“It’s not about exclusion. Being pro-something does not mean you are anti-something else,” artist Thandiswa Mazwai tells W24 ahead of her women-only birthday event, taking place at Johannesburg’s Newtown Music Factory this Saturday.
Mazwai’s call for a birthday celebration where she emphatically states her desire to be surrounded by feminine energy has been met with criticism from others, specifically men, who feel left out.
In one opinion piece, writer Amos Mananyetso writes that he will be “gatecrashing”.
“What about male feminists who have been and are continuing to fight for equality?” he asks and further states that he will rock up at the event in ‘stilettos’ if he has to.
I am appaulled that this man equates being a womxn with wearing stilettos. It shows his lack of empathy and understanding that he thinks the extent of his impersonation of womanhood lies in a piece of fashion!— KingThaDay 31/03 (@thandiswamazwai) March 25, 2018
For many, this assertion reeks of entitlement. Here is a man who feels he has the right to crash an event created for the enjoyment of women, never mind what the host of this event has requested. It’s hard to think of this as anything but a disregard for women and their wishes.
Thandiswa is doing a womxn-only show.??????????— Mmadiepetsana (@_Sasie) March 6, 2018
My cup is about to runneth over with man-tears.????
The question, naturally, becomes what it is that necessitates women-centric events like Mazwai’s. All over the world, as women’s voices against abuse have become amplified through movements like #MenAreTrash and #MeToo, the entertainment industry, known for its entrenched ‘boys club’ culture has been forced to reckon with itself with varying degrees of success.
The exhaustion surrounding the abuse of women in festival and event spaces and the exclusion of women performers in line-ups has necessitated the establishment of the world’s first women-only music festival in Sweden, for example.
Here at home, events like Pussy Party at Braamfontein’s Kitcheners are a monthly oasis of feminine energy, where the dance floor is reserved for women, trans and non-binary individuals, in order to create a space where they feel comfortable, not having to worry about being groped, harassed or abused.
Recently, the organisers of the annual Rocking the Daisies festival announced that they would be creating a women-only campsite following demand from women to do so. “After years of thinking it through and planning, we have decided to now launch it.”
In response to men opining on such women and femme-centric initiatives, DJ and artist manager Angela Weickl says: “Hating on Rocking the Daisies for trying to create a safe space for women at the festival rather than only focusing on the horrible behaviour of men and combating that, is counterproductive.”
I mean... usho ukuthi akasiboni. He calls himself a fan of Thandiswa's work and that she is his "crush", and then goes on to completely disregard wishes she has EXPLICITLY expressed. This toxic admiration that forces itself on women after they say "no"??— Nolwazi Tusini (@NolwAzi_Tusini) March 27, 2018
“As a man, your privilege disqualifies you from deciding on the propriety and necessity of this space. Even more so if you have never been a victim of violence in such a space.
“You are asking a music festival to rectify the behaviour of men who have been raised without respect for women, who do not register the word NO and who have no measure of their own limits when intoxicated.”
She further adds: “If you are a man who does not assault and disrespect women then you have no reason to be offended by the creation of this safe space. You should be calling out the misconduct of men every single day to help change the way society has created an entire world of unsafe spaces for women and femmes.”
On the creation of safe spaces, specifically, Mazwai feels this is a utopian idea, but nonetheless believes women should be allowed the space to spend time with other women only.
Am celebrating my bday with an all star line up of sistas! Are u coming? #AmandlaWomxnFest #WomxnOnly Its a celebration of all womxn! Our resilience&power STARTS AT 4pm tickets on https://t.co/wPDmL7YpzI https://t.co/GHfuGn0stx&Meeee BONA??????????????????? pic.twitter.com/xXCcOUN2uI— KingThaDay 31/03 (@thandiswamazwai) March 17, 2018
“It’s about my moment, on my birthday. It’s about what I want in my own life, creating a space for much more women’s empowerment.”
Tickets to Thandiswa Mazwai’s Amandla Womxn Fest are available through Quicket, at R250 each.