There’ll be a Red Tent area at Northern Green Gathering in the Derbyshire Dales this month (details below), which Artificial Womb will have a stall at. So far a yon-appreciation workshop and a panel discussion on trans-inclusivity are being planned for the space.
Born out of the second-wave feminist movement, Red Tents are deeply rooted in the idea that women’s oppression is about control of her reproductive capabilities and that the key way to emancipate women is through consciousness raising and empowerment activities. The emphasis is on sisterhood; encouraging and supporting other women — often through physical exercise such as yoga or through creative activities.
In general, Red Tents are physical or online spaces for women to discuss menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriages, PMT, and other topics relating to female fertility. There’s also an emphasis on spirituality, with parallels being drawn between the menstrual and the lunar cycle and the perceived higher status of women before and outside Judaeo-Christian societies.
In practice, the needs of local groups can diverge wildly — with some Red Tents being open to all self-identified women and being more about companionship and emotional support, while others are more focused on breastfeeding awareness or natural birthing.
“I’d say the Red Tent has been a space for me to feel myself in a really honest way,” says Cassy, an artist workshop facilitator and member of Leeds Red Tent — who are supplying the actual bell tent for the Northern Green Gathering.
“The Red Tent becomes whoever is there, so we bring our own skills and experiences to it; sewing together, making art, sharing massage, in a gentle or dynamic way,” she explains. “We’ve shared lots and lots of stories, stories around issues that have been typically taboo or even negative for women – menstruation, birth, and menopause – reclaiming them as something we celebrate.”
The Northern Green Gathering will take place on Aug 11-14 at Bradley Nook Farm, Hulland Ward, Ashbourne, DE6 3EL. A standard adult ticket costs £70 with an additional £15 for car parking from nggonline.org.uk/tickets.
Words and image: Ana Hine