Fem Fest, a week-long celebration of feminism, returns to Pensacola with events starting on February 14. Kirstin Norris, the Founding Organizer of Fem Fest says after last year's event "I came back really excited and wanting to do more. Wanting to make Fem fest bigger, better, involve more people, reach more beneficiaries. Just Fem Fest on a larger scale."
The main beneficiary from past Fem Fest events was the Rape Crisis and Trauma Recovery Program at the Lakeview Center in Pensacola. This year, Norris wants to extend the festival‘s reach. "Like I said we wanted Fem Fest to be bigger and wanted it to benefit more people, so this year each event has a different beneficiary. Some of them are local, some national, international. We've got STRIVE, the Social Transgender Initiative; the Malala Fund which I think lots of people are familiar with; locally we have the Black Women Empower Collective; we still have Lakeview as one of our beneficiaries and we also have The Body Positive. So the beneficiaries really serve a wide group of people."
Norris says that Fem Fest has tried to be inclusive, targeting specific events towards women of color and trans women. This year they are making a strong effort to include a body positive message. "I just don't really thing that you can have feminism without exploring body positivity as well. [At the All Bodies Are Good Bodies event] there will be everything from a panel discussion to some clothing. We've actually been having some clothing sales [also] called All Bodies Are Good Bodies. There will be a lot of different artists there, it will be a little mix of everything."
Fem Fest begins on Wednesday, February 14 at the west Florida Public Library with a STRIVE panel group called Why We Should Love Trans People. Thursday evening is the Women in Focus Film Festival, a collection of short films shown at The Vineyard on 12th Avenue. Friday night is the return of the popular Womanhood in Lavender performing arts showcase. "There are dancers, singers, rappers, poets, and it's being held at the historic Bunny Club in the Belmont-DeVilliers District which we are very excited about."
For the past two years the event hosted a performance of The Vagina Monologues. This year, there will be a new presentation. "We are partnering with a new non-profit called Arrant Knavery, they are a new Shakespeare company in town. So rather than do the Vagina Monologues for a third year in a row, we will be doing a production called The Will of Women, which focuses on feminism in the works of Shakespeare."
That will be at the Pensacola Opera Center on Saturday evening. Fem fest closes on Sunday afternoon with the All Bodies are Good Bodies event at Open Books. Kirstin Norris says that many more people and organizations have come forward wanting to support and get involved with Fem Fest this year, and she hopes they come away with a positive message. "It is no secret that we are in a very tumultuous political climate now. While Fem Fest does exist to educate the community and support charities, I really hope that people walk away from it with some joy. I hope that people walk away feeling celebrated and refreshed and empowered and most importantly feeling united. That's what Fem Fest was borne from, the (desire) to unite who are people who are like-minded in this community, and serve our community with our collective talents."