I sat down at the dinner I was invited to.
I was invited there because I was a woman and considered well known in the industry.
And I sat down next to all these wealthy successful ladies, most white, cisgender, straight-- hearing them talk about disadvantage and how to bring more women into the industry. Eating this expensive food, owning companies, not having nearly as disadvantaged a life as most people out there. Occasionally saying really offensive statements against other groups, with no one blinking an eye.
It was painful to sit through. I strongly regret not calling it out in the moment.
I've now been in several groups of people who label themselves feminists, and only let in women, that are really just another kind of exclusive club with the majority of people being upper class and white and full of all kinds of other privileges. It's sometimes even more exclusive and vicious by virtue of the fact that no one can call out this elephant in the room. They use the same excuse for excluding others men do-- "Oh, we just want to invite others from the industry, that's why we can't accept this woman." "Oh, it's just hard to find diverse groups of women, we're working on it." They pride themselves on token people who are different but still fit into their culture.
They will never call themselves toxic or damaging, but I've seen some pretty bad things come out of those groups. I've seen classism constantly. Really disgusting racism. Homophobia. When I bring these things up, they're usually vehemently denied ("How could you even think we'd do that?! Don't you know the discrimination/pain we've been through ourselves?!") or swept under the rug and ignored.
As a victim of sexual harassment and assault and as a woman in a particularly male-dominated segment of the industry (<%1 women?), I understand the need to meet and talk to others like you.
I think women-only groups can be important.
But they make the same mistakes they try to run from.
So I've distanced myself from most of these groups, and only stick around and support the ones that I actively see combating these problems. I don't label myself a feminist because I don't like the association with the racist, upper class, toxic feminists that are out there.
In fact, after finding quite supportive communities of men, I'd take those groups over the toxic feminist groups any day. They're used to being criticized and called out, and we can have civil discussions when problems come up.
Feminists-- be careful you don't just seek power for yourself and those just like you, be careful you're not turning into the kind of person you hate.
Many of you are.