The predecessor to the current day womyn's land movement was actually established in Texas in the 1870s. Sanctificationists, or Woman’s Commonwealth, was established by Martha McWhirter and her women’s bible study group using land that was inherited when women’s husbands died. Residents of the land were women and children, many having fled abusive homes to live on the land. The women practiced celibacy, viewing it as a way to liberate women from the male violence that was an inherit part of heterosexual relationships. The Sanctificationists ran boarding houses, two hotels, and two farms which allowed them financial freedom. In 1899 the commune moved to Washington D.C to open new houses and hotels. After McWhirter died in 1904, the community began a slow decline. Six remaining members bought land in 1917, with the last woman dying in 1983.
Womyn's Land, as it is now known, was born from the lesbian separatist and radical feminist movements of the 1960’s and 70’s. These lands fostered an intentional living community where lesbians were able to gain an escape from the misogyny and homophobia that they suffered whilst in the larger world. Female separatism also exists through events and spaces, such as Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (MichFest). MichFest was a female only music festival that was held annually on womyn's land in Michigan from 1976 to 2015, being shut down only due to the protests by Camp Trans and the risks associated with continuing. There are 24 womyn's lands left in the United States, with the most land located in Oregon. Many historic womyn's lands are now defunct or no longer separatist, allowing males to participate in activities and even buy into the land.
Womyn's lands foster a unique women’s culture that isn’t really seen outside of these communities. A safe place for womyn born womyn, womyn's lands have gained criticism for not allowing males on the land. This rule, however, is the very magic of the land. Women walk around shirtless, no makeup and no fear; no fear being something women don’t really get to experience elsewhere. Song circles pass down music that was written by women before us, songs that were sung at MichFest by thousands of women. When on womyn's land there is a shared sense of community, of sisterhood, that is hard to locate elsewhere.