'Why don’t we live in a village of women?'
This whisper often comes from a burnt-out mother who has been rescued by their female friends. The fantasy of the mummune (a mum-commune) can be mystical. Imagine a real life Themyscira where you could work and raise children in solidarity. It was an idea I heard mooted so often that I wrote a novel about it.
Here are the top five reasons we can’t shake the lure of a 'mummune'.
1. Because women understand.
There’s a terrific biological shorthand to being in a collective of women. They appreciate the grit of exhaustion when you say that you survived a night with a four-month-old and a toddler with croup.
They get a shower does not equal self-care—that’s just basic personal hygiene. They know that motherhood isn’t a job that comes with sick leave and when you ask someone to care for you, most of the time you are literally asking someone to do your caring for you, just so you can look after yourself.
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2. Life is expensive (and motherhood is unpaid labour).
Mummunes aren’t a new phenomenon. Their historical legacy traces to women’s villages such as Amazon Acres in the hinterland of NSW in the 1970s.
There, women shunned meat, men and machines to live in a sanctuary of oestrogen. They were self-sufficient. These days there is a little less toiling of the land involved, but they’re a canny solution to many collective problems; the price of rent in the capital cities of Australia being chief among them. The idea of intergenerational co-habitation also makes a scary amount of sense.
In Australia, the most rapidly growing segment of the population facing income insecurity and homelessness are women over the age of 65, with thirty-four per cent of single women over 60 having spent a lifetime caring for others, now living in permanent income poverty. For those without extended family in the next suburb, the appeal of a 'bonus Gran' is hard to shake.