Letter to Women - Twin Oaks
Letter to Women TO-E1
Twin Oaks Community
Louisa, Virginia 23093
Thank you for your interest in Twin Oaks and the Federation communities. The brochure will provide information of a general nature. It does not address what it is like to be a woman in community. We'd like to do that in this letter. Apologies for the impersonality of a form letter, but it saves a whole lot of time and energy.
Most of the reasons it's good to be a woman in community are the reasons that it's good to be a person in community. It is supportive to live and work in a group which shares your values. It feels positive and constructive to be involved in the creation of an alternative. It's political, yet livable.
In the nation, consciousness of women's oppression is rising, at least in some quarters. But daily, we are still confronted by hurtful espressions of our oppression: we are physically and psychologically abused; we are denied access to some jobs; we are paid poorly. Community is a wecome relief from this degredation. Ours is a safe, non-violent environment. We live without fear. At Twin Oaks all work is equal. The accountant and child care worker have the same standard of living as the architect and the hammock weaver. Our economic system is cooperative and collective.
Language is another way we express our value of non-oppression. When we speak and write, we replace the commonly used "he" and "his" (when the gender of the person is not known) with "co" and "cos". We use "person" and "people" when a noun instead of a ponoun is called for. Language change is awkward at first, but people learn. Everyone's usage is not perfect, but the consciousness is there. It feels supprotive that men as well as women take responsibility for the training and conscousness-raising of new memebers and visitors.
In a recent statement of values, we expressed our intentions: "By our behavior as individuals and as a community, we strive to eliminate the attitudes and results of sexism, hetrerosexism, racism, ageism and competition." We encourage women and men to learn non-tradiotional work. Women can be and are auto mechanics, elctricians and managers. Men can be and are cooks, child care workers and dishwashers. Statistically we have far from reversed the patterns of sexism. But we make progress. We are very conscious and determined. Even after the systems have changed to allow greater choices, we still struggle with the ingrained sexism in ourselves.
Women's and men's groups give personal support and encouragement in recognizing, challenging and changing our learned sex roles. Membership in these groups goes through high and low cycles of participation. They've continued for two years.
Another aspect of women's life in community is wonen's culture. Women's music has become an important and accepted part of community life. Occasionally, we have all-women events like dances or dinners, when we get together without the distractin of men and our relationships with them, and we see and enjoy what women are like as a group. Other times, women and men share women-oriented experiences, like a slide show on women's lives, or a feminist concert or conference in a nearby city. (Richmond, Charlottesvilee, Washington D.C., or Chapel Hill, N.C.)
In relationships, women here do form friendships with other women. We look to each other for support and companionship. Mostly, Twin Oaks women are heretosexual. Some identify themselves as bisexual and lesbian. We are wanting more women-loving women to live here. A peer group will provide the sustenance of shared perspective.
Please don't be misled into thinking Twin Oaks is a women-centered world. It's not. Right now our population is a bit unbalance toward the male side. But the women's movement is alive here and we'd like to have more woman-energy around. So we're putting out special efforts to reach women. So many times women don't know what the alternatives are. Maybe we are so well trained to be conformists, followers, homemakes and mothers, that we don't realize we have choices.
We do have chices. If Twin Oaks sounds like it might suit your needs, please do write back about yourself and arrange a visit. Hope we'll hear from you soon.
Peace, sisterhood and strength,