Category Archives: Women Only Space

Lesbians Not Welcome at a Women’s Center started by Lesbian Feminists!

by Paula Mariedaughter
Lesbians Not Welcome at a Women’s Center started by Lesbian Feminists! How could this be? This local women’s center in Fayetteville, AR began three decades ago. It was funded, in part by a lesbian organization, the Lesbian Natural Resources.

Here is an excerpt from the Fayetteville public radio program describing the organization in an interview on June 3, 2015. The “intentional retirement village for elder lesbians and women in rural Madison County, conceptualized thirty years ago, is finally being established–but as a senior women’s community center in Fayetteville.”

Two years later, The Gayly newspaper on October 1, 2017 in an interview with the manager of that community center declared that the organization “has come to be an inclusive retreat for people of varying genders/orientations”.

However, lesbians and feminists who wish to have women only meetings or events are rejected based on our desire to experience women only groups. For over a year, many of us have tried to work with the board of directors. We are denied meeting space because we do not wish to include male to trans persons as women. We are considered noninclusive and our position is considered unacceptable. Therefore the board of directors continues to deny us women only meetings. The lesbians and women who support the claims of men to be women refuse to see our stance as a legitimate political disagreement.

In Female Erasure, edited by Ruth Barrett, she wrote, “Political disagreement is an opportunity for discourse that is part of a free society, and should be encouraged. When any questions or concerns are written off as hate speech, bigotry or ‘transphobia’, discourse cannot take place.” This is the situation we are facing as members of that un-named organization here in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

Early last February, several member women who want space for women only events spoke about our strong desire to use this facility to meet with like-minded women. We attended the organization’s annual meeting, but we entered a hostile environment that night.

Proud to be women identified and women centered!


This is my statement to the board and the members at the annual meeting:

Discrimination as Boundaries
I am a lesbian. I came out in 1973. Choosing to be with women is the best decision I have ever made. Being a lesbian means I discriminate against men every day of my life. I do not wish my life to be dominated by the needs and desires of men.

For forty-five years I’ve lived as a dyke. I am a gender non-conforming woman! I am proud to call myself a Radical Lesbian Feminist. At times, I have been considered too “femme” by some of my dyke friends. At the same time, I have been considered too “butch” by the straight world. My desire is to live as my authentic self. I want this for everyone. Socially enforced “femininity” and “masculinity” are straight-jackets meant to restrict all of us.

I cannot accept the view that there are people born in the wrong body. The biological fact of being born female or being born male is based in physical reality. Discomfort with the roles assigned to each sex is a healthy rebellion to sex role stereotypes, otherwise known as “gender.” The world view of people pushing transgendering as a solution to the oppression of sex roles is a dangerous concept — especially for young people.

I understand that others have embraced another world view. I do not condemn those people. I am an advocate for peaceful coexistence. Women like me, who want to meet in women only space, must be respected. We will resist every effort to allow men to claim womanhood for themselves. Male domination is central to patriarchy. Men claiming to be women is stealing our birthright.

I want women like me to have equal access to the use of the space since we are members. I want young women to experience the reality of women supporting each other in women-only space. I welcome male allies to all open events. We all need for this women’s center to thrive as a unique community resource.

I have a right to set my boundaries. Yes, I am willing to discriminate against men. As I said earlier, I do not wish my life to be dominated by the needs and desires of men, especially the men who call themselves women.

I left that meeting depressed and numb. I walked alone, in the dark, to find our car parked a block away. I could not tolerate another moment in that threatening space.

In trying to comprehend how exactly this disregard of women’s and lesbians’ strong desire to meet together has become illegitimate, I found understanding in these words from Pelican Lee: “In response to the conservative backlash, segments of the left [including women, my addition] have shifted away from political and structural analysis of oppression and injustice, towards an individualistic politics whose primary demand is for recognition and validation of individual identities.” Full article: https://xxamazons.org/emperors-clothes-radical-feminist-view-gender-transgender/

Women and girls are victimized daily by men and by the male dominated institutions of patriarchy. By refusing to acknowledge this reality, many on the left and many liberal lesbians deny the oppression of women and name women and lesbians as oppressors when we refuse to accept the notion that men can be women if they so choose.

In reading and thinking and feeling about all these events and my own experiences, I’ve often encountered a disdain or dismissal of those of us who have lived as lesbians for decades and powered the lesbian feminist rebellion of the 1960s, 70s ad 80s. How did this happen?

Jocelyn Macdonald helped me see into today’s queer culture in her article, “Today’s Shameless Lesbians Won’t Be Queered”. Macdonald provided me with vital information about myself as one of those lesbians who will not even consider being “queered”!

She explained in that Feminist Current article that, “In queer circles, ‘lesbian’ is synonymous with second wave feminism. In a way, this is right on, as it was during the second wave that women fearlessly occupied what it meant to be woman-loving and many of radical feminism’s fiercest sisters are members of the “lavender menace.’ Queer women owe their rights to the radical resistance and separatism of their lesbian foremothers, but are embarrassed by lesbian culture and history.” Read the full article on Feminist Current here: https://www.feministcurrent.com/2017/01/13/todays-shameless-lesbians-wont-queered/

I’m going to close with a favorite photo sure to embarrass those young and middle-aged queer women who have turned their backs on lesbians like me who choose women, not men, as the center of our lives. To be embarrassed by us and to dismiss our radical feminist analysis of the oppression of women is directly related to their attitudes of ageism, misogyny, lesbian-hating and especially to their worship of pop culture! We are led to believe that, as old dykes with our unfashionable dress and generally uncool image, our determined loyalty to women and girls is outmoded. However, we are the dykes who can boldly testify to the rich connections we have built with other women in our woman-loving lives. Queer women have no idea what they are missing. Come join us! We need all the lesbian energy we can get!

Paula (on left) and Martha carrying our Lesbians Unite sign at the Anita Bryant protest in downtown Kansas City MO, 1977.

This entry was posted in Trans Gender Critical, Women Only Space and tagged , on by .

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Liars Need Silence to Support Their Lies!

By Paula Mariedaughter. New Flash from Feminist Current! On July 18 Max Dashu, feminist historian, was deplatformed (due to complaints by trans activists and allies) by the Modern Witches Confluence to be held this fall near San Francisco, CA! Many of the ancient female goddess images on our site come from Max Dashu, so you are familiar with her powerful work. Additionally, an event showcasing the work of artist Nina Paley has been cancelled after complaints about her feminist politics by trans activists.

This feminist news source, with a variety of up-to-date articles, can provide you with more details. Visit here:https://www.feministcurrent.com/

As an investigating blogger, I went to the Modern Witches website and found their description of their organization and of their event called the Confluence.
The Modern Witches Confluence is an educational gathering that honors all walks of the witch. The witch is our spirit and our soul. The witch is awakening and leading us on our healing journey. She invites you to join us…
Our circle is founded upon inclusion, and in order to foster inclusion we must be willing to share and be willing to listen to experiences that are different from our own.
Our circle is created by a diversity of voices and beliefs.
(The entire text appears below.)

Denying our Reality as Women by Deplatforming Us One by One!
Deplatforming is a political tactic favored by transgender activists and their allies on the left. Pressuring groups and venues to cancel contracts with speakers, artists and musicians who advocate for women-only space is the central strategy for silencing our dissenting voices. Women who express any trans-critical opinions are labeled terfs, a derogatory term meaning trans exclusionary radical feminists. We, who resist male intrusions into women-only space, are now labeled a “hate group”. We see ourselves as “resistance fighters” and claim the right to female centered culture that existed for thousands of years before the violent patriarchies destroyed our communities and, during the so-called Renaissance, burned 11 million women as witches.

Please note the use of both “inclusion ” and “diversity” used by the organizers of the Modern Witches Confluence event in describing their purpose. These two words are now understood to mean that any “trans critical voice”, especially from lesbians, will swiftly be excluded from any participation. It reminds me of a loyalty oath that might read, “I assert my undying loyalty to men and any harebrain idea they truly identify with. Therefore, men must be women because they say they are women!”

Paula in a pointed witch's hat with many of her political quilts behind her.

Witchy Paula during her presentation at the 2016 Fayetteville Goddess festival before she was part of the group deplatformed there in 2017 and refused entry in 2018.
The organizers declared the Goddess Festival was inclusive, but not of anyone who desires women only space!

Pelican Lee has responded to our silencing. “Demanding that we remain silent about our own bodies and our place in this world is unconscionable, especially during the backlash that we are experiencing. Women are not born with a female gender identity – we are born with female reproductive biology.” Pelican Lee wrote this strong statement in her recent article, The Emperor’s New Clothes: A Radical Feminist View of Gender and Transgender. Read the full article here: https://xxamazons.org/emperors-clothes-radical-feminist-view-gender-transgender/

Once I read that Starhawk was still invited to be the keynote speaker at the Confluence, I decided that writing Starhawk could be helpful. As a well know writer about feminist witchcraft and as an earth activist, perhaps she could work some magic, or at least accomplish some diplomacy that would enable co-existence. I’d already written to the Confluence giving my opinion. Below is my letter to Starhawk:
Here is the link, https://starhawk.org/contact/to send Starhawk a message about using her keynote address at the “confluence” this fall that just deplatformed Max Dashu.

Starhawk,
Please know that your readers are expecting that you will take the initiative as keynote speaker at the Confluence this fall to address the current attempts by witches there and at other witchy gatherings to silence women and lesbians because of our beliefs in the rights of women to hold women only gatherings.

How can this be seen as anything but a new form of woman-hating? How about brewing up some dialogue at the Confluence about this conflict between several oppressed groups? Of course if you do bring this up, you will face the same punishment–threats of being deplatformed yourself. Your silence will not protect you.

Excluding those of us with unpopular opinions, ie something as radical as “men are not women” is clearly unacceptable. This policy is a policy of appeasement–men must have whatever they want–even women’s identity!

We must look for solutions instead of bowing to the pressure of trans extremists.

Blessed be, Paula Mariedaughter

Perhaps every woman reading this account could write to one or both places to add your opinions and preferences. Please use your voices! Here is the link, https://starhawk.org/contact/to send Starhawk a message about using her keynote address at the “confluence” this fall that just deplatformed Max Dashu.

Honor the female-centered life cycle that follows the moon: birth, death, and regeneration. Blessed be.

from the Modern Witches Confluence on July 18, 2018 declaring their intent to deplatform Max Dashu
Dear Community,
We sincerely apologize for involving Max Dashu in our workshop line-up. Since your community concerns have been raised regarding Dashu’s trans-exclusionary views, we have removed Max Dashu from our teaching line-up, and she will no longer be an influence on the Modern Witches Confluence. We appreciate you voicing your concerns, and we apologize for not responding to them sooner.
We should have done our research before asking Dashu to join us for our event, and after this incident, we know to do our due-diligence. We do not support or endorse those who shame, oppress, or exclude others. The success of our gathering will be built on a shared vision of inclusion, and the collective desire to liberate ourselves from societal rigidity, hatred, and separatist categorization.
We hope that by righting this wrong, the LGBTQ community and beyond will feel safe and welcomed to join us for our event in October. Please keep letting us know how we can do better. This is a community of many diverse voices, and we will need to keep voicing concerns, and listening, in order to grow and evolve.
Contact us at: info@witchesconfluence.org
with Love,
MWCfrom the Modern Witches Confluence on July 18

Three days later, more information from The Modern Witches to their membership about this issue:
July, 21, 2018
We would like everyone to know that we are working with Starhawk and others to facilitate a community dialogue in the hopes of catalyzing healing for all involved in the Modern Witches Community and beyond.
This page is for honoring and loving the lives of witches ~ in all of their multifaceted manifestations.

This is the full Statement of Purpose from Modern Witches Convergence’s website https://witchesconfluence.org/our-story/
Statement of Purpose
The Modern Witches Confluence is an educational gathering that honors all walks of the witch. The witch is our spirit and our soul. The witch is awakening and leading us on our healing journey. She invites you to join us…
Our circle is founded upon inclusion, and in order to foster inclusion we must be willing to share and be willing to listen to experiences that are different from our own.
Our circle is created by a diversity of voices and beliefs.
Our circle welcomes those who are beginning their spiritual journey, and those with lineage and deep roots.
Our circle is radical, and acknowledges that spirituality and justice are interconnected.
Our circle is a safe space to explore our individual paths.
Our circle is complex and beautiful.
We do not support those whose lives and beliefs are grounded in hate and division.
We are an anti-racist, anti-fascist community.
We are showing up for collective liberation, peace, radical love, and personal growth.
The Modern Witches Confluence is a gathering that aims to heal the collective’s trauma around The Witch. The witch is our midwife, nurse, wise woman, bruja, grandmother, herbalist, empath, storyteller, and weaver of the worlds. Witches are here to help us work with our innate power, and through community, they guide us closer to collective healing.

Written by Paula Mariedaughter

What IS Lesbian space?

By Woody Blue

In 1979, Womonwrites emerged as an lesbian only conference held in a public space in the South. It was structured as a writer’s conference. The founders of the conference recognized the need for lesbian space and were not apologetic in their approach to forming it and defining it as such.

Lesbian space is hard to find. It is different from women only space. Women only space grew from consciousness-raising groups in the 70’s. Women only groups gave women the breathing room needed to define themselves as women. They were able to see more clearly that because they had been born with a vagina, they had been assigned a subservient role in a patriarchal structure that put men at the top. Men decided what women would wear, how they would look, what jobs they could perform and what pay they would receive. From these women’s groups, a feminist analysis of patriarchy was pieced together and women, feeling empowered by this new understanding, dared to challenge patriarchal ideas and systems.


Lesbian space is hard to find. It is different from women only space.


Lesbian space grew out of the women’s groups. Straight women partnered with men and their discussions included that at the end of the day they would return to their male cohorts. Women who came out as lesbians faced a double threat. Not only did they not agree to conform to stereotyped sex roles; they also chose not to center their lives around men. Lesbians only wanted to focus on lesbians; empowering themselves and not spending their time, energy and skills providing for men. Their focus was clearly and decidedly on women.

And with that, by 1979, Womonwrites was born.

Womonwrites 1979Before I came to WW in 1986 I had been very involved with the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY. To put it in a nutshell, it was a 52 acre farm bought by women and peace groups to create a women only community, putting feminist values into practice. It was situated adjacent to the largest US nuclear military base in the country which warehoused nuclear weapons and shipped them overseas to US bases in European countries that were NATO allies. The purpose of the camp was to train women in all aspects of nonviolent civil disobedience as well as learn and practice feminist principles in order to build a more peaceful world. There were sister encampments in England, Scotland, Germany, Sicily and a few other countries. It could be said that women world-wide were organizing to get rid of patriarchal structures by taking the fight to the U.S. military. The peace camp was our practice space.

I had only been out for 3 years before stumbling into WW in 1986 and I clasped my lesbian identity around me like a warm blanket that occasionally reverted to a suit of armor.
I found myself as a lesbian in public, structured lesbian space. It was like having a lesbian discussion group magnified 400 times. I didn’t have to explain myself; I didn’t have to explain my sexual preferences; I didn’t have to guess if someone at the conference was a lesbian or not. She was a lesbian; no need to ask. This was enormously freeing as I was used to walking in a predominantly straight world, where I’d been told 1 in 10 was gay.

Upon arrival at WW, I immersed myself totally. I was from the North yet I was welcomed because I was lesbian. I didn’t consider myself a writer, but I was welcomed because I was a lesbian. I hardly knew anyone but that was fine. There were plenty of lesbians that wanted to meet me and wanted to hear about the Peace Camp.

I remember my first reading. I refused to stand on the stage. Instead I insisted on being on the grass and shouting my poem about being a curious housecleaner that invented stories about the people she cleaned house for by searching for clues under the bed and in the wastebasket. I refused to read it; instead memorizing the 3 page poem and strutting up and down on the grass.

At WW, I was given the freedom to be who I was, to break the rules, to explain my life experiences. WW, as safe lesbian space, allowed me to grow into my lesbianism, and encouraged me to take writing seriously. This is something that I could not have accomplished in a straight women’s writing group, in a mixed male and female writing group, in a trans, queer, or bisexual writing group. I needed and still need a lesbian writing group. I don’t see that ever changing.


At WW, I was given the freedom to be who I was, to break the rules, to explain my life experiences. WW, as safe lesbian space, allowed me to grow into my lesbianism, and encouraged me to take writing seriously. This is something that I could not have accomplished in a straight women’s writing group, in a mixed male and female writing group, in a trans, queer, or bisexual writing group.


Over the years, WW has attempted to keep the conference lesbian and to keep it safe. In the last 10 years, there have been efforts from some lesbians attending, to open the conference to the queer, bi, and trans communities. This would invite a male presence into the conference and it was strongly opposed.

In the last several years, there have been women who have challenged the definition of lesbian space. Their argument is that males that have transitioned are now women. If they have women lovers, they are also lesbian and now they should be allowed to come into lesbian space. The counter argument is that transitioned males are NOT women. They have their own set of gender role disparities and they do not become women just because they say they are women. Males do not have the right to redefine what a woman is. This is not all there is to the arguments but it does state the crux of the matter.

The last 10 years this issue has not gone away from WW. There have been some women who have shared their thinking in the readings. There have been a few workshops to explain various points of view. Not everyone attends workshops. There is little time to have an open discussion with all members of the WW community during the conference. As a result, there has been no concrete open public dialogue. Rather, there have been closed private discussions, mostly among those wishing to change policy.

The DispossessedDespite our differences, WW has been a safe environment for lesbians. Throughout the years, I’ve always felt safe to speak my mind regardless of whether we were engaged in arguments over SM issues, health issues, or what to pay the cooks. I have always felt that my interests were taken into consideration when decisions are made.

Last February, after years of discussion about opening up the lesbian writer’s conference to queer and trans women, the planning committee voted to change who would be allowed to attend the conference. The planning committee was well aware that there were many lesbians who strongly disagreed with opening up the conference. There had been a stormy debate on the WW FB page. It was not a good place to hold this discussion. Though most of us tried to keep it polite and respectful, it was not always so. There were women who weren’t on FB who couldn’t participate in the discussion. There was an occasional person chiming in that had never been to WW. It was agreed to close that discussion and pick it up at the planner’s meeting.


Last February, after years of discussion about opening up the lesbian writer’s conference to queer and trans women, the planning committee voted to change who would be allowed to attend the conference. The planning committee was well aware that there were many lesbians who strongly disagreed with opening up the conference….It was never stated that a decision would be made at that planners’ meeting.


It was never stated that a decision would be made at that planners’ meeting. Not everyone can get to the meeting and I rely on having all lesbians’ opinions brought into the decision-making process and consensus being reached. In my memory, that is the way it always has been. The planning committee now says they have always voted on decisions; however, I and others say this is revisionist. Be that as it may, the decision was made.

Lesbians opposed to this decision argue that people born with penises can NOT become women through medical interventions, can NOT change the definition of women to suit their needs, can NOT be a women because they feel like one. Much has been written on this, yet most lesbians have not heard the arguments, and have not been able to have public discourse on these issues. Lesbians and others that raise these issues are quickly shouted down, and referred to as bigots and the new slur word of TERF, short for trans-exclusive radical feminist. Concern and protection of lesbian space is translated as trans hatred and transphobia.

Lesbians who agree with the decision claim that they are evolved; that they are open-minded; that transwomen have suffered from misogynistic society and need our support. The claim that anyone can be a woman because he says so, whether that person is on hormones or not, whether that person has a penis or not, whether that person has no lived experience as a woman is accepted by many lesbians as well as queer, transgendered, bisexual, and all the other gender variations that have popped up lately. These are people first in line to throw stones at women born women who raise a fuss.

It has come down to this. There are lesbians and feminists who strongly oppose the intrusion of men to redefine who a woman is and who occupies women’s space. Revising the definition of women to include men who insist they are women takes away the ability to have, create or maintain women only space. And, of course, that underscores the definition of lesbian and makes it impossible to create and maintain lesbian only space.

This year, the planning committee, voted to change the mission statement of WW. The statement now reads, “Founded as a lesbian conference and reflecting lesbian values, WW is a gathering of lesbian writers and others who may identify differently but know they belong at a lesbian writer’s conference.”

This past spring, the WW conference was open to those others who identify differently but know they belong at a lesbian writer’s conference. It was no longer lesbian safe space. A number of lesbians who disagreed with the decision refused to attend. The people that did participate, attended workshops and ate communal meals in a tense atmosphere. Those that supported the new participants deserted the public areas for the most part and spent their time in the loud and rowdy cabin. There was some intermingling, and there were some intensely hostile moments.


This past spring, the WW conference was open to those others who identify differently but know they belong at a lesbian writer’s conference. It was no longer lesbian safe space. A number of lesbians who disagreed with the decision refused to attend. The people that did participate, attended workshops and ate communal meals in a tense atmosphere. Those that supported the new participants deserted the public areas for the most part and spent their time in the loud and rowdy cabin. There was some intermingling, and there were some intensely hostile moments.


Personally, I am distressed and downright outraged that we have lost public lesbian space. Womonwrites community, as part of the larger lesbian nation, is now divided and the division comes in the form of whether we are willing to protect men who say they are women. Having attended WW for over 30 years, I am now marked and targeted as a hater, a bigot with a restrictive attitude. I’m told I belong to a group of old white cis women, the tofu-eating and Birkenstock wearing generation who refuses to evolve. My opinion doesn’t count and neither does anyone else who stands by me. I seem to be standing in the way of progress.

I refuse this description of me and I refuse to back down from my opinions. Pressure is strong from the trans community. Lesbians all over the country are looking for lesbian space with lesbians that were born with a vagina and have lived experience from birth as female.

The only lesbian space I now know of is this Gainesville Lesbians Reader’s Potluck group and the Lesbian Writer’s group that is meeting irregularly. I’m asking this group to confirm that this is a lesbian only group holding the definition that lesbians are born with vaginas, and that we not change that. Even if there are lesbians that align themselves with the trans community, I ask that they not lobby to change the nature of this particular group.

With all of the hatred flowing in this country at this time, I would like to have one safe spot as a lesbian, a woman born lesbian. There is a lot more to say, and I would like to propose that lesbians who feel strongly about this issue meet and form a study group or a book group or a support group, whatever feels appropriate. I would like all of us to engage each other in discussion and work out agreements that are acceptable and not trample on opinions or disrespect each other or name call.

I do not want to see the Gainesville Lesbian community divided. In these troubled times, it is more important than ever to maintain lesbian space and keep it safe.

By Woody Blue