The overwhelming impression I had from interviewing women from the Greenham Common protest was that their involvement had enhanced their lives.
It seemed the experience somehow gave you permission to be yourself, the confidence to follow your passions. I was struck by the ways in which Greenham women went on to take jobs which all contributed in some way to society – they were social workers, lawyers, psychologists. They pushed to go onto university after Greenham, which was far less common for women then. Many followed artistic careers, many continued working directly in the peace movement.
The collective support that they felt while there never appeared to have left them. One woman told me that a Greenham woman would never criticise or reject you, everyone was accepted for who they were and listened to with understanding, if you were ill, outcast, unstable or healthy, content and settled, you were accepted equally on camp.
I loved hearing the anecdotes of life on camp:
I learned about the men who ran the creche when the camp first began.
I learned about shared parenting ideas between the women, and shared breastfeeding.
I learned about the lateral organisation of camp – the organic process of organisation, the unconventional cohesion created through the making of banners, the decoration of fences, the artwork, the trips back and forth for food and supplies, the loosely-organised cooking rota.
The women I interviewed were all there for “Embrace the Base”, and I got to hear about this event from a variety of perspectives, but all reported how the solidarity was palpable. One women told me a tampon was passed from woman to woman in the circle so that when it got back to the beginning they knew the circle was complete.
Having watched the Greenham women on the news when I’d been a young mother, it was both refreshing and exciting to hear their stories first-hand.
WRITTEN BY JUNE HUGHES