Festival feminism is no fun at all

Izzy Lyons

Topics Feminism

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The organisers of Glastonbury Festival have decided to launch a new initiative to combat ‘a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men’. Their bright idea? A male-free stage.

Glastonbury’s decision to establish ‘The Sisterhood Stage’, a venue only for people who identify as female, is a perfect encapsulation of today’s obsession with gender.

The decision to segregate women from men – even in this most light-hearted, festival-fun way – is deeply patronising. It implies men and women are unable to strive for equality together, and, most importantly, that all women should see themselves as marginalised.

The organisers have described the venue as a ‘secret space for women to connect, network, share their stories, have fun and learn the best way to support each other in our global struggle to end oppression against women and all marginalised people’. But this latest attempt to give women a leg-up actually undermines gender equality. It is ridiculous to suggest that political problems can be solved through a segregated Samba. It dumbs down the debate and obscures the real issues and material inequalities that women face today.

The Sisterhood Stage, presented as a Safe Space for women to dance and enjoy themselves, suggests that women are too vulnerable to socialise with men. This is an out-of-date perspective. If we can’t shake off the constraints of everyday life at a music festival, then where the hell can we?

Like most women, I don’t feel innately inferior or put at risk by men. Hip initiatives like this do nothing to promote the idea that women are independent agents. We should be encouraging autonomous strength, not communal weakness. If our feminist predecessors fought for anything, it was for women to not be considered damsels in distress.

If we want to have a serious conversation about the barriers women are facing in the 21st century, we must first reject this low view of women. And for those women going to Glastonbury this year, make sure you dance with all your friends – not just those in bras.

Izzy Lyons is a writer and a student at Cardiff University.

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Topics Feminism


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