Saturday, August 9, 2014


(Maggie in August 1977, at second Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, wearing the labyris made by Julie Springwater that I'd just bought)

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.  That winter and spring, we had each joined a separate women's consciousness-raising group.  For the first time in my life, I hesitantly began sharing my innermost thoughts and fears with someone besides a lover.  I started the process of unlearning my socialization as a girl, and redefining my self, with the support of other girls-in-recovery.

I assumed Astrid was doing the same in her CR group.  But I was wrong.  She felt extremely threatened by the personal growth offered by this kind of feminism.  She want to be "normal", to have male approval, to be middle-class and nice and closeted.

Unbeknownst to me, one of the women in my CR group had her sights on Astrid.  In the guise of "concerned sisterhood", she began taking various things I'd said to Astrid, telling her in confidence as a form of bonding between them.  Eventually, the weekend Astrid left me, this other woman persuaded her into bed.

Both CR groups imploded when this betrayal emerged, and 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.

One of the few items Astrid left in our gutted apartment was a poster on the wall of our bedroom showing an amazon riding a horse, a poster for a wimmin's music festival.  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.

(Maggie about to get her first buzzcut next to the main stage at the second 
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, August 1977)

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?

I have been to other music festivals where the womyn-born definition is not part of selecting who attends.  They've been fun, enriching, with good entertainment:  But they do not give me a year's worth of survival energy.  They do not offer a solid glimpse behind the heavy smothering curtain of male-defined world view.

Males and their terrified appeasers stand outside Michigan and demand admittance, assuming their presence can only improve what we are doing every full moon in August.  That assumption is, in itself, woman-hating.  If you want to experience a mixed-sex music festival, there are dozens of options available, go infiltrate those.  But no, it has to be Michigan, because it clearly thrives without male-socialized input and therefore must be STOPPED.  Make no mistake, change its definition, its intent, and it will cease to be.  And make no mistake, those who are obsessed with crashing its gates will be thrilled to see it cease to be.

If you don't need it, fine.  Leave us alone.  Stop the judgment, BOYcotting, death and rape threats, and ignorant proclamations about that which you have never experienced.  Admit there may be mysteries you do not comprehend, and refocus elsewhere.  End the relentless targeting of girls and girlhood.  And stop allowing those who do target us to play at being victims.

Copyright August 2014 Maggie Jochild


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

AND NOW WE ARE...59!!!

My birth announcement, filled out in my father's distinctive handwriting.

I never expected to reach this age. But I surely do want to go on.



Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there.



Monday, August 4, 2014


Where are the national LGBT groups condemning this violent, woman-hating image?

Some questions for those who say they "don't get" why lesbians and feminists keep insisting on certain rights despite the ongoing media war and death threats coming from (a minority) of misogynstic MtT activists.

(1) Do you agree that oppressed groups have an inherent right to define themselves?
(2) Do you agree that oppressed groups, for the purpose of support and well-being, sometimes need to meet just among themselves without the presence of those raised to be their oppressors?
(3) Do you believe upbringing and conditioning shapes a human being to a major degree by the time they are ten years old?
(4) Do you believe the upbringing and conditioning a girl receives is substantially and critically distinct from that which a boy receives? Or do you believe the difference between adult gender as it is expressed in this country is primarily a result of "boy" and "girl" brains?
(5) If you believe in gendered brains, how do you explain all the cultures around the world and historically where what we now, here, call "male" and "female" behavior was exactly the opposite for them? Are they / were they not actual human beings?
(6) Do you believe someone raised Christian has the right to attend Jews-only small sharing gatherings simply because they "feel" Jewish?
(7) Do you believe someone raised white American has the right to attend blacks-only small sharing gatherings because they get a dark tan, listen to rap, and rename themselves Shaniqua or Tyrone? Or would you call that racist stereotyping?
(8) Do you recognize that someone wearing long hair and make-up, dresses and heels is engaging in feminine drag, no matter who they are? Do you understand that drag is sexist stereotyping and has no actual relevance to identity?
(9) Do you believe that female biology amounts to having breasts and a hole, wherever they come from?
(10) Do you agree that someone born and raised male can now claim to have menstrual periods, menopause, and demand cervical exams at clinics funded (underfunded) to assist in female biology? If you don't agree, are you ready to be called transphobic?
(11) Are you actually fine with people raised 35 years as a male and having prior convictions as a sex offender being allowed free access to locker rooms and bathrooms used by girls under 18? If you don't agree, are you ready to be called transphobic?
(12) Do you actually believe there is privilege in being raised female as that is defined in our culture? If it is not a privilege, how is it oppressive to refuse to allow those raised with ACTUAL privilege to steal what few protections we have?
(13) Do you think lesbians are being oppressive when they decline sex with someone who has a penis?
(14) Do you agree that at least 95% of the violence and oppression aimed at trans folk in our culture comes from males and male-controlled institutions? If you do agree, don't you wonder why the majority of public transwomen protest is focused on feminist lesbians instead of those who are actually, you know, doing the raping, killing, incarcerating, etc?
(15) Do you understand that females are raised to never say no to male desires, to feel guilty when they do so, to blame other females who say no? Do you believe it is possible that those who are raised male and not worked through their socialization might consistently display outrage and scream oppression when they encounter "No" from a female?
(16) Do you see anything wrong with the term non-trans? Why are females being told we have to assume someone else's binary as part of our definition?
(17) Do you understand that TERF actually means male-excluding radical feminists? Transmen are common in womyn's gatherings. That's because we believe socialization determines your values and attitudes, not whether or not you have a hole.
(18) Do you know that MRAs are jumping on the anti-feminist bandwagon with violence-espousing transwomen activists, because they agree no woman has the right to actually say no to anyone born male?
(19) Do you know that ISNA and other intersex groups have pointedly and repeatedly demanded that intersex not be lumped in with trans identity? They find this offensive and manipulative, for good reason. If you hear the argument that trans folk should be equated with intersex, it won't be coming from those fighting for intersex rights. Or from feminists.
(20) Do you know that 2/3 of children who express so-called gender dysphoria (which is, at its basis, a rational rejection of the sex roles embraced by our larger culture) will as adults come out as gay or lesbian? For this majority, gender reassignment will be pointless and destructive. If you know this reality and speak it, are you ready to be called transphobic?
(21) Do you know that radical feminists are not asking transfolk to be denied any human rights -- we do not boycott or no platform trans gatherings, we do not invade or try to shut down trans-only events, we don't take over trans marches and parade with giant blow-up vulvas. We simply ask to be allowed our own self-definition, as transfolk demand for themselves; we ask you to stop hurling the overflowing chamberpot term "transphobic" at anybody who dares to have a non-essentialist definition of gender; and we want you to stop targeting the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. (And I do mean target: No more cutting the water lines to the disabled women's bathrooms there, no painting penises on the food tent wall, no more blasting loud rape lyrics at those unfortunate enough to be trying to sleep within earshot of Camp Trans.)

Copyright 2014 Maggie Jochild.