Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sister Energy and Sexism at the Gathering

Today is International Women's Day -- a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. I thought it would be a great opportunity to check in with my sisters on the state of sexism at the Rainbow Gathering.

Take shitter digging for instance. I love to dig shitters. Yet even when I am participating in shitter digging, there are usually three or four men, and me. I know a few other sisters who love to dig shitters. But generally it seems shitter digging is a male dominated service at the gathering. Why is that?

I have experienced my fair share of sexism at the gathering ranging from my opinion being discarded by a bunch of old white men, to brothers trying to "protect me." - As if I needed protection. Believe me, when I need help, I'll ask for help from my sisters or my brothers. Until then, I'm perfectly capable of finding my way back to my tent, hauling water, working front gate, dealing with an over tripped brother, or pitching my own tent.

Don't get me wrong, I highly value sharing work at the gathering. Many of my closest friends have come out of shared hands on a heavy task, but there's a difference between shared work and work that protects me from reaching my potential as a human being.

A few weeks back I was talking to a male early gatherer and told him I thought my younger sisters were less impacted by gathering sexism than my older sisters. I have no idea what I based that thought on, but it's been eating at me. So what's your experience with sexism or the lack there of at the gathering? Where do we need to make improvements to meet the needs of our beautiful family who have vaginas? What is our vision for creating a gathering where every participant is treated as a unique, valued, important, human in the process of evolving, one of a kind creature of the earth?

If you don't feel like posting your thoughts publically, I'd love for you to email me and let me know. Let's make New Mexico the gathering of strong sisters.

5 comments:

ashara said...

i think that a lot depends on each woman's perception of what sexism is, and that perception can also change according to your circumstances. i have been gathering for 10+ years and have gone from digging lots of latrines and hauling water, to being a mom with small kids who needs help carrying her own gear in. i am now thankful for the offers of help that i may have seen as sexist some years back, and i'm more okay with gender-based roles. i have encountered real sexism from some of our brothers, especially when it comes to underestimating what a woman really knows how to do, but i've also seen brothers humbled and accept that they were wrong in this area. as for the guys who really are just chauvinist knuckleheads, i just laugh them off and hope they'll learn some day!

Glitterguy said...

Namnaste. As a male member of the Family AND as someone active for decades in both the feminist movement and the men's awareness movement, all I can offer is that in this patriarchal culture there are few 'rewards' for those who step outside the traditional gender based roles. I think kind acts - regardless of gender - arn't sexist. Yeah, I see some of the Family lay the role B.S. on pretty thick - I've been run out of more then one kitchen by a sister telling me that, as a male, I wasn't good enough to prepare food (I disagree), and I've played Shanti Sena only to have a brother say only women can be effective peacemakers - but overall the Family, maybe more then any other group in American culture, is aware of the role models and usually joyfully turns them on it's ear. I remind myself we are all there to learn and every Gathering has it's own internal energy - so there is hope.
Besides, Rainbow Sistas are strong - VERY strong, overall!

tigerbody1 said...

sexy and sexist is a very thin line...

and "everyone" wants young sexy chicks around
- but once they come into there own and want to have a say...... then they are just in the way....

until they are old "ladies".... then well...

very tricky to acknowledge what is happening...

But one thing that is different at a Rainbow event...
is that a discussion can happen and people will listen......
and not usually shoot eat other.

Anonymous said...

Sisters are more than welcome to dig shitters, in fact please encourage everyone you meet to spend a little time diggin one. After careful consideration and much debate on the subject the consensus is that the brothers just seem to 1, rise to the calling of shitter needs, 2, have the time or ability to make the time. Most of the sisters I know are the busiest humans on earth and personally I admire female humans.

Sexism, racism, and pot snobbery will always be amongst us and I don't like it either. Lets just keep setting the good example, people do notice and really thats all that matters, your actions.

Lovin yall, Little Bear and Family

lauren said...

I love this article and wish I had been able to meet you at the Gathering. I was only there for two nights/one day but I heard sexist language everywhere, just like in the outside world.

I was dissapointed to see such traditional work roles: mostly women cooking and caring for children, mostly men on Security, at the Welcome Gate or sitting around talking. So it doesn't surprise me that you'd have problems doing a 'man's job' like digging shitters.

I wonder what would happen if one year the women decided not to cook?
Could/would the men do it?

Sexism is an institution. It can not be abolished by changing your mind - it CAN be turned upside down by women joining forces and organizing.

I'd find a way to stay much longer if the Gathering were a place for women to bond and organize.

How about a Women's Gathering?