Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here I am at Twin Oaks, an intentional community in Virginia....Batya Weinbaum, editor

What does that have to do with challenging gender, you might ask?

Well, at dinner on the large picnic tables outside ZK the collective dining hall, I heard there was a queer studies study group. And on the labor sheet that I got today, cleaning the dining hall, cooking and doing the laundry as well as food preparation all counted for the same labor credits as packing tofu, gardening, and office work.

In other words, the invisibility of housework is made visible.

I can even claim labor credit for elder care, if I make salt-free food for a woman in her eighties who is having high blood pressure. So I returned ready to cook with my special cook books.

And less than twenty years ago, all the kids under five lived in Dagania, the building I am living in now, which was named for a kibbutz near the Galilee in Israel.

That is how I got here. The place reminds me of a kibbutz and I was very happy when I lived and worked on one when I was 19. Hence the name, Batya. Given to me in the grapefields as I picked grapes at 4 am.

And stay tuned for the revitalization of our motherhood issue, which was once named the Kick Ass Mothers Issue, that started out of a session at WisCon in 2009. Not many papers came in , but we are revitalizing it because a woman here named Mala wrote a thesis when she was in school in Florida about 13 years ago in which she looked at science fiction novels and feminist theory about mothering and reproduction. Now she has been living here and raising her children in a community that was started to test out the theories of BF Skinner, eg, behaviorism, and the place has gotten way more interesting than that. Men wear skirts, women can go topless; for about 25 years there has been a tremendous women's gathering which I came to this year once again. My beautiful goddess paintings were on all four corners of the circle where people ate, and I attended sessions on the women's movement, where has it gone, and radical spirituality. Out of the whole festival circuit I had been to this season, this one was the most grassroots and radical because it was run by a commune rather than by a corporation trying to stay afloat. Instead of charging high price tickets, women bring their own food to put in a collective kitchen for a potluck, and one or two meals are provided a day. And even in the performance on Sat. night, anyone can share. Some sign up, and as the night goes on, more and more women get up and sing or recite a poem or dance or drum. Meanwhile the fire is blazing. You should come next year. A hell of a lot of fun.

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