Womyn’s Lands Adapt to the 21st Century: The Broadsheet

August 26, 2019, 12:25 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Google clamps down on political debate, RBG undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer, and ’70s womyn’s lands adapt to the 21st century. Have a mindful Monday. 


- Rethinking the commune. Feminism is more popular than ever—but where does that leave its earlier, decidedly non-mainstream institutions? 

The New York Times examines the 21st-century fate of womyn's lands. Born at the same time as the gay liberation movement in the 1960s, the rural communes, collectives, and communities provided physical space for women to build lesbian utopias. 

But, as you might guess, the communities are now struggling. Most people who come to the lands are 60-plus. Most are white. Younger LGBTQ people worry about the older demographic's policies about and acceptance of trans and bisexual women. 

Vermont's Huntington Open Women’s Land, or HOWL, is one location trying to adapt to what LGBTQ communities are looking for today. Rather than a place for people to live full-time—once an appealing prospect for women fleeing marriages or neighborhoods unsafe to live openly in—HOWL is repositioning itself as a destination, advertising through the venture capital-backed camping booking platform Hipcamp. 

With greater acceptance of LGBTQ people nationwide, living off the land in a remote location isn't as appealing as it once was, let alone as economically viable. It was "likely easier in the ’70s to farm and earn enough money to pay the yearly land taxes" a rare 35-year-old HOWL camper, Katherine Ayers, observed. 

Women-only spaces (think: The Wing and its ilk, women-only travel experiences) are thriving. But most womyn's lands have anti-capitalism in their DNA. For some of the women running these communities, the next challenge is turning them from '70s commune to millennial vacation retreat. 

Emma Hinchliffe


- Happy holidays. Today is Women's Equality Day, a date marking the adoption of the 19th amendment. Celebrate by taking these steps to promote women's equality at work: MarketWatch

- Don't be evil meets don't debate. Google's corporate culture has been in a period of self-examination and reevaluation, as Fortune's Beth Kowitt reported in a May feature. Now the company has retreated from its once-encouraged atmosphere of internal debate to limit employees' debate of politics and other issues at work. "While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not," new community guidelines say. Fortune

- Riot settles. In another incidence of tech workers pushing back against their employer, Riot Games settled a class-action lawsuit accusing the gaming company of gender discrimination in pay and promotion, sexual harassment, and retaliation, Fortune's Lisa Marie Segarra reports. The financial details weren't released, but organizers of a May walkout called the settlement "a huge victory for women in games." Fortune

- Who gets a diagnosis? The once-common diagnosis for women of "hysteria" has a descendant: "functional disorder." Sixty-eight percent of patients diagnosed with the condition—which has symptoms similar to Parkinson's—are women. When neurologist Laura Boylan encountered this discrepancy in her own care, she took on the cause. ProPublica

- Everything has changed. With the release of her new album Lover, Taylor Swift gives a revealing interview to The Guardian. Why didn't she speak up during the 2016 election? She felt "useless" and now feels "remorseful" about it. How does she feel about working with Harvey Weinstein in the past? That she wasn't vulnerable enough for him to target her. And in 2020? She just wants to figure out how to help. Guardian

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: IPSY hired Canndescent's Jenna Habayeb as chief brand officer. 


- RBG fights on. Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent more treatment for a cancerous tumor, this time on her pancreas. The three-week outpatient treatment addressed the tumor "definitively" and no further treatment is needed at this time, the Supreme Court said in a statement. NBC News

- Engelbrecht on interactive. Carla Engelbrecht was the person at Netflix behind the streaming service's experimental interactive Black Mirror episode "Bandersnatch." The director of product innovation is figuring out what the future of entertainment looks like. Wired

- Atlantic update. The Wall Street Journal examines Laurene Powell Jobs' stewardship of The Atlantic. She pushed the magazine to hire more staffers and improve its platform before implementing a planned paywall. Did it work? Wall Street Journal

- Mayors unite. Nationwide, mayors have turned to each other for guidance and comfort when a mass shooting happens in their city or town. Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley is now embracing her new position as a leading voice for gun control. Washington Post

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