What’s in a Woman? An Ethnographic Study of Southern Oregon Lesbian Lands

  • Cassandre Di Lauro (Université de Lille)


In the 1970s, in the wake of the Women’s liberation movement and the hippie back-to-the land movement, some women bought plots of land all over the United States and founded what they called ‘lesbian lands’, i.e. women-only separatist communities. Some of them continue to exist today, particularly in Southern Oregon where a dozen are still inhabited by self-called ‘landykes.’ Based on in-person semi-directed interviews conducted in Oregon in November 2021 and August 2022 with nine women living or having lived on lesbian lands, this paper investigates their definition of ‘woman’ and how it circumscribes the limits of their community. This paper first argues for a nuanced revision of what radical lesbianism means in these rural lesbian separatist spaces and then proceeds to demonstrate how ‘woman’ has become resignified over the years, de facto barring trans women and challenging lesbian-identified trans men’s place within their community.

Keywords: Lesbian lands, Community, Lesbian feminism, Lesbian separatism, Women's space, Trans

How to Cite:

Di Lauro, C., (2023) “What’s in a Woman? An Ethnographic Study of Southern Oregon Lesbian Lands”, DiGeSt - Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 10(2), 81-96. doi:

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Published on
11 Dec 2023
Peer Reviewed