How women-only communities provide spaces for new forms of culture, sociality, gender, and sexuality
Women’s lands are intentional, collective communities composed entirely of women. Rooted in 1970s feminist politics, they continue to thrive in a range of ways, from urban households to isolated rural communes, providing spaces where ideas about gender, sexuality, and sociality are challenged in both deliberate and accidental ways. Herlands, a compelling ethnography of women’s land networks in the United States, highlights the ongoing relevance of these communities as vibrant cultural enclaves that also have an impact on broader ideas about gender, women’s bodies, lesbian identity, and right ways of living.
As a participant-observer, Keridwen N. Luis brings unique insights to the lives and stories of the women living in these communities. While documenting the experiences of specific spaces in Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Ohio, Herlands also explores the history of women’s lands and breaks new ground exploring culture theory, gender theory, and how lesbian identity is conceived and constructed in North America. Luis also discusses how issues of race and class are addressed, the ways in which nudity and public hygiene challenge dominant constructions of the healthy or aging body, and the pervasive influence of hegemonic thinking on debates about transgender women. Luis finds that although changing dominant thinking can be difficult and incremental, women’s lands provide exciting possibilities for revolutionary transformation in society.