of financial donation (which I find unlikely). It is my understanding that FTM London ran a workshop at Ladyfest London so I think that more accurately they endorsed LF London or basically, participated in it. As I already mentioned, Ladyfest London had several documentary films about trans women and one of the mothers of the trans woman featured spoke after one of the films.

Hope this helps!

All the best

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