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Electric Punnany




I didn’t start this magazine off as a feminist. I could have never foreseen how much of an impact it would have on my personality and my life. But over the course of the production of this magazine, I can whole-heartedly say, I am a feminist and damn proud of it.

What is so powerful about being a feminist is that it is a true purveyor of active change. It’s not an ideology that sits around waiting for shit to change. The only way to get stuff done, is to get up and do it yourself. It is for this reason that if I am witness to any injustice, no longer shall I sit back and say ‘someone should really stop that’, what is wrong with me stopping it? This new discovery is something I hope happens to every person that reads this magazine. I hope that what is contained in these pages, resonates with you so much that you as well will be brought over to the feminist side. For me feminism is not at all about hating men (how hypocritical would that be) or not shaving my armpits. It’s a passion for the improvement of women: socially, politically and financially. Its definition however varies from person to person. It is because of this diversity that the range of issues covered in this magazine differs so much. Can you think of any other magazine that features an article about stripping as well as one about the hijab? Can you think of any other magazine that deals with issues currently plaguing young girls like gun crime with another article about masturbating? With the range of topics debated in this magazine I hope it highlights how much our gender affects what we do and who we are. From sex,

to education to music, we have countless examples of why feminism is necessary tool to understanding, discussing and debating women’s roles and representations in all of these arenas.

It was obvious from conception that feminism needed to be rebranded and redirected to your generation. A generation that had, too often, seen it represented as irrelevant and unnecessary. A key aim to starting this rebranding, revolution even, was to show you that feminism is for everyone. It is not just for the highly educated, rich and middle class of us. It’s for those that love hip hop, poetry, fashion and even pole dancing. Anything that empowers you as an individual is what we hope to encourage and adamantly support. But to forget the history of feminism is to tragically undermine all the advancements that this movement has created for women over the last 100 or so years. It is because of this, I’ve added key quotes from famous feminists, to remind us of where we have come from, to where we would like to be. Considering all of this though, we have not neglected the boys. For us feminism is not only about gender equality but also gender relations. As such the piece the Lost Boys addresses issues currently facing men. Feminism still has plenty of work and educating to do. Hopefully the contents of this magazine provide that start for you. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did! Nanda x

Editor: Nanda Poleon Feature writers: Nanda Poleon Jasmine Robertson Charlotte Roberts Clemence Grison Francessca Gray Sian 0’Donnell Designer: Nanda Poleon





62 C**T















I am a feminist. Wait. WAIT! Keep reading, it’s not that bad. I mean I do shave my legs and all. Well, I use wax, but really that’s besides the point. And I don’t hate men at all. As a matter of fact, I like them very much. Some people like to say that feminists are just a bunch of sexually frustrated lesbians who just don’t know what they’re talking about. Well, I would like to say that I have a good deal of sex and I quite enjoy it. Oh well, that’s the problem, some others would say. Those darn feminists who promote promiscuity under the guise of their “sexual revolution”. How dare they claim that sex can be fun, pleasant and, when enjoyed responsibly, quite harmless? I don’t think I promote promiscuity. What I do defend though, is people’s power and authority over their own bodies and an education that emphasizes the risks and responsibilities of sex but also its enjoyable aspects. And come on, let’s be honest, feminists don’t hate men. The tribes of uptight goody-two-shoes who tell young girls to stay away from those horny beasts who think of nothing but sex and can’t keep their penis’ in their trousers if they happen to think they might have a shot at getting laid. Well, those people might hate men. But feminists certainly do not. For some, because I don’t find sexist jokes particularly funny, I have no sense of humour. For others, because I don’t find purity balls endearing in any way, I have no morals. Well, here is one of the central paradoxes of feminism: we think there is nothing wrong with sexuality, but we don’t think that’s a valid reason to shove it down everyone’s throats all the time and for all purposes. Women should be allowed to decide for themselves what kind of sex life they want, without the constant pressure to be considered too promiscuous, too

prudish or not sexual enough by the various ideas and ideals of femininity that are promoted in society. I am a feminist because I believe in gender equality. This means that I think there should be more women represented in politics. This also means that I believe gender roles should be redefined, or rather, less defined, so that a man who is into fashion will not automatically be thought of as “gay” – a word which, quite disturbingly, I often hear used in everyday conversations as just a synonym for “lame” – and a woman who enjoys a healthy, liberated sex life will not automatically be labelled a “slut” By the way, do I need to remind you of the fact that for both genders the worst possible insult is to call them a girl? Think about it, from cunt to bitch and from pussy to whore, women are always at the bottom of the heap. Feminism for me is not a constant. It evolves as society evolves. Yes, today, in many cases there is no question that women have their place in the work market. But on average, they are still paid less than men for the same work and they still suffer from vertical and horizontal segregation within the work place. Yes, the stereotype of the perfect housewife may not be as prevalent as it was some 50 years ago, but current surveys show that women still carry the majority of household tasks. Yes, women nowadays have more freedom to choose what kind of sex life they want, but that certainly does not protect them from the hateful labels that others will be happy to burden them with – sadly, those labels may often come from women, with a good deal of men interpreting this as a validation of their own discriminatory and abusive language.

So I am not just a feminist because of some faraway conflicts in thirdworld countries, though undeniably they are very important. Yes, we have it better than many others. But that certainly doesn’t mean that the fight is over. I want to see a society where people care more about their own aspirations and preferences than those dictated by predefined and often stereotypical definitions of gender. I want to see a society where young girls grow up with positive female role models to look up to. Models other than the skinny little thing, showing off her ‘perfect’ body in sexy lingerie to promote anything, from perfume to insurance and from chocolate to sunny vacations on a giant billboard. I want a society where men and women respect each other, a society where women are judged based on their abilities, their values and their achievements rather than on their sexuality or lack thereof. I want a society where fathers are given a prominent place in the family – not as the traditional breadwinner, but also as the parent who might, too, want to be allowed time off from work to take care of his children. This is why I believe that feminism is not dead, that there is no shame in being a feminist, and why I am and always will be a feminist.

I AM A FEMINIST ... Introduction. By Clemence Grison

The brush it off- it’s not that much of a big deal-its only harmless fun, attitude towards street harassment has allowed this type of behaviour, which ranges from a wolf whistle to inappropriate grabbing to continue, unchallenged for too long. Which considering how widespread and common it is and how embarrassing it can be for its victims, is very troubling. The current solution and response to this problem, of ignoring it, is both failing and unfair. Why should anyone have to put up with being

made to feel like a piece of meat on the streets, sexually available to any man? Hollaback London, however, is proving that it is not something you simply have to just put up with, as a part of everyday life. This organisation has provided a space in which women can retell anecdotes of their experience of harassment and has provided a much needed sense of community amongst women from around London.

Julia Gray, who runs the project with Bryony Beyon, says that the relaxed culture around street harassment has

Take it no more: Hollaback. By Nanda Poleon


allowed it to remain so prominent and problematic “It’s a problem because it’s allowed to be a problem. Nobody acknowledges it.” She asserts that women do not take it seriously and men don’t take it seriously. If the gravity of this issue is not considered, then how can it ever be prevented and eventually stopped? The legal definition of sexual harassment is: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive

environment. Harassment in the home, work place or school is not tolerated, so why should it be on the streets? We all have stories of being harassed on the streets. My worst experience was when I was literally followed in a car by a man nearly three times my age. I told him continuously to leave me alone, he said he only wanted to be ‘friends’ and that we could drive back to his place, which I refused. Even when I told him I was only 16, his response was that 16 is the age of sexual consent, like that makes it okay. I was so profoundly disturbed by this that I had to jump on a bus in the opposite direction to where I was going, just to avoid him. There is however no simple answer to how to handle a situation in which you feel intimidated or threatened or simply disrespected. Julia does not advise all women to say, ‘Fuck Off’ like she would, but rather to do what feels comfortable and remember to never retaliate in a way that would put you in a dangerous situation. It is difficult to understand and even more so to accept, why in an era like ours, post feminism, supposedly politically correct and such, that sexual street harassment towards women is not socially unacceptable and reprimanded. The tolerance of this behaviour lies in the fact that we

live in a patriarchal society, which according to Julia “encourages men’s predatory nature” thus its made okay to openly disrespect women. Schemes like Hollaback and ASH (Anti Street Harassment, which is a similar national project), are so popular and successful because women are relieved to find that their repulsions to street harassment does not mean that they are being neurotic prudes, they are relieved that they are not the only ones who are disgusted by inappropriate remarks and actions. The laws protecting against street harassment are “very grey”, which again fuels the difficulty in stopping it. Coupled with the fact that “Women are very unsure as to what constitutes sexual harassment.” It highlights the fact that women need to be educated, Julia states that any remark that is clearly heard and makes you particularly uncomfortable could be deemed sexual harassment and should be reported to the police. Julia also urges that women should not let their negative feelings because of street harassment be stifled. She says that it is important to highlight the difference between a decent, genuine compliment and a lecherous, disrespectful unreciprocated advance. If we don’t talk about it, how can we ever expect change?

While some would argue that some women encourage aggravation by wearing revealing clothes, I would argue that women should be free to wear what they want without fear of being subjected to predatory actions by men. No matter what one chooses to wear, it must be installed in society that women are not obtainable. This kind of reasoning can often lead women to unfairly internalise the blame. They need to made aware of the fact that no they do not deserve this kind of treatment. But more than that men need to be told that they must treat women respectfully at all times. The integration of technology has also maintained Hollaback as a very useful resource and project. Their app allows users to upload on a map, where they were subjected to sexual harassments. This is valuable as it makes locating ‘hotspots’ or serial offenders a lot easier. Though official statistics are not that strong, because it often goes unreported, is hard to prove and even harder to police, from personal experiences and experiences of friends we know it’s a real problem. That this problem is not taken seriously, reflects somewhat to how society in general, often trivialises problems that women have and that it often doesn’t criticise indecent male behaviour. It’s a reflection on the fact that misogynistic behaviour is often allowed and even encouraged. So while it’s hard to police and criminalise, we can still make sexual street harassment socially unacceptable. And projects like Hollaback London are making a very big effort to making women feel safer on the streets.

Find out more at


How much would you do for love? By Nanda Poleon Not knowing where to look, what to say or how to act, is making Katrina feel uneasy. It’s not surprising, the subject of gun crime is not an easy one, especially when you have, however involuntary, been as involved with it as she has. Katrina is like any other 22 year old, she enjoys fashion, music and partying, there’s one exception: she has served time in prison for a crime that she did not commit. Katrina served four months on remand for possession of a firearm. Though the charge was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence to constitute possession, the disruption it has made to Katrina’s life will not be so easy to shake off. The weapon belonged to her then boyfriend, who was staying at her flat. Unfortunately though, this is not an isolated case; there are thousands of cases where men ask women, usually their girlfriends, to conceal their weapons.

Though Katrina was unaware of its presence until the police raided her flat the repercussions were just as devastating. To fully comprehend this current sub crime wave, would mean that one would have to delve into the psychology of why a girl would be willing to commit a criminal act on the behalf of someone else? And to why these boyfriends think it’s acceptable to request this most selfish act of harbouring an illegal weapon and drug? How exactly does one go about asking such a thing? And how easy is it to say yes? It would be all to simple to criticise young women, who are willing to go to these lengths for the person they love, what is harder though, is to put yourself in their predicament. Being young and vulnerable and you may want to prove your love and loyalty by

helping your gangster boyfriend and for many this is the best way to achieve it. Jennifer, who has previously hidden drugs for her boyfriend admits that she felt obliged to hide his drugs: “He’s my boyfriend and at that time I felt I had to do whatever he wanted. I had to prove my love” It would seem that misplaced loyalty is often to blame for the driving force behind their decision. Trident, a branch of the Metropolitan police targeting gun crime in the capital, even centred their ad campaign around this issue two years ago. The images were very hard hitting, with a strong message, that if you hide someone else’s gun, you help commit the crime and could be sentenced to five years in prison. So, while very thought provoking as the campaign makes women aware of the consequences - which are a lot more severe then they previously were - it has not, according to statistics, deterred women from committing this crime. Maybe a more appropriate message that Trident should be sending to these girls is that not only could you and your boyfriend both be prosecuted for possession of a firearm/drugs but they should also target the women’s emotions by questioning the love in a relationship if a boyfriend is willing to endanger their life and risk you serving a prison sentence for his crime. Adrian, a prominent youth worker in east London echoes this notion as he states, “If someone really loved you, would they even consider asking you to commit a crime for their benefit?” But is this trend part of the blooming popularity of the glamorisation of gun and crime culture? There are endless reports in the media about young girls who take pride in showing off their



involvement in criminal activities, who strive to be a part of this criminal lifestyle. So while it is easy to criticise these types of girls, Katrina says that after spending time with girls like this in prison, she can understand the allure of fast money that corrupts so many. These girls may not be from the most privileged backgrounds and so are often easily misguided. Furthermore many of them may not have many aspirations, in terms of education and career prospects and so have a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. It is therefore evident that people from marginalised backgrounds should be helped more, to have a better sense of self in order to prevent this problem from blooming. Katrina warns that young girls should not even associate themselves with men of some what “dodgy” characters, as even though she was not aware of the weapon in her home by allowing her ex boyfriend who had a criminal history to stay at her flat, she incriminated herself. Was he or the relationship worth all what she has been through in the last year I ask her? An unremitting no. And even more devastating for her is the lack of remorse that her ex boyfriend has shown, which has completely thrown her: “After I was released I went to see him and he didn’t even apologise. I just don’t understand how he could do this to me. After all I’ve done for him. I’m just so angry” Aside from girls willing to hide illegal weapons and drugs for their boyfriends, there are also girls who receive money from guys for doing he same thing. Is this a poverty driven motive or greed?

A reductionist view of this would be to cite greed as the motive, yet Katrina says that she sympathises with many of the girls she met as they were not well educated and didn’t have any career aspirations. So to resort to a life of crime was their only option. Many women repeat offend just to go back to prison. How much of a crisis must women be in if they feel like the only home they had is in prison? How would any of us feel if the only safe, comforting family and place we had, meant we would have to stay locked up in a four-wall cell? On the Prison Reform Trust website, a report on women in prison states that only 39% of female prisoners have qualifications compared to 82% of the general female population. And one in three has been sexually abused. These two alarming statistics highlight that socially there are problems that make these women more predisposed to either agreeing to hide weapons and drugs or wanting to do so for the money. Gendered stereotypes that usually associate men with crime, especially serious and violent are not as rigid. The reasons for this increase are unknown, though they are increasingly gun and drug offenses. In addition, the severity of sentences has dramatically increased in the last 20 years and so charges against women that may have carried a fine in 1981, will now carry a stint in prison. We need to question whether prison should be a last resort, where now it is becoming the first option. Not only can this be bad for the offenders,

but the economic and social costs are also heavy. It is obvious however that time, money and effort needs to be spent by the government towards providing schemes that help those most at risk and especially from an early age to reform their lives and their behaviour. How does the community and the police tackle such a complex issue? How easy is it to target and reduce a crime that involves love and loyalty? It may be a tired cliché, but it’s a very true cliché. There are a million things that you would do for someone you love. There are some things that you shouldn’t. The advertising targeting this issue and the severity of the sentencing that it holds has not deterred many young women from willing to commit this crime. So what can? The clear correlation between women brought up in poverty and those that end up in prison is startling. Tackling issues like lack of education, poor health and drug addiction will certainly reduce this epidemic. Furthermore women should only be incarcerated for serious and violent crime, lesser crimes should be dealt with through classes and community service. The only way to solve a problem is prevent contributing factors or at least try and get to the root of it.


If her functioning as a female is not enough to define woman, if we decline also to explain her through “the eternal feminine,� and if nevertheless we admit, provisionally, 14

that women do exist, then we must face the question: what is a woman?





When winning an award, the first thing rappers usually say is: “I wanna thank my mama” They’re big on showing love for their mums, but no so big on sharing this love to other women. In a severely contradictory manner, their rap lyrics continuously and consistently refer to women as ‘hoes’, ‘sluts’ and ‘chickenheads’. However, what is more perplexing than this is female rappers, who by wearing overtly sexual clothes and by having sexually explicit lyrics, actually do the damage to themselves and internalise their objectification. When Lil Kim arrived on the scene in the mid nineties she garnered a lot of controversy and has set the bench mark for the current plethora of femcees who have one thing in common: sex. As although Lil Kim’s lyrical abilities were hailed as impressive, the content of her lyrics

Rapping like the men. By Nanda Poleon covered themes and perspectives, that were only usually spoken by male rappers. From Trina to Nicki Minaj to Foxy Brown we have boundless examples of femcees who have adopted provocative manner and lyrics and constantly push the boundaries of taste with regards to sex and sexuality. Statistically speaking, rap is a male dominated world, with a distinctly ‘It’s a man’s world’ tone, that has unfortunately, restricted women’s entrance into the genre. Even in its formative years, in the 1980s, female rappers on the rise had to battle male rappers twice as hard to gain any sort of respect. When they did make it through, rappers like MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante and Queen Latifah dealt with issues like racial politics, sex, power and poverty and their ethos was about positively empowering themselves and empowering those around them. Their contribution to rap music was invaluable, as they stood in active defiance, to stereotypes that dictated what black female femininity and sexuality had to be. Since then however, the game has changed. More than ever female rappers have had to be as lyrically proficient as they are sexually available, or certainly have to be willing to sell the idea of sex. Is this simply a case of sex sells? To some extent it is, but as Janice Miller, author

of the book Music and Fashion and a cultural studies lecturer, says, “It may [also] be partly down to shock factor and about demonstrating a rejection of the kinds of conventions of white femininity that expect something more demure.” Demure they certainly aren’t, with outfits that leave little to the imagination – remember Lil Kim at the Video Music Awards and the infamous flower thingy covering the nipple, barely – and lyrics with an extreme sexual explicitness as Nicki Minaj examples, claiming to have “the fattest pussy in the whole world”, the shock factor is definitely. The latter half of this dual identity: The hypersexual Barbie has become vital to their celebrity identity. It seems the more they’re are willing to show, the more successes they will achieve. It is therefore no wonder that Trina is more of a household name compared to Jean Grae, who is considerably less well known and surprisingly has a more conservative approach to dress and content. With lyrics like “ designer pussy my shit comes in flavours. High class n****** got to spend paper” Lil Kim powerfully conveys that her power lies in her sexuality. This notion of playing up to sexist notions of femininity is not a new phenomenon, but by adhering to these values do rappers like Foxy Brown and Lil Kim also justify and legitimise misogynistic lyrics of their male counterparts?



Or is this all a bit too simplistic, it’s certainly a bit boring. May be they do actually take pleasure and in parading on stage flaunting everything God gave them and belting out lyrics professing their sexual prowess’? In proudly claiming to be the ultimate ‘Freaky girls’, Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim (and their contemporaries) certainly seem to. In a sexually liberated era, we now equate this behaviour to asserting sexual autonomy in a creative and entertaining way. Furthermore criticism of their openness also undermines the fact that their freeness allows these women to create a sense of sexual identity. As they are ultimately the ones in control of their image and lyrics and to whom they decide to be with, in many ways they are empowered. May be to some, their overtly sexual tone, doesn’t equate to empowerment for all women, but it can certainly be empowering for them as individuals. Lil Kim sums it up best as she declares she is the ‘Queen Bitch’, who dominates and is never, dominated.

Despite this reasoning, Miller questions how valid the justification that just because they are in control of their image they are naturally empowered, as she argues, “Could they gain as much success another way? … Does it stop beauty being women’s main source of social power?” So while they defend their actions, are their sexy performances, a symptom of the fact that they have become so naturalized to seeing stereotyped images of sexualized femininity that they are unable to reproduce anything but this. Have they no choice but to stimulate the assumed male viewer?

persona, whether verified or not. It would seem that gender conformity and sexploitation are unfortunately an inherent part of hip-hop culture that afflicts both men and women.

Because of the small and restrictive space etched for women in hiphop those widely present become archetypal mannequin and so naturally influence and shape how listeners and fans of these female artists behave and view themselves. Kelly, 18, is an avid fan of Nicki Minaj and says that she “look[s] up to Nicki [Minaj], [because] she’s successful, talented and beautiful. What’s not to love?” If they are constantly exposed to sexualised images of women, that are making considerable waves in the music industry, then of course these women will become their role models. Charmaine, another fan, adds that Minajs’ appeal is that “Yeah she sexy, but she’s also actually really talented. Her exaggerated curves are more caricature like then raw sex appeal”

But back to the issue at hand, as much as I admire and respect rappers like Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj, will there ever be a time when there is a successful female rap artist who will not base the majority of her rap persona on her sexuality, or at least not in such obvious ways. There is no denying the Nicki Minaj buzz, which is certainly exciting, as an offering of a new female rapper has been long overdue. But whether or not in the future she will offer something other than what we’ve seen regurgitated a 100 times before is left to be seen. Promisingly though, she has assured her critics that she will veer away from the hypersexual look. Her recent looks have concentrated more on theatrics and less on sex (as she has been crowned as hip hops answer to Lady Gaga) it certainly seems feasible. As Natalia, a fan of hers poetically comments “Nicki Minaj plays on the Barbie thing, and you wonder if she’s just being very smart playing up to the stereotype of an attractive woman to make commentary of the sexist ideals in our society. She knows people will buy it up, but as she’s secure in her talent and identity as a woman” Shows that not all fans though interpret her persona on a one dimensional level.

In any case, to blame rap music and hip hop culture for the continuing degradation of women would be unfair. It could be argued that rap music is just a manifestation of a culture that is predominantly based on a patriarchal model, of which has historically and continuously marginalised and objectified women of all races. We must also consider the fact that gender roles can oppress both men and women. The same way it seems that women must be sexually explicit and available, it is seen that male rappers have to equally prove their sexual capabilities and also adhere to the stereotyped thug/gangsta

Besides this is a plea, that doesn’t ignore the influence of rappers like Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill and what they have represented as intellectual and positive role models. The fact that these women were able to address their sexuality, but demand respect for it and for their bodies, is a testament to the fact that female rappers are able to defy stereotypes. Unfortunately though, rappers such as these are the exception, rather than the rule. So the fact remains that we need a female rapper that doesn’t solely rely on her sex appeal, one that is able to go beyond the stereotypes and not just adhere to them. Please


Yawn. I’m bored! For how much longer will women’s sexuality have to be polarized? Why is it that women are defined by their hymen, or lack there of? How much longer will they have to endure being called a slut, a label that does not afflict men even if their behaviour is somewhat ‘promiscuous’? How much longer will we feel sorry for girls who are virgins, in a sympathetic ‘Oh, how sad, she can’t get a man’? Are we only ever saints or sinners? This complex is also evidenced in the fact that men often have a distinct definition of women they would like to be with and women they would like to fuck (lucky us). But in both ways we see that women’s sexuality is repressed. Either we must play up to this innocent pure angel or be doomed to a life as a slut, at the very bottom of the social hierarchy.

contradictions of society are obvious and also very painful: women are constantly told to be sexy (whatever that is) but God forgive them to actually have sex.

The whore archetype is the girl with her knickers round her ankles, eagerly waiting for someone, anyone, to get into it with. She is the pure definition of sexually deviant. And although any member of society can deviate from what is normal sexual behaviour it is us blessed women who are afflicted with this term. Jessica, is the epitome of this ‘character’ with a considerably active sexual life since her teens, she has been called every name under the sun because of her behaviour but she claims that, “At the end of the day it’s my pussy and I will do with it what I want. I used to be ashamed of my number but I realised all that shit doesn’t matter. I like to fuck and nobody can make me feel ashamed of that … Anyways If I was a man my ‘behaviour’ would be celebrated.” The

also labelled as whores or sluts, we are striving for progression, labelling men whores would ultimately be transgressive. It’s actually for us to realise that both men and women should be able to assert and display sexual autonomy. We own our bodies; as such whatever we decide to do with it (responsibility and safety is obviously implied) should not be questioned or judged by anyone. As Jessica explains “My sexual history or number does not define me. But nonetheless my sexuality is a part of my identity, and I think that in this day and age slut-shaming and even the word slut shouldn’t be as encouraged as it is”

Jessica, also highlighted an important point, which shows that promiscuous male behaviour is celebrated in ways that it is not for females: men are players, studs, heartthrobs, the enviable, congratulated ladies man. How many negative terms are there for them? Not many. Women are not offered the same multidimensionality with regards to sexuality that men are. Society makes excuses for men who cheat, ‘he can’t help it.’ Why cant he, why are we always ready to make justifications for deviant male sexual behaviour and not for females? The argument here isn’t for men to be

ways. How very dare them have a sexual life and imagine them having the nerve to do what they like with their own bodies. How shameful! A message regurgitated in movies and on television shows. Sluts are never the good girls in movies and they never get the good guy. And if she does, she is always shown to be ‘saved’ from her contemptuous ways by some dashing, rich, career driven Knight a la Pretty Woman. Th

VIRGIN The dichotomy. By Nanda Poleon

What we are told in fact is: damn those sluts and their nasty evil


The other half of this dichotomy is the virgin or virginal girl: sweet, innocent pure and untouched. She is someone whose pussy is put on a pedestal and in the Freudian understanding is devoid of any sexual fantasies. Katy, 24, is an example of this archetype. She has made the decision not to have sex until she gets married, not because she is particularly religious but she feels that until she gets married will be “good enough” Despite her commendable ideals, she has in fact been made to feel embarrassed by her decision, “like something is wrong with me.” Despite the celebration of abstinence, in a contradictory manner, much of society then goes on to mock them for being prudes. Katy further explains that she has had “friends tell me that if I don’t give up

so shocked by this kind of decision that the only way we can understand it is by rationalising that these girls can’t find any suitors? Must we ridicule these girls for doing something that society has encouraged?

the goods eventually I will loose them. If sex is the only way I can keep a boy interested then that’s not someone I really want to have anything to do with”. People often feel sorry for girls who are “still” virgins thinking it is a lack of opportunity rather than a well thought through decision. Her friends have even said: “but you are so pretty, I’m sure you could find someone.” What does being pretty have to do with anything? Also the euphemism ‘goods’ shows that the vagina is seen as something that is acquired, sex is seen as an exchange rather than a bond (as cheesy as it may sound) between two people, where it’s beneficial to both individuals. Sex is not something you give away. It is something that is shared between two consenting persons. Moreover are we

on, that actually stifles any sexual desires. Glorifying virginity can be just as oppressive as slut-shaming. Societal norms dictate that that your vagina is so precious that you must refrain from having a sexual life, while simultaneously being mocked for doing so or otherwise be condemned as a sex-mad whore forever.

Despite her resilience, she has felt the pressure of abstaining from sex, especially in culture that seems to place so much importance on it: ”I’m not ashamed of it, but nonetheless I feel obliged to not sleep with any one now. I’ve had boyfriends who I have wanted to have sex with but I feel like now I can’t just give it away. A lot of my friends will be proven right… Most importantly though I will be disappointed in myself” This kind of thinking is indicative of the pedestal that virginity can be placed

WHORE All women have a little whore and Madonna in them and this is both natural and normal. But because women’s sexuality has been repressed so much, we are unable to see it as so. There is no way for women to negotiate their sexuality on a neutral ground. Sexual promiscuity is seen as the sign of a morally corrupt society and abstinence is seen as transgressive in a world that is

supposedly sexually liberated. If you decide that you want to sleep with 10 people in one night or that you want to wait till you are 30 then who is anyone to judge? Alas, since you have tits and a vagina you have been told that every sexual decision you make is negative. There is no denying that a women’s body is a sacred beautiful thing, but ultimately it is her body and as such she should be able to do with it what she likes. As of yet though, women have not been allowed the sexual autonomy that men “naturally” get and so the fact remains, we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.


Why are men feeling less manly? By Francessca Gray Over a century ago, women began to group together to discuss their places in society, and how to “avoid being a doormat”, as feminist author Rebecca West put it. How ironic, then that it is now the turn of men to start asking the same questions about their place in the world. After decades of female liberation, and not to mention countless relationship tutorials in the form of Sex and The City, it appears that women are still trying to crack the impossible enigma that surrounds the male species. They are still asking “What is the best way to a man’s heart?” Though as ecently crowned Best Female TV comic at the British TV Awards, Jo Brand sharply comments the answer might be: “straight through with a kitchen knife”. This recent “quip” from Brand reflects, perhaps, a society in which men feel they are negotiating a minefield run by women: 52% of men believe they have to live by women’s rules. The hostility Brand exudes is reflected everywhere we look: from Harriet Harman’s ‘Leheman-Sisters’ joke, to the product Oven Pride, that proclaims to be ‘so easy a man can do it’. There is a vibe in contemporary culture that is neither pro-feminism nor pro-men. According to Judith Williams, author of Sexism With An Alibi, “no advertisement aimed

at the modern woman is complete without showing her embarrassing her bloke, trading him in for a new model, or throwing him out naked into the driveway because he’s chosen the wrong ice cream”.

men they can’t say what they think, has “driven their rage underground, and you end up in a situation where a woman is referred to as ‘it’ and where the behaviour gap between men and women is on chasm like proportions”.

So how is this making men feel? According to a study commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission, society is more equal but less tolerant, with 37% of men believing “the pendulum has swung too far in women’s favour”. Columnist Giles Coren’s statement that “sexism for men is the outstanding social crime of the modern world”, has been applauded by the growing number of men who feel they are being “downtrodden” In the words of Anti-feminist blog Angryharry, “by the stiletto-laden heel of the have it all woman”.

Hoff speaks of such enraged underground movements, such as The MENS Society, at Manchester University and other similar organisations at Oxford University. History and Politics student Ben Wild says he founded The MENS Society after looking around the Student Union and realising “there was a pressing need for men to defend themselves against the idea of male weakness”. Wild believes the dismissal in society men have received in the last decade especially, has begun to create this need for a patriarchy esque mens movement

This bubbling undertone of resentment in male society, is only set to intensify. Christina Hoff, author of The War Against Boys believes “anyone who doesn’t think men are angrier now than at any other time, needs their heads examined”. According to Hoff, the recent Sky Sports episode that saw two male role models dismissed on the grounds of sexism, has given a “massive boost to the increasingly prevalent idea that women are the enemy”. Hoff believes that by telling

Martin Spafford, a secondary school teacher from South East London, believes that the polarisation of genders is also being mirrored in the adolescent stages of society, with “boys continually feeling attacked for who they are”. Spafford argues that there is a sense in school that masculinity is something bad, creating the need for men to constantly justify themselves, which itself can manifest in sinister ways. Spafford believes



TSOL BOYS it is no coincidence that the only rise in crime reported in the official Home Office figures published in January, was that of sexual offences towards women, which rose by 7%. “The angry boys of today will be the angry young men of tomorrow, and they will be very angry indeed. Already you can see the bulk of mainstream pornography in contrast to 20 years ago - involves scenarios that rely on humiliation and stop just short of rape”. Ann Davies, former member of The London Feminist Organisation, believes that the relationship between the genders is becoming increasingly fractured and that men are turning back to the foundations of patriarchy. After the ‘mancession’ we have seen in the last few years, with men making up two-thirds of the 11 million jobs lost since the recession began in

2008, there is an increasing sense of competition from males to fight it out on the same playing field as women, and regain their place in the workforce.

So what might the future hold for gender divides? According to David Chetwood, economic analyst for IBM, “when the economy recovers in 5 years, we will see a surge in the male workforce, as opposed to women workforce, in which one in six aged 25-54 will not be working”. Chetwood labels this increase in men in the working environment a “zeitgeist” for the future male domination of the work force. According to a recent study conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management, women have their ambition limited by worries about whether they can succeed in a male-dominated workplace. Chetwood believes as more men infiltrate their

former stomping ground, women will become threatened and in turn less ambitious, slipping quietly back through the smashed glass ceiling they so forcefully entered through. Experimental psychology student at Oxford University, Elinor Doris, believes the recession has awakened the innate need for men to regain their traditional ‘bread-winner’ role: “In times of hardship, men’s alpha instinct kicks in, and men feel the need to assert their position of authority in society”. Doris says that men will “act upon their re-awoken intolerance of the current trend of females taking charge in the board room, embracing their testosterone fuelled urges” Sasha Havlicek, the 35-year old chief executive of a London research group agrees, having noticed an increasing trend of “many liberalminded men developing sexual and emotional difficulties by being with more obviously successful women”. Rather than quashing this patriarchal pettiness, Havlicek has noticed a rather unexpected trend, that of women “ritually feigning helplessness with their partners to promote their sense of masculinity”. So will men be chaining themselves to Citibank and setting fire to their y-fronts? Not quite. But it certainly seems likely that men will try to reassert and regain their inner-alphas from the bedroom to the boardroom. The generation of because we’re worth it’-women will have another fight on their hands



Rejected for so long, the vagina has become a site of embarrassment for many women. We’re too afraid: to talk about it, look at it, treat it right, even to mention it has been become taboo. But what would your vagina say if it had the chance...















Accepting that feminism is ultimately about freedom and choice is critical in understanding why some women find sex work empowering. Others of course cannot fathom the idea of feminism and what they see as the “debasement” of women. Samantha is self-assured, beautiful and intelligent; she also has a full time job as a stripper. An industry she has been in for three years, she is full of confidence, which she believes has derived from her job. In a world where we are constantly told how girls are depressed and dissatisfied with their appearance and thus lack self-esteem, it is refreshing to hear how Samantha and many other women like her are able to empower themselves via a career that has typically received a lot of criticism. Samantha confirms that rumours of how financially lucrative stripping is, are definitely true. So while she was initially motivated by money, she agrees indeed it has provided her with a very comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle, money is no longer the primary incentive, as she finds stripping both enjoyable and empowering.

Her family were not surprised by her decision, as going against the grain has always been an intrinsic part of her personality. This trait has definitely become necessary, as her “rebellion” is certainly against normative conservative ideals. It is because of this why some of her friends and acquaintances have found her choice in career hard to digest. However to those that question her decision, she says, “I don’t find the need to justify myself, or what I do. Those that are too narrow minded to appreciate the ways in which it can be uplifting are not really worthy of having an explanation from me”.

Fighting with her clothes off. By Nanda Poleon

The default opinion about women who work in the sex performance industries is that they are being exploited. Samantha Bentley bucks this notion. Considering herself to be a feminist, she revels in the sense of empowerment and control that she gains from her job as a pole dancer.

Rightly so. This is something that she has chosen to do and from which she gets much pleasure. Samantha’s logic is that she wanted to strip and so she did. She feels no need to justify her job or lifestyle but believes it is her body and she can decide freely what she wants to do with it. Moreover it is not just something anyone can simply fall into: pole dancers are incredibly fit and Samantha does a lot of training to maintain her figure and skills.

a reductionist understanding of the sex industry would naturally become a cultural archetype. Though there are, undeniably, clubs that allow the workers to be treated disrespectfully, her own experience is that the girls’ safety is paramount. Secondly, she says that she has “met some of the most intellectual women I have ever known through the clubs.”

This criticism of this profession is also a reflection on the fact that “there are so many stereotypes about stripping and sex workers that need to be broken”. Samantha says that not all strippers are “coked up” and in dire poverty as is often depicted in the media and movies. For her, if people believe what is shown in movies to be true, then

In an effort to break stereotypes and not collude with the repetitive criticisms that’s often afflicts the sex industry, an appreciation of how many women are able to ‘use’ their bodies in ways that liberate them from traditional social constraints that often dictate that displaying the body is wrong, is definitely necessary.


Samantha takes pleasure in pole dancing because it allows her to use her performance in order to question radically the sexual power balance and the notion that all sex performance work is bad. As she explains, “People find it so hard to believe that I haven’t been exploited or forced into doing this job …I take pleasure in making money from teasing men” She believes that although critics would state that because she is ‘selling’ her body she is in an inferior position, she is however ultimately has control. Her argument is that if she can make money by selling a fantasy to men that are stupid enough to fall for it, then why not? She enjoys her job and also reaps the social and financial rewards. Additionally the respect that she has for women and their bodies has increased since becoming a stripper, as she says, “I have come to appreciate all women and their bodies the most. Women are amazing, what we do, the things we have to go through… Our bodies are bloody amazing” It is because of this appreciation, why the idea that most strippers are really

competitive and despise each other is completely unfounded: “All the girls are really respectful to each other. There’s a certain stripper etiquette. We’re all trying to make money and for that reason we all respect each other and what each person does … I would never for example dance for another strippers regular client in her presence.” In actual fact, it is misogynistic judgments that annoy her rather than having to deal with any ‘competition’. Comments that propose that she must be a whore because she works in the sex industry are not only unfair but are certainly unsubstantiated. Does being a stripper necessarily mean that you are always ready to give it up? What does? In any case, any woman that is comfortable with showing off her body is often subjected to repetitive remarks questioning her sexual morality. But can your profession really be a basis for being labelled a whore?

body is something to be ashamed of. If stripping allows women to take pride in their bodies then it cannot simply be all bad and oppressive. Furthermore it is often negativity to sex, sexuality and the body, which are more oppressing than stripping itself. Being more embracing of the body, especially the beauty of the female form, in its many shapes and sizes, is essential if taboos are ever to be broken. This is not to say that there are not certain beauty standards that dominate the sex industry. As Samantha corroborates the epitome of beauty for strippers is super slim, blonde, tanned with massive breasts.

The current negativity striping gets is also indicative of the fact that there are still so many taboos about the female nudity, suggesting that the female



But she also says that she “get[s] a lot of customers who are intrigued by me because I look so different to the other girls” with her long dark hair and pale skin. Moreover though being sensual and able to create sexual intimacy between herself and a customer is essentially the basis of what she does, Samantha explains that those best at communicating, would be the top earners, with the most regular clients. So as much as being sexually erotic is important, she says that so is the ability to provide company and be a good listener. The view that stripping allows men to be in control is flawed as ultimately any idea that they can have the girls is a fantasy. As Samantha says she creates a “sense” of sexual interest and intimacy but in reality, this is just a falsehood: the men have to go back to their normal lives and Samantha makes a tremendous amount of money from it. Furthermore, she adds that “Being objectified is such an unfortunately normal part of a woman’s life, I just think why not make money from it.” But by courting men’s fantasies are pole dancers adhering to patriarchal norms, which place men’s satisfaction above anyone else? More importantly, has placing men first become so normalised into our socialisation, that even when women like Samantha think they are being radical, this in itself is also a falsehood. So much so that we think we take pleasure in doing something that oppresses us?

Though not a profession I would particularly choose, I am still able to have great respect for women who are able to negotiate stripping and sex work in general, in ways that are liberating for them individually. Their ability to challenge the stereotypical negative connotations it gets, especially amongst many feminists, as well as their ability to create ownership and have pride in their bodies is certainly celebratory if not inspiring. No matter how normalised we have become to ‘raunch culture’, it is still mainly seen as acceptable for men to visit strip clubs, but to accept that many women do it as a legitimate career, of which they find genuinely empowering, Samantha and women alike, must be commended. If we are to criticise these women for choosing to follow a career and lifestyle that they want, however controversial it may be, then are we any better than historical traditions that dictated that women’s primary purpose was to only ever be the dutiful housewife. These stereotypes state that women are intellectually, emotionally and physically able to do only certain roles. Samantha shows the personal benefits of breaking free of such institutionalised, sexist notions. Only by shattering these taboos are women liberated to seek employment in whatever career they choose. And it is only through this means that we are able rationally, to understand and accept how some individuals find sex performances not only enjoyable but also empowering




By Jasmine Robertson

I’m jealous, she is something I will NEVER be, How can I COMPETE?

I’m TOO quick, emotional, needy, intense, insane. I spit phlegm, I don’t shave my legs, I stink, I smoke, I’m too dependent. I’m NOT SEXY, I like sex, im ugly, WRECKLESS and loose. I’m not her and will never be. I’m JEALOUS, I’m crazy for attention. I DON’T listen, sometimes I convince myself that I don’t feel. I never say being me is all I can be, do you like me as I am? I don’t wait for you to tell me that you like me, I ASSUME that you don’t. I will never be the girl you DREAMED of. She is in your mind and shes taking you away from me 32

In our society, the pre-adolescent girl, the nubile virgin, the sexually active woman, the mother and the grandmother are all expected to look and behave in the same way. GERMAINE GREER



Feminist Fact: The act of naming oneself is empowering. The importance of the language is not only, obviously, in the fact that it allows us to communicate, but also in that the meanings of words change and develop over time meaning that bad isn’t bad anymore, bad is good. So while the negative labelling of a woman or even worse a man as bitch has become so prevalent, no more shall we perceive it to be so. No longer will we accept that any woman who is assertive, confident and opinionated is bad. As if we’re meant to sit down, shut up and take whatever shit is being thrown at us. I know to some it may not be revolutionary, as Madonna famously said many years ago: “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a Bitch okay.” But the fact that we still dealing with remnants of this kind of logic that equates toughness with negativity shows that reclaiming the word is necessary. Furthermore why do norms dictate that women should remain ‘feminine’ and accept politely with a smile what ever bullshit is thrown their way. Why can’t we be both feminine and opinionated? Has it always got to be one or the other? No it doesn’t. So rather than fight endlessly, we should embrace the word. We all have a little Bitch in us. Our own individual inner Bitch. You may not realise it but she’s there. The times when you’ve stood up to your

manager, who always trivialises your contributions. Or told your ‘friend’ to fuck off after she’s told you for the hundredth time that stripes just don’t work for you and your curves. When you’ve had to say ‘No I’m not on my period, maybe I just think that what you’re doing is wrong, that is why I’m shouting.’ Why do you feel the need to justify my ‘behaviour’ on a basis of my menstrual cycle. She’s there alright, only problem is that we’ve been told to control her as much as possible. It ain’t very ladylike to say too much. It’s our time now to take the label and turn it into something positive. It should not be eliminated from speech, but rather used in not such a misogynistic and demeaning manner. It is better to embrace the word, construct our own meaning and understanding of it. It’s an indication of our strength and power rather than a way of describing selfish or malicious behaviour. By using this word in positive way we are able to subvert its contemporary meaning.

it negatively, choose to put women in a submissive position. Label us once again, in a way that makes us inferior, when we have traits that are traditionally associated with men, who are praised for being self-assured, bolshie and go-getting. We are women who choose to stand up for ourselves, those we care about and for things we believe in. Active change has always been the vehicle of choice for any sort of social power shifts. We must take the power back because we are the only ones able to liberate ourselves. It would even seem that merely having an opinion or too much of an opinion would deem one a Bitch. Having an opinion is something we encourage, so if having conviction makes us a Bitch, so be it. They may call you a Bitch for not allowing others to treat you like a doormat. Never apologise for having a low bullshit tolerance.

There is a distinct difference however, between a Bitch and being ‘bitchy’. We do not advocate disrespectful, selfish or offensive behaviour. It is not a label used as an excuse for the mistreatment of others. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Anyone who doesn’t think this can work, is simply guilty of allowing the negative definition to continue, they are actually stopping progress. They are simply people who are overwhelmed by confidence and passion. Those that continue to use



Photgrapher: Aubrey Fagon Model: Ufuoma Itoje Makeup artist: Denise Moretti Stylist: Nanda Poleon




There not much Loren Platt doesn’t do. A self-described “creative multitasking producer” She’s a curator, promoter, DJ, journalist, designer producer and a stylist. If it involves being creative, you can guarantee that Loren has either started it or been a part of it. A true arbiter of what’s cool, she is the go to girl for clients that want anything 90s related, youth orientated and fashionable. And they certainly have come calling: she has worked with Nike, Nan Goldin, ICA, Topshop magazine and many more. How’s that for impressive? Graduating in 2006 with a degree in Graphic and Media Design from the London College of Communications, Loren then went on to work for the production company Endemol on

shows like Big Brother’s Big Mouth, where she learned a great deal into how major productions were run. It wasn’t, however, until she worked with Brent Hoberman founder of that she realised her appetite for wanting to developing ideas from conception into reality. For his latest venture, she worked as a concept designer, of which she found truly inspiring. It was also during this period that Loren founded, the now infamous, Work It night, with Sara El-Dabi who she met at LCC. With a distinct nineties theme, it has a cult following in both London and Manchester, as the go to place for a genuine taste of hip-hop and RnB from its golden era. An idea born because of their obsession with revival

90s fashion and music, and because no other club in London was catering to their needs, it has now though, set the bench mark for the current bevy of 90s revival nights. But while many try to do what they have done, they are neither as popular nor as authentic as Work It. Producing the night also initiated her continued mantra of Doit-Yourself-If-No-One-Else-Is-Doing-It. Moreover it is from developing Work It into a brand that has given her some great opportunities like deejaying at Selfridges, as well as having a popup shop there and doing gigs at the festival Love Box. How many people can say that they played Whitney Houston’s I’m Every Woman in the middle of one of the best department stores in the world?


Loren Platt: The hardest working girl about town. By Nanda Poleon




If all that wasn’t enough, she recently curated the W Project, along with Teo Connor, an event she says is one of the highlights of her career. Launched on 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (8th March 2011), it was a weeklong showcase of work, talks and activities by women from across the creative industry. The motivation behind the event was to “change the stigma attached to feminism and celebrating creative positive female role models in our community.” And that it certainly did, exhibiting some of the most exciting work from young female British talent, it was applauded by Dazed Digital and Grazia. Though her career has taken a path she did not anticipate, she always thought the epitome of success was working for a big corporate company, her freelance schedule has however allowed her “the freedom, time and space to develop projects by my own standards” She says that because she didn’t have the pressure of a large commercial company questioning her every decision, she was able to produce shows, exhibitions and parties, that she loved, without the need for any justifications. While the Work It nights were going from strength to strength, she then decided to go back to university. In 2009, she completed an MA in Fashion Journalism, from the London College of Fashion and earned a distinction. During this period she was also working part time at Central St Martin’s Design Lab in Trend Research. Because of her continued work ethic, even while she was studying, meant that by the time she graduated she was freelancing full time and had built up a wide range of contacts. A true feminist, she believes that it may have lost its touch with young girls of today and in the media because it has become a “dirty word… associated with hairy armpits and bra burning instead of all the positives

that came out of the movement” Her passion for feminism, is in most parts, the catalyst for many of her ventures. She hopes with her many projects, to show what feminism is truly about and to bring women together in a world where sisterhood seems to be lost. For her, contemporary feminism is a lot more “subtle” than it used to be, but nonetheless it is still very influential and certainly necessary. She thinks it just needs to be presented with a more modern approach as ultimately young women are still concerned with how they are represented and issues that effect them. With a ethos of there’s strength in “collective power”, The Firm is a social initiative of Loren’s, co-created with Ruby Savage, that aims to bring together talented women from the online community into the flesh. Initially what started off as dinner meetings has now grown into exhibitions and film screenings. Members of the Firm include artist Josephine Ada Chinonye Chime and founder of The Cube Araceli Camargo. It’s obvious that women and social cohesion are important factors to any projects she decides to undertake. With this venture she hopes to bridge creative women alike, in a space that not only will they be able to offer support to each other but that will also breed collaborations.

Her role models are her contemporaries and friends like Blaise Bellville of Platform magazine, Nina Manandhar of The Cut newspaper. Looking to her peers rather than famous people shows that we do not have to look to celebrities, who often live lives far removed from our own experiences, to be truly inspired. She also admires The All Walks Beyond The Catwalk (who she has also collaborated with), which is an organization set up by Caryn Franklyn, Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor, who through high profile collaborations strive to celebrate and bring more diversity to the fashion industry. A true believer in turning any idea into a reality, Loren has shown that a little faith can go a long way. Anything this creative entrepreneur wanted to do, she did. Her advice to anyone wanting to get into the creative industry is to “give it a try, you don’t have anything to loose and you might be surprised at the success you can achieve on your own. I was.” Considering all of her achievements this advice is definitely something to take heed of. What does the future hold for Loren? “Lots more multi-tasking and independent projects” With her penchant for encouraging women and setting trends, there’s certainly lots to look forward to


You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise ...

You may shoot me with your words,
 You may cut me with your eyes,
 You may kill me with your hatefulness,
 But still, like air, I’ll rise.


To Amina her hijab is a physical sign of her faith, devotion and modesty, yet to many the veil, in its many forms from the hijab to the more extreme burqa, it has become a bone of contention in a society that doesn’t understand its religious and personal value. Furthermore she argues that the debate around it is born out of the fact that despite the fact that we live in quite an ethnically and culturally diverse country, especially evident in larger cities like London, non education between these cultures has lead to stereotypes becoming facts for many people. It is this miseducation that makes people view the veil negatively. The hijab is a veil that covers the wearer’s hair and for Muslim women it symbolises modesty and humility. It is also worn as a way to not attract the opposite sex and is about saving your beauty, for the eyes of your immediate family members, husband and God. Modesty as stated in the Qur’an is important and advised for both men and women. Usually worn from the start of puberty, the veil is worn as a way to not seek attention or to reveal too much of the body. Often the personal significance of the veil is that it signals to others their faith. It acts as public commitment to Islam, Amina confirms that “It’s a constant reminder to always conduct myself as a Muslim. And that I act as a representative of Islam.” She has been wearing the veil for almost two years, a decision she made after doing much research into her religion and into the importance of the veil which lies in the fact that for her it “Covers the beauty of a woman …Its about having respect for yourself”. She urges that despite reports in the media that sensationalise how many women are pressured into wearing the veil, that this simply isn’t true, her family did not “force” her to do it. It is a necessary and important part of her religious identity that became natural after she discovered more about Islam.

Her non Muslim friends were quite shocked by her decision to start wearing the hijab and she did encounter some criticism from them, but she believes this is because of the negative portrayal of Islam and not because it inhibited her personality in any way. She says, “It hasn’t stopped me from being who I am. I’m still confident and bubbly. But obviously because I wear the hijab there are certain things I cannot do. Like go raving and stuff. But as I have gotten older those types of things are not as important as they were before. My religion has a bigger significance on me now then it did before.” She is frustrated by the repetitive and unverified disapproval that Islam receives. She believes that since following her religion more strictly


she covers up will make her less susceptible to attacks from men. In this image and beauty obsessed society in some ways it is empowering to hear how young Muslim women are able to not be duped into placing sole importance in how they look. Yet on the other hand the fact that they have to shield their hair, face etc shows that they are still afflicted by pressures which value women on their looks. Syrai, 23, who has been wearing the hijab for a year argues there is too much focus on body and image and she declares that the hijab significantly reduces this problem. In this way, rather than the hijab acting as an oppressive tool to sustain women’s inferiority as part of a tragically misogynistic society, it can actually


Modesty and liberation. By Nanda Poleon

she has become a better person. Her confidence and faith in Islam is her defnece against any future criticism.

It doesn’t however - as many opposers would propose - challenge or prevent them from interacting with mainstream society. As Amina says “Why should the fact that I cover my hair and dress modestly stop me from feeling included in western life. To me it’s a bit of a silly argument.” What’s more, it is this kind of logic which indicates that stereotypes surrounding the veil need to be diminished. In actual fact, she feels she “get[s] more respect from men since I started wearing the hijab. Men respect my modesty.” She feels that the fact that


discussing the veil as it deals with gender, religion and identity which do need to be understood in terms of their cultural value. allow these women to be judged by their actions and personality. Socially this puts them on par with men who are not faced with the burden of high expectations of physical beauty. For her the veil represents her dedication and modesty but because of Islamophobia, she argues, people see it as a form of oppression and a sign of terrorism, both of which for her are unfounded. It was this kind of “stupid” thinking that made her decision to start wearing a veil, a very difficult one. She worried about what people would say and think but ultimately she chose to wear it because it was important to her fulfilling her life as a dedicated and faithful Muslim. Because even though Syrai was brought up as a Muslim she admits that she was “ignorant” when it came to understanding the reasoning behind different customs and traditions of Islam. An issue she says is very prevalent amongst much of the Muslim youth and even her own friends and family: ”Many of them don’t even know how to pray, despite the fact that they lived in a Muslim household. Even my husband didn’t, he just learnt seven months ago and he’s 27. People just say they are Muslim for the sake of it, because say their mum and dad are, but there is a lot to learn about Islam.“ So like Amina she took time to research and go to many talks about Islam, and it was only after this point when she began to wear the hijab. Although the veil represents avoidance of attention, the recent ban of the niqab and burqa in France, in spite of the small minority of women that actually wear them, has generated a lot of interest and controversy. Women seen wearing full face veils will incur a €129 fine and any man proven to be forcing his wife to wear a veil will face a €30,000 fine and even up to a year in prison. The ban was introduced as Nicholas Sarkozy argues because it “cut[s] [women] off from all social life,

deprived of all identity” and poses a security risk. However Islamophobia has often been cited as the underlying motivation a sentiment that rings with Amina, “People fear what they do not know. The media representation of Muslim women is very poor and often stereotyped. The veil has now become a sign of terrorism” Syrai says: “Even for me, as a Muslim woman, I find the niqab threatening” and csan understand the reason gor the ban. She argues that it is not necessary but many women believe they are fulfilling Qu’ranic requirements. However, she says this is a weak argument as nowhere does it clearly suggest this. From women she knows who wear niqabs she thinks its has more to do with a lack of self confidence than religion. Whatever reasons many women may have to wear it, does anyone have the right to dictate over this right to freedom of dress and of religion?

As justification for the ban many critics argue that many women are often forced into wearing them as a means to marginalise and oppress them. Though not typically occurring Syrai argues in more Western countries, the treatment or more appropriately mistreatment of women in Middle Eastern countries which have a high Muslim population, is irrefutable. Often denied basic access to health care and education, it is easier to understand why many people therefore see the veil as a way to maintain this oppression, whether in Europe, America or Afghanistan . It therefore may be the case that this ban has been used as a way to enforce liberation for many Muslim women. But forcing liberation to those that may not want or need it is ultimately, counter productive.

However Amina sees this ban differently, she does not find burqas socially intimidating like Syrai and believes that the ban is an infringement on ones right to freedom to wear what they choose. “We wouldn’t restrict expressions of sexuality so why should this be done to religion” Quite right. The burqa and niqab for many women are the result of a personal religious journey and for that reason the decision to wear it cannot be simplified and neither should the right to wear it be prohibited.

This idea is part of a logic that, western ‘normative’ values can save these women which is a bit patronizing. That we-know-what-is-best-for-you attitude in this case undermines the importance and significant role Islam may play for these women, as such the view that is simply oppressing is not as clear-cut or certainly not 100 percent correct for every woman that wears a veil. This is not to say that just because it is a cultural or religious norm it should be ignored but rather that these considerations need to be made. This issue of the veil reflects conflicts between sex, religion, identity and social inclusion, as such shows why it is so complex and why tension can arise from a discussion about it.

Despite this though as governments are able to dictate how little we wear, for instance full public nudity is forbidden, something of which the majority of people agree with, why is it then a problem when they impose laws prohibiting how much we can wear? This is not an advocacy of the ban but rather an indication of how problematic an issue becomes when

In actual fact though isn’t forcing women who want to cover up to uncover just as bad as husbands who force their women to cover up? If not it is certainly hypocritical. Is this really a question of safety or is it truly an attack on race and religion. Whether I disapprove or not of what you wear I fully support and defend your right to wear it



I remember furiously stomping out of the chiropractor’s office upon hearing his so-called humour, if that. Some might say that I’m tripping over nothing, but to me, it was a slap in the face. Almost equivalent to that of when the male species passively, yet ignorantly, undermine the pain from our monthly unwelcome visitor. The misconception that killer heels are endured by women for the pleasure of men will wake me from my grave, if not dealt with and set straight in my living days.

“I strongly advise you to veer away from those towering heels here on out. Honestly, why do you insist on wearing them in the first place? You’re tall enough as it is... guys don’t like girls who are taller than them anyway.”

I have been killer heel crazed ever since my mum permitted (permitted, gave up, tomato, toe-mah-toe) me to wobble around in stilts. I had the shoe obsessed heart of Imelda Marcos minus the financial support to back it up. Never in my thirteen years of feetfour-inches-off-the-ground lifestyle, have I opted to heels with intentions to please the opposite sex. And yet, I chose the road that leads to scoliosis and bunions, and not to mention countless occurrences of blisters and black toenails. I owe half my insane tolerance level to a fashion influenced life and the other half to the pure love of shoes.

The thrill of the heel. By Eunyoung Hong



‘My shoes are a bit too crazy to be a fetish (for men). They’re not sexually attractive, I don’t think. They’re more weird. But fashion, I think, is going a bit more [weird]... it’s whoever is weirder or more wonderful now. I don’t know if it’s “sexy” anymore, if you know what I mean.” Shoe designer, Ruth Jones implicates that my dilemma just might be heading in the right direction after all. Or it could be wishful thinking altogether, but either way, generalising that women volunteering to stick with the pain of stilettos merely to satisfy men is complete absurdity, and might I add a tad bit cocky, no?

Designer Eddie Wong admits, “I think a woman in high heels is powerful. They make their legs look longer, their butt look nice, and it makes it harder for them to run away.” After all, this is the general consensus of stilettos coming from men all over the world. I dare not claim to speak for even half the stiletto wearing women of the world, nevertheless, in my own postcode however, I am a Audrey Hepburn body style idealising, Twiggy haircut contemplating, menswear loving, selfsufficient kind of gal whose main goal in life is definitely not to stress my feet to impress the ones from Mars. I just consider myself as a down to earth girl who likes to be kept on her toes, that’s all


The last forbidden word. By Sian O’Donnell


‘A Nasty name for a nasty thing’, or so Francis Grose had us believe in his 1796, Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. The term c*** may exist as a foul-mouthed Anglo Saxon tirade, associated with scouse-spouting football hooligans and builder-bum bearing chauvinists; yet for the length of time it has been in the English language for, the taboo trophy for most offensive is still awarded to this word each year. A term that lives up to its vulgarity, or an expression that has lost its initial meaning perhaps? With the seemingly derogatory term for a woman’s vagina being the obvious connotation of the word, has consequently seen nineteen other distinct meanings presented in Jonathan Green’s 2005 edition of Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang. From an unpleasant person, to destroyto-defeat and the area of a vein in which someone injects narcotics into; additional implications of the word have been established, yet they all have one detail in common; crudity. The time when identifying a woman as a blossoming flower, has since gone out the window and what has been left in its wake, is a word that has more relevance to a duck’s beak than the creator of all life. Yet the prefix, ‘cu’ is one of the oldest sounds in recorded language and is an expression characteristically associated with femininity, as the basis of ‘cow’ and ‘Queen’ etc. So why does the word, ‘c***’ sound so harsh and negativea term that apparently celebrates its female form?

What is recognisable when considering the suggestion of the, ‘See You Next Tuesday’ is the work of Sigmund Freud and the link to his psychoanalysis development on castration; the apparent main cause of why men fear the vagina. If this theory is plausible, then it could be the answer to why men use the word c*** as a distasteful exclamation, said with vigour and aggression. They perceive the vagina as clamping, castrating, violent jaws; recognised in the foundations of the Film Noir femme fatale and Alien film, rather than the soft, safe haven in which it is understood to be. However, to presume this reasoning we need to assume that the man sees the woman purely as an object of sexual desire. This is where pornography sites have swept in and occupied the word for their web pages; enhancing the idea of dirty, filth-ridden, indecent sex being associated with the term. An 11-year old opening a line with, “Hello c****” caused a wave of controversy in the film Kick-Ass, in which a young girl plays a foul-mouthed, comic book superhero. What was more shocking to the audience it seems, was the fact that a young girl was saying it, with the belief that women should not provoke such attack on their genitalia. However, for a woman to state, ‘c***’ aloud has unquestionably, double the impact than a man announcing it. Therefore, could be a sure way to claw back female power and superiority by utilizing the word for their own, as above all, women have the right to use it the most freely, surely? It is this sense of feminism that was recognised in Zoe Williams column for The Guardian in 2006, where she claimed, ‘It’s not the v-word that needs reclaiming but the c-word... bring on the c*** warriors.’

Yet the term does not always need to be read as being abusive. Many use it for terms of endearment, as jovial pub-banter, as a catchphrase to every Danny Dyer film and as an act of amusement. Even Countdown on Channel 4 grasped the apparent joke in 2006, when Carol Vorderman chose the ingenious letters, ‘c***flaps’, which even got a snigger from the oversixty majority audience. John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester’s poem: A Ramble in St. James’s Park, has been described as having the filthiest verses ever composed in English with, ‘But though St. James has th’ honor on ‘t, ‘Tis consecrate to prick and cunt.’ Was it considered unacceptable back then, is an interesting thought and perhaps will foresee an ongoing debate to whether the term is outrageous and grotesque, or quite simply the act of ‘political correctness’ coming into play again. Like the term, ‘f***’ before it, which has gradually been phased out of the offensive region, due to its overuse and general acceptance into everyday language, maybe one day, c*** will have the same affect. No-one will bat an eyelid when a young boy calls an elderly lady crossing the street a, ‘coffin-dodging c***’, or a doctor delivering a baby tells the woman to, ‘keep pushing through her c***’. Perhaps, not. We as a nation love to have one word that is forbidden, that we can say with passion and really mean it; that we know we will get us into trouble if heard by the wrong ears, but will accept the consequences anyhow.


Obsessed. By Charlotte Roberts




Talking to a group of young twenty year olds today got me thinking hard about the predominant issue of today. Amongst this particular group of girls, the main topic of conversation seemed to be dominated by weight. Some girls in the group were skinny, some were average sized, and a couple were a size 12/14 at the most. In fact no one in this group was over a size fourteen, given that the UK average is a size 16, you would think these girls would have nothing to worry about, as their size classed them as below average. This however, was not the case, Emma, a skinny size eight, boasted about how she could fit into a toddler’s swing, the one with the cage around it. It seemed an odd thing to show off about, having hips the same size as a two year old, and very undesirable. Why is that something to show off about? The effect of comments like these from the smaller framed girls of the group had a hugely detrimental effect on the rest: If she’s saying that about herself, maybe I’m too big. Jessica, 20, agreed, it made her feel bad: ‘I’ve noticed everyone is talking about weight at the moment and it’s making me self-conscious, I didn’t used to care, but now it’s all everyone seems to think about.’

Indeed, it does preoccupy a lot of young girls, as they say goodbye to adolescence and enter the world of young adulthood, a lot of girls seem to falter at the first hurdle. When we are scared or unsure, we often balance something else out in order to regain some sort of control, that means of control at the moment seems to be weight. University although an exciting time, also preempts some of this weight concern. You are away from home comforts and your family, and entering a whole new friendship circle, where the rally of support hasn’t yet been fully established. Additionally, you may find it difficult adjusting to your place at university, in contrast with your place at school. Often, I’ve found through talking to this group, the most ‘popular’ or the ‘prettiest,’ at school flounders slightly at university, as they expect their position to transition naturally. This isn’t always the case though, some girls put on weight in their first term often due to the drinking and poor diet. Then summer starts creeping up and people get conscious of their extra weight come bikini season, this is what’s happening now and it’s starting to become worrying. Sandra, who had lost around a stone in five weeks, by going to the gym every day and hardly eating any carbohydrates, was lethargic and moody when I saw her last. She was constantly commenting on how ‘fat she used to look last year,’ and berating herself for not going for a run. Yet, she failed to cotton on to the fact that in order to keep fit and healthy, there is no quick fix. You can’t sit around not eating, feeling lethargic and moaning in order to lose weight. This is the attitude that seems to prevail about losing weight: they want instant gratification without the work that goes behind it.



I noticed this attitude seems to be a malaise of our generation (of 1625 year olds) that also affects our approach to money. Jessie, who is an anomaly, in this group, got straight back from university, worked 12 days straight to save for her holiday, she said she’d “rather work my arse off to spend it on a long holiday, than work in dribs and drabs and spend as I work.” Other girls in the group hadn’t got a job, yet had booked the exact same holiday. How were they going to afford it? ‘Student loan, and my parents.’ This is not an attitude that sits well. I myself have had a job since I was fifteen, and though I won’t pretend not to have an indulged background, I definitely do and it has helped a lot. But I do pride myself on having a strong work ethic and applying it to whichever task is at hand. Whether it be work, keeping healthy or studying, it’s important to instill into young people that hard work and dedication is necessary in any endeavor. This current trend of losing weight and quickly is short-termism personified. More than that is dangerous, losing weight that quickly and through cutting out carbohydrates, and doing some sort of exercise is not healthy. The

premise of ‘joining the gym,’ is not the same as ‘going to gym,’ a concept a lot of girls seem to have confused. I am fully aware that weight issues are not new. I am however concerned as to how many girls I spoke to, of my own age and peer group, that had suddenly found this intense, often unwarranted, obsession with their weight. But we all have questioned our weight at some point. I always thought I wasn’t that bothered about my weight and had been happy with my body, yet when I saw all my friends and peers transformed and talking about ‘no carb diets,’ and doing 5ks all the time, it made me put the focus on my body, I started to think maybe my belly was too big and my thighs to thick. I started to not eat, I lasted a week when I realised I was being stupid. Butit still shows you the detrimental effect it has on young women’s health, even for the more level headed of us. The issue is not helped at all by the bikini pictures in Heat Magazine poured over my young girls, wanting Megan Foxes abs or Katy Perry’s boobs. I can’t even say exactly why it has come up this time round with

such ferocity, maybe it’s bikini season madness, all I know is I don’t like it and the poisonous ramifications it has on other girls around us. Rosie, another girl in the group said ‘It is like a waterfall effect, one person says something, everyone else starts thinking it, if someone skinny says they feel fat, it puts me in a really weird frame of mind.’ Why do they do that to each other? I think it’s time to stop using weight as a weapon and focus on more worthwhile causes like what we’re going to do when we’re older, what we’ve read. Anything, but another conversation about weight


You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else.. in fact you have to be there all the time and see that 68

they do not snow you under, If you are really going to get your reform realized



MAGAZINES ARE not just light entertainment, they are tools whic it what societal norms are. So while undoubtedly no one is forced important to highlight the falsities that they often document.

That beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Obviously we know this, but by the looking at the models they feature in their pages they obviously don’t. Boring much?

That being pretty is the only attribute that matters. The fact that only feature ‘pretty’ women in their mags certainly implies this.

That your sole goal is to please your partner, don’t see how to please your woman on the front of men mags. That you shouldn’t have sex on the first date! Why the hell why not? As long as both parties are responsible and consenting I see no objection.

That we care about how much weight whatever Z lister has recently lost. They pretend like they’re advocating healthy eating and exercise. But in six months when these serial yo-yoers put it all back on, they’ll be there to pull them off of that pedestal, again!


ols which convey and teach those who read s forced to read them, it is nontheless still nt.

That every model/ actress/singer is even more beautiful in person. Not very believable.

That highlighting the flaws of others will make us feel better about our own insecurities. No matter how many photos we see of Kate Moss’ alleged cellulite, will not change the fact that we are who we are and she’s still Kate Moss

That there is always a new insecurity that you didn’t know even existed until you read their latest piece on why your life is crap. Also that buying __________ (insert newest cream, pill, exercise) will make your life better. At least they’re consistent

That you have to be totally ruthless to be successful. Actually no! It is possible to be nice and successful

That femininity can be achieved through consumption. Just buy a,b,c, through to x, y and z and you can be the women you dreamed of being. Bloody fantastic.

Why wait? By Jasmine Robertson

There is something tantalising about the interlinking relationship between sex and power. To have or hold power is to know; if you know something then you exude confidence, and to know your own body is powerful and sexy. Your body is the home of your soul and the house of your thoughts, the temple of your spirituality, and the keeper of your energy. Lets go deeper and say that your vagina is the Queen bee in her nest; waiting to make some wild honey. Queen Bee wouldn’t be the queen if she didn’t know how to make the honey. What I am implying is that if you don’t understand the dynamics of your body then how can you expect anyone else to? I believe that it is time for women to take responsibility for their own sense of pleasure; it’s a requirement for sexual independence and autonomy. We are no longer chastised and held by the forces of dominating patriarchal dogma. We are no longer accused of being witches and burnt at the stake for the magical might of the clitoris! The Vagina Monologues screams at us: “Who needs a gun when you’ve got a semi automatic”, let alone a large selection of pink, blue, red, yellow, huge, thick, vibrating dildos with speed control, bring it on Mr. rampant rabbit. The west has long discovered feminism, equal rights and justice for all women. However it seems as if we have failed to cultivate the pleasure of a very basic and instinctual human experience. We are Goddess’ and need to feel in sync with the natural rhythms and sensual appetites of our bodies. We needn’t be so shy; ladies should play with their own balls.

“I cant remember the last time I actually came..,. I never cum…I don’t know what my pussy looks like” This is the kind of thing I hear constantly and its exhausting me. I can’t tell you how to have good sex, each person dances to their own tune. However I can advise you too masturbate, fanny bash, charm the cobra, rub the oil lamp, ejaculate and shoot for the stars whilst singing Mariah Carey’s “touch my body”, you dig? To be less explicit, stimulate your orgasm by inserting and rubbing the g spot….try the vulva, clitoris, nipples, anal stimulation, if that’s what gets you hot, touch your body. Do it now. I’m playing with you don’t jump the gun, allow me to finish masturbating your mind first and you can go fishing later. It’s a lot better than daydreaming about the sex that you probably won’t get. I say take action, discovering what pleases you sexually, can help your partner and those in the future to give you the fire that makes you purrrr like a pussy that’s never been pampered.

For some reason or another female masturbation lingers in the area of the taboo, throughout history women have suppressed their sexuality and the expression their innermost desires, wants and needs. Whereas men on the other hand (excuse the pun) have been allowed to become the professional wankers of the world. Lets go back to how it was, like in ancient Egyptian times when they celebrated female sexuality and pictures of their vaginas were showcased in temples and illustrated on posters and banners to celebrate this wonderful gift from their Gods. You should masturbate, it will make you feel good. It’s your own dirty little secret. You don’t have to shave your legs, do your hair or plaster yourself in coloured vegetable oils, glycerine and perfumed alcohol to do it. Release the beast I say and hoorah for self love. Madonna sums up this situation pretty well when she says “Poor is the man whose pleasure depends upon the permission of another.”


D.I.Y 73

Punnany Power Mission Statement We have been lied to, dictated about, stereotyped, insulted, trivialised, ignored, misrepresented, about our contributions to society, our value in society, what femininity and sexuality are and what it means to be women. But no longer.

We will prove those wrong, who think that we are too normalised to, accepting or even ignorant of the false hood of femininity that they create.

To those that say we we are too dumb or not pretty enough. Or worse a combination of the two. We will fight. We are all beautiful and our opinion does matters. We will fight to separate our sexuality from the expectations of others. We will fight all the stereotypes that say that we cannot be both sexy and respected. Yes we have our faults. We’re certainly not perfect. But perfection is boring anyways. And anyone that cannot recognise that being different is perfectly fine, then it’s them who we worry for.

Because we are different. We will not be made to feel inferior or rendered unable. We will not be afraid to be overwhelming or ridiculous.

Because we are intelligent and educated. And because we are tired of restrictive and repetitive ideals of what femininity is. We will fight.

No longer shall we see sexist or misogynistic behaviour and ignore it. Because by now we know brushing off, ignoring or trivialising issues does not make problems go away.

Why should we shut up, sit down and me made to feel powerless. Society has given us no other choice, we are feminists and if we don’t like something we going to do everything in our power to change it.

Love yourself. Have your say Fuck normality.


Punnay too bad Punnay too rude


Electric Punnany  

Punnany too rude Punnany too bad

Electric Punnany  

Punnany too rude Punnany too bad