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Stuff Lesbians Love: Cottagecore

As the world gets faster and the environment becomes more fragile, more and more lesbians are dreaming of moving to the country and thriving in independent domesticity. While cottagecore is known as an aesthetic, it’s become more like a dream, a goal and — if achieved — a lifestyle. The aesthetic has become a moodboard for a very real ambition to many women, especially those who love other women.

‘Cottagecore’ is an umbrella term that involves  ‘countrycore’ and ‘farmcore’ as well. This is important because each word depends on the environment and culture of the secluded area: moving to the English countryside is probably going to involve cottages, moving to the Australian countryside is probably going to involve farms. When I use ‘cottagecore’, I refer to ‘countrycore’ and ‘farmcore’, too.

These variations of cottagecore are united by the notion of people, usually women, moving to more remote areas to enjoy a slower life that combats consumerism and capitalism by making, growing, and recycling things in a natural environment. It focuses on the home as a liberated site. Cottagecore also has a specific aesthetic which includes particular fashion, visual aesthetic, movies, TV shows, books, and music.

So why do lesbians love the cottagecore aesthetic/lifestyle so much? Caring for the environment and wanting a refuge from capitalism and consumerism isn’t lesbian-specific, but cottagecore is becoming more and more embedded in lesbian culture.

Why rural?

Rural and regional areas receive a lot of flack from city dwellers, and vice versa. Unfortunately a lot of the stereotypes aimed at country people are grounded in classist ideas. Many people who are skeptical of cottagecore believe that moving to the country and living a slower life promotes colonialist ideologies. So what do you do if you don’t want to live in a capitalist mecca? Country people are not the enemy. Neither are people who want to move there.

The reality is that wanting to escape capitalist, consumerist, fast-paced living, which we are forced into while living in the city, shouldn’t be seen as problematic. While the average yearly wage of a person living in the city of Melbourne, Australia, is $106,000AUD ($181,700USD), the average wage of a regional part of the same state is $60,300AUD ($46,450USD). Half the amount.

In fact, migrants and immigrants from non-English speaking backgrounds make up a large portion of the regional population in Australia. Cottagecore isn’t a rich person’s dream. It’s about doing things for yourself. It’s not about making enough money to pay other people to do it for you. It’s not about wanting to control others, politically or otherwise. It’s the dream of somebody wanting to escape colonial practices.

As someone who is from the country and always finds her way back to it, I know why lesbians are moving (or dreaming of moving) there. There’s an opportunity to live independently, in a house much more affordable than what’s available in the city. But there are also warm, welcoming communities to be a part of. There are small artsy towns with funky cafes; there are small towns on the coast with the world’s best fish and chips; there are small, traditional towns, with wholesome schools and hardworking farmers. Cottagecore doesn’t aim to gentrify the country, it aims to celebrate what already exists.

Cottagecore aesthetic

The cottagecore aesthetic isn’t just visual. It’s tactile. Drawing from Romanticism, it relies a lot on the senses: you can almost smell the homemade bread and old books, you can almost feel the grass in the field of flowers or the dirt in the vegetable patch, and there are cottagecore playlists with a bunch of folk tunes.

Cottagecore as a lifestyle aspiration doesn’t have to be expensive. In many countries, the country is cheaper than living in the city. It’s not completely inaccessible to many people and, even if moving away from the city is absolutely impossible, then it’s something cheap to replicate on the weekend – even in your own backyard.

Listening to Mitski, moving away from the city, chucking on some overalls, taking care of a garden, hand-writing letters, doing arts and crafts, turning off your computer, and reading a lot of books, sure does seem appealing. Especially with a significant woman by your side, perhaps a cottagecore girlfriend like Miss Honey.

Cottagecore is for women, by women. At its core, it’s about female independence. It is a moodboard for women who are sick of the violent culture around us, who want to live a self-sufficient life away from patriarchal pressures. Cottagecore throws back to our witchy origins. It beckons us to get our hands dirty and live as free as possible.

Lesbians are restricted by both patriarchal and heteronormative demands. Cottagecore is a refuge, especially for teenage lesbians who dream of a liberated adulthood. If the aspiration is fulfilled, we get to live with our beloved — or alone, if you’re the secluded type — making stuff for ourselves, away from people who evaluate things based only on the sale price.

AJ Kelly

Contact AJ at [email protected] or view the rest of her work on aj-kelly.tumblr.com

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One Comment

  1. So, women, action! Where can I meet online other ladies interested in cottage/naturecore, homesteading etc. to share tips and join our efforts? Any FB group, Discord server etc. whatever you’d recommend to find other women interested in this way of life? Also, any ideas for the kind of places I should go to/ask around in order to meet women interested in cottage/homesteading locally?

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