An interview with the organizers
"Ladyfest" is a decentralized, recurring feminist punk festival with deep roots in the Riot Grrrl scene. Anyone can organize a Ladyfest, and each version is different from the last, but they usually involve a combination of DIY-spirited music, arts and activism-related workshops, and tabling zinesters.
The first Ladyfest was in Olympia, Washington in 2000 with Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, and the Gossip, to name a few. Dozens more have been organized independently around the world.
Next weekend, folks from throughout the northeast and beyond will descend on Philadelphia for the city's second installment of the feminist tradition, following 2003's Ladyfest Philadelphia.
Questions arise at the thought of a Ladyfest in 2013: as conceptions surrounding gender identity grow more complex, has the term "Ladyfest" grown dated? Does the fest's historical ties to Riot Grrrl mean anything in a feminist punk scene that is increasingly tired of lazy comparisons to another generation's movement?
To contextualize this week's Ladyfest Philly issue, we posed some of the big questions to several of the fest's organizers; see our correspondence below.
This issue provides a snapshot of what one might experience at the festival, and as a result, contains some of the most vital voices in today's feminist punk
underground: Kate Wadkins reflects on feminist organizing with her collective For the Birds, who present a workshop on Saturday. Tara Murtha deconstructs victim blaming in the media, the topic of her Sunday morning workshop. Additionally, Katie Alice Greer of the DC post-punk band Priests offers insight into her band's attempt to book a tour of only all-ages shows. Priests play Ladyfest on Sunday evening. And we are honored to publish a comic by Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, who also play Sunday.
Tickets for Ladyfest Philly range from $20-40. Megabus now offers a direct bus route from Boston to Philly. All proceeds from the festival benefit Project SAFE and Women in Transition.
How was Ladyfest Philly organized?
Grace Ambrose: In winter of 2012, I was living in London and watched from afar while many of my friends organized and attended Ladyfest Boston. (Thanks, internet!) I knew that I wanted to return to Philly when I finished my masters program in the UK. The week after Ladyfest Boston I wrote to Gina Renzi, who runs the Rotunda, and asked her to save a weekend on summer 2013's calendar for a future Ladyfest in Philly.
We held our first meeting in late October 2012 at the Girls Rock Philly Headquarters in Fishtown. In the beginning of the . . .
What it is and what
you can do / by Tara Murtha
Trigger warning: this article contains depictions and discussions of sexual assault.
Reporting on rape and sexual violence is inherently political.
Historically, sexual assault has been dismissed an individual’s private concern rather than what it is: systematized abuse camouflaged by cultural biases manufactured by, well, those doing most of the raping.
And in American media, the politics of reporting on rape is deeply intertwined with racism. As Columbia University’s Professor Helen Benedict wrote in Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, U.S. newspapers rarely printed reports of rape until the 1930s, with “one glaring exception.” The exception, of course, was reports of black men raping white women. These articles were often pretext . . .
It taught me to communicate / by Kate Wadkins
Doing feminism isn’t easy. You have to be willing to totally fall out with your family: quite often your given family and most often your chosen one.
The hardest part about doing feminism is realizing that if you’re really dedicated to it, you’ll be picking it apart for your whole life. Everything you love is under constant scrutiny: friends, TV, records, bands, zines, books, art, culture, your own sexuality... the internet. Feminism will always challenge you. You will always challenge feminism.
Like lots of punk girls from the suburbs, I discovered Bikini Kill and Bratmobile in my teen years and fell in love. They articulated a rage about not only the punk scene, but about the world around me . . .
What is space and why do we need it? / by Katie Alice Greer
There are some things that are hard to know unless you live them. Fortunately for the purposes of this writing, if you are not a teenager anymore it means you already were one once. Did it suck? Probably, at least sometimes, yes. It does not matter where in the world you lived as a human teen or how much money you had or anything like that. During teenage years, you are learning how to feel and learning how to be, and sometimes it is terribly inconvenient and painful. One would hope that this sort of transmogrification would continue throughout life-- not for some kind of masochistic pleasure but for the betterment of our selves. Despite great advancements in the realms of social networking technology, it is only an acutely developed sense of feelings that can truly and deeply connect us to one another. When we are learning how to feel the ever-changing shape of ourselves, we are also learning how to feel the shapes around us.
My name is Katie and I live in Washington, DC. I am a person who makes music, typically with other people. One way I do that right now is in a band called Priests. We will be traveling on tour around . . .