Wild child: Girlhoods in the Counterculture is an anthology of memoirs by women who grew up in the 60s and 70s with hippie parents. Some lived in communes, others traveled the country, but they all have a story to tell. What follows are the quotes that stood out to me after my time living in cohousing as a parent:
Forward by Moon Zappa who says, “at my house there was no supervision, so there was no reason to sneak. At my house there were no rules, so there was nothing to rebel against, I hated it. It always left me with an awful floating feeling that most, if not all, of those lovelies experienced of too much space of too many choices.”
Another author wrote about the different people coming and going at the commune: “These people were either incapable of or uninterested in ongoing friendships. It seemed to me that the more people understood things, the less capable they were of functioning in the world, barely getting by on parental dole or dealing. ..attachment to these people, however appealing, only meant hurt when they vanished. And invariably, they did.“ p143-4 Diana B Sigman
Trigger warning: child sexual abuse is discussed in the next quote
“My function on Earth, said society, said the hippies, said my mother was to be fuckable. Extremely fuckable. Did I want sex? Who cares? Open your legs and let me in or I’ll call you a square, mainstream, conservative. God forbid. My brother and I saw our mother say yes to everyone so we learned to say yes to everyone, even strangers. I was molested by a talent agent. When my brother was twelve, he was molested by his best friend’s father….no boundaries, no guidance, no protection. Nothing was sacred. And yet, as a kid, everyone envied me and my mother. She let me do anything I wanted… Neither parent provided protection. I think my mom naively believed that all you do need is love, , that love will heal all wounds, that there is no such thing as inherent evil. She couldn’t imagine such evil, so couldn’t guard against it.” P57-8 by Elizabeth She
There are many stories by different women. These were just the quotes I found interesting. My main question in reading the book is how do communities affect children? It varies, of course. I wondered how hard it must be for the children to form a relationship with an adult who then leaves. Depending how close they were, it could be like divorce. If people do move in and out a lot, it can feel insecure like the author said above. I wish I could stay most cohousing are pretty stable but the more I look into it, that’s not necessarily true. Founders leave. Ted Talk people leave. It’s not the end of the world, since neighbors move a lot in the US anyhow, but kids do feel loss – even if they just take a beloved pet away with them.
This book also reiterated what I saw with my own eyes which was my worst fear of community living– that if some parents are lenient with their children (almost to the point of neglect) the kid culture can go horribly wrong. And, sexual predators are attracted to communities because of the inherent trust and these parents that don’t always keep an eye on what is happening. Many communities are open to at least talking about it and trying to prevent it. I wish there were more.