During the past fifty years, a number of privately-owned tracts in the U.S. have been designated “women’s land,” meaning that their owners made them available for some set of uses by a wide lesbian or feminist community. Usually these experiments have involved a socialist or pacifist purpose. Two examples that come immediately to mind are a property in upstate New York that has been used as a base for staging protests at a nearby military installation, and a property in Mississippi whose owners intended to help poor people in the vicinity but ended up having to seek protection from the Justice Department. Then there is the annual round of women’s music festivals, notably a week-long event in Michigan [see Bonnie Morris’s piece in this issue], which attracts an audience that’s almost entirely lesbian and largely left-wing. Some of the women’s music festivals are held on “women’s land,” some on leased land. Almost any person who has attended such an event will be aware of various committees that have sprung up around the country to discuss or plan “women’s housing,” referring to housing projects intended exclusively for lesbians and/or feminists. The problem in such committees is that no individual has enough capital to initiate a real project, and no more than two people seem to agree on a detailed concept.
In this article I discuss a suite of RV parks (recreational vehicle parks) that have successfully attracted all-female populations, mainly lesbians but always including some women who define themselves as heterosexual. For the sake of the residents’ privacy, I refer to them as Parks A1, A2, W, and F. Parks A1 and A2 are in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona; Park W is on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington; Park F is in Florida, near the Gulf Coast. Similar projects may be underway in Virginia and Colorado.
In the early 1990’s Zoe Swanagon and Loverne King, a lesbian couple, founded an organization known as “RVing Women,” and over the course of three years enlisted several thousand women who owned motor homes, travel trailers, or camper vans.
F. (Mimi) Gerstell is a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology.