On Boycotts (public)
I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts about boycotts.I'm speaking only for myself and I would love to hear what other folks think.
I have heard a few folks agitating on the web to return to the days of boycotting Fest. To the best of my knowledge no organized boycott exists at this time. I hope it stays that way. I believe that an organized boycott would make other ways of bringing about change at Fest much more difficult, would not bring about positive change at Fest, and would damage Fest.
I also believe that boycotts have done some good in the past. I also honor and appreciate the choice made by individual womyn now and in the past and future not to attend Fest because of the treatemnt of Trans Womyn.
An organized boycott would reduce the number of Womyn who want to welcome and fully include Trans Womyn at Fest.It would do so both by persuading some womyn not to attend, and by discouraging womyn who want to attend from supporting Trans Womyn. A boycott divides all womyn into two groups, Trans Womyn's supporters who do not go to Fest and non-supporters who go to Fest.
Previous changes have happened at Fest, such as allowing BDSM in the Twilight Zone, because of the work of Womyn within Fest. The more womyn who support welcoming and including Trans Womyn within Fest, the more it becomes clear that statements favoring exclusion don't represent everyone at Fest, but only a small vocal minority.
Lisa Vogel can and will resist a boycott forever. She is a proud, strong willed, womon, who identifies as a lifelong lesbian feminist and who has devoted her life to standing up for what she believes in against any outside pressure. Lisa Vogel has land, money, and a sizeable core group of womyn who will attend Fest no matter what. A lot of womyn care more about Fest than they do about Trans Womyn one way or another. These core Fest supporters will continue to attend no matter how Fest organizers respond to Trans Womyn.
A boycott could shrink Fest. It could harm Fest by reducing the diversity of womyn who choose to attend. A boycott cannot force Lisa Vogel to change her mind.
Boycotts have done some good in the past. They have made people around the world aware of the issue of exclusion of Trans Womyn in a very real and concrete way. Boycotts empowered Trans Womyn to take active roles and leadership roles in responding to our own exclusion. Boycotts made it clear that organizing for inclusion needed to involve Trans Womyn in active roles.
Official exclusion of Trans Womyn from Feminist, Lesbian, and, Womyn-only spaces is slowly coming to an end. De facto exclusion remains in a lot of places, but that too is slowly becoming less prevalent. Even at Fest, Trans Womyn can openly attend and find welcome from other attendees if not from Lisa Vogel.
An organized boycott becomes very problematic now. It becomes an especially large problem when folks other than Trans Womyn try to tell Trans Womyn how we should organize to resist our own discrimination.
I still respect that individual Womyn refuse to give money to an organization that does not fully welcome Trans Womyn. I respect that individual Womyn refuse to enter a space that does not fully welcome Trans Womyn. I encourage any Womon who makes such a choice to make her choice and her reasons known to the Fest office, not just this year, but every year that they make such a decision.
I think that both the decision to walk away from Fest and the decision to stay at Fest and work alongside Trans Womyn for change have merit.
I dislike the idea of a boycott because I don't like the idea of telling womyn what to do. A boycott says the only right answer is to leave. I think that any answer that shows respect for all Womyn, including Trans Womyn, is a right answer.