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Eclitor's Note Often amid the day-to-day rush that is Cambridge, moments that matter end up side-lined or forgotten. Moments of drawing in, such as sitting alone listening to a podcast and drinking a mug of tea, or those warm conversations with friends that aren't productive or intellectual but are just general chat for the sake of chatting. Comfort can be found in different places and at different times, sometimes we can relax into it (watching a film, dancing in fez) other times we have to fight for it (being visible in a room, being equal in a conversation). As women and non-binary people we have to step into spaces that are not comfortable - spaces where it is harder for us to speak, or when we do speak it is harder for us to be heard. When vrre stand in these spaces we are gazed at, potentially judged, and generally expected to represent all vromen, or all nonbinary people - we are never allowed to simply just stand there.

For me, comlbrt is that gap in time lr'hen I can simply be - where I don't have to think about rn hat I'm going to say next or how I am being perceived or what I SHOULD be doing (or am not good enough to do - hello imposter syndrome). Comfor-t is essential, welfare-orientated and political. This zine is a collection of thoughts and feelings, sketches and musings that document the lived experience of what it means to be a woman or non-binary person in Cambridge, and how this intersects with the importance of comfort ag ain st exclusiviqr, again st inequalit;r, against j ud gement. What is brilliant about the Gender Agenda zines is that they are collaborative. I hope that this zine acts as a kind of comfbrting-build-yourselfup and to continue this sense of the collective we have made a google doc to add songs that you find comforting (fbr whatever reason ! tune ! memory attached I lyrics I ) which we will make into a Spotift plavlist that anyone can access. The link to the playlist and google doc will be posted onto the Gender Agenda Facebook page. Cbmfort, always, Krtya Mark - 'Women's Campargn Zine Officer 20lB-2A19 & the Michaelmas Editorial Team


1

Contents

comfort weaving hands

comfbrt editor's note comfort drawing l/ Sara Pocher comtbrt poem // Blanca Schofield-Legorburo comfbrr picture poem // Anon;,'rnous

comlbrt poem (Me and my scales, an af.fair) // Matilda O'Callaghan CN: lietinq /,tcalet / rqferencel to roeight lotd an? boly b,tue,t' comfbrt prose l/Laura Lewis CN: ?fucu,tdirtn af amirity comfbrt photographs // Lucy Marie comfort poems // Beatrice Carpenter collective comfbrt boxes notes pajge

comlbrt prose and drawings // Charlie Williams CN: ?fucu.r,rion of tnlly iddtu,t

comfbrt poem (An Interesting Dream) // Work in Progress comfbrt doodle // Emma Hall comfbrt poem (Bedspace) (Therapy Diary) /l Work in Progress comfbrt watercolour (Let's Hold Hands) // Emma Hall

comlbrt lavender coilective comfbrt boxes notes page

comlbrt poem (Cherry Tree Picking with Rebecca) //I{rtyaMark comfbrt poem painting (Learning to Make Jam)

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But so rnuch love That I confuss It"

Comfort - they say "l want safety I want certainty Loy*lty For who?

But cornfort I lock for love, I look for warmth $q rruch wfirmth That I trust It.


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i. tl[at iha O' Callag han CN. Diztirry/Scale"t/Referencer to weight /o,r,t a,t? lro?y Lutu,r

Me and my scales, an a*fair: These scales Tell me the

Truth

Of the numbers Droppin e d^y by day F{our by hour, There's comfort In the falling off this earth Floating so weightless That I might just one day, I)isappear. So

I comeback

Fveryday Morning, lunch, evening Crl,rtn&

at gain

Celebrating at loss You rny {iriend Show the truth So I obse$s overyou

running anytirne I'm unsure Hate you some days l,aveyou others

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But you'r:e always There.

I cannot tell anyane else

Onlyyou Know How I want to Fade.

But one da.y

I saw inside ./tr{yself

A qualitative being Who had substance And needed not to compete W.ith other wornen For men's approval And instead Find comfbrt in myself illo love all, And now I r,veigh My strength, empathy and passion Instead. Sornetimes still, I'm cold, hurtful and darlt To myself' And I run to the scales

For comfort Forgetting m-r, light And the light that all wolrren Need To abandon the mwh Of beauty And see how truth Lies within our:selves And not with the numtrers That leave nightmares Calculated in our heads. Ta[<e our hands, our L,rilliant minds,

And stand together You me us a[ This is comfort

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And together We weigh thousands In love.


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Laura Lewi,t CN. Ducutti"on of toxicity

Did yau spend the vast majorrty of your teenage and ear\r adulthood sort of uncomfortable due to the normalisation of toxic beliefs held by those close to yo:u? It's not like these people who are funry and bursting with life and sociabtlity are tn any sense 'bad', as it goes. But, rather, as you've slowly risen to the surface and come to realise the nature and pervasiveness of harmful and toxic beliefs as a practic illy inherent part of your identity in liking what is on the surface of most people, /outre suddenf,' world's worst. I can only describe it like this: literally eve{yone is laughing and it's so totally funny, itns actually so funny your gut begins to ache as you lose the cap acr4r to logicatrly order your thoughts and feelings. It feels so good, to feel this good. But, as everyone continues to laugh, you regain normal posture and calm yourself, like the lens has shifted even though everyone is still on the floor pissing themselves. You remember what originall;r made you laugh, and now it won't even give shape to a smile. Now yuu can't even find anything funny.

I mean, how does it make you feel? When the people you Iove are $o en)ayable to be in the company of everything


they do is seen through a rose-tinted lens, and in this sense, &re we just the foundations onto which they can further erect their pseudo-honourable person ah4r7 I find it a million times harder to confront someone I am particutrarly cleise with in comparison ta a stranger I hold no intimate ties with. And that's when I began to think I was too tied ta what good I could see in them as opposed to what waJrs they were structural allies to the things I feel so strongly

about changing.

It definitely is more complicated than it

sounds when you consider just how entrenched you are in the environment in which you must grow before yav can destroy.

It's the objective violence that we miss in the midst of a gocrd person ality" It's the humorous persona, the goofyBBQ-dad gimmick, and the normalized ideological beliefs regardirg sexualiqy, gender, race that simrner in their funniness. If we recagnrze the toxic components of those we lov e, cara we still love them? Do we accept them as they are upon this revelation, or separate them from the clear violence that comprises them? Can we even speak about it?

I don't think anecdotal context is necess ary. I just hope you know what I mean when I say we know these peopl*. And ar you gro.w, you realise just how pervasive this stuff is. And it's just as simple as it is complicated. Take comfort


in the f'act tlrat if'vou f'eel this, I do too. And if you can't always call people out or feel like -you could do without the l<now that grow,ing in to what -l,rott are notv lvas a much l:etter option than becorning what the,1, are- An uncomfbrtable thought I can only hope brings you cornfb,:t tE:

know I feel it too"


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Beatrice Carpenter

S"y hello to the sea for me. I haven't seen it in a while and I miss It's sweet nostalgic spray and the lull of the waves as they fight each other to reach the shore, clasping at the safery of the sand. When we were young we would go to the beach, Walk its length and listen as our Wellingtons crunched the shells ignorantly. Anything said was safe, a bubble of salqy air and seagulls keeping our words in. Not to be discussed when the ice cream had melted or we stopped feeling the sand in our shoes. The romance of the seaside.

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Beatri.ce Carpenter

Peppermint leaves spill, fragrantl;r adorning my counter top. I\r feet skid on the wooden floorboards playing tag with my socks. The chair I eventually land on is 'warm, heated by summer it rejects me, scorching my thighs as if to scold me for stealing its sunlight. The tea whirlpools in my hands singing a song of summer mornings, splashing onto my freckled fingers. The steaming surface acts as a canvas for the sun to print an intricate pattern across, a linal piece for the days end. My legs curl up as predicted and I sit sti ll

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Having been recently inspired by the idea of viewing the body as a piece of art, I decided to do just that one evenirg - I took off my clothes, made my bed (lol), and settled down to take some nudes of myself. Surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience, and by how I wasn't disgusted with the ourcome (this was a BIG surprise), I thought I'd take on the next challenge of drawing myself from the photos. These s}<etches are the result: a series of me, by me, and for me. I like to look at them as me commenting on my own body something which I have never truly given myself the opportuni$r to do, as I always seem to let other people comment fbr me. In the process of sketching, I was reluctant to taclcle the areas of my body I f'eit most self'-conscious and uncomlbrtable about. Recognising, however, that I was drawing nry,telf - rather than a version of myself I thought I wanted to be - I forced myself to include these parts. At first this made me uncomfortable, as if I was drawing attention to the parts of my body I had hated for so long. I was even hesitant as to whether I should continue at all, as the process was clearfr pushing me out of my comfort-zone into a space I had never been before. I)espite this, I persisted. Once the drawings were finished, I realised that these parts of my body that I have been so self'-conscious of didn't jrr*p out of the paper and scream for attention like I thought they would. I realised that these parts of my b"dy didn't make me look any less beautiful a{ter all. They are simply just a part of each picture. They are simply just a part of me. This is not to say, however, that this process of drawing has made me love my body. These sketches have simply made me more comfbrtable with it. This 'comfort' isn't about being h"ppy with every single detail of how I look. Instead, it is about accepting - whilst not being held back by - the fbct that certain elements of my body sometimes mal<e me feel self-conscious and uncomfbrtabie. Since I drew the sketches, they have been hung up in my room here at Cambridge. This has encouraged me to look at my body as a piece of art eve{F single day. In doing this, I am reminded of the process of drawing and how this has helped me become more accepting of my body. Although I don't know if I can truly label myself as 'body-positive' or'bodyconfident', I }<now for sure I am far more 'bodv-comfortable'than I have ever been before.


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An intersting dream I'm asleep in bed. I wake up. I'm lying on my side an can

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Someone lies down next to me, so we're back to back.

I don't look. Me: 'Excuse me, this is my bed.' Voice: 'I know idiot, I came to lie withyou.' The voice sounds fbmiliar, but I can't piace it. Me: 'Clearly you're new to these parts of town, normally you need someones permission to get into bed with someone else... Unless you're a slut.' Voice: 'Ahem, I think we can both agree that YOU'RE the slut out of us.' Me: 'Oh yeah? And who even is 'r,r,e'? You sound so f'amiliar, but I can't placeyour voice.' Voice: 'It's Ruthl' -annoyedMe: 'Ruth...Why does that sound like I should knowyou? The memorys not quite there, sorry.' Ruth: 'Wow, someones a bit sleepy.' Me: 'Well I was sleeping until you rudely interupted me, miss Ruth! You still havent answered why, eitherl' Ruth: Jaughs- 'Because you hate feeling alone, idiot.' Me: 'Hey cut it out with the idiot! And when did I say I hate f'eeling alone?' Ruth: 'You didn't have to say an;,'thing, you never let me in.' Me: 'Well I've only just metyou, Ruth.' Ruth: 'Andyet I don't seeyou getting up either.' Me: 'Fair point.' Ruth: 'So now I hawe to ask, why areyou here?' Me: 'I don't know.' Ruth: 'Sure you do.' Me:'No I don'tl' Ruth: -pauses, bit awkward after a while- 'I guess you should just say the first thing that you want, then.r

-Ruth places her hand on my shoulder, somewhat comfortinglyMe: -I think for a while. Every,thing is silent- 'I guess... I just want to be fbrgiven.... Yeah, more than anyhing.' Ruth: -puzzled-'By who?' I turn around to look at Ruth. The bed is empfz. I have a brief moment of surprise and confusion, then the dream ends.

So there you have it! I normally really understand my dreams, but this one is going to puzzle me fbr a while I think; I know it means something but it's 2am and I keep making S,pos, so I think I'll just work it out later.

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BEDSPACE hard to let myself trust practice it, feel it enjoy it, believe it hard to let myself fun love sun

shimmering blades of grass in the wind broken shards of glass glistening hands run over, brush with fingertips ///listening fingertips Iilt over, brush Iips hips skin begin, please

i feel like a machine, a figure, a frame, vague thoughts of fog, anxieties of sociefr socialise me, like twisting limbs into place hold me, f'ace to fbce breathe at me make me forget the rest of the human race the way you look at me could cauterise rvide pupils, wild eyes bit lips, giggles and quips kiss me, again and again tell me 'we're friends stay rvith me when the battery ends


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and all my ions bubble out, loud I hiss, I fi,zz, shut down, meltdown, nuclear reserves I've let masochists mine and it's beautiful how you'll never be mine

you're too good to me confronting me comforting me beloved )azzzzzz

laughs laughs laughs the lady's bottom, bum day,

Ars mornrng dawning slorny sprawling orbiting thoughts like infinity naked and nameless aimless and blameless fbrgive me, i forgive you live me, i live you

i love you "i can do quiet and nice" ADFIDo me every d"y


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‘Autumn is a time for drawing in’ - these words were handed to me down the phone at the end of a soft conversation. In my quiet room I turned them over in my mind and felt their weight. I wasn’t quite sure what they meant. Over the next few days I tried them out in different ways - I took time to snuggle up in bed; I went on a cycle along the river and watched snow-coloured geese standing in a line on the opposite bank, dipping their beaks into the water to kiss their own reflections; I sat at my window each morning and watched the leaves change colour and fall from the trees; I wrapped myself up against the rain; I turned my radiator up to full blast; I listened to the same song on repeat; I stuck pictures to my walls and rearranged the furniture in my room. I still didn’t really know what ‘drawing in’ might mean. How do you find time for yourself and still keep up with all of the connecting there is to be done with people, places, things? How do you balance the energy you get from spending time with yourself, with the different kind of energy that you might get from being with other people?

‘Autumn is a time for drawing in’ ‘Autumn is a time for drawing in’

‘Autumn is a time for drawing in’, (even though I hadn’t figured out how to do it or what it meant or whether it was about any kind of ‘doing’ at all, or about not doing, or about something in between) began to play like a mantra in my head. I found myself singing it in the shower. I laughed at myself, confused why I had adopted this little and elusive saying.

Then, on a Saturday evening I got a message from a friend. It was in part about a conversation she had been having with her mum, part about a train journey, and part about a biro. What it was all about was drawing, and the realisation that, after not drawing for a while, it was time to start again. She wrote about drawing not as a noun - not as ‘this is A Drawing that I have done’. She talked about drawing as an action and a process, as picking up a pen and letting something happen, as a kind of “poetry making on a page”. ‘Autumn is a time for drawing in’ became for me ‘Autumn is a time for Drawing In’. To draw in — to draw within — to take as a space to use for drawing — something telling me to pick up a pen, a pencil, a paint brush, some ink, to take my finger to a steamed up window and make marks in it, to notice the lines my bike wheels make on concrete after cycling through a puddle.The wonderful thing about drawing is that it gathers everything to a point, gives you this intense and heightened focused as your mind is directed towards that point where drawing-implement meets surface, the point at which mark is made and then pulled out into line, shape, form. The world focuses around you, things become quiet in a purposeful way, time moves beautifully. But that very bringing-to-a-point also seems to open outwards, to release something — your mind extends, finds itself somewhere else, begins to day-dream. Drawing is about the minute and the expansive all at once. And it is in this balance of big and small, inner and outer, that comfort finds itself appearing for me, and when I feel most comforted and most connected. On /// Monday 19th November /// in Sidney Squash Courts /// from 19:30 to 21:30 /// you can come to the Gender Agenda Zine Launch and Exhibition and see the different kinds of comfort that some women and non binary people find in creativity — and do some making (maybe even some drawing in?) yourself.


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// Sketch Your Thoughts //


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Gender Agenda: Comfort Zine  

CUSU Women's Campaign termly zine Gender Agenda presents: Comfort. This zine is a collection of thoughts and feelings, sketches and musings...

Gender Agenda: Comfort Zine  

CUSU Women's Campaign termly zine Gender Agenda presents: Comfort. This zine is a collection of thoughts and feelings, sketches and musings...

Profile for kitya.m
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