I went to a women’s conference over the weekend. It was aptly titled:
Only one of the three guests I had invited was able to make it. My friend Erin joined me. She graduated with first class honors from Law school at the University of Canterbury. She works at the human rights commission and is one of the funniest females I know. Between mercilessly making fun of me and making epic wheelchair jokes (she has CP and uses a wheelchair), she often has me in stitches.
Erin and I were roomies for the weekend so we got to have those yummy giggly teenage chats before bedtime that are a natural consequence of sleepovers. This was about the only time I spent with Erin, as she’s always quick to make friends (and is well connected to everyone I know that has met her, because she’s actually that awesome) so happily did her own thing as I did mine.
I’m not comfortable going into detail, but I want to tell you what was particularly brilliant about this weekend.
There were 100 women, and a few super cute and/or well-behaved children. The vibe was incredibly diverse, supportive, and fun. Aside from a small handful of occasions, I did not feel judged. I frequently, perhaps predominantly feel judged when I am around other women. There are some obvious exceptions, like most of my friends and many of the women who work alongside me in transport and sustainability. But to be in a place with 100 strangers, where we all had something to contribute, it was more than just a bit magical.
I don’t want to talk about the session that I co-hosted in any sort of detail. I don’t feel a need to share all the fun and fabulous stuff we got up to in other sessions. What I do want to say is that I’d recommend this to absolutely anyone (who identifies as female or non-binary) who likes to get shit done.
There were young millenials running workshops and planning global domination. There was a beautiful bohemian woman teaching us protest songs from the 60’s and earlier. There were wonderful discussions on women’s right to choose, there were lessons, there was laughter, and there were tears.
I was incredibly mindful of my propensity to interrupt people, so spent two sessions completely silent. I also tried very hard to listen for understanding and learning, not just waiting for my turn to talk.
Erin assures me that it was the most mellow she has ever seen me, and I think she may be right. Still bubbly, still loud, still contributed and joined a session (or two, or three) for every time slot. I met a handful of truly kindred spirits (Emily, Eve, Yvonne, Hana, Shelley, Jo, Ruby, Aliesha) and know that relationships will grow and more will be nurtured over time and online as well. I need to take the time to start some private groups for us to continue some heavy but healing conversations in a safe place.
So I’ll leave it there. Just to get my gratitude down in black and white. I am thankful to the organisers, I am thankful to those who attended, I am thankful to Erin, and I am thankful to the long suffering Phteven for believing that smart, strong, impactful women are a wonderful conduit to spread the word about ChargeNet and to change the world. Thanks for your support and thanks for watching the kids over the weekend baby.