Lesbian communes are having a tough time recruiting new members.
We like to flatter ourselves as being more worldly than the average bear, which is why it bruised our egos a bit when we saw the words "womyn's land" and drew a blank.
What's a "womyn's land?" We didn't even know such a spelling of "woman" existed. Color us square!
According to the
"My Sister's Keeper" a "womyn's land" is a lesbian-only commune. These clusters are notoriously small (sometimes with only 2 members), and have sprouted up all over rural parts of America since the 1970s. In some communes men aren't allowed on the premises at all, but with most they can come and visit. The same rules apply for straight or
While Alapine, the commune profiled in the article, thrives with a healthy twenty members (mostly all in the 50-75 year range), womyns lands are dying at a rapid pace. The older generation is having a hard time convincing modern lesbians that isolation is the way to go. Which is perhaps, as some experts theorize, just an indication of how older feminist views are becoming outdated.
For starters, working is a struggle due to the remote locations. Most of the women don't work at all and instead treat the land as a retirement community of sorts where they live off savings or the odd job here or there.
"I came here because I wanted to be in nature, and I wanted to have lesbian neighbors," said Ms. Greene, a retired nurse who realized she was a lesbian some forty odd years ago, before
was accepted. "The younger generation has not had to go through what we went through."
This plight of being a first-generation lesbian is something all the women bond over. Most of the ladies lived their earlier lives married to men with children and were ostracized when they eventually decided to come out. These "deeply scarring" experiences have caused a wave of almost fanatical self-righteousness with a few being just, plain anti-man.
"To me, this is the real world," she said. "And it's a very peaceful world. I don't hear anything except the leaves falling. I get up in the morning, I go out on my front deck and I dance and I say, 'It's another glorious day on the mountain.' Men are violent. The minute a man walks in the dynamics change immediately, so I choose not to be around those dynamics."
Another Alapine woman, Rand Hall, doesn't think women are safe outside of the commune. It's a man's world, she said, which is why everything is harmonious inside the gate.
"It's not as competitive. Women, when they're together, tend to be more cooperative. They don't look for one to succeed and all the others to fail. In the mainstream world that's what it is. Somebody has to be on top so everyone else has to be on the bottom."
On a humorous note, one time a six-month old baby boy was brought onto the premises. Soon a flurry of e-mails alerted the ladies that there was "a man on the land."
We're torn. While part of us finds the image of angry, old ladies spitting on men sort of amusing, isn't it hypocritical to blindly discriminate against a group of people for the way they were born?
Which is what Jane R. Dickie, a professor of women’s studies and psychology at Hope College in Michigan, theorizes is the big difference between
then and today.
"Young feminists today recoil at the idea of identity politics, of being in this one category."