Far Out: Women's Energy
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, October 11, 2011
As much as I don’t want to believe it, in some ways, Provincetown seems to be becoming increasingly geared toward men, something noticeable in a town with such a significant gay population.
We’re not particularly dispossessed, we women, mind you: but looking around Commercial or Bradford Street almost any weekend, you’ll see a lot more men, signs for men’s events, and activities for men.
Until Women’s Week, that is.
From October 7 to 17, the town is filled with women … young, older, in couples, in groups, single … and I have to say, it feels good. Women’s energy is very different from men’s, and I’m feeling at home with the energy on the streets this week.
Provincetown’s Women’s Week evolved over time. Twenty years ago it was merely a women’s weekend, put together by the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown (an elite group that doesn’t necessarily include all women innkeepers, but that’s another story). It’s blossomed over the years into a week of parties, films, music, comedy, theater, and activities, all of them attracting and accommodating women.
A reunion, of sorts
Why do we need it? Well … let’s climb into the Time Machine.
When I first came to Provincetown, it was 1977. My girlfriend’s name was Amy, and we were amazed at our ability to walk down the street holding hands, something we hadn’t been doing much of in Boston. At that time, for us and for hundreds of other women, the town was a refuge, the only place outside of women’s clubs where we could be ourselves.
Now young lesbians think nothing of strolling hand-in-hand all over Boston and most other urban areas, and no one gives them a second glance—the world has changed for the better in that respect. So why come to Provincetown?
I went out and asked some of the Women’s Week visitors. “I love the energy!” says Christine, here from Maine for the week.
Her girlfriend Jenna nods. “And all the comedy,” she adds. “Seriously, where else can you see all these big names, all appearing right down the street from each other? Jennie McNulty and Maggie Casella and Poppy Champlin and Mimi Gonzalez…”
I stop her before she recites the whole Women’s Week schedule. “So it’s for the entertainment?” I ask.
Lisa, who’s stopped to join the conversation, shakes her head. “It’s seeing people you only see once a year here in P-Town,” she says. “It’s like a reunion.”
Clearly some of the younger women see it as the equivalent of spring break (though, to be fair, that’s much more prevalent during Baby Dyke weekend). The clubs are doing well, there are long lines outside all of the shows, and plastic cups containing beer appear in the street. But does anyone see a deeper meaning in it all?
My friend Kristin does. “Even though lesbians are accepted more places now,” she says, “it’s still not often you can be in an environment with so many other lesbians … be surrounded by them.”
And maybe that’s what I like about this week: not being the one-in-ten that statistics tell us we are, but being among people who are just like me. A lot of people who are just like me.
And it’s not just for lesbians. Another friend, Maria (who lives with her boyfriend on Commercial Street), loves Women’s Week.
“Are you kidding?” she asks me. “Anyone who’s a feminist can’t help but feel at home here. It’s the energy.”
There’s that word again. Energy. And perhaps that is what Women’s Week is about: something you cannot see and cannot measure, something that’s felt but rarely articulated. Something mysterious and wonderful—and now, finally, here.
Works for me.