It’s a big world out there ducky
This is so cute it hurts.
And some of us are brave…
"Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get better, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival lineup was announced. Holy Cow! I had known for some time that I was on the festival and headlining again, but when I saw the lineup I was so excited about the 39th year of the festival. The New York contingent is in effect this year including Climbing PoeTree, Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely, MazzMuse, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, Cocomama and blaKbüshe. Of course my west coast folks are representing as well, but the person who stood out for me was Beverly McClellan!!! I don’t know if you watched the first season of the Voice, but Beverly was one of the four finalists on Christina’s team. She is a vocal beast!!! I can’t wait to see her on the land. Whoo Hoo!!! It was a good Friday indeed, but little did I know, this simple announcement would become my steam roller and a reactionary battle cry.
Monday, March 10th (12:47am)
I received an email from the representative from the Purim committee who I had been corresponding with saying she needed to talk to me, but realized she didn’t have my number so I should give her a call. I really thought nothing of it. I replied to the email with my number; saying that I was up, but she must have gone to bed.
“There’s a Shit Storm Coming!” (11:58am)
The statement above is the actual subject line of an email that was sent to me and another artist by a good friend, about what was about to go down. When I opened the email it said:
“I just found out that the Purim Collective voted to take Shelley off the bill because she’s performing at Michfest and a bunch of the Purim organizers are supporters of the Michfest boycott. They plan on calling you this afternoon. I didn’t want you to be blindsided. I just wanted to give you a heads up even though you probably know. I wanted you to know that there are people ready to support you Shelley if you want or need that.”
Well…I did NOT know. So her email did catch me off guard, but not as far off as that phone call would have. Now I knew exactly why the committee was trying to get hold of me via phone after we had been corresponding via email the whole time.
I got my friend who sent me the email on the phone, and she broke down what was happening. Honestly after I got her email I knew EXACTLY what was happening. Therein began my wave of emotions. My Monday morning emotion was, “Whatever! If they don’t want me on the event, then I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted.” Well, that was the morning.
I know some of you are wondering how a issue with Michfest could have made its way to a Purim event in Brooklyn. So I’ll break it down for you in a nutshell because that’s all we really have time for.
Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is just what the name says. It’s a WOMEN’S music festival. That means that ONLY WOMEN attend the festival and ONLY WOMEN build everything on the land to make the festival happen. The only time there are men on the land is when they come to clean the port-a-janes at the end of each night. So, the protest/challenge for many years, long before I even started attending, is around trans-inclusion in the festival. There are some who feel that the festival should be for womyn-born-womyn only meaning that you must have been born a girl and more specifically born anatomically into a woman’s body in order to attend the festival, while others feel this is not a fair assessment of womanhood in these changing times of gender identity and politics. Now as you can imagine this is a tricky and touchy subject to say the least and one that I’m not about to begin to address here, but let’s take a moment to contemplate the challenges on both sides of this argument. It’s not only about gender politics it’s about the body politic. Feel me?
As for me, I have been blessed to be able to heal in women-only spaces for years and I am not about to argue against those spaces because they have made me a better woman, a better person and helped me to step into my power in such meaningful and profound ways. Michfest has been one of these powerful spaces. I don’t just go back year after year because it’s something to do for a week in August; I go back because it’s a refuge. It’s a week of no men and the energy that comes with that in the world. Let me also make something clear, I love men. I have some of the most wonderful men in my life in both my professional and personal circles, but sometimes a girl needs a break from even the most evolved man! I will not apologize for my love of the festival, the land or for what is has meant to me over these last eight years. I have made personal and professional friendships that will last me a lifetime on and off the stage. I will not apologize for the tears and scars I have left there that the land has taken from me so that I can fly. I will not apologize for wanting my spaces with women as I know it and have known it, so I will not be bullied or made to feel ashamed of my love for this place or these women. I will not be made to feel ashamed of the love I feel when I walk through those gates and hear the words, “Welcome Home.” But that does not mean that I am anti-trans and/or not open to having a conversation about the changing face of womanhood. I’m not afraid to ask or be asked the hard questions, but if you only want to throw fear, shame and angry gestures my way, then any conversation we could have had will be a wrap! Trust me, I’m being real polite right now. Feel me? OK. Let’s carry on.
The Call (10:28pm)
The whole day went by and no call from my Purim committee rep. I was in total “Act as if…” mode already. Even though I had gotten the earlier email telling me what was coming, I just kept moving forward with show plans. My thought, until I hear it from the horse’s mouth, it’s not a done deal. Then on my way home from a pretty stellar night, I got the call.
When the Purim rep told me that I was voted off of the show due to the fact that I was headlining Michfest I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I really was and soon became angry (my second and third emotions) because A) this is NOT the first time I’ve played festival. In fact this year will make my 8th! So if the committee was really that dedicated to protesting the festival and the artists who play there then they would have vetted me! All they would have had to do was 5-minutes of research and they would have found out that I have played Fest MANY times and participated in many capacities. AND if they were REALLY dedicated to this protest they just wouldn’t have invited me from the get go! B) No one on the committee did me the courtesy of calling to talk about how they felt once the Michfest lineup came out. No one asked me about my politics. No one took a moment to say, “Hey, Shelley has supported us and has been promoting the event to get people out so maybe we need to check in with her and see where she’s coming from and let her know what our challenges are.” No! None of THAT happened. Instead, in what felt like a total reactionary move they voted me off the show and then sent a woman who really wanted me to stay on the program to give me the news! Yup! But we’re getting there.
During the course of this conversation, which lasted about 30 minutes, I asked a lot of questions and got some pretty sad answers. Also the woman I was talking to was exhausted because she’s the mother of a young baby, which also made me angry. Not that she’s a mom, but because I knew she was tired and even though she wanted to talk to me because we had been corresponding the whole time, she clearly was not up for this conversation, which could really have been delivered by someone else, namely someone in this nameless, faceless committee who voted me off the island to begin with who probably doesn’t have children and wouldn’t be exhausted at 10:30pm on a Monday night. Another thing that had me livid was that fact that this nameless, faceless committee knows my face and name, but I don’t know theirs? What kind of cowardly shit it that??!! The woman on the phone told me that they were still going to pay me (well of course they were), but then she asked me not to say anything about this, specifically over social media. What??!!! Are you kidding me? So you have to right to just vote me off the show, for really no good and fair reason that I see, I have no say in the decision-making and then you pay me and want me to shut up about the whole thing?? Now, you’re smoking! I promptly told her I couldn’t make any promises on that front. In other words, Fuck That!
Now I ask, what does that sound like to you? I’ll tell you what it sounds like to me. It sounds like some white, male, entitled, patriarchal, misogynistic, cowardly bullshit is what it sounds like. I have absolutely no idea what the faces of the people who voted me off the show look like and honestly that doesn’t even matter, but I know THAT energy when I feel it. I know shady dealing when I see them. I know the shadow masculine when I encounter it. Trust me I know. I’ve been a black woman a long time. I know patriarchy and misogyny like I know my name.
Then came the rant. I got on Facebook at about 3am and let folks know how I was feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that, but I needed to be loud that night. My feelings required more than my journal.
As a side note, I also found out earlier that day that musicians in the house band, who happened to be all women and transgender (in specific FTM), were being questioned about their affiliation with Michfest artists! Yes you heard me correctly. So now we have also entered into some pseudo-McCarthyism here?! I’m just asking.”
Worth a read on the whole thing.
Nice to see yet another black artist taking a stand in support of the festival.
Rachel and Aaron - St. Louis, MO
STL has so many interracial couples—-it’s one of the main reasons we stay here.
Michigan is calling.
Rise, amazons. See you in August.
tw: abuse, rape, domestic violence
A few weeks ago my mom stapled pages of a story in one of her women’s magazines together and handed it to me. She gave it to me pretty much with the tag lines “for your feminist blog” and “something new to consider.” Indeed it was; she knows me well.
The story is titled “I was forced to be pregnant.” With a title like that, reading it was actually not on the top of my to read list. I thought it was about women not exercising their right to choice. I was very, very wrong on that one.
Have you ever heard of Reproductive coercion? It is a term that was quite recently coined by the advocates against domestic violence to describe a certain type of abuse some women face. It occurs when a man pressures their partner to have kids and/or impregnates them against their will. Reproductive coercion comes in three different types:
1. Emotional pressure that turns into verbal and physical abuse.
2. Sabotaging birth control
3. Marital rape
Over 75% of women 19-49 who reported once experiencing domestic violence also endured some type of reproductive control by men. It’s all about control and domination over a woman’s body.
The first story in the magazine is about a woman who got married around 36 years of age. After a few months of dating her boyfriend talked excitedly about having children. After he proposed he began calling her “The Babymaker.” She then confided with him that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked. He in return insisted she see a fertility doctor. She recounts, “I had finally met a great guy who was eager to start a family with me. What woman wouldn’t fall for that?” Soon after her honeymoon he persisted on in an obsessive manner, but his efforts had to be temporarily halted as she had to get emergency back surgery. Alas, 6 months into recovery he was back to pressuring her again. She was in much pain at the time due to her back, but she agreed to In Vitro Fertilization. She then became pregnant, but soon miscarried. In response, her husband grabbed her by the neck, choking her. He apologized, blaming his outburst on his grief and had her sign up for another round of IVF. And then a third round. She tried to put him off with the excuse that she needed to weigh more before she could take treatments, her husband forced her to get on the scale often and filled the fridge with fattening foods. “It hurt that all I was good for was getting pregnant.” She recounts. At the end, he screamed at her, threatening to replace her with a maid if she couldn’t get pregnant and she told him she no longer wanted to have his child. He destroyed bedroom furniture, pushed her down the stairs and threatened her with a gun. She fled to a domestic violence shelter.
The second story was about a woman who faced marital rape. This woman was 40, had a then boyfriend and two children from a previous marriage. After telling her boyfriend she did not want any more children, her boyfriend refused to wear a condom and began to rape her. She then became pregnant with her third child. Birth control was never an option for her because she couldn’t hide pills anywhere for he went through all of her belongings. Three months after giving birth, he raped her again, impregnating her with twins. She lost the twins in a physical fight with him, but soon became pregnant again. During her recovery she begged her obstetrician to remove her ovaries and devise a lie to tell him; that she had cancer. After a decade of sexual abuse and violence she was able to get a job that kept her out of the house and often times traveling.
One in four callers to the National Domestic Abuse hotline said that their partners had tried to force them to become pregnant. Why? As one woman stated, “Its like he wants to own me from the inside out.” Having a baby is the perfect tie that binds. These type of abusers want to create a circumstance in which their partner is dependent on him.
WHAT’S THAT HAVE TO DO WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD?
Many voters never consider how defunding these clinics could hurt victims of domestic violence who turn to them for counseling as well as pregnancy prevention. Abused women will turn to health care providers long before they will turn to domestic abuse hotlines and organizations. Many women in abusive relationships rely on life saving, affordable care programs such as Title X. It is critical that such places are open and operation when women and children need them so desperately.
holy fuck im crying.
I know I’ve told this story before, but my abusive ex refused to let me take birth control. I was on the pill until he found them in my purse.
I went to the Student Health Center—they were completely unhelpful, choosing to lecture me about the importance of safe sex (recommending condoms) instead of actually listening to my problem.
Then I went to Planned Parenthood. The Nurse Practitioner took one look at my fading bruises and stopped the exam. She called in the doctor. The doctor came in and simply asked me: “Are you ready to leave him?” When I denied that I was being abused, she didn’t argue with me. She just asked me what I needed. I said I need a birth control method that my boyfriend couldn’t detect. She recommended a few options and we decided on Depo.
When I told her that my boyfriend read my emails and listened to my phone messages and was known to follow me, she suggested to do the Depo injections at off hours when the clinic was normally closed. She made a note in my chart and instructed the front desk never to leave messages for me—instead, she programmed her personal cell phone number into my phone under the name “Nora”. She told me she would call me to schedule my appointments; she wouldn’t leave a message, but I should call her back when I was able to.
And that was it. No judgment. No lecture. She walked me to the door and told me to call her day or night if I needed anything. That she lived 5 blocks from campus and would come get me. That I wasn’t alone. That she just wanted me to be safe.
I never called her to come to my rescue. But I have no doubt that she would have come if I had called. She kept me on Depo for a year, giving me those monthly injections in secret, helping me prevent a desperately unwanted pregnancy.
I cannot thank Planned Parenthood enough for the work they do.
I have an ex who was trying to get away from her abusive husband with one baby who is beautiful but was still the product of emotional coercion when he impregnated again by rape. He used the kids as a way to abuse her for years. Its a terrible thing. And it happens a lot.
I have seen this happen over and over and over, while working at Planned Parenthood and at a shelter for women. It’s fairly common, unfortunately.
Good reminder for today.
A mother in St. Louis was unknowingly the reason for a lockdown at her special needs son’s school.
“I was lying in bed when I received a frantic phone call from the teacher, Michael was panicking,” said Niakea Williams — whose young son Michael has Asperger’s Syndrome — of the call she received before heading to the school.
“I saw a teacher and she said Ms. Williams what is wrong? I said something is wrong with Mikey and proceeded to go straight to my son.”
Once Williams got to her son’s classroom, she tried to calm him down and console him. The Walnut Groves Elementary School principal then entered the room to inform Williams that she failed to sign in at the desk and had therefore broken policy.
“’I didn’t sign the book, but I had to check on my son. You can bring me the book.’ She said, ‘Oh no, I’ve already called the police,’’ recalled Williams.
Soon after, local police arrived at the scene and arrested Williams in front of her son while the rest of the school was placed on a 12-minute lockdown. The school said the reason for the lockdown was “unauthorized entry to a school.”
“They escorted me away from my son, who already has emotional distress,” said Williams. “Four officers told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back, I was under arrest.”
Williams believes her arrest was unnecessary and that the school overreacted. She says that everyone there already knows who she is, including the principal, claiming that they had actually met just a week prior to the incident. Williams is trying to fight the charges against her.
Of all the spiteful petty things to do after an obvious misunderstanding. Heaping this sort of anxiety and embarrassment on top of an already escalating behavioral episode is pretty unprofessional, in my book.
Black parents get demeaned and criminalized for being parents - there’s no winning against this bullshit system.
what the entire ever loving fuck
"We put these rules in place to keep you safe. They’re totally not about power and our gleeful and petty abuse of if. Why would you even think that? You must be up to something."
It took four officers to arrest one black woman in front of her already distraught son. Because she didn’t sign in at the desk.
Fucking WOW. And that principle…Yeah, that’s the kind of person who needs to be in charge of children.
Straight up racism. WTF.
This is where I live. And sadly enough this does not surprise me.
Oh my god, that last one. I’m in love.
Woah - this has almost 100 notes.
The mom of one of my former students posted this on my facebook page. It’s nice to know that some parents “get it”.
Georgian First Grader Beaten and Sexually Assaulted by Male Classmates…School Says Boys Just “Rough Housing”
Valdosta - Three first grade boys kept a female classmate outside after recess by hiding in the woods, pushing her face first into the ground. The victim, whose name is being withheld, has suffered scarring to the right side of her face from broken tree branches and rocks that she was allegedly assaulted with both physically and sexually.
The victim was able to escape the male classmates after fifteen minutes of torture, running into a fifth grade classroom and alerting a teacher of what had happened. The principle of the elementary school said he had a “man to man” talk with the boys and their parents, giving them two days of suspension. He neglected calling the local authorities claiming “it did not seem like a police matter, just simple rough housing gone a little too far”.
The parents of the victim are looking to press charges on the boys for sexual and physical assault, as well as a possible law suit against the school district. District superintendent was not available for comment.
This is called rape culture you guys. The girl was 7 years old and they called it “rough housing” between boys.
Please boost this post! People NEED to hear about this.
They got TWO days of suspension for doing this to her?!? TWO!