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April 2012

CONTENTS Manifesto..................................................................................................................................5 SCREECHES&SHOUTS...............................................................................................................7 SKINNY WOMEN LISTEN! (MIS)appropriation of language and the perpetuation of Fatphobia by CHRIS..........................................................8 ART by amina.........................................................................................................12 FINE PINK LINES BY SHANNON.............................................................................13 ART BY AMINA.........................................................................................................17 THE WOMAN WHO MIMICS BY TINA............................................................18 YOU’re wasting my time by ALYSSA......................................................20 RESOURCES...............................................................................................................................23 CONTACT...................................................................................................................................27



MANIFESTO AN introduction to BAN . SH E This zine may contain potentially triggering content. The banshee, a feminine spirit and omen of death in Irish mythology, is a messenger from the Otherworld, a fairy woman who wails loudly before someone is about to die. In publishing this zine, we are wailing. Desperately. We are the feminine spirits. We are messengers in search of another world, one in which women aren’t oppressed by countless bodily expectations. We want to harp and to nag and to wail back at the incessant criticism, comments on our bodies and our skin, expectations from the media, encouragement to lose weight, fatphobic language, and advertisements for dieting. Fat has become something that’s wrong. Something that’s wrong with your body, wrong with your consumption, wrong with your “bad” habits. It’s sick. It’s a bad, awful, no good thing. And the cure? Why, thinness, of course. The thinner, the better. But wait, don’t be too thin. Best to be “healthy.” Healthy is good. Be the exact. right. size. Have LARGE breasts. And in other outfits, have very very very small breasts. Have thin thighs, but make sure they’re muscular. Have a thin face, but chubby, young-looking cheeks. Have a large, shapely, muscular, well formed butt. Or else. Have long, perfect, hair. Have pale, lightly sun-kissed skin. Be able-bodied. Have no blemishes, no cellulite, no pock marks or scars. Or else. Body image, body criticism, and communication about bodies are all complicated and nuanced. These are the ways that we interpret our own bodies and the bodies around us. “You look so skinny!” and “Whoa, she got so fat” are more than just judgments about one or two people’s bodies. Every comment perpetuates a certain kind of dialogue. Comments that discriminate against larger bodies are harmful, and encouragement of weight loss for its own sake (under the guise of “health”) is harmful. Fat isn’t inherently funny, fat isn’t inherently gross, fat isn’t inherently bad or harmful. We made it that way, and we keep the judgement going.


We should be able to get dressed in the morning, eat breakfast, walk down the street, sit in a chair, have a conversation, look in the mirror, shower, position ourselves, have sex without internally criticising our own bodies. And that internal criticism is stimulated and encouraged by outward criticism. Outward oppression. We are terrified. Terrified of our own bodies. We must constrain them and contort them and position them and fit them into just. the right. outfit. It’s convenient, too. Fat is “wrong” because doctors and psychologists say it is. Personal trainers and fitness experts and nutritionists and your mom. You won’t get a boyfriend if you’ve got a “muffin top” or if you can’t look great in a bikini. That’s what Cosmo says anyways. Doctors, society, the media would lead you to believe that there are no fat people with boyfriends or girlfriends or companions of any kind. In this way millions of people are dehumanized and erased and aren’t real. The Fat Acceptance movement aims to change these twisted ideals by communicating that weight is not the problem. By focusing on “Health at Every Size,” the emphasis is on exercising and eating nutritious food. Importantly, it acknowledges that fat people can be just as healthy (or healthier) than those who are “average” sized. Further importance is given to the idea that promoting weight loss – in particular, constant dieting – can have negative long term effects (physical, psychological, and social). We have changing bodies. Because our bodies are human. Because our bodies are bound by the impact of the food that we eat and the exercise that we do and our mental health. Fluctuation marked by shame marked by change marked by pride marked by more change. Up and down and sideways and backwards. So, we want to hear stories and solidarity and criticism and fighting. About the way that we communicate about our bodies. We want to start fresh and to learn to communicate without the weight of expectations. We want to analyze our conversations, look at what we say everyday and see how it ref lects fatphobia and other forms of discrimination and judgement. Judgement that we’ve internalized, perpetuated, and must now take responsibility for. The following articles are personal narratives, commentary on fatshaming and appropriation of fat language, stories of plastic surgery, and experiences of living with a changing body. But we still want to hear more from you. Please email or check the back page for more contact information. Happy reading,





by CHRIS It is time for skinny female culture to stop appropriating the term fat. Stop. Just stop! It is time someone expose this bullshit, a bullshit of privilege, of eroticization, of de-legitimisation; a bullshit of skinny women appropriating…no! The act of appropriation/appropriating – to appropriate – implies taking something that did not and does not belong to you without the permission of those who have claims over it prior to the act of taking. Thus, not appropriating, but rather, illegitimately taking stealing – because it is stealing; taking something that is not yours and may have never been yours to begin with is stealing… Stop. Skinny women, stop! …taking stealing a kind of language that does not speak to you nor does it speak for you – a language that has not and may never speak to or for you. Language that does not describe our bodies: [Tweets emerge from her slender fingers, slender… a slenderness that reflected the entirety of her body…her being; she types, “I’m so fat, I need to lose weight”]. Stop! Language that speaks not of our lifestyle: [She, slim as can be, says, “Oh my goodness, I just had another slice of pie; I’m so obese”].


Stop! Language that does not articulate our struggles: [Her collar bone pierces through the fabric of the shirt she admiringly tries on while shopping only to describe the antithetical of what is her, of what is obvious. She screams, “Why am I such a fatty?”]. Stop! It is time to stop. The taking of fat language – a language that belongs not to us, but to women who self-identify as fat, who claim fatness and assert these claims loudly and proudly – by women who are not fat, have never been fat, and, because of the entrenched existence of fat-phobia in a fat-phobic society, not unlike ours, will never be fat is problematic beyond comprehension. For, skinny female culture, I am speaking to you. I am speaking to women like you – like me – who abuse and reinforce our body, lifestyle, and aesthetic privilege daily, eroticizing, humourizing and thus, de-legitimizing the lives, the struggles, the pain, the anger, the hurt, the activism of fat women everywhere. This act of taking stealing by skinny female culture that which is not us, not our being, not our lifestyle, not our aesthetic plays a key role in the avid eroticization of fatness and fat lifestyles. Lifestyles, that I wish to point out, are not ours to make erotic. Eroticization occurs when these bodies that have been and still are aesthetically privileged – socially desired, aesthetically, more so than any other bodies existent, highest on the body image hierarchy – invoke the imagery of fatness and what fat-phobic society has defined as fat lifestyles to their desired physicality, their desired image. Sexualized as the most desirable, skinny women, as stated, sit at the pinnacle of the body image hierarchy; thus, the act of taking stealing and applying the imagery of bodies and lifestyles that fat-phobic society has delineated as the most undesirable to the bodies this same fat-phobic society has made most longed for and sought after sexualizes the act of fatness. To be blunt, skinny women who use fat terminology to invoke the imagery of fatness, be it lifestyle or otherwise, are sexualizing the act of fatness and de-legitimising the struggles of fat women everywhere. Stop! The bombarding of images filled with skinny women devouring whole plates of extra large, doubled burgers and fries as spouts of condiments – be it ketchup, mustard or relish – spew down the sides of their slender-shaped faces draped in tightly designed attire. This attire, purposely meant to intensify the slimness of their figures and the socio-structural sexualized desirability of their bodies. Images, not unlike these, fill television screens, posters, and minds when this illegitimate appropriation takes place; an illegitimate appropriation that perfectly showcases the act of eroticization at work. An eroticization, I argue, is also implicit in the humourization of fatness and fat bodies. The sexualization of


this lifestyle that occurs through making erotic both – fatness and fat lifestyles – conversely makes them humoristic, laughable. Imageries of skinny women sexualizing all things fat, not unlike the one I shared above, is dualistic in its workings. It not only sexualizes, but also humourizes. For, the skinny women who are seen and self-seen, photographed and self-photographed, inscribed and self-inscribed, and imagined and self-imagined as devouring said doubled burger and fries dripping ketchup. And like down their boney chins make society – fat-phobic society – chuckle, even if maybe ever-so slightly, at the thought of this, of fatness being a real issue, a real struggle, a real movement. The chuckles emerge because fatness is made unreal. It is made to be a non-existent issue. For, fatness is placed on the bodies of the non-fat. An image that, through its sexualization, imagines fatness as paradoxical and thus humorous. “She sure is fat alright; look at her little self eat that burger, damn!” is sarcastically uttered from the lips of the inhabitants of fat-phobia. To therefore imagine a reality of fatness becomes unimaginable, inconceivable, paradoxical; a paradox seemingly mindboggling to the avid perpetuators and spectators of this culture. A paradox that disguises itself rather as a ploy used to maintain the de-legitimization of fat struggles and fat activism. Stop! De-legitimization of fatness, of fat lifestyles is happening. It is happening every time a statement, a tweet, a photo, a film, an image unfairly steals fat language. We, skinny women, are making the experiences of fat women across this land, this land that permeates fat-phobia through every ounce of its veins, a mere figment of our imaginations, our skinny imaginations. We are making the experiences of these women void of truth and realness every single


fucking time we steal their language – their language, not ours. Skinny women, we are not fat, we are not fat – I repeat, we are not fat and therefore cannot appropriate such. Until that is understood and the act of false, illegitimate and unlawful appropriation – taking, stealing – of fat language comes to an abrupt end we will continue to invalidate and make void fatness and fat lifestyles. Listen! For the skinny woman who is just about to hit send on her phone to tweet the disgustingly formulated hashtag, #obese, #fatass, or my favourite, #foreverfat, let me break it down for you. Sweets, delete your tweet, put down your phone and go work on addressing your privilege. It is time we stop the eroticization, humorization and de-legitimization of fatness, skinny female culture. Stop! Just stop, like now! In solidarity,

Chris A skinny woman who is trying to recognise her privilege and simultaneously stop the exertion of her aesthetic, body image privilege in a fat-phobic culture that advantages my body over the bodies of all others




1 I once heard on a talk show that there are over three pounds of flesh total in a pair of DD breasts – 1.5 lbs in each boob. If you measure your circumference, first laying the tape around your ribcage, then the part where your chest sticks out the most, and do some subtraction, you have your band size. According to the Judy Bloom novel Just as Long as We’re Together, you can tell that you need to wear a bra by doing something involving a pencil, boob flesh, and I think maybe tealeaves. The first plastic surgeon I went to told me that cup sizes were a myth. The second asked me what letter I wanted to be, and wrote that down in a chart. I never did figure out what my “before” measurements were – partly because I didn’t want to have to answer when people asked me. And they did ask, because when you are in high school with a size two waist and knockers that could hold their own against Dolly Parton’s, people assume that you’ve elected to make you’re body a national spectacle, too. But mostly, sizes were just too fucking confusing. I once tried to get the professionals at Victoria’s Secret to solve the riddle for me, but when they took out their tape measures and calculators and pens and paper, the answer at the bottom page read simply: “too big.” I took to wearing sports bras. If you can medicalize an insecurity, you can get your insurance company to cover the cost of getting rid of it – or at least the part of the insecurity that is housed in skin and tissue. This is what I learned in the summer of 2009, after three years of being the fitful owner of a pair of too-big-boobs. (Though, after a girl tagged a bunch of pictures of a class field trip on Facebook so that the square with my name was always placed over my chest, I had become unsure of whether I owned them, or they me).


2 The decision was precipitated by a panic attack that came when I was studying for a calculus final. What had always felt like a burden seated on my chest became, in a matter of days, flesh that was out to choke me. The side boob spilling out of the sports bra, the red grooves that had begun forming on my shoulders when I was 16, always a nuisance, now felt insufferable, and maddening. I imagined walking into that exam feeling, as I often did, like a Dr. Daedalus concoction of an adult actress body wrapped up in a t-shirt with the letter e (as in 2.71) on it, holding up a head with a frizzy ponytail and traces of acne scarring. The urge to find every single person who had ever looked too long on the subway, the boy who snapped a picture of my boobs with his phone in the cafeteria that one time, the boy who high-fived my date to the senior prom because he liked my rack, the famous man who spent our entire conversation staring at my chest (blind item hint: right hand man to the second greatest physics mind of the 20th century), and, do, well, something, became newly potent. I called my mother: You cannot let me live like this. Four weeks later, I stood topless in a plastic surgeon’s office in Philadelphia. She snapped pictures of me, and chatted about organic chem, I think, to make me feel more comfortable. While the secretary filled out forms to send along with the pictures to Blue Cross Blue Shield, I hung out in the waiting room and played with the display implants and looked at botox posters. An eight year old wandered up to me, and asked “Are you here for you?”

3 This is the one thing that came up, that whole time: It’s back pain. These breasts are causing me back pain. Because if it is a physical, medical need, then it is not superficial. Or cowardly. Or a cop out. Back pain: it was a little semi-white lie that the surgeon told, that nodded along to at the family dinner table, that I told my boss. Everyone I knew was glad that I was figuring out my back problem. My parents have really good insurance, apparently. But that’s not even it: they would have paid for it (hello, privilege!). It would have counted as about eight birthday presents, but still, they would have paid the 6 K or whatever and I would then forever be a girl who got a boob job for her birthday. My friend Laura once told me that maybe God gave me big boobs so that I wouldn’t be such a judgmental person. If there is a god, Laura is probably right.



4 I woke up in the recovery room to the sound of my voice talking about hookah bars. “Hookah is fine, because it’s an occasional thing,” said the nurse. “No cigarettes for a while or the scarring will be worse. How are you feeling?” I grinned. “Good. They say that it’s the same amount of pain for reduction or augmentation. But the girls that get implants are always in here whiiiiining.” I was wheeled to a room with a TV where I watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight and ate Jell-O and had an IV that dispensed morphine into my body at the push of a button. I went home the next day, and undid the bandages. My skin was bruised, and the stitches itched. There are, to this day, a pair of faint pink vertical scars on my chest, and my nipples point, ever slightly, in opposite directions, and, though I have not figured out my after cup size, they are still on the larger side of average. But they are mine – not God’s, Daedalus’s, not those of the kids in the high school cafeteria.

5 Well, they are kind of mine: In those years that I hated my body, what I thought needed to be exorcised was a part of me. But maybe what should have been done away with was the attitude that I felt crawl over me whenever I entered a room, the idea that to be large-breasted is unprofessional. What should have been changed were the clothes that did not fit my tiny waist and large rack, the sports bras that do not, because of the laws of physics, support more than a D-cup. I wish I had known to label some of the things that people said to me as harassment, known that I didn’t have to sit there and do my best to shrug it off.

6 That I feel less like something bizarrely crafted, now, in the after shots, with light pink lines indicating that I was cut up and sewn back together, is curious. Is it more noble, or correct, to stick things out with the body your genes gave you? The good news is: I don’t think I’m any more or less my real self – though how do you measure that? – one way or the other.



The WOMAN WHO MIMICS BY TINA I stare her down. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by her unique beauty. Her pursed lips, her big brown eyes, her button nose, they all seem to complement each other so well. Her face relaxes and she smiles as though her problems have become someone else’s problems. This is the closest I’ve been to her yet, and already, I can tell that this person, in front of me, seems not to have a care in the world. I look harder; I bore myself into the eyes of the person staring back at me. I see her mouth moving and I make out the words, “When you look at me, what do you see?” Suddenly, I find myself having a conversation with this stranger. I see a strong woman, I tell her, and a determined one; this young woman doesn’t like to make mistakes. Her eyes tell a story of their own, boasting of big hopes and dreams. The light crinkles at the sides of her eyes and this tells me that she is genuine. I tell her that I have often seen her from afar. And that some nights, I imagine what it would be like to be her. Prom Queen, Student Council President, winner of numerous awards, and liked by almost anyone who crosses paths with her: these are just some of the things that I want. I look up at her with sad eyes. I tell her of how much I wish I had that spring in my step, or that passion she has for just about everything she sets her mind to. I say to her that I see a little girl bursting with joy with a headful of bouncing curls to match. But that I also see a young woman, waiting for her life to start. I tell her that sometimes, her double personality confuses me. At times, she is the craziest, most different person I have ever known. She is that girl who loves to wear sundresses, who loves to write songs and letters to people, who loves daisies and bows in her hair; she is that girl who still giggles when a boy talks to her. But sometimes I see her sit alone in the park, watching with such sadness in her eyes that it makes me realize that maybe she and I aren’t really that different. I look up at the ceiling then back to her, then ponder some more. I admire her so much, I think to myself. She is everything I want to be, could never be. Suddenly, I feel nervous. I push my glasses up the ridge of my nose and wonder what she thinks about me. But before I have the time to ask her, her lips begin to move. I hear her laughter. It surrounds me and I am overwhelmed with happiness. For a minute, we stand there, laughing at ourselves. Tears of happiness sweep down my cheeks and I wipe them away. I see that she does the same. I hear her thoughts and I feel content. I sit there, cross-legged. I reach out to touch her, to make sure that she is real. She does the same.


When her palm presses against mine, I cannot feel her warm human touch. I can feel my eyebrows beginning to furrow into an arch; the thoughts in my mind are tangled, and I am confused. I look up at her and I see that she feels the same way. I reach out to touch her again, but this time, my hand stops short. I find myself tapping a surface, a glass surface. I take a step back and repeat the whole process. I peer incredulously at the image that presents itself to me. My gaze falls; I shift my weight. I don’t know what to do. This woman who I have been sharing secrets with, was she merely a mirage? Perhaps, she was a figment of my imagination, the version of myself that I have always wanted to know. But this is impossible, I tell myself, so I begin to walk away. But something in the back of my mind tells me to go back. So I go back. This time, I stare even harder; I am determined to understand this woman who stares back at me. A rush of anger drowns out everything else I feel. I am upset at myself for getting carried away. How could I not have seen the resemblance earlier? I think about all the things that I’ve told her, and suddenly, I feel cheated. It just wasn’t fair the way she tricked me into telling her my secret desires. I look out the window and feel great sadness. I remember a time when she and I were much closer than we are now; a time when things were simple and all we did was giggle, doing silly things. I snap back and realize that I am still staring at her with tremendous determination. I have tired myself out and my eyes begin to relax. I throw my head back and laugh at my own silliness. I feel like a child, a baby who is amazed when she first sees her own reflection. Bent double, I let out a sigh of relief. This woman in the mirror, I have no competition with her. She is me and I am she. I gather myself up and smile at my reflection. I stand and strike a pose for the mirror. Who’s looking? (Certainly not the world.) (No.) The person looking back at me is me. Just me. And I smile to myself; wink, smile, blow air kisses, the whole mix and jazz. And then I look at myself one last time. I tell myself that I am beautiful. And that there is no other creature on this planet like me. And I ask myself why would I ever want to be anyone else. And I turn around, flick my hair over my shoulders. I walk away from the mirror. I look back, but only once. And I smile at myself one more time. Because I know, I am beautiful. Right then and there, I promised the woman staring back at me that I would take every opportunity to introduce her to the world. I turn around and wave. And as I walk away, all that is heard is the clattering of her heels.


You’re WASTING MY TIME BY ALYSSA When I think about my childhood. When I think about the summer swimming and winter sledding, the back-to-schooling and almost-finisheding, I don’t remember my body. I don’t remember it because it wasn’t important. It was my vehicle. A pair of legs to take me to the next game. A pair of arms. A pair of eyes to read by flashlight for hours after I’d been told to sleep. My body wasn’t important. The way it functioned was. I’d complain about scraped knees, twisted ankles, my debilitating myopia. But only because it slowed me down, made me less capable, less strong. I’m not sure when I started noticing my body. Maybe it was during puberty, when I stopped growing upward and filled out sideways. Maybe it was in high school, where looks seemed the true measure of worth. But maybe it was even earlier, who knows. But when I think about what came after my childhood, I remember my body. I remember my too-wide thighs, my too-flabby belly, my too-big boobs, my too-pimpled face, my too everything. I remember being too big, too present, too noticeable, too there. I remember desperately wanting to take up less space. My legs I don’t see as transportation anymore. They’re weak and round and fat and pocked with cellulite. My arms don’t just get things done. They jiggle when I move too fast and the wrists never look delicate enough. My eyes aren’t just for reading and learning anymore. They’re too close together on my face, a face that sometimes I hate when I see it in the mirror.


The problem isn’t even that I expect my body to be different. The problem is that my body matters at all. That the way I am physically shaped has any bearing on my value. I wish I could believe the silly, vapid feel-good messages about loving yourself and seeing your true beauty shine through. That all sounds fucking fantastic and all, but more than that, I want for it all not to matter. I want for looks, for bodies, to

not matter. For people to see me and not draw conclusions based on what they’re looking at. Because that’s what happens. People look at me and think they know who I am, what I act like, talk like, where I’m from, who I love, who I fuck, what I wear, what I eat. I want for my body to come second to my brain and whatever goodness I might have in me. Is that really so much to ask for? I wish I could go back to when my body didn’t mean anything. I wish I could stop my body feeling like a cage, like something that doesn’t belong on me. A bulky, ugly sweater that I can’t seem to take off. A sweater that people will look at and think they understand, a sweater with an entire life story (maybe true, maybe not) knit into it. I want to go back to being a child. I want to go about my damn business without dragging this awkward, maybe-ugly body around with me. I want to have my picture taken without thinking about how I might look, about rearranging my limbs in the most attractive way. I want to walk out my door without worrying about whether my clothes are flattering, whether my makeup is done right. I’m so tired of being worried. I’m tired of noticing my body, and I’m so fucking tired of looking at myself and knowing that I’m inadequate. Not because of the little things that aren’t quite right (though there are many things that seem not right) but because what I look like matters in the first place. It matters to me. It matters to others. And it’s exhausting. I thought writing this would help, but there is no light bulb moment happening here. No stunning conclusion or answered question. All I know is that I have no more patience, no more energy left for my body and its heaviness. I’ve carried it this far and I can’t fucking do it any longer. I’m not Atlas and I refuse to be saddled with this responsibility, this load any longer. It’s not fair to have taken the happy little girl that I was and to turn her into an adult so excruciatingly aware and afraid of how she might be seen. How dare you make me think that the mound of flesh that does nothing, that only houses what’s really me, is so important? How dare you waste my time?





These are some definitions we compiled. They’re not official by any means, but we think they’ll help provide some context when reading the zine.

ABLEISM A form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA An eating disorder characterized by a refusal to eat or restricted eating. Extreme weight loss, a fear of gaining weight, and a distortion of body image are all common.

BINGE EATING DISORDER An eating disorder characterized by insatiable cravings, often involving a loss of control, secrecy, and feelings of shame.

BULIMIA NERVOSA An eating disorder involving frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by compensatory behaviour such as purging (either by vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics), excessive exercise, or fasting.

CELLULITE The dimpled appearance of skin, usually on the stomach, thighs, and pelvic region. Contrary to popular belief, cellulite is common in post-pubescent women of all sizes, and causes may either be hormonal, genetic, or caused by high levels of stress.

Compulsive exercise An eating disorder characterized by excessive exercise and an inability to stop exercising of limiting food intake without feeling guilty. Also called Anorexia athletica or hypergymnasia.

Disordered eating Eating behaviours that do not fall into established eating disorders but that can still have similar causes as diagnosed eating disorders and are still detrimental to one’s physical and mental health.

Eating disorder not otherwise specified (ednos) Involves disordered eating patterns. EDNOS is a “category [of] disorders of eating that do not meet the criteria for any specific eating disorder.” Also used when describing any combination of other disorders.


Erasure When individuals or groups are not present in mainstream discourse and are made to feel that they or their experiences do not exist. For example, individuals who do not fit in the man/woman gender binary are consistently erased in a society that does not acknowledge anything outside that binary.

Fat acceptance movement A movement that acknowledges that individuals of a certain weight are the target of discrimination and hatred and that seeks to change societal and cultural attitudes towards obesity, fatness, and size. Fat Acceptance activism promotes a “health at every size” philosophy through initiatives including art projects, conferences, and zine publication.

fatphobia (also fat shaming) Discrimination against and fear of fatness. Like many forms of oppression, fatphobia can manifest itself in both personal and institutional ways. Personal fatphobia involves one-on-one discrimination such as commenting on or policing an individual’s eating choices or expressing a personal distaste for fatness. Institutional fatphobia is often characterized by negative popular culture portrayals of fatness, media coverage of the supposed “obesity epidemic,” and corporate policies that exclude overweight individuals (clothing stores only carrying small sizes or airlines charging passengers over a certain weight for two seats, for example).

Female genital mutilation (FGM) The partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical purposes. Occurring all over the world, this mutilation is often ritualistic and is performed to ensure that sex is no longer pleasurable for the woman, making her faithfulness to a husband more likely. Also known as female circumcision, though this term is no longer widely used because it bears little resemblance to male circumcision.

HYMEN A membrane that surrounds and partially covers the external opening of the vagina. The hymen is different for everyone and may completely cover the vaginal opening or be nothing but a small, crescent shaped. Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s virginity cannot be determined by inspecting the hymen.

Labiaplasty A plastic surgery procedure that alters the labia majora and minora, often for aesthetic purposes. This procedure is


often performed to even out asymmetrical labia minora or to remove long labia minora, in an effort to produce a more prepubescent look.

Male gaze The concept that all media puts the audience in the perspective of a heterosexual male. Exclusively male protagonists and principal characters, lingering shots of female bodies, and having non-male characters as plot devices all give evidence of the Male Gaze.

mythification The creation and perpetuation of stereotypes and tropes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The mammy, the promiscuous bisexual woman, the cougar, and the Madonna are all examples of the mythification of women.

Shadeism Discrimination that privileges groups or individuals with light-coloured skin over groups or individuals with darker skin. The act of using skin colour to construct social hierarchies.

SLUT-SHAMING Shaming, attacking, or criticizing women for expressing their sexuality in ways that are not socially acceptable. This serves to delegitimize a woman’s sexuality and enforce gendered double standards for what is appropriate behaviour.

TRIGGER WARNING A warning placed at the beginning of an article or video to indicate that the content may contain themes that may trigger traumatic memories.

vulva The external female genital organs. The labia, clitoris, mons pubis, and vaginal opening are all part of the vulva. The term “vagina” is often mistakenly used to describe the vulva.


thanks for reading if you enjoyed it (or even if you didn’t), please visit our blog: We’re also always taking submissions, so send your writing, art, and poetry to

and thank you to our contributors: Amina chris shannon sheehan tina 27

Banshe, Vol. 1  
Banshe, Vol. 1  

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