UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Go west, young dykes!" : feminist fantasy and the lesbian back-to-the-land movement, 1969-1980 Thornton, Sarah


The rural lesbian separatist movement in the United States peaked for a short time in the mid-1970s. Separatist rhetoric and spaces were deeply influenced by feminist fantasy, in particular the collective fantasy that lesbian separatists were descendants of ancient matriarchal cultures. For lesbian separatists, female Amazonal warriors provided the most resonant figures in which to ground their collective identities as lesbians and as separatists. Rather than reject the fantasy of the lesbian separatists as outside of productive feminist history, this thesis argues that the fantasy that drove lesbian separatism, is evident in much of the discursive rhetoric of 1970s feminism. Individual women and collectives founded a plurality of lesbian lands in southern Oregon between 1973-1978. Some of the lands have survived and are still operating today. Through the analysis of archival collections of communal journals, autobiographies, and organizational notes, the shape of the Amazonal fantasy, as rural lesbian separatists understand it, becomes clear. Through an interdisciplinary lens, and the methodological integration of women’s speculative fiction from the 1910s-1970s into the primary archival sources, it is possible to discern a dialogic relationship between the fictive sources, the political movement, and the Amazonal fantasy. This thesis posits that the rallying cry of the Amazonal myth provided a chronotopic device through which historians of feminism can better understand the fantasy of feminism.

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