W S T S
THATâ€™S WHAT SHE SAID
Annabel Nugent “Don’t follow your dreams. Follow my Instagram.”
Jess Baxter “Strong and stable.”
the twss grrrls
photographed by Maria Paradinas
Maya Jones “That’s What.” - She
Joy Molan “Be the cringe you wish to see in the world.”
Elle May “Weak and unstable.”
issue 13 // page 2
Hello from the senior editors
We’re approaching graduation jobless, in debt but somehow still more qualified than Trump. Confronted by a world that’s starting to look like a Margaret Atwood novel, it’s easy to feel insignificant, like nothing you do will actually amount to change. TWSS may only be a university magazine but with every article, illustration and photograph we publish, we hope to carve out a space for all and to amplify the voices that go unheard day to day. As scary as it seems, every word we write as feminists helps to make this university a more inclusive and progressive place. Don’t let student journalism be reduced to ‘top 10 Bristol bums’. Stand up, speak out, and start that article you’ve been meaning to write. The little things are important. Love, Annabel & Maya
128 likes ladylilith Feeling myself. #mornings #girlgaze #skin #hands #intimacy #takenwithiphone #shadows #light #sunbeam #springvibes #inbed #dazed #dazedandexposed #preraphaelite #dante #gabriel #rossetti
issue 13 // page 4
Is my selfie for myself? Annabel Nugent asks if the selfie can ever be empowering. Illustration by Billie gavurin. “You’ve been tagged in a photo”. My stomach drops as I wait anxiously for the photo to load that will decide whether it’ll be a good or bad day. “You look totally fine – honestly the photo is good”, I console my friend on the other end of the phone. It’s a sad but familiar feeling for most women, and one that I personally find avoidable by taking a selfie. The right lighting, the right smile, the right angle; with a selfie, I’m in complete control (a nice change). I decide which image of myself is put out there for others to see.
“is taking a selfie a feminist move of self-love?”
friends of friends having ‘the best night ever!!! (insert salsa girl emoji here)’. On a serious note, Instagram fosters feelings of inadequacy about appearance, lifestyle and popularity. Selfies are a big part of this. ‘Every girl wishes she could get three hundred likes on her pictures. Because that means you’re the girl everybody wants to fuck’ tells a 17-year-old girl to Nancy Sales, the author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. This is the sad reality for plenty of young girls, for whom self-esteem is determined by the number of likes you get, and self-worth becomes directly correlated to how fuckable you appear to men.
This ‘staged’ aspect is not celebrated by most surveyors of the selfie. Baby boomers and millennials alike are quick to condemn the phenomenon as the embodiment of the simultaneously narcissistic and insecure, attention-seeking and crying-out-for-help, overlyconfident and needing-validation young woman of 2017. Crowned Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year four years ago, the ‘selfie’ continues to rule over social media, a domain which increasingly bleeds into real life. From the divided comments over Kim K’s infamous (and fabulous) nude selfie to my own mixed feelings of liberation and fear of judgement when uploading bikini clad mirror pics, the selfie is a hot topic for feminist debate - as frivolous as it may seem. So then, in what circumstances is taking a selfie a feminist move of self-love and in what cases is it a reflection of destructive patriarchally-enforced insecurity?
Of all the images on Instagram though, I find the selfie to be the least harmful for my self-esteem. Given the history of men controlling women’s bodies in advertisements, politics and fashion, a selfie gives a woman the chance to craft her own image. So in a selfie, I know that this girl is putting her best foot forward; I know this girl has found her best lighting, her best angle, or wants to show off her make-up or celebrate a good skin day. And the best thing about it is, I know this girl loves this picture of herself and is happy with it being out there for people to see. I love that selfies are about YOU and about ME and there’s nothing wrong with that. Selfies are a retort to that stupid One Direction song that suggests women can only be beautiful if they don’t know that they are.
As of December 2016, there were over 282 million selfies on Instagram so it seems silly to talk about the selfie without considering its most popular platform. It came as no surprise that the recent #StatusofMind survey found Instagram to be the most harmful social media site to young people’s mental health, negatively impacting body image, sleep and fear of missing out. We’ve all been in bed and found ourselves scrolling through the endless feed of tall, tanned, blonde girls feeling like the second Byron burger wasn’t the best idea. Staying home to watch season after season of The Office seems a little less fun after looking at the Instagram stories of all your
We are told to love ourselves right up until the moment that we actually do, and then all of the sudden, just like that boy on Tinder who tells you you’re hot until you agree with him, you’re now a conceited bitch. Having confidence on social media today is no small achievement. When everything is telling you that the only way to be beautiful is to be white, slim and able-bodied, it’s a big thing to put yourself out there knowing you don’t tick those boxes. Following a bunch of sassy, cool Asian girls on Instagram has hugely boosted my self-confidence; it’s nothing new
“a selfie gives a woman the chance to craft her own image”
that seeing yourself represented is a nice thing and these girls give me something relatable to look up to. Of course beauty isn’t everything and it shouldn’t even be on a list of things that amount to any value. But the reality is that most women do measure some of their self-esteem by their appearance. So even though I know that physical beauty isn’t actually important, I still feel better seeing Chinese girls in ‘Vogue’, or bigger girls in ‘Women’s Health’ being held up as beautiful. Selfies on Instagram give us a chance to construct ‘beauty’ from the ground up. If what’s popular on Instagram are selfies of girls feeling good with their cellulite or body hair, we’ll hopefully see that reflected in advertisements and on television. Instead of mainstream media dictating what’s considered beautiful, selfies on social media have the potential to redefine what beautiful entails.
“selfies can be a way of challenging what constitutes beauty” Instagram is a rabbit hole; I don’t know how many hours I’ve lost scrolling through the explore page but I’ve realised that the less I click on conventionally hot girls advertising FitTea, the less I see them. To an extent, we can control what we see on social media; my explore page is looking a lot less white girl posing with coconut and a lot more Asian girl with art painted on her face than it was when I was 16. Finally, just let women enjoy things for once! Our typically ‘feminine’ interests are continually policed: feminism isn’t a noble political cause, Justin Bieber isn’t real music, Keeping Up with the Kardashians isn’t quality tv, netball isn’t actually a sport. It’s a messy conclusion; selfies aren’t always empowering nor are they always narcissistic cries for validation, but they are a logical response to being conditioned to think that being ‘pretty’ matters. For the here and now, being ‘pretty’ does matter and so selfies can be a way of challenging what constitutes beauty and are a brave act of self-assertion and self-love. So before you call me or any other girl out as conceited for posting that cringey bikini mirror pic, think about how selfies can be radical in changing the way we look at ourselves and how others look at us.
issue 13 // page 6
We are all
on a stage
dO CLOTHES MAKE A MAN? Nicole Douglas Morris turns to gRAYSON pERRY for answers. Illustration by jESS bAXTER. ‘I grew up thinking that men just are, while women have to work at it’, writes Grayson Perry in his most recent book, The Descent of Man. This misconception is propagated within families, institutions and structures around the world. The belief holds that being a man is effortless and natural, far removed from the stage-shaking performativity of womanhood. Popular culture would have us believe that our breasts are superficial appendages affixed onto chests, always consciously flaunted or hidden, and that blusher, dangly earrings or fishnets reveal far more consideration than men’s workwear or choice of underwear. In fact, none of us just are.
and straightforwardness, women are characterised as over-the-top and frilly. Perry affirms that ‘inherent in a lot of old-school male attire is a feeling that it is “classic”, “appropriate” or “essential”, that it is hardly clothes at all, more like a pelt that comes with the role’. Male costumes have simply been normalised by dominant culture so as not to make their wearer feel like they are dressing up - but we are nearly always dressing up. Men’s clothing lines continue to be shaded in safe, ‘manly’ colours and are advertised using buzzwords like ‘practical’ or ‘utility’. We continue this sham so someone will buy it without being made to feel like they’ve picked it simply because they like the way it looks.
“men are praised for their simplicity and If we acknowledge that there is no inherent behaviour, straightforwardness” We all subconsciously work at our identities, despite hoping that they flow naturally from our inner, ‘truer’ selves. The myth is that men have less to prove and less to perform. This is disruptive to all genders: men feel nervous of appearing too concerned with their appearance or behaviour and the rest of us feel excessive. Perry argues against this damaging assumption, confessing his own childhood concern to appear manly despite an interest in wearing dresses. ‘Real man’ culture stems from these ideas and causes men to wonder, “am I a real man? what would a real man do?”. ‘Real men in their eyes are authentic, with no need for performance or, in other words a layer of behavior on top of something else’, explains Perry. Not feeling like a ‘real man’ causes men to compete with one another to achieve this perceived, genuine masculinity. In extreme circumstances, this can even lead to acts of violence. I am interested in the ‘layer of behaviour’ that many fear. This is because women often feel that they themselves are covered in various layers which need to be unpeeled. For instance, ‘curves’ that are an addition to the original, plainer male body, or the farce of jewellery and creams and thongs. While men are praised for their simplicity
that a suit and tie are no more naturally masculine than a skirt is feminine, then we make a start on unpicking patriarchal theories created to make women feel superfluous. In the meantime, remember, you’re onstage!
HYSTE ICAL R WOMEN
Joy Molan compares her experience of performing in a one-off women’s sketch comedy show to other stale, male university productions. Illustration by Jess baxter. When my Facebook popped up with a message telling me that I had been cast in the Bristol Revunions’s annual women’s sketch show, I was delighted. As my friends and family will attest, I rarely miss an opportunity to attention seek (especially if it involves actual applause). I had performed with the Revunions before at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, but had drifted away from their weekly sessions due to a combination of final year stress and increased waitressing shifts.
However, I couldn’t shake some niggling doubts. I wondered if singling women and oppressed genders out for a one-night-only performance was tokenistic. Reflecting on Georgia O’Keefe’s celebrated statement, ‘the men put me down as the best woman painter. I think I am one of the best painters’, I bristled at the prospect of being patronised as funny for a girl. I was also sceptical that the show would evoke any lasting change. So I went to the first writing session enthusiastic but with a little trepidation.
“I found myself filling in for the nurse/waitress/ I quickly realised that this show was going to be unlike mother/girlfriend/sister” But if I’m being totally honest, there was one other thing that had kept me away. In previous shows, I had felt alienated by the overwhelmingly male cast of writers and actors. They would banter and scribble away, while I constantly felt on the outside of the joke. The humour was competitive – a contest open only to those who liked their TV shows and got all the insular references. I found myself filling in for the nurse/waitress/mother/girlfriend/sister in their sketches, while my own writing was relegated to selfperformed monologues. This is not just a Bristol problem – the St. Andrews’s 2016 Fringe show included no women and, while at Edinburgh, I watched show after show where women were treated as a niche concern. Sadly, this was largely due to thoughtlessness on the part of otherwise nice, friendly guys. Since then, the Bristol sketch society has been taken over by the fantastic Flora Donald, who has spent her presidency championing women and other oppressed voices. So, now seemed like the perfect time and opportunity to get back into the uni comedy scene ________________________________________  Why am I so bad at saving money?!
any I’d been in before. The group, comprised of those who had often been forced to grow in the shadow of larger personalities, was refreshingly open and collaborative. There was no clique. Everybody was happy to write together and fine-tune each other’s punchlines, without the big egos of previous productions I’d been in. It was empowering to finally see more than ONE woman in a sketch at a time, not just playing the set-up for someone else’s joke, but as a funny character in her own right. The sketches we devised ranged from ‘Orange is the New Warmest Colour, Carol’ (a parody of male-written lesbian films) to ‘Smash the Patriarchy for Just £19.99’ (an ironic take on the commodification of feminism).
“it was empowering to finally see more than ONE woman in a sketch at a time” Despite this creative buzz, I still had my doubts. Had I been side-lined in previous shows because my writing was bad? Was I now unfairly playing “the gender card”? Was I even that funny? Would the show be a huge failure? When the night arrived, I realised how silly my fears were. The evening kicked off with three hilarious stand-ups and a fantastic compare who tackled topics ranging from the Strong
issue 13 // page 8 Independent Woman™ trope of romcoms, to stress masturbating, and the perils of inserting a Moon Cup. After the interval, it was our turn to make ‘em laugh. Thankfully, the show turned out to be a success receiving a healthy four-star Epigram review and a standing ovation. I was thrilled…yet strangely shocked. Some audience members later confessed to me that they also hadn’t expected much from the show, but were pleasantly surprised by its quality. Where had our scepticism come from? Perhaps it can be explained by Miss Representation’s argument: you can’t be what you can’t see. Audiences are used to watching predominately male comedians, with women usually making up roughly 1/7 of TV panel shows. Had we all subliminally concluded that women just aren’t that funny?
“Was I now unfairly playing “the gender card”? Was I even that funny?” Despite the four-stars, the male written (surprise, surprise) review began, ‘I can’t think of a single funny woman/gender-oppressed entertainer’. It is with this mind-set that he approached our show, and it is this mind-set that anyone who dares to not fit a pale, stale, male mould must face whenever they crack a joke. Our show was a small step towards tackling such misconceptions. But obviously, it’s going to take more than one night in Bristol to break down these toxic and often internalised assumptions. So, to prepare myself for this battle, I will momentarily put my feet up, stick on some Ab Fab and raise a glass to Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, Victoria Wood, Kathy Burke, Bridget Christie, Julie Walters, Dawn French, Ruth Jones, Ruby Wax, Sally Phillips, Joan Rivers, Shappi Khorsandi, Sarah Millican, Caroline Aherne, Lolly Adefope, Tina Fey, Sandi Toksvig, Susan Calman, Josie Long, Kristen Wiig, Nina Conti, Dorothy Parker, Jane Austen, and all the other women who have elicited more than just a few giggles.
What should I read this summer? Maya Jones serves up some alternative summer reading. Illustration by bILLIE gAVURIN. I finally finished my literature degree. Three years of reading Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, of trying to understand Swift’s misogyny and failing to excuse Wilde in the name of Art. I cannot count the number of essays I have written exploring the fragile masculinity that seeps out of these writers’ works. They are all great writers but they are not why I chose to study literature. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite women writers who have fought their way on to my reading lists over the years - believe me, there are only a few. Their works have provided a refreshing antidote to the whiny white, male voice, which
seems to permeate all periods of literary history and is often worshipped in the academic classroom. The writers below speak of feminism with pride, women’s suffering with knowledge and female friendships with love. These women are the reason I love literature. So, if you are wondering what to do with the long summer ahead – or, in my case, my whole life - pick up one of these books and be inspired by the mind of a great woman. As for me, I plan to say fuck you to the literary ‘classics’ for a while and use my newfound freedom to explore all the modern feminist literature. I guess that’s better than binging on Harry Potter, right? Happy Holidays!
issue 13 // page 10
George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss (1860) Yes, I was sceptical at first too. The Mill on the Floss is a long book and the only aspect I could recall of reading Middlemarch was endless swiping on the Kindle and a desire to power through the literary ‘canon’. But Eliot creates a defiant, witty and headstrong heroine in Maggie Tulliver. She is relatable precisely because she makes mistakes and lacks perfection. While Eliot’s feminism is debateable, Maggie remains one of my favourite literary characters. Warning: expect to shed tears! Audre Lorde: Sister Outsider (1984) As a white woman, I found this collection of essays a brilliant source for broadening my understanding of the different intersections of oppression that women of colour face. Lorde’s prose is beautifully lyrical, easy and enjoyable to read; you can dip in and out of this collection, reading the essays in no particular order. I cannot do justice to Lorde’s writing so I will leave you with a quotation from my favourite essay, ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’: ‘When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of its assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.’ Margaret Atwood: The Edible Woman (1969) There’s a reason we read three Atwood novels over the course of my women writers module. Now that The Handmaid’s Tale (one of the best, eerie dystopias of the twentieth century) has been adapted for TV, it is the perfect time to explore the rest of Atwood’s novels. The Edible Woman is a great place to start. Atwood’s first published novel is a fascinating story that tackles the relationship between women, consumerism and meat eating. Beware: the gruesome descriptions of steak might even turn you vegetarian!
Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017) For twenty years, the writing world has celebrated Roy as an activist and essay-writer while eagerly awaiting her second novel. Now, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has finally arrived and I know I am not alone in feeling sheer excitement (and not just because I am going to watch her speak in Bristol). I read The God of Small Things as a fresher and it is a book I know I will return to again and again. The story follows the lives of twins growing up in India, their separation and their reunion. I had never heard of Roy before university and am eternally grateful for the discovery. Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain: Sultana’s Dream (1905) Writing my dissertation was inevitably going to feel liberating after three years of set texts. I chose to look at Hossain’s satirical utopia Sultana’s Dream, which imagines a place called Ladyland where women occupy the public sphere and men are kept in the purdah system. It is a short, funny story that subverts gender stereotypes, tackles colonialism and the patriarchy in India and, most importantly, provides a gateway into exploring a remarkable woman’s life. Hossain devoted her life to helping Muslim girls access education and her achievements are celebrated each year on Rokeya Day in Bangladesh. Sultana’s Dream was also written before such classics as Herland and is a must if you are generally interested in feminist utopias. Read Motichur for a selection of her essays translated into English.
“So, do you
“Yes. Yes, I do.” Rosel Jackson Stern refuses to apologise for her ironic approach to tackling sexism. Illustration by jess baxter. A lot of men ask me if I hate men. When running the podcast Stay Mad, writing articles for various online platforms or presenting a feminist analysis of whatever topic we’re discussing in my politics seminar, it always comes back to the same question: “so, do you hate men?” This question often comes up before anything else and it overshadows what I am actually talking about. There is a sense of a bruised ego here. Maybe it’s crass to admit, but I do immediately see in front of me a caveman holding a club, looking rather forlorn and asking: “what do you mean this isn’t about me???” But I’m not one to dictate anyone’s response to what I do so I thought I would address the elephant in the room and once and for all proclaim my undying hatred for man(yes, man)kind.
more importantly transphobic; a set of ideas which I vehemently oppose and consider detrimental to the feminist movement. However, anyone who’s familiar with the concept of gender will know that it’s not so much about biology, but the social constructions attached to it. So really, when I say I hate men, I mean that I hate the maleness and masculinity in which men are indoctrinated and that comes at women’s expense. To be masculine means to be dominant, controlling and strong. The question then becomes dominant over what? Controlling whom? Exercising strength when?
“ironic misandry is one of my weapons”
“I am vocal and dismissive of men because they haven’t historically had my back”
Men have caused me and every woman I know pain, if not directly, then at least indirectly. Apart from my dad, I can confidently say that I have not had a relationship with a man that has not been physically or emotionally abusive to a greater or lesser extent. This is not unreasonable considering that 1 in 3 women have been physically or sexually abused, usually by an intimate partner, in their lifetime. It’s a statistic under which every woman I know has suffered. The gendered dynamic between men and women has been present in my life in everything from doing the emotional labour of trying to get my first boyfriend to talk about his feelings, to clutching my keys as I hurriedly walk home from a night out, to supporting my female friends as they report their sexual assault only to be failed by a legal system that protects their abusers. But the “why I need feminism” schtick has been well rehearsed, so what does it have to do with man hate? It becomes a weapon in the fight for women’s liberation when empathy is no longer an accessible tool under patriarchal masculinity.
Before you, dear reader, completely lose patience with me I think it’s necessary to clarify something. I do not personally go around hating every person that happens to be born with a penis. That would be ridiculous and
There is an extent to which there is no way of properly communicating the experience of being a woman to someone who isn’t one. There is an extent to which, as a man, you just have to believe women when we
Given all of this, I understand men in their concern. I am the worst nightmare of liberal feminists preaching “feminism is not about hating men”. I am vocal and dismissive of men because they haven’t historically had my back and, to this day, I have had no indication that this is about to change. I frequently remark upon men’s inadequacies to my friends and anyone who knows me will be familiar with my running gag about men in gulags. Wow, we really are getting crass; this is stuff that should only be between me, my girlfriends and a bottle of wine. But here we are airing it to the world because it illustrates the larger backdrop against which my “man hate” sits. In the words of Slate writer Amanda Hess: “On it’s most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
“I am the worst nightmare of liberal feminists preaching “feminism is not about hating men””
issue 13 // page 12 say our experience is “x, y and z”. Sure, I could quote you statistics, feminist literature and studies done on young children revealing the insidious ways in which gender is imposed from childhood but, ultimately, you need to be willing to use your empathy to understand this disadvantage. Unfortunately though, the norms of masculinity dictate that any emotion that doesn’t ultimately end in ejaculating over some girl’s face or throwing a punch at the nearest perceived threat towards said masculinity is to be discouraged. The lack of empathy that masculinity enforces in men stands in direct contrast to what I so appreciate in my female friendships: the ability to understand, support and stand in solidarity with each other’s experiences. My friendships are intense and at this point in my life, I want nothing less. That’s not to say men are unempathetic robots incapable of human connection. Like all humans, they are complex and encompass both masculinities and femininities. Yet the nature of patriarchy, of valuing masculine traits above feminine traits, means that men are more likely to suppress their femininities, including their ability to digest the plight of female oppression in which they are fundamentally complicit.
“frankly, who cares what men think of your feminism? It’s not for them” I’m done with catering to men’s feelings and ideas about how I should be and act. And yet, the possibility of closing the lid on conversations that might lead to men becoming aware of how they treat women makes me uneasy. The question then remains: how
do we effectively communicate outside the confines of masculinity? How do I, in the pub, at the club or on the street, let men know how their behaviour affects my experience and ability to move through the world? I can’t honestly say that I have the answer to this question, it’s not something that seems appropriate in the small amount of time it takes for a man to abuse me. Pinpointing the behaviours and ideas informed by masculinity and refusing to endorse them has led people to believe that I hate men. But in this case, ironic misandry is one of my weapons. Its ridiculousness gives me the tools to approach negative stereotypes of feminists with humor instead of despair and resolve instead of insecurity. Moreover, it can reaffirm this radical idea of refusing to put up with men’s bullshit, to move through the world where the condescension of the male gaze no longer bothers you. Because frankly, who cares what men think of your feminism? It’s not for them, it’s for you. It’s for a world where you in your bodily glory, spirit and being, can exist free from the overbearing glare of masculinity. And more than anything, I wish that world to become a reality.
WOMEN’S LIB TO LIPSTI CK Have we benefited from the buying and selling of the feminist movement? nOOR eVERS AND lIBERTY o’hagan DISCUSS. Illustration by Joy Molan.
FOR - noor evers
Naturally, we all feel a bit queasy when we see brands hijack the feminist movement. It’s hard to see a political movement for which people shed blood, sweat and tears, be packaged up and sold for profit. It exasperates me that all these sacrifices are now being used to sell me Always pads, Pantene shampoos and CoverGirl makeup. It’s difficult to forgive an industry that is so blatantly sexist and hell-bent on objectifying and sexualizing every part of a woman and her body. However, the phenomenon of ‘femvertising’ is not new: the same idea can be observed when brands started printing ‘fairtrade’ and ‘organic’ in large letters on their packaging. The bottom line is that businesses immediately capitalise on the changes in consumers’ demands and values. Although this may feel ethically wrong, these ‘girl power’ campaigns may not be as abominable as we initially think. Advertisements celebrating female empowerment and strength spread a powerful message to a vast audience, regardless of whether companies are using feminism simply as a marketing tool. Being part of a relatively progressive environment and surrounded by liberal thinkers as we are at university often makes us forget that feminist thinking is definitely still not mainstream.
“the feminist movement can benefit by finding ways to harness this form of power” Ad campaigns are an effective method to communicate to women that all bodies are beautiful (Dove), girls can kick ass in sports (Always), and women shouldn’t apologise for shit (Pantene). Their marketing may feel insincere and exploitative, but I thought Always’ #LikeAGirl campaigns addressed an important social issue that impacts young women. Feminist
advertisements have shown girls killing it on a football pitch and in the workplace, as well as celebrating all kinds of beauty. It’s hard to deny that this isn’t a positive development. Feminism aims to induce a change in the representation and inclusivity of our media, and femvertising plays a part in this.
“‘girl power’ campaigns may not be as abominable as we initially think” Of course, the marketing industry is not aware of the complex and sensitive nature of feminism and what it stands for. Although a few ads manage to get it right, there are many that fuck up big time (Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Ad…). Regardless, it’s worth celebrating the fact that businesses now feel compelled to add a feminist label to their products. With the success of these ad campaigns, hopefully other companies will feel obliged to follow their example and further understand feminism in all its intersections. Some of these businesses have taken concrete actions – such as Pantene’s Shine Strong fund or Verizon’s investment in innovation projects and awards. In a world dominated by capitalist interests, it is important to be realistic and understand that businesses hugely influence society and the feminist movement can benefit by finding ways to harness this form of power. Making sure the ads are produced by women through having writers and directors that identify as such, and ensuring that companies are actually committed to feminism (and the inclusivity that the movement stands for) by following their advertisements with action, can turn exploitative femvertising into a force for good.
AGAINST - Liberty O’Hagan Over the last few years, I have seen female empowerment packaged up and sold to its consumers by Dove, Nike and Tampax. At first, these advertisements can appear uplifting but scratch the surface and the overlap of
issue 13 // page 14
feminism and capitalism certainly rings some alarm bells. While such advertisements encourage consumers to ‘embrace yourself ’ through a celebration of all women’s bodies, we often fail to remember that the advertising world still profits from patriarchal and racist conceptualisations of beauty. The same advertisements that are ‘empowering’ women are selling overpriced beauty blenders, protein shakes and plastic surgery. Rather than identifying the intersecting struggles that women face, such ‘femvertising’ suggest that anyone can be empowered if they simply buy their product. I find it particularly ironic that the same capitalist ideology that dismisses the under-representation of women in politics and business as individual disinterest, preference or choice, is profiting from a movement like feminism.
“it suggests that to be empowered, one must adhere to these ‘womanly’ stereotypes” While intersectional feminism should celebrate all gender identities, capitalism approaches women’s issues through feminine ‘pink feminism’ branding. This reinforces the myth that feminism benefits women exclusively. Moreover, it suggests that to be empowered, one must adhere to these ‘womanly’ stereotypes. An advertisement or a video clip that presents feminism in this monolithic form does not do the movement justice; instead, we are buying an exclusive brand that is created in a largely white, male board room. Is this really progress? If feminism is simply a clever business move, we must ask ourselves who is really profiting. We have seen basic public services like education and health care gradually being sold off and turned into businesses. It seems that feminism is not safe from this commodification.
“a soap bar or a sanitary pad cannot and will not represent feminism” Feminism is currently a source of income. But when it is no longer profitable and activism is no longer selling products, another marketing tool will prevail. A soap bar or a sanitary pad cannot and will not represent feminism in its intersectional complexity and so advertisements like the ones we are seeing only undermine feminism as a political movement. Because of this, I will continue to treat feminist advertisements with suspicion.
issue 13 // page 16
Which monstrous mythological woman are
unleash your inner demon. words & Illustration by jess baxter. Have you ever stumbled across a Wikipedia page of a female demon from a Babylonian myth and thought ‘hell, this is a perfect description of me’? Do you find it all too easy to relate to the plethora of evil but thrillingly sexy female figures from literature across the ages? Well, here is the quiz that reveals which diabolical princess YOU were in a past life! From the beginnings of Western civilisation, women and the allure of their bodies have repeatedly threatened male power. It seems that men feel most vulnerable when they are under the sway of female sexual power and subsequently lose their apparently logical ability to think - even when rationality has been hailed as a ‘masculine’ trait since the dawn of time. They become as warm-blooded and irrational as the women they seek to dominate. So, naturally, patriarchal writers from Homer to any man who has directed a romcom where the ‘hot’ girl is also the villain, have conflated the image of the assertive and sexually confident woman with evil. So if you’d like to see which one of these evil monsters you could be, read on!
Mermaid You enjoy singing, you visit the SU swimming pool twice a week and you spend more than twenty quid on Bumble and Bumble hair products a month. Maybe you wear lots of makeup and like feeling extremely feminine, and that’s great! You are beach body ready because you like being on the beach and you have a body. Your pastimes include luring men to their deaths and wearing shell bralets.
Harpy If your face has ever been described as ‘haggard with hunger insatiable’ by Virgil, this is of course the perfect monster profile for you. This also goes for those who
have ever been called a ‘shrieking feminist harpy’ by a balding middle-aged man on the internet. You are hot-headed, defensive and proud, but you use these characteristics to fight for what is right, like attacking a group of rowdy seamen lads barging into your home (see: the Odyssey). You are also half bird, fully equipped with wings, feathers and all the works, but somehow you retain your most important features such as your titties or voluptuous hips. Because remember ladies, you’ve got to look scary but still fuckable. GrecoRoman men still have to get off to the thought of your feathery boobs, while remaining morally superior.
Tiresias You are good at predicting the future and are great with animals. You are not necessarily one gender or another. You enjoy sliding between the binaries, a trick Tiresias once experienced when Zeus and Hera were arguing about who enjoys sex more – men or women. To get their answer, they approached the nearby Tiresias, and changed him into a woman for seven years. Embracing her newly found womanhood, Tiresias became a highranking priestess of Hera, married and had children, and thoroughly enjoyed the sexual escapades she could experience as a woman. After changing back into a man, he gave the gods their answer about who enjoys intercourse more: ‘Of ten parts a man enjoys one only’. Probably because of all the fantastic nerve endings in our clits. Praise be the clitoris.
Lilith (see page 3) You are fun, confident and eat children for breakfast. All men fear and love you but you are somewhat indifferent to their reverence. You are so sexy that you are the reason men have wet dreams. No, really, according to Mesopotamian myth you snuck around at night like the saucy seductive spirit you are and entered men’s bedrooms and hopped on for a ride while they slept. Because, of course, it’s not a man’s fault if they sinfully got themselves off in their sleep. All aboard the sin train.
You are an ambitious gold-digger with a quest for power. You married a king with the fastest growing kingdom in Christendom, but soon discovered he was sexually unsatisfying in the bedroom. You demand sexual pleasure from elsewhere and find his best friend Lancelot is much better in the sack. Go, girl! While you don’t condone cheat culture, every king throughout history has had his army of side hoes. It’s about time a qween such as yourself took sexual matters into your own hands.
Mary Magdalene You are a fun-loving diva and enjoy cracking out a cold one with the lads more so than with girls. You are also a sex worker with no shame and your best pal Jesus supports you thoroughly because he without sin cast the first stone, bitch. You are mentioned in the Gospels less than 9 times and yet remain the most infamous woman in history. You are therefore making many waves. You are depicted by the patriarchal artistic hand as the ‘Penitent Magdalene’ when it suits because it makes men feel better when they see a sexually confident women crying and grovelling in front of a man. But in reality, you are one strong lady.
Grendel’s Mother You’re this monster in Beowulf and the Scandinavian population fear you for your talons and lust for vengeance. You’re big, scary and a threat to the patriarchy because you’re one hundred times more powerful than your son. He may be a male monster but he’s much weaker than you.
issue 13 // page 18
A photographic study of age, identity and resilience by Chesca Warley.
“With our hands, we shape our future and record our past.”
issue 13 // page 20
“In them lies our history, they are souvenirs of our own personal experiences.”
LADY S OUL serena basra shows there’s more to jazz than miles Davis. Illustration by Isabel Mitchelson. ‘Isn’t jazz wonderful?’ I muse. ‘Yes!’ you cry out, banging your embellished saxophone case on the table. How else could you respond? It is a music that hits you right in the centre of your body: full of creativity, collaboration and vitality, and punctuated by the human experience.
she herself explained, ‘I’m the only living musician that has played all the eras. Other musicians lived through the eras and they never changed their styles.’
“Female musicians are less likely to be subject to lavish marketing campaigns by record As you may have guessed by now, I have long harboured companies” a love for jazz. I was introduced to the jazz scene from an early age when the central female figure in my life, my wonderful mother, sung and shared her appreciation for Big Band with me. It seemed so fresh and exciting. The music thrived on balancing collaboration and individuality; everyone was given a moment to shine. I lounged in the genre, dipping my toes in the sweet, sultry sounds of Nina Simone (the seemingly endless ‘Sinnerman’ blew my young mind) and indulging in the languishing rolls of ‘At Last’ by Etta James. This was a genre of music which, from my early experiences, placed both women and men at the forefront and, unlike the Chart Hits that defined my teen years, was not dominated by an overbearing white narrative.
“Women have been an important part of jazz from the beginning” GCSE music was my next established foray into the genre, as I was introduced to another of the great musical loves of my life, the virtuoso Miles Davis. In a syllabus eclipsed by male musicians (oh, Edexcel), I had been hopeful that the jazz segment would feature a female artist. Whilst Miles undoubtedly sits amongst the greats, it would have been refreshing to see someone such as Mary Lou Williams on the syllabus. She was a mesmerising figure, a multidisciplinary composer, vocalist, arranger and pianist who was already a working musician at the age of eight. Duke Ellington described her as ‘like soul on soul’ and as
The male-dominated syllabus piqued my interest in the representation of women in jazz. Fast-forward many years to January 2017 and I stumbled upon an article by Kelsey Klotz titled ‘The Absent Women of Jazz’. Whilst some of her other writings focus on issues such as the interplay between cool jazz and narratives of white privilege (I strongly recommend seeking out her works), this piece is an illuminating analysis on portrayals of the jazz industry. As Klotz points out, by watching films such as Damien Chazelle’s ‘Whiplash’ and ‘La La Land’, you’d be forgiven for assuming jazz is a male-dominated profession. They omit women from the narrative, focus solely on the exceptional anomaly or fail to recognise women as instrumentalists and posit them solely as backing vocalists. Such narratives fail to represent the multifaceted nature of their various skills and the central role they played in creating the genre. There ought to be greater representation of the women who shaped, and are continuing to influence, this beautiful genre: the multidisciplinary Alice Coltrane who was a jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer and composer; the trombonist and arranger Melba Liston who was the first female trombonist to play in the maledominated big bands from the 1940s to the 1960s; or the singer Norah Jones who was named Billboard’s Top Jazz Artist of 2000-2009. Women have been an important part of jazz from the beginning, and their influence in composition has often advanced and shaped the genre.
issue 13 // page 22
There are many women in the jazz scene who are worthy of your attention despite the mainstream narrative which suggests that there are fewer talented female jazz musicians. Female musicians are less likely to be subject to lavish marketing campaigns by record companies and so their achievements are less well known. Fight against this and angle your spotlight towards them. Bask in your â€˜Lady Soulâ€™. Now go pop this song onâ€Ś Vi Redd performs a heartbreakingly talented cover.
Because men made the laws Elle May delivers a rant on male legal reasoning. Illustration by Rivka Cocker. no light Of teaching, liberal nations, for the poor Who sit in darkness when it is not night? No cure for wicked children? Christ, - no cure! No help for women sobbing out of sight Because men made the laws? Elizabeth Barrett Browning, From â€œCasa Guidi Windowsâ€? Part 2 (634-639) 1851.
issue 13 // page 24
After three years of studying law, I have some hostility towards the British male judges of past and present which I need to get off my chest. UK law is governed by a theory of dualisms that is simply not applicable to modern identities. The horse-hair wigged white men of the historical bench constructed these dualisms of mind/body, reason/emotion, culture/ nature, public/private and they remain a part of the British legal system today. Common law has historically prioritised the “male”, self-interested, “rational” option of these binaries over the supposed emotional, unreasonable, “feminine” alternatives. While not compulsory, this is the most common theoretical model used by judges. Why? Because they’re mostly still white and male and white males seem to follow the decisionmaking of their forefathers. Big mistake. HUGE.
“the white judicial heteropatriarchy cannot understand combined identity claims” As a response to these binaries, feminist scholars like Anna Grear have reimagined famous judgements, to demonstrate that a feminist approach is possible in the British legal system. Rather than choosing public/ private or vice versa, Grear instead creates, both literally and metaphorically, a new space that sits somewhere between the public and private sphere. This is something the dualist approach, by definition, could never do. While brilliant ideas, these reimaginings are simply not having an effect on the reasoning of the everyday judge. In the court room, the white male perspective is still considered the default. MacKinnon’s thesis explains how through legal mediation the dominant group – men – manipulate law to mirror their subjective standards, concealed as the objective standard by calling this “neutrality”. Male dominance therefore begins to appear ontological – natural - which both upholds and is reinforced by the mystical quality attributed to law and neutrality itself. Neutrality is therefore male domination in disguise, hence MacKinnon’s oxymoronic assertion that ‘‘when it is most ruthlessly neutral, it is most male”. The construction of the “reasonable man”
standard is an example of this manipulation. When a woman commits a violent crime, the court asks, what would the reasonable man have done in her situation? This biased notion of what it means to be reasonable therefore posits women, both legally and socially in the context of their crime, as the “other”.
“The legal system is crying out for more creative and intersectional legal reasoning approaches” Thinking back to my first year, Lord Denning was heralded by numerous lecturers as the father of modern Contract and Tort law. Nobody mentioned his resignation as Master of the Rolls in 1982 following repugnant racist statements, or the passage from his book The Due Process of Law where he claimed that ‘the principle task in life of women is to bear and rear children’. He justified this by stating that ‘Man is physically the stronger and woman is the weaker. He is temperamentally the more aggressive and she the more submissive. It is he who takes the initiative and she who responds’. He wrote and published this in 1980. The legal system is crying out for more creative and intersectional approaches to legal reasoning. This is not to say that leaps and bounds have not been made by numerous women, BME and male judges. However, progress is slow. The most radical and dazzling ideas seem to remain on the shelf in the feminist approaches to Law sections of the library – which in Wills is, by the way, on the bottom shelf.
“a feminist approach is possible in the British legal system” Imagine a more progressive legal system where a woman who has survived rape is no longer likely to be excluded as a juror in a rape trial but is rather recognised as having a more nuanced and informed understanding as a result of her experience. Imagine a system where multi-discrimination claims are the norm, where judges creatively reason away from dualisms and towards a broad, multi-dimensional spectrum of brilliance. Let’s remove the blindfold from Lady Justice. But rather than revealing only one pair of eyes, let’s promote, in the words of Dame Helena Kennedy….an all-seeing goddess.
only straight cis man
in the gay club
Clodagh Chapman investigates the plight of the everyman. Illustration by AMY VAN ZYL. CW: homophobia, misogyny, biphobia, sex We live in times rife with injustice. Throughout the world, oppressed groups find themselves continually marginalised and their voices increasingly silenced. But there is one group who, above all others, suffer despicable acts of persecution. Yet their struggle goes unrecognised and even belittled by people who claim to be feminists. Truly, they are the real victims of the 21st Century. Let us take a moment to consider the plight of the straight cis man in a gay club.
“women do not by default find them attractive” In one example of such heinous acts of discrimination, some straight cis men find that they approach gay women only to have their advances dismissed. Having never considered that the world might not revolve around their penises, you can only imagine what a blow this must be to their self-esteem. Coming face-to-face with a real-life lesbian for the first time is a traumatic experience and many men express confusion that they look remarkably like their straight counterparts. Some men report a sense of paranoia in the days following the incident, stemming from the startling realisation that women do not by default find them attractive and that in fact any given woman – regardless of sexual orientation – may not wish to sleep with them. Understandably confused, many straight cis men ask for proof that the woman in front of them is indeed a real lesbian. Despite being wholly well-intentioned and sensitivelyphrased in their interrogation of lesbians about their sexual history, the mechanics of lesbian sex, and their pornography of choice, many lesbians still label these men misogynistic and homophobic. Words hurt. Many find that this disorientation and distress is amplified by the existence of bisexual women. Lesbians are tragically incapable of sleeping with men and must suffer the consequences. But bisexual women offer a
whole new challenge to straight cis male comprehension, posing the prospect of a woman being attracted to multiple genders yet at times choosing to sleep with someone who is not a man. Moreover, learning that bisexual women do indeed sleep with women outside threesomes (2 women, 1 man, of course) often comes as a shock. This is not helped by the tendency of bisexual women to – in the absence of their own valid, standalone sexuality – rapidly oscillate between straight and gay anywhere up to 1000 times per second, rendering them invisible to the naked eye. Straight cis men report a lack of support networks in place to deal with the emotional stress that comes with the continued existence of bisexual women. Clearly this is because government funding is always spent on supporting LGBT+ people.
“LGBT+ customers do not exist as a sort of live-action exhibition” Straight cis men, as well as facing unwarranted verbal abuse from queer women, also often find on arrival that gay clubs are in fact geared around LGBT+ customers and do not exist as a sort of live-action exhibition for straight cisgender people. Yet, in the face of their night out with the lads being ruined, they bravely struggle through. In fact, during attempts to show their support for the LGBT+ community, straight cis men can often be heard shouting words of encouragement towards samegender couples, often misreported as jeering and abuse. Likewise, ever-aware of their straight privilege and the fact that they are essentially guests in a queer space, straight cis men will typically assert that they are not gay at regular intervals throughout the night. Despite all this, they face grave violations of their human rights, in being told that they are perhaps not entirely welcome in gay clubs. Some straight cis men even have it suggested that they instead go to one of the other dozen clubs in which they, unlike LGBT+ people, could safely have a night out in – an absolute travesty of justice.
issue 13 // page 26
It is completely understandable that, in a state of confusion and upset, some straight cis men react violently. Yet they are told that this violence, especially when it involves what could be misconstrued as physical abuse towards LGBT+ people and more so when said physical abuse is accompanied by shouts of “fucking faggots”, constitutes a hate crime. Just another example of straight cis men being victimised by the justice system.
“bisexual women offer a whole new challenge” The needless persecution that straight cis men experience in gay clubs is immense. And as LGBT+ people we are all responsible for this. Why should straight cis men be deprived of the opportunity to take up queer space whilst treating LGBT+ people as a spectacle? Why should straight cis men be branded as misogynistic and homophobic simply for being misogynistic and homophobic? It doesn’t make sense that as twenty-first century queer feminists, we let this unbridled discrimination take hold in our own community. From now on, let us be a voice for the straight cis man in a gay club, because his constant privileged whining just isn’t loud enough.
Illustration by rivka cocker
unnatural tales by jessica ginting
issue 13 // page 28 First day back in school, the new girl walks in and all the boys stare. They all said she was cute, but none of them pointed out her auburn hair, bouncing like wildflowers in the wind, sharp eyes and a gaze like sun rays cutting through the room. She didn’t meet my gaze. The boys were all taller than me, all huddled together as if this was some kind of rugby game—that’s what it felt like, a game that I was never meant to be a part of. We went camping together, me and her, and all the boys wanted to visit our tent for late night thrills, stories in the dark, I was left out in the dark only to crawl back in at sunrise. The sun rays cut through our tent flaps, highlighting her glimmering auburn hair. I didn’t like it when our camping trip became ours-and-the-others’ as if nature was a shared space; in romance novels the princess and the prince lived together as one natural entity. But I liked singing to the birds, and she liked walking with bambini in the woods, we were one with nature but we did not become a natural entity. We returned eventually, from our brief trip that was merely a study excursion for her but for me it was a like stepping into a fairytale. But fairytales only made room for one princess per story, I was culled from the narrative when she found her prince. I hopped from one story to another, determined to find my happy ending; picked a prince, took him to the woods but he jumped when he heard birds singing and got jitters when the leaves rustled ignored the bambini playing around he wanted to play a very different type of game with me. I was part of it this time. but it didn’t feel like I was winning. Had it been a different kind of prince, perhaps auburn-haired with the voice of a princess and eyes like light smelling like sweet wildflowers, I would’ve been happy. Not a mix-and-match kind of prince, but the meant to be kind of one, not just a man meant to complete one half of my fairytale romance.
Mystic Maya’s & Old Mother Molan’s Horoscopes
Gemini (22nd May - 21st June): This is your month! Embody the confidence and selfassurance of a mediocre white man. You deserve it. Cancer (22nd June - 23rd July): Feel inspired by Justin Bieber’s inability to sing ‘Despacito’. Take up a foreign language and travel Europe before they ban us for good. Leo (24th July - 23rd August): Unleash your inner lion! Get into pub debates, don’t back down, and spread feminist goodness wherever you roam. Virgo (24th August - 23rd September): Your starsign is basically the name of a badass women’s publishing company, Virago. Do you need anymore reason to start that Maya Angelou book you’ve been meaning to read? Libra (24th September - 23rd October): You’re a cooperative person. Join a knitting group, get an allotment, or take up salsa dancing. Whatever group activty floats your boat. Scorpio (24th October - 22nd November): Indulge your passionate side this summer by listening to some Billie Holiday and writing some sonnets. Think Adrienne Rich meets Edmund Spenser. Sagittarius (23rd November - 21st December): You’re an adventurous spirit. Explore Bristol before heading home for summer. Get lost in Leigh Woods or Blaise Castle, then cool off in the Clifton Lido. Capricorn (22nd December - 20th January): You share a starsign with Michelle Obama. If you miss her as much as we do, why not drown out Trump’s whining by watching her speeches on YouTube? Aquarius (21st January - 19th February): You’re the progressive one in your family and sometimes that can be tough. But don’t be discouraged. You are a true visionary. Pisces (20th February - 20th March): Like Joan of Arc, you make many sacrifices for the causes you care about. This month, make sure you have a little ‘me’ time. We recommend The Handmaid’s Tale on 4od. Aries (21st March - 20th April): Channel your aggression in positive ways. Write an angry blog post, contact your local MP or drown out the alt-right with memes. Taurus (21st April - 21st May): You share your sign with Old Mother Molan, which makes you practically perfect in every way. Congratulations. Don’t change.
issue 13 // page 30
Are you going to the beach?
body ready? by Joy Molan & Maya Jones illustration by Rivka Cocker
Are you going to...
Wrong quiz soz lol.
A sunny paradise? Weston-super-Mare?
Don’t bother. It is a sad, muddy, sinking-sand excuse for a beach.
Do you have a body?
Yes No, I am a feminist cyborg from the future who has accidentally stumbled across this mag. I have no body, but I am happy.
That’s wonderful news. Good luck with that.
Congratulations! You’re beach body ready.
issue 13 summer 2017 cover by emily godbold
starring... joy molan, maya jones, annabel nugent, jess baxter, elle may, emily godbold, maria paradinas, noor evers, liberty oâ€™hagan, jessica ginting, rivka cocker, amy van zyl, rosel jackson stern, isabel mitchelson, billie gavurin, serena basra, nicole douglas morris, chesca warley, clodagh chapman.
Our thirteenth print mag (summer 2017). Created by Joy Molan, Maya Jones, Jess Baxter and Elle May.