I just read an article in the Washington Post about a conversation between a second wave feminist grandmother and her third wave feminist granddaughter. You can find the article here. There were many intriguing and compelling arguments these two strong-minded, activist women made. But none was so relevant to me as the argument over women-only spaces.
The argument goes something like this, from the granddaughter's point of view: Women-only spaces negate, invalidate and render impotent the importance of men (and other genders, assumedly) to women's lives. Women-only spaces negate that men play a role in women's lives and in the feminist movement. Women-only spaces, invalidate the work men do to make women's lives better and to further the goals of feminism. And women-only spaces render men impotent in what could be a crucial role to be played in the women's movement.
So, is having women-only spaces a convoluted creation of Second Wavers exclusively? Are we outliving the need for these spaces?
As some of you may know, I host and produce a women-only (mostly) concert series called WAMP (the Women's Art and Music Performance series). It takes place every other month for ten months out of the year. The first performance back in 2013 was packed. Standing room only. It was electric. Women came from all over the state. Since then, WAMP has seen a steady decline in attendance until this year when sometimes only 15 or so women come out to support the series. Why is this?
I've been pondering this question for a while now and after reading this Washington Post article, I think I've come up with a possible answer. While there are definitely a ton of second wave feminists in our potential audience, the artists and stand up comics I've been booking are, for the most part third wave feminists (read: younger). So, maybe the second wavers still want a women-only space, but not if they're going to be entertained by third-wavers? AND, maybe third wavers want the entertainment, but don't see the point of supporting a women-only space.
It may be that we're at a crossing point between second and third wavers and that the need/interest in women-only spaces is waning.
Maybe next year, I'll try to produce a human-only series (furries welcome). See how that goes over.