Just to clarify:
Ian, Etheridge, DiFranco, Near, Griffith and their cohorts -- and all of the above certainly write and sing some wonderful tunes -- are NOT folk musicians.
Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotten are folk musicians.
So, by the way, is Janis Duley. (Someone PLEASE go to Branson and give this woman a recording contract. She's a master Ozark storyteller and sings like an angel. Nice guitar player too.)
Uh, anyway, the women in question play, not folk, but self-absorbed, autobiographic electric pop at REALLY LOUD rock n roll levels while incorporating certain folk elements -- something like James Taylor used to do.
There is sort of a lesbian, coffeehouse, bookstore, "buy my organically grown, earth-momma CDs over the net" scene, but it has little or nothing to do with folk music.
If you want folk music, go to the Mountain View, Ark., courthouse square in July -- about the only place I know of where anyone picks the stuff anymore.
I don't want to sound offensive. If you're a girl who can sing and play and likes to sleep with other women -- fine. You go girl. Just quit slipping jazz chords into "Amazing Grace."