4.5.05

"Ladyfest Brighton is a non-profit D.I.Y. festival taking place in various venues around Brighton on the 20th-23rd October 2005. Organised primarily by women for the benefit of the wider community, Ladyfest Brighton will showcase performances by bands, visual artists, fashion designers, writers, film-makers, dancers, zine kids, teachers, students and activists. With the first Ladyfest taking place in Olympia, Washington in 2000, and since speading to over 50 cities world-wide, Ladyfest Brighton joins a global movement of young women promoting women and queer based projects, arts and activism in their communities."

I'm always politically sceptical about festivals and exhibitions of diverse artforms and interests grouped solely on the protaganists' gender. I am Londoner, middle-class, curly-haired, ginger, and so on, just as much as I am woman, etc - you know the drill. However, as long as the line-up for major festivals still displays such a mega-bias towards the boys (check Glasto: the few femmes [Kylie, M.I.A., Martha Wainwright] stick out like neon beacons on a sea of generic grey), Ladyfest will remain essential.

It's not just about showcasing female artists and female culture: it's about encouraging girls to realise certain things are possible. What's a teenage girl at Glasto going to think? 'Hm, well, if I wanna be a musician I'd either better be a mussy-haired indie boy like one of the Cooper Temple Clause - oh dear, no good, I'm a chick, I'd better be a sexy Tamil Tiger or a pert-bottomed sex midget then - oh dear, no good, I'm a fat self-harming goth girl with a dodgy eye! Meh. I'm going to go to my tent and cry.' This may be (is) reductive, patronising, Riot Grrrl 101 - but it's not, it appears, without truth. Change is happening, but not fast enough. Check the cover of the NME. Check the line-ups of the major festivals. Check the record company rosters. Boy-tastic. Hence: Ladyfest.

I understand that Ladyfest Brighton is going to include a workshop or talk around women in journalism, but I'd be interested in seeing an event devoted to UK women in blogging - a mini-version of the forthcoming US BlogHercon. BlogHer will feature talks and discussions around female identity and blogging, link-based power structures, flaming, op-ed pieces by women, and 'getting naked in public' - 'What happens when you blog your true self and the whole world shows up?' A similar event exploring women and weblogging here in England is long overdue...

...At which point, in true DIY spirit, I have to say that I'd be interested in organising such a thing if I thought others would be up for it. Anyone? Drop us an email, let's see what we can do.

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