Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back from the National Women's Studies Conference

I didn't make it to the "sexy" sessions (Jessica Valenti, on one hand, and the Wheelock Conference folks, on the other), but there was still plenty of drama.


I just wrote and then deleted what would have been a really snarky and pointed paragraph. Instead, let me say this:

- If you come to a conference for the first time, instead of whinging about "where are all the panels about x" and "why is NWSA so racist/classist/etc.," you might think about why *you* didn't bother to propose a panel about x. And then propose one for next year.

- If you submit an individual paper when the directions clearly state that full panels have a better chance of being accepted, please don't mope and act surly when your paper isn't added to the session you want it to be added to. If you want to be in a paper session, then propose a full panel. This is not rocket science, people.

- Having a wedding in the same facility as the feminist conference does not oppress you. I don't care how much you hate the institution of marriage and how much you don't want to be around wedding rituals. You are in a public space, and you don't get to impose your preferences on everyone else's behavior. Deal with it.

- Complaining that the wedding is oppressing you will seriously undermine your very legitimate concerns about safety in public spaces.

- Organizers should perhaps not book feminist conferences at golf resorts that were formerly "gentlemen's clubs." I'm just saying. I think some of the safety issues and harassment were connected to the sense of what that space was and the access that gave the other guests to women's bodies.

- If you perceive the mere existence of panels that speak to the experience of mothering as a message that women should "stay home and have babies"...well, I really don't know what to say to you, other than that you clearly are not doing much in the way of listening, now, are you?

- If you perceive reasonable objections to your presentation as confrontational, then you need to consider taking a vacation next year, instead.

- If you are a resort hotel that routinely overbooks and tells its guests, "I know you think you reserved a non-smoking room, but that's really just a request and not a guarantee," you suck.

- Music by women only is a nice idea, but it is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad approach to a DJ'd dance. Please, do not do that again. And while we're on the subject, one might consider quizzing potential DJs on what constitutes danceable music. One Pointer Sister-style song is fine. Many such songs are not fine. Also, switching genres dramatically and erratically is not fine, either, which is why real DJs generally don't do it. And seriously, if you're just going to play crappy music that no one can dance to, that is not empowering to anyone. (Has no one ever heard of Alison Moyet, for pete's sake?!)

Aside from all of that, I did get to witness history in the making. The NWSA passed a resolution opposing women-born-women policies and urging feminist organizations who had such policies to rethink them. This is a huge deal, and it could not have happened five years ago. What's more, I believe that it passed unanimously, or very nearly.

OK, so seriously: I had a great time. I did. Which is why, despite my laundry list above, I never miss this conference.


K said...

I definitely took issue with the location, not because it was hosting a wedding or because it was a former gentleman's club, but because it was expensive, hard to get to, and kind of a shithole on top of it (not to mention the over booking problems -- but that got us into a much nicer hotel for a night, so I'm sort of thankful). If they really want students to attend, they need to work a little harder to find a place that's accessable and affordable. This place was neither.

Renegade Evolution said...

glad you had some fun!

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