Damsel 2022

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BODY | 2022

when they told me at the doors that i did not do girlhood right before never swallowed it whole in the way i was taught i was silent like you told me to be and once you are shown who you could have been

‘one hundred, twenty five thousand’ Emmett Rose they/he



Damsel and the UWA Women’s Department would like to acknowledge the Whadjuk Noongar people, who are the traditional owners of this boodjar (land) on which we work, create, and collaborate We pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging, and their bardan (spirit) We recognise the role of Whadjuk Noongar people as the First artists, storytellers, and creators on this boodjar, and their continuing influence and importance within (feminist) literature, thought, and bardip (story).

Always was, always will be



I have had the most magical year in this role, and I feel very grateful to have worked alongside some very dedicated individuals 2022 has been hopeful for UWA students! We’ve seen an uptick in campus engagement and a slow return to the ‘normalcy’ that us fourth years so fondly remember. As a department, we have made the most of this by running delightful events to bring students together and celebrate our identities

Alongside the wonderful events our team has put together this year, I have also heard from many passionate students with stories to tell, anger to channel, and the energy to fight back. Students know what they want and deserve. I have been inspired by the fights we’ve fought together Abortion access, adequate consent legislation and action from our university to support students have all been important issues We have daunting fights ahead of us to achieve genuine and intersectional equality At the beginning of this year, I questioned my capacity to ignite change and often felt hopeless. More recently, I’ve recognised that many of us are in the position to take these fights into our own hands, together.

This year’s theme of ‘Body’ is fitting In a literal sense, advocating for women’s rights requires thousands of bodies to stand in defiance of the status quo What is in our hands and in our control are our powerful bodies and all that they can do for us. For me, the theme ‘Body’ leads me straight to our bodily autonomy and the issue of reproductive rights. For you, it might be how our bodies are objectified, how they can be liberated, how they can define us or allow us to rebel! I think our bodies are pure beauty, but also perhaps should be entirely irrelevant I adore this theme! I hope you enjoy what you experience within this magazine, there sure has been a great amount of care and love poured in.

I want to thank our fantastic Damsel editors, Millie Foster and Tori Williams, for their incredible commitment to this beautiful edition They have gone above and beyond; creating a website and running many events and have put an inspiring amount of consideration into every decision. You have both motivated me with your dedication.

Chloe Bryant she/her 2022 Women’s Officer 5DAMSEL MAGAZINE
CONT 08 From the Editors 09 Collage Tori Williams 10 Free the Pits Ev Holt 13 Wash NM 14 Love letter or not CMS 16 one hundred, twenty five thousand Emmett Rose 18 betrayal Brynley Kinane 19 anonymity Kalyana Sobhita 20 The Other and I Sarah Birch 22 are afab (assigned female at birth) bodies viewed as sexual entities because that is their intent and purpose, or because that is the lens through which society has taught us to view them? a photo set eva 26 If the Shoe Fits(?) Maddie Bowen Smyth 30 when is skin not skin? Isabelle Yuen 31 Hourglass of Huillinco (2017) Erin Dowley 32 Pudendum Rachel Denham White 34 The Future for Australian Women Amira Nunn 36 Verbal Bodies: The Importance of Voice in Establishing a Political Identity Steph Harding 37 Shadow Puppet Kalyana Sobhita 38 Adam and My Eve Maggie Livings 42 Notes on the Moon Aditi Arun 45 cats and mice Mia Fraser 46 Comfortable in my Feminine Nature Lili Grace Renfrey 50 All the Queens Men Millie Foster 51 On Capturing Movement and Other Modes of Stillness Millie Foster 6 DAMSEL MAGAZINE
ENTS 57 Bog Bodies Arya Beltaine 58 I interviewed a cis het man on gender and the male body, and this is what he said... Tori Williams interviewing Lih Chang 60 My Body Lucy Henriksen 63 Beach Trip Ruby 64 Women in Arts Millie Foster and Tori Williams 69 inside Tori Williams 70 Early Bloomer Arya Beltaine 72 The Temple of Self Tessa MJM 74 Alter Ego Kalyana Sobhita 75 Histology Aditi Arun 76 She Elizabeth France 78 Bodypause Deb Broad 79 Collage Millie Foster 80 The Ghost in Heels Haneen Al Bhadily 81 The Beauty in Embracing Body Imperfections Anna Pak 82 Body Book Club 86 Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands We Are Womxn 89 Resources 90 Acknowledgements 54 Bodies Under the Earth Deb Broad 52 Tending to Your Garden Angela Aris 85 Roe v WA Chloe Bryant 7DAMSEL MAGAZINE

From tHe


As a noun, the term ‘body’ is used to describe the physicality of a person or a collection of work As this year’s Damsel theme, ‘Body’ means so much more The following issue encounters the ways that 'Body' is not only embodied through the body itself, but also through language, through lived experiences, through art, and creative practice

Amongst these pages you might see yourself in some instances, we hope that you do not but importantly, you may come across a perspective you were yet to encounter In these moments of recognition and reflection, we hope that you find solace in knowing the truest thing that this issue has to offer: your body is yours, but it is not alone.

The aim with this year’s theme was to offer a creative and reflective space for readers and contributors alike to come together and consider what this theme means for them. Part of the beauty of such a theme is that it speaks to every person individually, but in ways completely different to that of another. Although the reality of this theme is sometimes confrontational, it has allowed for an incredibly raw and especially honest collection of works. These pages contain a diverse interaction with ‘Body’ but this interaction does not stop with this issue. Each piece you read or see will speak to you differently. Each piece will offer its own challenges and sparks of joy. Before you is a collection that includes moments where queer bodies, marginalised bodies, tired bodies, loving bodies, hurt bodies, and not quite so easily definable bodies have intersected to create a brief, but moving space for contemplation

You may notice as you read that not every submission features the creator’s pronouns Damsel would like to acknowledge that this

inclusion was optional, depending on the preference of each contributor as an individual. On that note, Damsel would also like to acknowledge itself as a space for anyone who feels comfortable or validated here. The vast array of pieces in this year’s issue reflect Damsel’s intersectional outreach, and so, if you feel akin in any way with our message, then we would like you to know that Damsel is a space for you, no matter how you identify.

Preparing this year’s edition of Damsel for release into the world was an incredible journey. We are so immensely proud of the works contained within this magazine and are thrilled to have been given the opportunity to publish the stories and experiences of our talented contributors. Whilst we could not be more pleased with the final result, it’s safe to say that getting to this point has seen its own challenges. Neither of us knew what we were getting into when we signed up to be this year’s Damsel co editors, and it has been an overwhelming year of learning, team work, and last minutes (as naturally, it wouldn’t be a student publication without them!) With only a week until submissions closed, there was a slight fear that we would not fill enough pages; but, in typical university student fashion, those last minute contributions poured in We now have the privilege of presenting to you a record breaking issue of 92 pages, the largest ever UWA student publication!

So tumble through these pages at will, start at the beginning, the end, somewhere in the middle the choice is yours No matter which page you start or finish at, this message runs throughout: every body is welcome here

We could not be more proud to present to you the 2022 edition of Damsel Magazine! A body of work we hope speaks to you reading it, as much as it did us


Free the Pits

Ev Holt she/her

I am 12 years old, sitting in my mother’s ensuite as she potters around with makeup and face creams and things I do not yet understand She sees the hair growing darker and thicker on my legs, and tells me it is time to get them waxed for the first time! I am nervous yet excited

She takes me to the local beauty salon, where for thirty dollars, a young lady strips the hair from my skin and bone tweenage legs with a big, bleach white smile. I saunter home, let my siblings feel my silky skin. I feel like a real grown up woman. My legs look like someone shaved an underfed lamb

I spent an enormous amount of time as a teenager and in my early twenties doing everything I could to be hairless from the neck down. I waxed, shaved, epilated, plucked. I tried hair removal cream when shaving made my bikini line into a battle ground of ingrown hairs I avoided swimming with my friends when I had not made the appropriate time to replicate that silky lamb skin. When I started getting pimples on my face, I developed a debilitating skin picking disorder that caused me to excavate my face and parts of my body every day. When I ran out of things to pick at on my face, I moved to my armpits, bikini line, and legs, pulling out every perceived impurity I could see. Waxing and shaving weren’t enough I could see the tiny follicles through the layers of my skin and wanted everything out. All these impurities, everything I had been told was unnatural

Photography by Jaxon King
My experience of growing out my body hair as a cis woman

Eventually I began working on my mental health, and taking strong medication for acne helped curb my impulses to pick at my skin But I still felt as though my body was wrong, and began to get laser treatment on my armpits and bikini line. I spent an inordinate amount of time at yet another salon, choosing from a menu of my body areas that I would like fixed, and dealt with more painful ingrown hairs after shaving in preparation

At university I met a now very dear friend who had full on raging armpit and leg hair. I noticed it straight away, but kept my mouth shut It looked fucking powerful and beautiful.

I toyed with the idea of growing out my body hair for several years. I dated a nonbinary person who presented as female and had body hair everywhere, and I celebrated it Why had I been told that body hair on a feminine person is repulsive, when it did not bother me at all? Was I meant to find it disgusting? I convinced myself that I still removed hair because I liked the feeling, liked the way it looked, but I knew I was kidding myself.

The turning point was when I was lonely, post breakup, and stuck in lockdown. I was bored and in desperate need of physical touch, so invited over a friend who had been flirting with me for a few months. I had given up on hair removal whilst stuck inside not seeing many people, but made sure everything was smooth and bald before he arrived After we had mediocre sex and he left in a bit of a hurry, I knew it was time to take back control of my body. I knew I should not ever have to make changes to the way I look for another person, especially not a horny 20 something year old boy

Over the next year or so I grew out first my armpits, then my pubic hair, and finally my legs. I quickly learnt to love my armpit hair, loved that it became wispy and tickly.

The hardest was my legs almost always visible, especially living in a hot climate, especially as the little tufts of hair on my ankles could be seen at work. I gave my unused razors to my housemate and learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable

Although I got far fewer comments than I expected, it started conversations and felt like a big “fuck you!” to the patriarchy. Unwittingly, the personal became political.

Having body hair is not for everyone. I am a white, cisgender, able bodied, and thin woman who can be seen as acceptable in society because almost everything else about me conforms. I live in a wealthy country that, although it still has a long way to go, allows women to express themselves and show their bodies far more than many other places in the world. My family is accepting of my choices. For me, I feel as though I have my body back as my own. I can feel people staring as I go about my life: in the grocery store, at the beach, doing mundane tasks that I need to have a body to do


Although I did not choose to make my body political, it is

Now I am 23, and I drive out to my friend’s farm in the late afternoon A few days ago we bleached and dyed our armpits bright pink and purple, and later our pubes too. Golden fingers of sunlight rifle through tree branches as we throw off our shirts, admiring our handiwork We lay down in a sea of sweet potato vines, and our friend photographs us laying there together, arms up, celebrating and loving our hair producing bodies

N B dyeing your pubic hair is definitely not recommended, so don’t try this at home But also, it looks sick, so if you decide to do it anyway just be really careful.



Cleanse with water. Ocean, ocean over you. With salt swill and swallow Let it drown your stomach ache. Weep messy spit and snot Let waves smother you again again; ‘til air is sweet and life precious Until your body tired and limp is quelled within without her.


Love-letter or not CMS she/her

1. I read somewhere that it is as easy to bite through a finger as it is a carrot. That disturbed me for a long time, and at certain moments, mainly when people are eating carrots, it still does.

a. b

Now, in this wordly exploration of body, why have I gone and chosen cannibalism to start us off?

Freud would ascribe it an expression of the oral sadistic phase But I don’t like Freud so we won’t be talking about that.

It is important to note something about the mind being the only thing that prevents us from eating our fingers instead of carrots (this seems obvious and it is)

I like my fingers They are possibly my favourite thing on my body. They are quick and clever and elegant. They can make music and they can run through your hair and I will spend hours of my life letting them fall into graceful poses I like most of all that they can trace the hill of rib to valley of waist to slope of hip

They do this most often when I lie in your bed (you are showering we have had sex I am quiet) I would watch this the melding of grace and slopes and valleys onto fingertips, feeling heavenly all day if we didn’t live under


C pittalist order or other tyrants and you didn’t have to go to work and me to the vague plethora of my evenings

We won’t be talking about my nose

a. b.

It is unfair for me to leave this statement unaccompanied I have my Mother’s nose I love my mother but I do not love our noses It looks lovely on my Mother because my Mother is lovely (you should meet her), but it has been a plague on my life since I noticed it on a car ride when I was three. i. Interestingly, my Mother has a very strong sense of smell. ii. I get runny noses all the time I’ve been extremely generous with talks of my nose so you should be grateful, because that’s the last of it so quit asking.

4. I would never eat my fingers


I wonder why, in this ‘consideration of the body’, I have started with an instinctual chopping up?

On the desk in front of me: Sawed off fingers that look an awful lot like beige carrots, and one nose, wrapped in a tissue so as to be hidden (and because I have a cold). I wonder


which body part will next be linguistically amputated

It is important also to note: without fingers masturbation would be very difficult

Emma Thompson said, of standing in front of a mirror, ‘If I stand in front of a mirror, I’m always sort of pulling something, or I’ll turn to the side, I’ll do something I can’t just stand there ’ This was surprising to me; I’ve had innumerable dreams about this woman and always it is my naked body which falls short in the mirror of our dream state fucking.

I don’t like the objectification of women, but I realise my subconscious takes me there very often They do have lovely objects in a Cohen esque theme, especially breasts

My own breasts are remarkably Uninteresting

a. Except to the man I am sleeping with. I assure you he takes very good care of them

In the grand scheme of things,

I enjoy having a body more often than not, though I am not like Virginia Woolf’s Jinny, who ‘could see nothing outside of the circle her body cast’

I find it difficult to think of anything that I touch, or which my body is near I go into a haze, and immediately imagine things abstract and far off.

My body experiences but it does not imagine

It has no powers of removal, it is constantly itself. My thoughts and me (interesting that I consider my thoughts more myself than my body?) live in removal, constantly removing themselves from the immediate.

This dissonance this cutting up of the ‘circle of my body’ to let thoughts be removed to a new, imagined circle well, it’s exhausting But it’s constant so I don’t notice the effort

a I believe my Mother experiences precisely this when she enters K Mart My sister and I call it the ‘Major Mom Gaze’. Re: David Bowie

11 I enjoy that talking of my body I am talking often of my Mother. Perhaps my body is a love letter to her

7. 8 9. 10 15DAMSEL MAGAZINE

one hundred, twenty five thousand

Emmett Rose they/he

This poem explores my experience, as a transmasculine nonbinary person, with misogyny, internalised misogyny, and internalised transphobia. Particularly, it tries to articulate the feeling of living with a ‘female’ body whilst not feeling welcome in female spaces.

CW: implications of self injury.

in most pharmacies, if you go left at the doors and take a wrong turn in the feminine hygiene aisle, you hit the glass ceiling. when you get there, smile (you look prettier that way). when you get there, be a good girl (seen) do not tell them you are bleeding (and not heard) and the aisle name was an ill fitting pair of underwear

if they let you in you might meet a body suspended, the prettiest girl you have ever seen.

it will ruin your life

it is a tuesday evening i am suffocating under blue foil balloons in a crowded restaurant my friends call me the birthday boy and i run to the bathroom to fashion a pad from toilet paper like an eleven year old girl could somebody else find this body beautiful i so desperately want to be pretty like i used to be small and flushed and rolling up my school skirt with the elegance of thirteen and once you are shown who you could have been i devour the beauty in front of the mirror to soothe the nausea running along the white of my skin / the flush still blossoming across my cheeks / the pink tinge of my collarbone / the tilt of my tongue i am twenty years old and i have never let anybody see all of my skin at once how could anybody i unbutton my shirt for ignore the hole i have chiselled in the space below my collarbones how could I ever be loved when i rip my home to shreds every chance i get and cannot sleep in her arms without dreams clouded by her wrists against my chest


when they told me at the doors that i did not do girlhood right before never swallowed it whole in the way i was taught i was silent like you told me to be and once you are shown who you could have been

a stranger lives inside me and i do not know his name tried for nineteen years with every ounce of me to be silent but he saw something beautiful and began to unfurl his fists and want which has always been a sin spilling out into boxers and calling it massacre craving wound to explain away haemorrhage

i dream of doing it all again and leaving nothing to be desired ice cream / pigtails / knife in my shaking hands skinning anyone who dares twist me into something wrong and i would not dare say it out loud but there are boys i have always wanted to kill i am starting to punch walls and cut into things to watch them bleed

i have looked everywhere for the girl i used to be fairy dresses / monkey bars / eyeshadow at my aunt’s hand i dream of doing it all again and not fearing the violent but he saw something beautiful and began to unfurl his fists and want the flush in her cheek / the pink tinge of her collarbone / the tilt of her tongue just like in the movies the woman dies to make room for the man and once you are shown who you could have been there is nowhere to go

i cannot starve her from my paper bag ribcage / the shades of mauve on my shoulder blades / hips / tops of my thighs the scars of a womanhood in which i am no longer allowed to hide even as i paint red rivers down to my ankles and what a crime it is to slice her from my bones like this and still call myself feminist i cannot hate the woman from my body without hating women i cannot hate the woman from my body without hating the beautiful

beauty is not the price a woman pays to exist in the world but what about a less than woman what about a murderer

one hundred twenty five thousand calories i dream about doing it all again and making it palatable

the boy feigns a smile while the girl cleans up in the bathroom



Brynley Kinane she/her

I am at war with myself cursing my reflection until the mirror cracks trapped in a maddening spiral of ways to make myself small enough to fit their standards

I am suffocated by this endless need for validation I swallow my hunger until the desire becomes nothing but a hollow ache

I have allowed myself to become a winter coat a body that belongs to everyone except for me my bones have since grown weary from years of betraying the skin that my mother raised me in covered in dust like the forgotten books on my top shelf my mind fills with eulogies a desolate pit of despair as I mourn the person I used to be and the person I could have become.



Kalyana Sobhita she/her


The Other and I

Sarah Birch she/they

I have this body But is it one you want?

I know what you see when you look at the parts that make me up. They fit your desire. But what if they weren’t the whole of me? What if, some days, I see my body differently - as both and neither, as everything and nothing, as the standard and the in-between. What then? This is the body I have, the one I see that others turn a blind eye to - it skirts into their peripheral vision because, as far as everyone is concerned, I fit in. I have the parts that make up the sum.

And when I’m with you there’s a stirring in my stomach because, as much as I want you to see me for me both as feminine and as this Other - I can’t stand the Other sometimes. This distaste only occurs around you. You, who does everything to make me feel safe and comfortable. You, who accepts my skin, imprinting it with love You, who has never made me feel like I have to be Her, just that I can be Me. I can’t help myself, though. When I’m with you, I revert. I become the societal object and that is all I want you to see me as. But I don’t believe it to be a bad thing. It is just how I feel, and I find that it no longer leaves that sour taste in my mouth. I’m not playing two different roles, they’re both part of me, murmuring in the back of my mind. Yet, I don’t control them I can’t force one to come out while I push the other to the depths of my mind. They act on their own and you are the only one I’m truly comfortable showing them to. But She is the one you see most, the Other nestles in the back I pull a blanket over them, wrapping them in the warmth you show Her that I know you want to give to Them too. I don’t feel ill when the Other is put to rest because they’re still there, underneath this lacy bra. They remain. But there’s a twist in my stomach that I can’t help because I dislike you seeing Them

I wish I knew why Because I know you love Them Just as much as Her. But there’s a desire to fit my body into a space and I cannot fight it off. There is a standard that must be followed and the Other is so left field it makes me feel as if I don’t fit in I suppose that’s the reason I don’t have the right look. There will always be an assumption made about me, an assumption in the feminine. My curves, the ones that make up this body, are so prominent now. All soft and perky, just the way society ordered But they’ll never have those sharp edges, the kind They crave. The thing that would likely shift society’s perspective of me. This body will never be my own to define.


Even with you, I no longer have control over how my body is perceived because you have seen my body in its entirety. Parts that are so identifiable that seeing the Other is an impossibility, at least in my mind This bodily intimacy is ours and there’s no other way I can participate in it if we don’t see Her. Because, really, she’s half the show. And He, You, fit your sharp edges into my soft side. A puzzle piece designed to work So, They must phase into the background.

But still your mouth opens and says words that both grate my teeth and make my heart stammer, fluttering out of my body and into your hands. They’re on their way, you say when I’m a little late. They were amazing, you tell others when gushing about my work. I’m gonna fuck their mum, you say, jokingly, because you never let the opportunity of a ‘your mum’ joke go by. They. They. They.

And even when you flip to the inverse I don’t mind. Because I am both She and They. To you it doesn’t matter, the terms are synonymous, and I have no preference. I’m still coming to terms with this body, trying to understand it as it is with all its nuances that have come upon me. And there you are. Holding my hand as we understand what it means for us. My Body doesn’t belong to you but, God, am I thankful for your help in understanding it. It is so lonely on the path of discovery, to have a hand to hold throughout it means more than anything. So, of course, you might catch a wince from me when I hear the Other mentioned but it's only because the binary is so instilled in me. I’m unlearning it whilst learning about myself.

are afab (assigned female at birth) bodies viewed as sexual entities because that is their intent and purpose, or because that is the lens through which society has taught us to view them? she/they a photo set by eva 22 DAMSEL MAGAZINE

If the Shoe Fits(?)

This piece, "If the Shoe Fits(?)", is set in 1920s America, focusing on gender identity and how clothes can help our bodies to fit. My work typically explores mental health, identity and the relationships we have with our bodies.

He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be anywhere, is the problem; he shouldn’t exist, surely, because his presence in this hazy shithole in the wall proves something. Surely it proves some sort of aberration, some irregularity a disturbance sheer in its anomaly He shouldn’t be anywhere, is the problem

But then again. Evan nurses his drink. “Whiskey is a real man’s choice,” Brad once quipped, not one to place stock in such things but definitely one to rile up the newsies who only drink beer and moonshine. It worked; Brant McLaughlin spent his next paycheck on an illicit bottle of the stuff

Whiskey is a rich man’s choice, she’d grumbled, and yet here she he is

This glass, at least, is courtesy of the man along the bar with the nice eyelashes and cleft chin. A dress and lipstick score a higher number of free libations, by Evan’s reckoning, but he does still get a good number He’s had time and opportunity to gauge the stats

Men’s generosity with young ladies is scattershot and slapdash, its message clear: a favour owed. With trousers and tie, with pinned hair and bound chest, it’s a different score to settle Furtive, nervous, the sharp side of dangerous; not cat and mouse, exactly, but prey seeking its own (Sometimes, less pleasantly, a predator with a cross to bear )

It’s kind of nice. Evan’s getting good at it, too.

With men, it’s easier to preface with a drink; he can line up the cards, see where they fall And sure, he’s small and scrawny, and he’s been told that invites “Trouble” inverted commas, capital T but so far he’s dealing mostly aces. (A little too well sometimes, requiring fast extrication.)

If he buys a lady a drink, it’s better to go slow and casual Sit back, give a wide berth, even make to leave No debt to repay somewhere, in this shitty corner of the world, there’s such a thing as a free drink. He’s noticed it helps. They’ve noticed it’s safe.

Maybe it’s because he’s a fake, all told, that he can manage not to be a total creep

Clothes make a man, make a woman they create curves, a suggestion, a tempered package of a person. But they don’t change what’s between his legs, what’s in his head. Does it matter; well, no, not to Evan, but he’s carved out a greedy, unneeded space And for that, surely, he’s proving the wrong thing


If it were for some noble quest but even getting laid is a nobler quest than playing at the game and tapping out every time Clothes make the man, but everything else is fake all the way down, and he doesn’t want to think about it.

He finishes the whiskey The man along the bar calls for another His gaze finds Evan’s through the haze of smoke Evan raises his glass, lets the smirk bloom full force

He finds another whiskey in front of him. Well, just one more, and then he’ll make to leave.

No offence meant to Mr Cleft Chin; he’s innocuous as they can possibly come But better to circle the drain than find something with substance

And hey, maybe it repays the years of men’s hands on his her knee, on the small of her back; around her shoulders; touching her hair; touching her face; calling her darling, sweetcheeks, dollface, and most fucking bizarrely baby girl She’s never scored a real date, and yet, she knows men It’s impossible not to

Maybe, in the end, free whiskey with a different overhanging threat is payment enough.

He’ll take it #

She shouldn’t be here She shouldn’t be wearing this, is the problem, like the compromise helps anything It always comes down to clothes, as if they’re some holy rite initiating her into a promise to behave

Journalism isn’t blue collar, but it’s not starched and stiff, either. She opts for rolled up sleeves, suspenders, no tie, the cheaper fabric of workman’s trousers rather than the pricey stuff Brad wears.

The boots don’t match the whole get up, but they are very pretty They’re pointy and angular with dainty little laces. The kind best worn with pantyhose, frilled socks and pleated skirts. The department store spills with people 20% off sale for the woman on the go! Well, she’s a woman on the go, isn’t she?

Evie tries the boots on They fit better than most of her other pairs, which tend to be designed for bigger feet than hers can ever aspire to be. They’re snug, comfortable, like they’re letting her in on a secret. The mirror thinks this whole situation is ludicrous, so Evie doesn’t care to weigh its opinion.

“I could find you something from the men’s section, if you prefer?” The shop assistant hovers through Evie’s dithering Her misplaced camaraderie is surprising And, despite the sudden hunted feeling, Evie can appreciate it.

“No thanks ” Evie bites her lip She imagines blood welling in the cracks “Hey, do you think these look good? I’m ” No words seem to suffice They pool around her ankles, coming unstuck from her teeth “I wanted something a bit different ”

They’re very stylish,” the assistant is quick to agree. “I’m sure they’d look lovely with a skirt, too.”

Evie bites her lip harder Sensing it didn’t land, the assistant attempts valiant recovery and offers a contrite, “Oh, I do think I saw some trousers that would go nicely, if you’d like to pair ”


“I’ll just take the shoes,” Evie says, startling both herself and the assistant

Evie leans on the counter while the assistant rings them up. They’re packaged in a blush pink box with silver crepe paper; the department store’s logo is all looping cursive along the bag, shades of peaches and cream Evie’s quietly amused: if she walks around town with it, people might even think she’s proper (A real young lady, whatever that means.)

“I like your look,” the assistant tells her finally, pushing the bag towards her The tint to her cheeks makes Evie wonder if the camaraderie should be so surprising after all

“It’s not so much a look as it is a,” Evie halts on the words; on a grin that makes the assistant blush harder, “you know, modus vivendi. ”

Evie wears the boots to work She does, after all, have a women’s coat and women’s earrings to pair them with. It’s overall a strange Frankensteinian creation with the rolled up sleeves, suspenders and workman’s trousers, but it feels somehow less like a compromise. Besides, if Frankenstein’s monster represents the hubris of men, maybe it’s fitting

Brant McLaughlin, in typical fashion, laughs a sneering laugh and says, “You know those boots are for actual dames, right?”

Evie bites her lip The blood, this time, might be real

“Are you intimately familiar with ladies’ boots, McLaughlin?” Brad sweeps an offensively perfunctory gaze over him, then delivers one final, condemning, “That hat doesn’t match your jacket, if we’re counting sins.”

McLaughlin is cowed For a moment, Evie wishes she’d pinned her hair and bound her chest; then Evan could carry out such a methodical execution, and McLaughlin would no longer bother him McLaughlin wouldn’t call him a butch broad or a sapphist or “light in the trousers”. McLaughlin might call him a sissy, but that would, at least, be novel

But she’s here, in the trousers and the boots with dainty little laces And, despite the less than stellar company, it’s kind of nice.


He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be wearing this, is the problem, and so she’s wearing this. The dress matches her eyes; her curled hair tickles her nose; the lipstick presses tight, a sometimes loyal accomplice.

Tonight, she can be someone else Maybe then it’ll feel deserved

The party wheels and whirls around her. Someone asks for her name, after a bit and some gin. Evie says, mostly without thinking, “Bianca Nilsen.” It spins a whole story from smoke, after a bit more “I’m a switchboard operator well! For now, ” she says, “and I grew up near Wenatchee,” then, around another gin, “and I want to have my own fashion label one day ”

It always comes down to clothes, in the end. Clothes make the woman: a transmutation of flesh and bone.


People want to know more about the off the cuff bullshit, which is a bad idea she grew up, really, in the cracks between Nowhere and No Hope, and who’s wearing their best in a coal coated mining town? But then Evie remembers all the catalogues she paws through, searching for something she never quite finds (some in between state, maybe, where she can fill out an order form and feel like it’s right) So she talks Vionnet and Lanvin and arts decoratifs she is absolutely talking out of her ass, but Bianca knows her stuff, and Evie knows enough to cobble it. “Did you know, in Paris,” someone says, through tinkling glass and reefer breath, “over half the women in Montmartre are sapphic?”

“Paris sounds like the place to be,” Bianca says, and people laugh and laugh. She amends with a coquettish wink, “But men are all right, too.”

She conjures it a little too easily, this tale spun from nothing, and keeps pushing her luck “We do have a queen of the bias cut,” she says, “so how about a king next?” She doesn’t know what the fuck she’s saying, but the gin helps.

The night bleeds merriment dry She was here for a reason oh, right, to chase a gangster’s son, because his father’s power is slipping and it’s a good story for the paper (Dangerous, too; that helps ) Seattle’s on the brink of all out gang warfare, and here she is talking about rolled down stockings like the clothes on all their backs are worth a goddamn dime.

If Evan were here, he’d buy a round of drinks and flirt with his eyes and his smirk Evie prefers an immoderate grin and immoderate speech, banking on passion and puckishness Bianca, it seems, can flirt with her laugh, her bosom and her wit; it’s all non threatening in its muliebrity. Is this what it means to be a real young lady, or is this still not enough? (Can it ever be that with the rules constantly in flux?)

Bianca reapplies her lipstick She submits to the heady peace of the bargain and finds that, for tonight, it fits. Like a deal done with the devil well, who knows where her soul’s at these days anyway, and exchanging one name for another when she wants to is worth any steep price.

“Hey, sweetcheeks,” someone calls He’s older than her by at least a decade, if not two “Can I buy you another?”

Some primal ire flashes in her smile. (Can it ever be enough when the rules are never in her favour?) “Oh, not without dinner and a picture first!”

People laugh and laugh She shouldn’t be here; he shouldn’t be here; but they shouldn’t be anywhere, is the problem, so they’ll need to keep carving. fin.


when is skin not skin?

when it slithers; when it writhes when i crawl out of it to sleep at night draped over a chair, empty cascading from my shoulders, smooth skin is skin when it is touched when it meets lips and a soft kiss when it’s padded with silk and lovely things when it’s laughed against, and wears polished rings

skin is skin when i smile at you when i feel it stretch my cheeks, too wide when i clasp your hand and feel it beating when i clasp your heart and feel it sigh skin is not skin when you’re inside when it fills me to the brim with lies and cyanide it’s not skin when my room is grey when the skies are red and my ends are frayed

skin is not skin when it’s yours when it closes round my neck and locks my jaws when it spews all the promises it cannot keep when i crawl back into bed, to hope and to weep


Hourglass of Huillinco (2017)

Erin Dowley

Confronting the ephemerality of beauty and emotions, in my art I use the camera to capture fleeting interactions with the environment Manifested through the female gaze, in this image the contours and crevices of the landscape reflect the delicate magnificence of nature



Rachel Denham White she/her

noun. An external genital organ in a human; especially a woman’s vulva From Latin pudenda (“that whereof one ought to feel shame”).

This piece, "If the Shoe Fits(?)" is set in 1920s America, focusing on gender identity and how clothes can help our bodies to fit. My work typically explores mental health, identity and the relationships we have with our bodies.

Nearly every part of my body is present and accounted for But my cunt is a contradiction

There is something between my thighs, but its name can’t be said in polite society

Too many people would giggle

And yet, it is venerated.

Singers croon about what it can do, how it can make them feel

Writers devote pages of writing to it

Men will literally kill each other (and possibly me) for ownership of it.

It is the most beautiful, treasured thing in the world.

And yet, it is disgusting

It’s the wrong shape, the wrong size, everything about it is wrong. It weeps a vile substance, with a smell that can kill grown men with one inhalation.

It’s covered in coarse, jungle like hair

Quick! Scrub it! Shave it! Pluck it! Perfume it! Make it more presentable

It’s not working

Oh God, there’s blood dripping from it. Maybe it has teeth. MAYBE IT HAS TEETH!

Be ashamed of it Don’t mention it Don’t acknowledge it Don’t even think about it!

Do you feel pain? No you don’t.

But it’s so hard to describe

A rigid landscape of twisting, unmappable skin

Then why is this small triangle of membrane so important?

Do I boil down to this?

A grinning skeleton, and a small scrap of flesh


But it’s also a box Or a chest Something to be opened. Can I open it?

No, that’s not my job

Someone has to come along and tell me what is contained inside

But it is also an absence. A dark space. A hole. A void. It has to be filled. But by whom?

Until I’m filled, I am always empty

But I am defined by this absence I remain a site of “less than ” Waiting . . . .

I imagine my body as a paper doll, with a clear, precise hole punched out of the middle. What happened if that hole were filled?

Klaxons blare! Alarms go off! The space is no longer empty!

Throw the doll part away, she’s not important anymore.

Instead, focus on what’s left

A small, lumpish clot of cells Swimming in blackness

If you squint, it could be a human

There’s a clitoris there too Maybe? Who knows

Creative Exegesis

My aim with this piece was to explore how vaginas and vulvas are represented through language. I think it is interesting how vagina is such a taboo word; even though it should be treated as a clinical, medical description, we are so conditioned to go to such great lengths to avoid using this phrase I wanted to illustrate how vaginas are so present in our daily realities, but our everyday lexicon will find every possible avenue to avoid mentioning that specific word. I tried to convey this by only ever using slang terms, florid language, and euphemisms, as if my own creative brain has been rewritten to think of my vagina as separate from its embodied meaning and significance This piece aims to convey my personal sense of absence and alienation, as I often feel like I am restricted from certain parts of my own body But in the wake of the Roe vs Wade mandate, as I am an individual who identifies as a woman, I’ve begun to realise how much society will define me solely by my possession of a vulva and a womb. You really start to feel like your body is nothing but a site of contradictions, but a site you are forbidden from entering.


The Future for Australian Women

For those who've come across the seas We've boundless plains to share With courage let us all combine

With these words from “Advance Australia Fair”, our Australian National Anthem, I constructed a model of the Great Australian Dream As a woman, a minority, and a muslim, these words helped me envision an Australia where all women would be given the space to be seen and heard on a national stage

I dreamt that Australia was a place where it didn’t matter what our bodies looked like, what we decided to wear, and what our cultures and beliefs are. That we could all come together, talk about our struggles, and find commonality in a world that for a long time has been dominated by men

On the surface, this dream looks like a reality Earlier this February at the National Press Conference, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame placed the issue of Women’s safety and abuse of male power at the centre of our national conversation.

Sexual safety is an important topic, and something that touched our Australia to the core. I applaud them for their bravery and capability to overcome those who would force them to feel shame

Without taking away from their remarkable achievement, I would like to ask the question: “How different would the general sentiment be if Brittany and Grace were asylum seekers, or of Aboriginal descent?”

“Upholding the rights of all women and girls is at the heart of creating a more just and sustainable world ”

This line was delivered this year by Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are five times as likely to experience physical violence than any other Australian woman, three times as likely to experience sexual violence, and five times more likely to be victims of homicide

In Australia, the SBS has reported that a third of refugee and migrant women have experienced domestic and family violence, with those on temporary visas reporting much higher levels of abuse. A recent report


by Monash University highlighted seven forms of migration related controlling behaviour, including threats of deportation, withdrawal of sponsorship, and blocking access to travel visas.

In Australia, as of 31st May 2022, the average number of days that Asylum Seekers are spending in detention is now 736 days, or around two years Around five hundred have been in detention for longer than two years.

In Australia, of the six women speakers that have been asked to speak at the National Press Club, only one of them, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, was coloured. She is a Kenyan who studied in America.

Where is the representation from Indigenous Women who are five times more likely to be victims of homicide? Where is the representation from Asylum Seekers who spend two years in detention?

There is an acceptable face of Australian feminism The women who are standing up and talking about the issues plaguing all Australian women, like the gender pay gap, and sexual safety. They are acceptable, and they are heard Then, there are women who have so much to say and with so many difficult and heart wrenching stories of their own, but aren’t given the space and the platform to speak

I am a hijab wearing Australian Muslim woman. It is the unfortunate truth that for immigrant women like me, we not only have to bring our possessions and luggage into Australia, but our appearance and culture also is a form of baggage. We are judged based on appearance at work, in the political sphere, and in our communities unjustly.

However, I believe that the status quo is changing I recently had the wonderful opportunity to connect with a few amazing women that are paving the way for Australian Muslims in the political sphere. Senator Fatima Payman, one of my good friend, and a hijabi wearing senator in the 2022 parliament; Hiba Alsoedy, an amazing hijabi woman who is currently active in state politics; and Saba Rahi, who is making her mark in local politics.

This gives me hope that one day, the Australian Dream will cease to exist, because we will have woken up But I have it easy.

My heart goes out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who fight discrimination and perceptions to advocate for their rights and take back their ancestral land. Some were even forcibly taken at a young age from a heritage that respected women as equals, and placed in a society that taught insecurity and shame

My heart goes out to the migrant women, some of whom I have the opportunity to serve in my own community. Some have come from countries like Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, rated as 10 or under in freedom score by FreedomHouse, to bravely forge a new life For some, their home and family responsibilities are so great that after a decade they have not been able to learn enough English to shop alone at the supermarket. Some of them bring their ten year old boys and girls to help them fill out forms to receive much needed supplies from our government and nonprofits

These women are tougher and stronger than I can ever be. One day, I hope that we can make space for them to tell us their stories on a national stage representing our national identity as Australians


Steph Harding she/her

Verbal Bodies: The Importance of Voice in Establishing a Political Identity

It is not a new revelation that communication and language are defining features of humanity's development Social characteristics have allowed for innovation, art and culture to progress to a point of incredible achievement over human history. From a socio political perspective of progress however, such achievement and influence stems from beyond the sole ability to communicate, and rather from a person or group's ability to amplify a voice Although the majority can speak, it is a different thing to be heard, and in the case of women throughout history we have repeatedly been squished between lines of history and stri and complexity. We have been unable to break out of stereotypes or to define ourselves. We have lacked a collective voice, and in many circumstances we still do. With all this in mind, it is not surprising that our bodies and identities suffer the consequences

Voice is a direct demonstration of power. One that, for women, first occurred in a somewhat collective nature during the Suffrage Movement (now seen as the first formal wave of feminism) which lasted from the 1890s to the 1920s. However, before this major step in women's rights, institutions were formed and maintained solely by and for the involvement of men This had been the accepted model in countless civilisations for thousands of years, slowly but significantly ingraining male voices within history as a feature that has become seemingly inseparable from the functioning of society. Today we recognise this sense of societal permanency which accompanies the voices of men as a product of patriarchy, a term which in itself gives women the facilities to define and therefore challenge such a societal order

The Suffragettes get a lot of coverage in feminist media, and for good reason, as they were the first largely successful modern movement to present such a challenge to the pervasive patriarchal world model They began modern feminism as an ideology that could be acted upon publicly Although Suffragists won the vote, an achievement which gave women the opportunity to enmesh their voices within political structures, they also developed a movement of women to be heard by the world around them. They established the voice of feminism in a collective sense, which planted the roots for future feminist movements to grow from Women as a collective now had a foot in the door of politics, and a whole leg in the door of their own social identity


Shadow Puppet Kalyana Sobhita



Adam and My Eve

Maggie Livings they/them

This work focuses on the problematic ways the male gaze perceives the female body, enabled by many differing aspects of society.

She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen Her hair was light and long, I could see the strands shimmering in the wind as it blew her perfect but effortless styling obsolete In my mind I could almost feel the softness of her pearly skin, free of blemishes but with a healthy grow from within that surely couldn’t be replicated with makeup. She had a slight figure, slender and plump in all the right places so that it was hard not to notice the areas carrying the tiniest bits of fat. She was a true natural beauty, the kind you hear about in stories and tales; the princesses, goddesses, and angels The kind of purity that needed to be maintained as time went on; I couldn’t just watch and let her get tainted by the actions of others

Slowly, I got to know her radiance on the inside and well as out, observing her patterns and behaviour to learn her personality I memorised her schedule, recording it in a journal dedicated to her, in order to really understand her On weekdays, the light in her room indicated she woke at 7 in the morning before preparing herself for the bus that arrived at 8:04. Every day she walked out the house it was as if an angel had stepped into the sun, castling light onto her surroundings. She never took too long to get ready, not spending hours like usual women, but she was always a step above just presentable I could tell she was humble and modest from these actions while still taking care of her beauty Wednesday’s were a blessing as she returned home almost half an hour earlier than usual only to be followed by the agony of Thursday when she was out for an average of an extra 1 hour and 23 minutes. It pained my heart for her to be out of my sight but it showed she had extracurricular interests and activities that would lead to a well rounded woman. I could deal with it if she was stupid but not if she was boring On Fridays the older adults of the house were usually out all night, returning the following morning This left her to watch and play with her younger siblings, demonstrating strong family values that made her perfectly suitable for breeding, I could imagine her carrying them into the family we could have together. Her schedule on the weekends always contained inconsistencies but she always returned to my careful watch. She never stayed out too long or up too late, having a sense of responsibility as a respectable woman She was the perfect woman, maybe even my perfect woman It was as if God had delivered my Eve to me Was this was being in love is like?

There was a man watching me from the house next door I almost didn’t notice it, small flickers of a curtain, lights going out at the same time as mine, convenient trips to take the rubbish out when I was on the way to school. At first I thought I was being conceited, why would a random neighbour want anything to do with me, but the more it happened the more I couldn’t ignore the coincidences. I was out on a Wednesday when I really saw him It was a half day at school and my friends wanted to go to the mall instead of straight home so I agreed to go with, looking for a distraction. As soon as we entered the building I could feel that sinister gaze again, a pair of eyes locked on my body that I couldn’t seem to


locate. I told my friends I needed to go to the bathroom, asking one of them to come with me and the others to wait outside so I wasn’t alone. When I came out, a man barrelled straight into me, knocking me to the side “Hey! Watch it ” It was him It was the first time I had been close enough to really look at his features but I knew it was the man from next door. He was wearing a baseball cap that almost fully obscured his face and his loose fitting clothes had the same effect on his frame. He looked down and our eyes met, sending a chill down my spine Then he ran off

My friends laughed at my awkward encounter, teasing me for scolding the older man so much they barely noticed how shaken I was I finally tried to voice my anxieties, “I think he was following me I’ve seen him next door, looking at me through the window.” But they just continued to laugh.

“Ooh, someone ’ s got an admirer!”

“You know what, he was kind of hot. What? I’m just saying, older men can be sexy! Plus, they’re more experienced.”

“I guess you ’ re right, the boys our age are all so stupid There has to be a reason most girls like older men. ”

“I wish any guy was interested in me, you ’ re so lucky you ’ re basically the beauty standard ”

“You couldn’t even see his face; you must just be confusing the two with each other.” Maybe they’re right, maybe I was just overreacting and there was nothing to worry about

I internally scolded myself; getting caught was a careless mistake. It was not in my plans to see her at the mall, according to my schedule she should’ve been at school for at least 3 more hours which would’ve given me enough time to run errands before I had to be watching to welcome my Eve back The unexpected shock of seeing her walk through the doors threw off my perfectly calculated interactions, bumping into her like I did was not how I planned our first meeting I had not yet actually planned our first meeting but if I had I knew she would’ve fallen for me within moments. I think back to our first contact, the way her small figure barely made a dent on my body, the way her mesmerising blue eyes met mine, warped into shock as they looked at me, and the way I could feel her gaze lingering as I left I could still feel my Eve’s pure light radiance lingering inside of me, I felt enlightened as if her touch had cleansing properties She was my apple, just a taste wasn’t enough, I needed more. I could no longer just feel this radiance from a distance. I needed to have it, own it, feed on it. This time everything would go to plan, I would not be caught off guard again. Adam would have his Eve.

“Hey Mum, can I talk to you?” When I got home from the mall I decided to try talk to my mother about the strange man from next door, hoping someone would reflect my concerns about him She barely looked up from the salad she was making for dinner as the she replied

“Of course, darling. What’s up?”

“There’s this guy “


“Ooh, a guy? Tell me more, is he handsome? Is he one of your classmates?” She looks up at me with a playful smile, “Are you trying to tell me you have a boyfriend?”

“No, that’s not what I mean “ Before I can finish speaking she interrupts me again “Honey!” My mum calls to my dad as he walks past the kitchen, “Get in here! Angelica has a boyfriend!” “He’s not my boyfriend!” I raise my voice in order to get my words in “There’s a man living next door who has been watching me and now I think he’s following me too!”

“Oh darling, you know it’s only natural for boys to notice you more at this age You’re growing into a very beautiful woman and it’s expected that you ’ re going to get some attention for it. Some boys just don’t know how to approach such pretty girls.”

“He’s not a boy! He’s an adult man!”

“You know, Angelica, your mother and I have quite an age gap, we met when she had just finished high school and I was almost done with university I had to work quite hard to make your mother fall in love with me. She wouldn’t even look my way when we met! All I had to do was keep trying and eventually I won her over. ” My dad scoops my mum into his arms, as they smile at each other I can tell I’m already excused from this conversation My suspicions are confirmed as someone knocks on the front door

“Go see who that is please, darling. We’ll talk more over dinner.” My mum sends me away, I grumble under my breath and I walk to the door I don’t understand why no one will listen to me I feel like I’m going insane

“Hello I just recently moved in next door and thought an introduction was overdue My name is Adam ” What the fu I do my best to turn up my charm, doing my best to stay composed whilst so close to my Eve I had rehearsed my lines in the mirror before coming to their door, I would not stutter or falter, I would have an answer for every question they gave me, I would make no mistakes. What is he doing here? Despite all of my practice, my heart felt out of control as she stares at me, with those same beautiful eyes that drew me in I can feel that same leering gaze over my body, sending chills down my spine If not for that unfortunately familiar feeling from his perverse gaze I would’ve struggled to recognise him, he looks entirely different to the person I bumped into at the mall We stand there as if frozen, I use this chance to truly take in her beauty Blonde hair plucked from an angel’s harp, eyes filled with my personal heaven, pale flesh that was untouched no, waiting for my touch. I think I’m going to throw up.

“Everything okay over there?” I let out a small sigh of relief as my dad comes over; I can’t wait for him to tell this creep to go away I force the smile back on my face as her father approaches, immediately stretching my hand out to shake as I repeat my introduction. As the man of the house, his first impression of me is crucial if I’ll be asking him for Eve’s hand in marriage in the near future. We share a handshake, firm but I allow him to take a stronger grip out of respect “Welcome to the neighbourhood, Adam!” No! This is not supposed to be happening Why is this happening to me? I shrink behind the open door, wishing I could slam it and wake up from this nightmare. “Let us know if you need any help getting settled. In fact, we are having a barbecue with some of our family friends and others in the neighbourhood next Sunday for Angelina’s 17th birthday ” Angelina it’s not as good of a name as Eve but it will have to do for now I let


my gaze return to her as she is mentioned. God knows that women are a dangerous temptation. At 16 she is only just becoming one, so small and supple, ripe for the plucking before anyone else can even think of laying a finger on my beautiful Eve In avoiding the man ’ s dirty gaze I try to send signals to my dad to stop this, widening my eyes at him and tugging on his sleeve I just need him to pay attention to me for one second and he will see that this has to stop. The father looks at his daughter and after reading her expression adds, “I’m sure she would love to see you there.”

“I would be honoured ” After all, God has made his decision to give my Eve to me There is nothing that can stop our holy connection.


Notes on the Moon Aditi Arun she/her

I. Self Portrait

So, here, it begins again: a rowboat, midnight, muscles spasming relentlessly. The moon is a cold thing, you see She jerks at the tides all night long, the big fat thing, looking down at me until

Daybreak My father visits me He is ten feet tall; looks like God He tears a loaf of bread into chunks, lets me throw them to the fish. We laugh about how stupid the moon is She doesn’t even have her own light. He tells me I am far more intelligent. I smell like soap; my eyes are bright.

When I look in the water, the fish become a thousand versions of myself that warp and twist into each other, dart under the rowboat before I can scoop them up:

girl with two ropes for hair, knock kneed Freud girl looking down her skirt. Girl with fingerprintless thumbs, paging through a book with no title Hurricane girl being pointed at by the weatherman Tag, you’re it! Girl k i s s i n g behind the bike shed, girl sticky from the wetness of a lollipop stick Cutting through the Pacific, girl wooden on a prow. A plum girl that hangs heavy until she bursts, seeps into the dirt, where no one picks her up

II Ophelia

The rowboat floats upon a liquid mirror but I dare not look at my reflection trapped under the water I do not want to see her, and she does not want to be seen. Phases of the moon eat the days as I wait for a faceless man with the same voice as my father to ring me, to tell me he loves how my collarbones can hold water I shave every part of my size small body and still he does not call. The phone cord twists around


my fingers, bra lace scratching into flesh so delicate it starves to be hurt They say hunger is inherited Hunger is inherited, and it makes my hands creep to my rations, fugitives lifting almonds to my mouth. I nibble, then I

Bite Munch Eat, ingest, gobble consume guzzlewolfgorge devour! When my rations have been devoured, I dig for a cure to my hunger inside me. I find almonds under my tongue, in my nail beds, in the crevices of my ears.

When I extract them, their hard brown shells unfurl, scraps of ruched pink flesh that sigh in my hands I find more and more of this. I tear at my skin, turn my nostrils inside out, pluck the hairs from my head, retch until my stomach no longer exists More flesh I become it, until my whole body is a sack of pulsing, wet tissue The boat shudders, cracks, sinks.

As I descend, I curl what is left of my lashes, perfume the remains of my genitals, run pruning fingers through my shorn scalp I watch the fish nip at the tatters of my body, and the whole time

I wonder if I will still be fuckable on my deathbed


III. Ode to the Lunar Cycle

Your beams brush white fingers down my face as you tell me we live in stasis: our fates as eternal as we are empty Hunger consumes us, you see It is not so bad, you murmur My bones brittle, I will touch myself less, and have to carry my loved ones, a bowl of hot soup I can never put down, never spill We are empty, but it is not so bad. When you wane, I will wax, become into myself: begin to see your rilles in my veins, the shape of your craters in my liver spots When I breathe, your massifs, my breasts, will make waves swell

You tell me I will stop counting time by the fine lines on my surface what I thought was an epitaph and I will learn to measure fullness The photo albums I complete, how many of my sisters’ glasses I top up with red, the way my stomach brims over with laughter

Come to me, you say. Come to your mother, born of your mother born of your mother and so on

So this is how it ends again: me, my own daughter, venturing into that endless stretch of black I will climb pinpricks of light until I reach you, all the while my limbs stretching in ancient configurations like those of my mothers before me


cats and mice

favourite little dress suddenly midriff self conscious

‘Oh,’ said politicians exposed to the shadow of privileged society pink nervous she imagined normally white capped and fair coloured smiles certain, relaxed like cats appraising death. disobedient mice quietly uncompromising we sit neither prepared nor terrified for the pounce of disapproval.

Mia Fraser she/her


Comfortable in My Feminine Nature

This body of work explores individual experience with femininity and the connection to nature that creates a sense of comfort.

Stemmed from my research into ecofeminism, I investigate how women and nature are inherently interlinked through their oppression and liberation. Using photographic research my subject matter engages in performative photos, as well as candid shots in their chosen place of nature, that makes the subject most comfortable

I have engaged in one on one interviews to grasp peoples personal experience with femininity and created an artwork that reflects their understandings

Using titling, digital print outs, 4 colour separation, painted elements, textile elements and collage I have created a series of work that reflects the individual with the hopes that it will empower, and make other people feel comfortable in their skin.


All the Queens Men

The annals say the kings are such

A drag! It is the Queens who Feed the hungry smiles of men, Those warriors, who slap each other

On the back the thigh as they Feast on grease and glory It is the Queens Who conquered the moon, arms strong, And anchored it to the earth. It is the Queens! The ones who found a home

In red lips brought hidden men together. Those Queens helped Man escape Into the marvels of allusion rubbed At metaphors until they shone like gold.

Note: first line derived from Seamus Heaney’s poem, ‘Lightenings viii’.

On Capturing Movement and Other Modes of Stillness Millie Foster she/her


Tending to Your Garden Angela Aris she/they

Hair. There are a limited number of things in life we have control over. In infancy, it is what we put into our mouths, you can spit out the mashed banana or you can chew it As we grow especially into teendom so does the desire for autonomy and independence As we carve out this identity we look to friends, social media, the Disney channel, any place we might find validation or approval. We seek out anyone that can tell us we’re ‘doing it right’ Other decisions that fall within this realm of ‘control’ are drug taking, piercings, stick and pokes, sport, music taste, altering the school uniform and GrOoMiNg ChOiCeS. These choices, which emerge partly as exciting and innocent expressions of self (e g learning to braid or styling your hair into a mohawk), are also a part of a broader social conditioning which encodes norms for a binary system of gender Whether we like it or not, hair and how we manipulate it continues to be read, scrutinised and interpreted by those around us; it has been rendered hopelessly symbolic

This holds not just for the hair on our heads, but for the hair all over our bodies: armpits, legs, arms, breasts, tummies, feet and face. The list goes on. For all of us, hair carries baggage. And each person’s relationship with hair is unique These relationships, made more complex by factors such as heritage, sexuality and gender identity, become frustrating, tangled messes.

Upon first contact with entertainment and pop culture, women are taught that female body hair doesn’t exist. Clever as we are, when the tufts began sprouting, we tuned in to the real message being broadcast: you need to get rid of your body hair and pretend it doesn’t exist I am yet to encounter a rational explanation for this, although I hope to find one. Deeply concerning, is the lack of sense which governs these grooming standards Regions of the body most expected to be hairless are the least visible, and high schools sell us stockings as a part of the school uniform to keep our bald legs warm. I began shaving my vulva at around age thirteen This is disturbing on a number of levels Who was I doing this for? How did I know I was supposed to? And why was this all so hush hush? This hair, a careful measure of my adolescent development was eradicated on sight, not allowed to exist until my adult life

The earliest memory which comes to mind there are too many so chronological order seemed like the way to go is of my year five crush He was getting in my face, and my back was up against the wall of the outdoor corridor at school. He ended our ‘argument’, what I had assumed was flirting, with an off the cuff comment about my moustache and it not being “very pretty” I was chasing this boy based on the advice of real life, grown up, adult women who had told me “if he’s mean to you it means likes you”. This fallacy,


problematic unto itself, lead me to the reasonable conclusion that if I got rid of the hair everything would change And so began the veracious over pruning of my frizzy thick, black and brown, Greek given curls, resented as burdensome.

Inextricably linked to presentations of hair is queerness and gender identity. Years of condemning females for their facial hair has boosted Nair’s share price Now, I experience anxiety when I present in any way that may be perceived as conventionally masculine, despite my gender identity as unlabelled. This anxiety, once manifested, can come into direct conflict with your own beliefs Letting my leg hair grow and curl, and eyebrows become eyebrow singular, remains a struggle There is of course, nothing wrong with shaving and plucking your eyebrows. These are practices which in the service of self expression and authenticity are empowering But it can be difficult to isolate the motivations behind making these choices, when existing outside the established set of rules is so stigmatised and punishing.

For the women loving women out there, and those who don’t fit into the gender binary but also love women, there is a stereotype which has developed within the queer community itself, that it is easier to be identifiable if you have shorter hair This dramatic shedding of length in favour of a more let’s face it practical hairstyle, can be liberating for some. For the feminine gays, this feminine gaze cultivates a new kind of pressure The long standing association between long hair and femininity; and the corresponding association between this conventional femininity and heterosexuality, means even for those who fall within the bounds of what is culturally normative, overloading hair with meaning can be constrictive

So basically what I’m saying is, it’s pretty unfair that all of this is projected onto hair. A part of our bodies which in its most natural state is lively, reaching and free The hair on our heads should be a site solely of playfulness, to experiment with new hairstyles and be brushed tenderly. The most beautiful thing about hair though, is that it grows back! So dye it, shave it, pluck it, wax it, braid it, chop it, whip it, tug it, twirl it, until you learn to love it. It will always be there for you. Its steady growth always a comfort.


Bodies Under the Earth

Skinner Street Fremantle, Walyalup Deb Broad

I quite often spend time sitting here communing with my buried ancestors. Do people think I am crazy because I feel a connection to the spirit of this place and the bodies underground?

Ireland was their birthplace, I imagine it was green and wild, surrounded by ocean, as was this place when they arrived.

I know this place well.

A long stretch of green glossy grass, framed by a high school and a limestone wall, built by pioneers The native bushes of grevilia and bottle brush covering the past The East Gate, an ancient lookout, modernised and remembered with brass plaques, some of them stolen like the generations of the past.

The Fremantle doctor wraps strong arms around this small hill from the sea, its cold fingers tapping the sunshine on my shoulders, withdrawing the warmth It was colder during the nyetting, the time of 'freezing cold', before the dreamtime Before the Wargyl held up the dark sky and brought light into the world creating the Swan River and the hills surrounding it (Nannup 2006).

This place is important to the First Nations. It is listed on a (secret) council map of important sites where corrobborees were once held before the invasion

I feel an ancient energy from the earth here.

Energy stretching from the Island of Wadjemup, the place across the water where the spirits are, once joined to the coast by the limestone I am sitting on. Not joined by blocks cut up by man but a long bridge like bar that headed across the sea, created by nature Like the spirit place described by Randolph Stow in To the Islands (1958), this Island also contains the spirits of those who have passed over into their own dreamtime How do we know about this? The oral histories have been told and retold by the First Nation, the witnesses of these earthly changes to our environment (Nannup 2018).


To the Wadjuk, when they lived here, it was a paradise created by a symbiotic arrangement with the ecology

Everything was valued equally the rocks, the trees and the Earth, the animals and birds were all given equal roles in the environment (Winmar 2002). It is urban now, but still pleasant, except for the ‘bong bush’ on the corner. A native grevilia with a hole carved in its leafy side. The centre is filled with the small silver piles of ‘nangs’ and ‘bongs’ and old choc milk cartons That’s what happens at the high school during lunch times I sit on the hard pioneer built limestone wall, the cold underneath observing in stony silence the young people all meandering along with no purpose.

Green grass to run on and to smoke in their ‘bongs’. At least the choc milk cartons will decompose and be absorbed into the cemetery beneath the grass containing over 800 human bodies, long decayed and absorbed into the earth

The watching wall containing it all

This wall was built to contain a cemetery from 1850 until 1890. My ancestors are buried here. One a soldier who served in the British Army for 20 years and retired from service to become a pensioner guard Two of his daughters, young women who died in their teens from measles The last a strong Irish woman, Bridgette, a victim of cruelty and domestic violence, but a survivor who could not read or write but could make a living and feed her children despite her husband’s violent alcohol dependency. Bridgette is under the ground here, close to where she lived her life in the settlement days of Fremantle.

I move to sit on the grass and take my shoes off to feel the damp ground I dig a small hole between the roots of the grass, with my fingers not to find her remains but to find what else is under the ground here. I find a couple of earth worms and a few armadillo like bugs crawling under the tufts of lush green. I wonder if the worms had touched my ancestors remains, so I hold them to see if I feel a connection to them like I do to this land, this earth, this place

A cheeky willy wagtail dances on the grass catching tiny bugs darting about The wagtail comes close to me expectantly cautious. Landing for only a few seconds, I think he wants the worms, so I tuck them back under the ground safely. Aboriginal people call this tiny dancer with his wagging tail a chitty chitty or Djidi Djidi, they copied his quick movements in their dances


I wonder if my Ballardong ancestors came to this place to trade with my Irish ancestors

The easy to carve limestone wall containing this place, symbolises the carving of culture the settlers performed to live in this place.

The wall symbolises the blockage between the two cultures No common language, no common beliefs, a cultural rift which caused fear and massacres

I light a candle and place it on the wall as an acknowledgement of my Irish and Noongar ancestors.

I walk back to the Eastern lookout, up the hill and stand looking at the environment around me The fire of the candle, acknowledging the past and lighting a way to the future The ocean, the fearsome, gentle tyrant surrounding everything. The Earth holding the recycled bodies as fertiliser for trees, but what of the spirit? It lingers below and above joined imperceptibly with the flicking tail of the chitty chitty and the crawling slime of the worms The wind, the cleanser, blowing away past differences to unite us all despite colour or creed or beliefs into a new society, united in solidarity to protect and value these non humans I ask if we are ready now, to perform the sole purpose of being, to be the carers for everything not only the human bodies, but everything.

'The people were now ready to perform sole purpose of being, to care for everything '

Dr Noel Nannup (2006)


Karda, Noel Nannup Moondang ak Kaaradjiny: the carers of everything / Noel Nannup Karda Batchelor Press Batchelor, N T 2006

Stow, Randolph, and Bernadette Brennan To the Islands First edition, The Text Publishing Company, 2015

Winmar, Dorothy. 2002. Oral Interview. Transcribed in 2002. Cited in Nidja Beeliar Boodjar Noonookurt Nyininy: A Nyoongar Interpretive History Of The Use Of Boodjar (Country) In The Vicinity Of Murdoch University L Collard, S Harben Murdoch University


Bog Bodies

Arya Beltaine


I interviewed a cis-het man on gender and the male body and this is what he said...

How does your gender alter the way you physically present yourself?

At the age of 21, I believed that my body had to be large and muscular to be masculine I always believed that going to the gym and making myself as big and muscular as possible would impress people It’s also something to have in common with other guys who go to the gym and feel a similar way Friends with this similar hobby prefer you to be physically large and insult you if you are smaller I always wore tight shirts to show off my physique like I was showing off my body as a trophy. The big physique, I think, is to show off how “powerful” and ”intimidating” you are as a man

And now?

At the age of 25, I have no care for being physically “big” anymore. I’ve realised that presenting my body in this way doesn’t really say anything to my masculinity and I think my ego has gone down now too

Has gender ever presented a barrier to the way you wish to physically present yourself?

Yes. Multiple times in my life.

In high school, the boys would always judge you for your hair style you had to have your hair short and cut in a certain style If your hair was growing out even slightly, they would tease and bully you, saying that you looked like a girl. I remember once my hair grew over my ears and the boys would tease me, calling me a girl and telling me to get a haircut Hearing that made me feel anxious and reluctant to express myself in the way I wanted to. I would cut my hair just to please the males in my year group because I feared getting bullied and being judged for the length of my hair, even when I wanted to grow it out.

I’ve also always wanted to paint my nails but felt that I couldn’t because I didn’t want to be judged for it I suppose painted nails are seen as a traditionally “girly” thing to do and so some people see it as abnormal for men to have their nails painted even more so than growing your hair out so you really open yourself up to judgment from other men

Why do you think “girl” is often used as an insult towards men?

I think that without even knowing it, a lot of men look down upon women and view them as weak, so being called a girl is the equivalent of being called weak, or cowardly A lot of the insults that men throw at each other are similar; pussy, bitch it’s all harsher way of calling someone weak. Which I suppose is the opposite to what some men fight to be seen as which is powerful and intimidating


How did you overcome this barrier?

I think I just eventually stopped caring about what other guys thought of the way I present myself. I started to notice male artists that I look up to expressing themselves with long, feminine hair styles I also noticed that the feminine hair didn’t affect their identity as men. I also noticed that these men have their nails painted too, and I just think that it looks so cool

The choice to express themselves in this way never altered my perception of their masculinity If anything, it made them seem more powerful and inspiring to me. For them to be expressing themselves in this way and going against traditional gender norms in the public eye, it made me feel more comfortable to express myself in the way that I want to. I don't let the fear of being judged by a couple of men get to me anymore because I see these other men embracing it in front of millions.

How important do you think non traditionally masculine representation and role models are?

I think it’s important to see a range of men with different physiques and different ways of expressing themselves, on a spectrum of gender presentation There is no ideal ”male figure”. To be a man is not necessarily to be largely built, muscular, and very masculine

It’s important to know that there are multiple ways in which you can express yourself, and there is no right or wrong Men can wear a suit if they want to, or wear a dress if they want to I think it’s very important for young people to see that diversity to help them express themselves through fashion, hair, or personality, and find out who they are from a young age

How important is the body in expressing yourself?

Sometimes I still struggle with the concept of expression through "body" over something like expression through fashion, because of traditionally masculine standards and the reinforcement of these standards within the industry that I was in. As a tradesman, you have to be seen as big and strong to look like you can even do the job Some guys would look at you and if you weren't viewed as a strong masculine man, you would be doubted as to whether you were capable of doing the work

How do labels impact selfexpression/perception?

I remember in high school, someone once told me that as a man I should go into a trade They told me that it would “make a man” out of me, and that I shouldn’t waste my time with something like university. It was almost expected of me to follow a traditionally male job.

Once you’re labeled in this way, and given this expectation, you tend to just follow the path marked out for you, and you don’t think about the other options out there. It’s toxic for young men to hear that, as a man you have to present yourself in a certain way, you have to act in a certain way, or you have to have a certain job. It makes you think of yourself as only a man with these certain traits, and nothing more You think that you can’t deviate from these expectations because then you will no longer be a “man”


My Body

Lucy Henriksen she/her

CW: mention of disordered eating, hospitalisation, and mental health.

My body doesn’t fit me anymore

It’s too big and clunky

I keep running into things

Sharp corners leaving bruises

I used to like bruises when I was younger

Mum said they were battle scars

And I proudly showed them off

These bruises aren't battle scars

Just reminders of my own forgetfulness

I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep forgetting

I bought an expensive dress for a wedding

Was so excited to be a pretty princess

But the dress didn’t fit me

And neither did I fit it

I took all the measurements and still no

Cause I forgot that my body is too big

Too big for pretty princess gowns

Too big for miniskirts and crop tops

I’ve had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep hoping

It wasn’t always too big though

It used to fit perfectly, like a body should

It used to let me run, climb and play sports

And I used to be good at those things

But then a cruel combination

Of hormonal and chemical imbalances

Made my body too big for the girl inside

And suddenly I was just trapped

I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep remembering


People don’t look at me the same anymore

When I tell them I hike and love sports

They look at me as if asking why

Because they feel entitled to know

Know everything about me and this too big body

So that they might avoid my "mistakes"

They give me helpful advice too

The kind that makes me cry at night

I've had this too big body for years now

And yet people keep asking

My parents tried to help

They put me on diets and workouts

I was only 15 and they were only trying to help

But I used to be anorexic

Before my body became too big for me

And still I can never eat enough

The diets need you too eat

No one ever talks about that I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep starving

I was 10 when the depression started Even younger when I stopped eating I was 14 and thought I was better

But along came a divorce

And with it unhealthy coping mechanisms

And more depression and anxiety

A hormone in my brain didn't work like it should

And suddenly my body was too big I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep dreaming

I've been at the hospital a lot too Mum made me try hypnosis

It didn't work but I suppose it was fun

Support group once a week this past year

Taught "what" we should do

To make our too big bodies small enough

But never taught "how" we should do it


I was the youngest one there

I’ve had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep trying

Sometimes I used to look at my body

At my curves and big boobs

I fucking love my body I used to think

And then someone would tell me I shouldn't

And I let them, I believed them

The self hatred built and built

And now I imagine cutting half of it off

Maybe with a chainsaw, a scalpel is too slow

I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep hating it

I see people all over who love their bodies

Probably because their bodies aren't too big

They feel like their bodies fit

Mine feels like its four sizes larger

I wish I could be like them

That I could love this too big body unconditionally

But I've tried and tried and tried and tried

But I just can’t do it I'm afraid

I've had this too big body for years now

And yet I keep wanting something else

And that makes me feel guilty


Beach Trip Ruby she/her

When we were kids we would run Blazing our way up and down the coast, without a care in the world. Towels flapping in the seasalt air, lungs hollering songs of innocence and joy. The soles of our feet leaving streaks in the coarse sand, marking our existence into the fleeting surface just for a moment We would build things, Gods of our little kingdom, constructing monuments of glory, finished off by decorative shells and emerald seaweed We would explore Fierce adventurers delving into the unknown depths to seek out fierce beasts. Leaping from rock to rock to gaze into the pools of water overflowing with mysteries.

I am now no longer a kid

I return to the sandy shores and sit on my towel And that is where I will stay, solid and unmoving, a rock within an ocean of people. My bathing suit stretches across me. The bright fabric being pulled and adjusted but never quite fitting. Never seeming to cover the long yards of dark spider threads engraved onto my skin, the little black hairs which traverse across my legs, the pimples which periodically pop up on my body

I am exposed.

I am no longer a God of my little kingdom. I am no longer a God over my own body.

I no longer enjoy the beach


Women in Arts

On the 16th of August, the Women’s Department ran the Women in Arts event, held in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. After browsing the incredible works on display from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, and watching a talented flute performance by Chloe Lockyer, everyone gathered with wine glasses in hand for an organised Paint & Sip

With cheap paints and tiny hand held mirrors scattered on the table, we asked everyone in attendance to respond to our theme of ‘Body’ through self portraiture.

The pieces of work you will see on the following pages are the result of a night filled with laughter, positive energy, and self reflection We hope you love them just as much as we do



Tori Williams she/her

your body is a vessel, a container of your parts intricate, moving quietly inside, out of sight.

you decorate your exterior, a painted finish of what you want them to see before they look inside

but they stop at your front door, never opening to see your hopes or your dreams or the soft gleam within they see only the vessel, they see only your body, but you know you are so much more. there is so much inside!

open wide and see! you cry to them but they stare only at your weatherboard cladding and iron lace, blind to the flickering life behind the shutters your body is a vessel you inside, do not get lost. do not lock your door lest your lights go out.


Early Bloomer

Arya Beltaine

His fingers are warm against my arm.

He squeezes lightly, and I feel my entire body tense as if it was preparing itself to hunt, to battle, as if I was sat atop some sandy hill with a strung bow, as if I was wiping mud from my eyes in some anonymous trench with a finger ready to pull the trigger

He leans in close, asks how old I am. His eyes glance down to the undone top button of the school shirt, and rove further down to smoothly shaven coltish legs. I am frozen, I do nothing.

Thirteen, a voice says Perhaps it still belongs to me His fingers are still on my arm a gesture I reserve for my most intimate best friends, my safest family members.

Yet, this man did not ask for permission. But I didn’t even flinch; I have detached my arm from my body, torn it away, sinew and bone and blood drip onto his stained shirt, onto my ironed school uniform It is no longer mine, so I am frozen And I am small

The train carriage rumbles to a stop. I flinch at the loud beeps. A woman walks in, older. She casts me a pitying glance and sits across from me and the man

He ignores her Ah, he says, in a few years you'll be old enough for me I say nothing, he leans in closer His warm breath is grease, hot wax dripping into my ear canals and making them ring.

Why don’t we meet then, he says, in this train carriage, when you're old enough for me

I look forward, out of the train window, past my body, past the woman carefully eyeing us in concern, I see gaps in the buildings briefly and the hills distantly roll and tumble as the train continues by, unbidden. I imagine myself lying in cotton clouds, alone, staring down at a world of ants I do not belong to. Sure, I say quietly, my voice high pitched and wobbly, okay His arm is still around me His fingers are iron hot

The train stops once more This is my stop, he says, casting one last look down at my too small school skirt. I grew out of it too quickly. Bye, I say. I stare forward, face blank.

He leaves I make eye contact with the woman We both laugh nervously I feel as if I've been initiated Was this what my Mother meant to tell me when she shielded me from that car full of men honking at me at nine? When she firmly said no to the man asking for a photo with me at ten?

I feel the absence of her protection, now. I feel like I understand.


The woman silently hands me a tissue. Confused, I look down at my leg and see I have picked my skin in a single spot, raw, until bright blood stained my white socks and puddled into my sneakers I take the white tissue, I wipe it red

I'm a lesbian, I say instantly, voice blank And sixteen, an afterthought I see t the man cringe a little, and I give him a sympathetic smile, sorry Still, he la laughs nervously and does not leave. I have a train to catch, I stand still. He begins to nervously ramble about how mature I look for my age. His eyes flick down to my legs, pock marked with ugly purple scars, blotchy, travelling down from my thigh to my ankles, darker in spots I've clawed at several times

The man taps me on the shoulder twice, rapidly. He looks at me expectantly. I laugh to hide my flinch. He makes some quip about me not being attracted to men Not even me, he asks, voice carrying a stench of desperation He has a speck of food in his stubble, my disgust grows

It is summer, I wear a summer dress, it has patterns of jasmine and roses weaving through the soft white fabric. It makes me feel as if I am floating, a light cotton, a soft silk.

Yet, I think, as the man's sweaty eyes flick to my breasts, then my legs again, before sheepishly landing once more on my face, I don't think I like this dress anymore

As he continues to talk at me, I curse my naivety, that my body could ever truly exist without comment, why despite accepting that I must expect attention when I dress like this I have the gall to be annoyed, when my hair is long and my legs are longer this is who I become and nothing more

The man has finished talking, now, so I speak. I have a train to catch, I say, smile charmingly placating, sorry, I say again. He opens his mouth to speak and my annoyance trickles down my thigh persistently, slowly, like oozing blood, bright red and hard to ignore Before it puddles at my feet, I walk away

Later that night, I fold up that dress with reverence and tuck it between the shadows and the spiders in my wardrobe.


The Temple of Self

Tessa MJM she/her

Bodies: what are they? The crazy thing is that every person in this world has a body that is unique to them, and them only So how can they be defined? Not in one way, that’s for sure! Unfortunately, we see advertisement of specific body types, and exclusion of others, but I feel that’s slowly on the mend.

I like to define the body as an extension of self that, whether chosen willingly or not, add significantly to our being In the modern world of social media, movies, and other body stereotyping media, our bodies have become our enemies Our feet are too big ears too pointy nose too fat arms too large hair too bushy legs too lanky face too spotty teeth too wonky. The list goes on and on for eternity, for everyone. We are reminded continuously that no one is perfect, but how often are we reminded to celebrate that we’re not? Thank goodness we’re not perfect how boring would that be! Our world has instilled in us a binary of beauty; an unfair and completely unrealistic definition that young girls and boys try to become, which follows through to later life with men, women and all in between

In terms of my story, I grew up in a masculine household I am the oldest and only girl of four children. Unlike the common understanding of brothers and sisters having a jarring relationship at the best of times, we were good friends and have (mostly!) respected each other growing up Fynn (the oldest boy) and I used to pretend we were twins, because we were the same height during majority of our childhood, laughed at each other’s jokes and banter, and were just best friends. We also had a very similar build the skinny, muscular kind. Then me and the second eldest (Oli) have grown up teammates for our interfamily competitions; sports like tennis doubles, soccer and hockey one on ones were our jam, and I swear the other two are still salty to this day (Ha!) And then the youngest (Angus) was my doll, being six years younger than myself He would let me dress him up in one of my skirts, while I attempted to do his makeup and tie his hair with a bow I would call him ‘Annabelle’ in this situation. So, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lovely relationship with all of my brothers, except when it came to running races, arm wrestles and other physical competitions

I grew up a dancer, which partially explained my body type In primary school, my parents became worried that I was too skinny my ribs were roughly outlined on my chest and my legs and arms looked like they could snap. I had the body of a boy, but I loved it. As the years continued I added more dance styles to my weekly schedule, and I was pleased to see myself growing stronger every year My brothers grew into remarkable sportsmen, specifically on the hockey and footy field, and so naturally body image became important in my family Whilst my brothers would compare their muscles, demand repeat arm wrestles and soccer one on ones, I would be looking in my mirror and dread the feeling that I was putting on weight.


I was like a skinny plank of wood up until the age of twelve, but as I moved into high school, it was only natural that my body changed. The skinny young body I loved was gone, replaced with a young woman’s body that I did not like very much. I was increasingly looking in the mirror until it became a ritual of my morning and afternoon routine and let me tell you it was exhausting! I would go to my dancing lessons and hockey trainings and come home disappointed when I didn’t look any skinnier than when I left I wasn’t so much concerned about being ‘pretty’, but more so about my body shape and being ‘skinny’ enough, and I’m taking an educated guess that my upbringing with three brothers largely influenced that.

Last year I left home destined for UWA and a residential college The food was new and different from mum’s homemade dinners (designed for growing boys specifically), and so I ate a lot more than I would have liked. I put on weight, disliked my reflection, and felt stuck in my body. I no longer danced or played any sport, and I would feel embarrassed wearing clothes that I used to love. But over time, I’ve learned that doing what’s good for you and your body needs to come as a priority over almost everything else

I’ve come to appreciate that there is no generic shape or curve that defines us, as social media misleads us into thinking. Being skinny isn’t better than being larger, being tall isn’t better than being short, being tan isn’t better than being pale; bodies are unique to the people who wear them, and I have come to love the fact that we are all different My high school years have been filled with self betrayal to my body and I was so absorbed in my imperfect physicality that I never once appreciated my body for getting me from A to B, running when I need to sprint after the hockey ball, obeying the rhythm of music when I needed it too, or letting me hug my mum when I was feeling upset. I travelled to America with dancing, and I never once thanked my body for coping so well with the stress of 10 hour trainings, little sleep and performing through the nerves and strain I should have treated myself to a spa day in the least!

Another realisation I’ve made is that movement is the language of our bodies, and it’s one way we can connect and appreciate ourselves better. I have come to really enjoy rock climbing and finally appreciate the way in which I move a completely different style to how I danced! I can feel my muscles straining with the challenging holds, and I can feel my heart jump when I touch that final hold with both hands It’s important to take time to listen to yourself and what your body is saying to you, as cliché as it is It really helps you appreciate yourself (as you should!) I embrace my body now my plump fingers, wide feet, large thighs, long nose, red cheeks, and freckly skin is me, and I’m no longer betraying myself by wishing for different. We are all amazing and unique and who we were born to be. That’s the definition of beauty, and because we all have a body, we all have a temple of self So, stop betraying your body and most importantly yourself! Go and lay in the sun, go for a ride, dance in your shower or literally do anything that reminds you how amazing your body truly is Love your imperfections as much as your perfections because that’s what makes all of us, and equally what unites us.


Alter Ego Kalyana Sobhita she/her



Aditi Arun she/her

In dreams, you look at yourself through glass Not in it, but through it your hand twists a metal knob, and suddenly it is not running through grass, searching for ladybugs. You are not sneaking out of the house with a friend, tipsy and snickering so loud that your parents have definitely heard you, or whining about how long the food is taking to arrive, punching your brother on the arm when you spot a yellow car, still finding sand in the shower days after you went to the beach, crying about the test you did badly on, or motioning for strangers to stand closer together, a camera to your eye. You are not. Someone asks from somewhere, Can you find a basophil? The mucosa? Do you see how tightly those epithelium are packed? Oh yes, you see it: that horrible pink bulging, so horribly not you, not the in, but the through


She Elizabeth France she/her

CW: mention of disordered eating.

She wonders how the world sees her. She wonders how that man in a black hoodie and skinny jeans sees her as she walks past him on her way to the train station She wonders how that older woman, visibly uncomfortable in her own skin, sees her as she sits in her seat across the room, her arms crossed over her stomach because she is equally uncomfortable but attempting to do a better job at hiding it. She wonders how the boy, roughly the same age as her, sees her as she struts past him because it just so happens to be a good day for her, a day where she’s feeling as if she’s on top of the world (a day where she skipped breakfast, but don’t worry, she’s going to have lunch at some point, even if she keeps pushing it back so she’s still full by dinner).

She doesn’t tell her friends that there are days she feels like everyone looks at her in disgust She doesn’t tell her parents that some days she can’t even look in the mirror, terrified of what she’ll see, too exhausted to deal with it. But why would she tell anyone that? Because there are also the days she can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror There are days when she thinks to herself, Wow, why am I single?

So, you see, it really isn’t that bad.

It’s not as if she’s given up eating entirely It’s not as if she constantly hates herself, her appearance, during her every waking minute, her every waking second. It’s only sometimes. She sometimes will skip a meal She sometimes will walk past the mirror at the end of the hallway, her face in her phone, focusing too hard on something she really doesn’t need to be focusing hard on at all. But sometimes she also watches herself in the bathroom mirror as she strikes a pose or two. She sometimes eats a bit “too much”, but it’s okay, because she just won’t eat again for a while

She doesn’t even pretend to ignore how everyone thinks her appearance is their business.

‘Have you lost weight?’ her mother asks from the couch when she sees her daughter walk through the front door after a tiresome day, way too busy to eat much.

‘You skinny legend,’ her friends say in the morning when she is yet to have a meal

‘Have you gained weight?’ her rude auntie asks at the family reunion with tables stacked with food, but she didn’t even bother to grab a plate because she knew she would just be grabbing a singular carrot stick every few minutes

‘You work out so much, I wish I had the time,’ her friends say when she brings up a particular ache in her body, but never the ache in her stomach

‘You look beautiful in that dress,’ her parents tell her, but no she doesn’t, her stomach bulges, but she’ll fix that and then she’ll look beautiful


It isn’t their business Not at all Because she knows She knows the state of her body better than anyone. She knows it in the way she sees herself in her reflection from day to day. She knows it in the way she has to put a little too much force into buttoning up her jeans from time to time She knows it in the way boys look at her She knows it in the way other girls look at her She knows it in the way her shadow looks as she’s standing in the daylight. She knows it in the way she looks when standing next to her friends, who are absolutely gorgeous, and if they ever said otherwise, she would hit them or make a presentation about how perfect they are or something.

She knows it’s bad Don’t even get started Don’t tell her she’s killing herself, don’t tell her she’s beautiful the way she is, don’t tell her she should get help.

So many people say that ‘Maybe you should get some help ’ They always say it as if they’re walking on eggshells around her As if they’re trying to make their way to her through a thousand thorn bushes and they’re worried at any moment they’re going to make a wrong step, lose their footing, and plunge straight into one of those bushes and start bleeding But she isn’t bleeding She is walking that ruin without giving the thorns a second glance, perhaps because she has been trapped in that horrid place for far too long

Or maybe she is bleeding. Maybe she just doesn’t know it. Maybe no one does.

But that’s enough of the stupid figurative language, because this is real life, and in real life beauty is pain And sure, pain sucks, but you know what also sucks? Having to spend all your money on new clothes because you let yourself go and can’t fit into the old ones.

She spends her days feeling either incredible or horrible, but mostly horrible, and she spends her nights attempting to silence the little devil on her shoulder telling her she’s a worthless pile of nothing.

The most difficult thing is that the people who are supposedly closest to her don’t even seem to care They have their own problems, like medical issues and falling out with family, so what use is complaining about a little hunger?



Deb Broad

Body awful

Body bright

I want to sleep alone tonight

Shorten my tresses

Reduce my breasts

Deepen my wrinkles

Remove my optic twinkles

Men would stare into my eyes and put their fingers on my thighs

But they rarely saw my mind

My opinions awakened made them unkind

Desire for touch is now in decline

Whirring silicone does me fine

I sit in cafes on my own Unapproachability on loan

Devouring words on printed paper

Muffins now my body shaper

Removing attraction from my physical form

A private, aloneness is now my welcome norm

My need for solace

You ask, what is the cause?

My dear it's wonderful menopause



Haneen Al Bhadily IN HEELSThe Ghost in Heels

Woken up. Money, ungodly hour.

Resting sun, resting souls, dark circles

The sun hides, the tap runs, feet drag.

Barefoot Tiles Carpet

Mind awake, body asleep. Coffee.

A face. Clean. Tired.

Substances, painted skin Repeat

‘Uniform’, painted lips. Repeat

Belt on, figure out Discomfort

Perfume. Sweet. Alive.

Clock face, thin wrist, painted nails

Car keys, leather bag Coat

Same route, empty streets. Ghostown.





The Beauty in Embracing Body Imperfections

What does body image mean to you?

Iconic body image: media, a magazine model or mirror?

What do you think when you see photos on social media?

A4 waist, hairy armpits selfies, belly button challenge

Nervous, pressure, disappointed….

Yeah, I get your feeling, reaching out to the ‘standard’ is a high priority.

Everyone, including your family, friends, and partner, has different standards of beauty Even if a super star is a talented person who has a 'perfect' appearance, people may still say that 'the eyes are ugly' 'look their skin is fair’ 'Noo, in comparison to other celebrities they are fat'

Do you believe that there is a scoring system for beauty? No! Never! Is absurd!

Even as it hurts, we can't change how people feel about our appearance.

What to do is:

To accept and love oneself, including one's flaws.

Please be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and avoid passing judgement on your flaws

What do you like best about yourself?

I firmly believe that despite our flaws, we are still beautiful.

What can you do to love yourself?



The Vegetarian - Han Kang Summary by Shantelle Jeyakumar

The Vegetarian, written by Han Kang, utilises the story of a woman converting to vegetarianism as a metaphor for the oppression of women in society and the subsequent ostracization that occurs when women choose to stray from gender expectations.

The short story is divided into three chapters, each set from the point of view of a character other than the protagonist (Yeong hye); further silencing her and resulting in the audience never truly knowing her inner monologue, merely the perceptions that

others have of her In Part 1, the process of one giving in to a deep calling within oneself (that rectifies injustice) is explored. In Part 2, the more ‘wrong’ side of giving in to our animalistic, or primitive, desires is explored highlighting the effects on those around us. Further, Part 2 also demonises yet victimises the protagonist through vivid descriptions of her encounters with other characters. Yeong Hye’s relationship with her body is damaging as she only sees beauty when her skin is covered with flowers. Finally, in Part 3, the sister is portrayed as much like the reader, trying to piece the two parts together and begin self reflection.

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty Florence Given Summary by Millie Foster

This debut novel from British activist and illustrator, Florence Given, offers an accessible, contemporary approach to feminism in response to an age old issue the patriarchy The book explores how to protect your own energy, away from the eyes of the male gaze With iconic quotes such as ‘love sex, hate sexism’, and ‘life’s short, dump them’, this book reshapes thinking about the self and society, and is a great introduction to feminism in the modern day

Themes: feminism, body image, relationships, womanhood.



My Body - Emily Ratajkowski

An exploration of feminism, sexuality, and power, of men's treatment of women and women's rationalizations for accepting that treatment A collection of essays chronicling moments from Emily Ratajkowski’s life while investigating the culture’s fetishization of girls and female beauty, its obsession with and contempt for women’s sexuality, the perverse dynamics of the fashion and film industries, and the gray area between consent and abuse

“I wonder how many women you've disregarded in your life, written off, because you assumed they had nothing to offer beyond the way they looked. How quickly they learned that the stuff in their heads was of less value than the shape of their bodies. I bet they were all smarter than you.”

Carol Patricia Highsmith Summary by Millie Foster

Originally published under a pseudonym in 1952, Carol tells of a relationship between two women, Therese and Carol, outside of common stereotypes Highsmith, typically a writer of psychological thrillers, tells of both the literal and metaphorical journey undertaken by the women as they grow in feeling and admiration for the other. Complete with a thriller like tension, fascinating prose on the mundane, and even a car chase, this book offers characters so compelling that they will stay with you after the close of the final page.

Themes: lesbian relationship, history, identity, love


Open Water - Caleb Azumah Nelson

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists he a photographer, she a dancer trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence

An achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it.

“That is what you are being framed as, a container, a vessel, a body, you have been made a body, all those years ago, before your lifetime, before anyone else who is currently in your lifetime, and now you are here, a body, you have been made a body, and sometimes this is hard, because you know you are so much more. Sometimes this weight is too heavy.”

The Inseparables Simone de Beauvoir Summary by Millie Foster

This novel has only recently been published posthumously, despite having been written in 1954, and is based on the friendship between Beauvoir and her childhood friend, Elizabeth ‘Zaza’ Lacoin Another tale of two women, the story of Sylvie and Andrée is unputdownable, and offers a beautiful insight into Beauvoir’s mind and life And a prior warning keep tissues handy

Themes: female friendship, religion, authority, love


Roe v WA

Chloe Bryant she/her

When I came into the role of Women’s Officer in 2022, I never thought I would be discussing the right to abortion throughout the year, let alone needing to defend it I didn’t anticipate the horrific step backwards for abortion rights in the overturn of Roe v Wade. I also didn’t acknowledge the threats to our bodily autonomy here in Australia

The overturn of Roe v Wade in the US and the continued rise of right wing conservatism has shaken me The conversations that erupted from the decision also highlighted the action that needs to be taken in WA. As it stands, our laws are the most restrictive in the country. Abortion remains in the Criminal Code, there are major financial barriers to access, there are only two clinics providing abortions in WA, both private clinics in Perth and individuals are required to seek approval from multiple doctors for an abortion I feel a niggling shame that I wasn’t already aware of this, already fighting for the rights of menstruators in this state

Seeing the outpour of support during the series of rallies surrounding this issue and hearing the loud call for change was a comfort and an inspiration. From the sounds of outrage, it seems many others in WA were also yet to realise how far our own legislation here has to go Each protest I was pleased to see a cross section of people coming together (much less pleased to see the ‘proud boys’ and ‘pro lifers’) I’ve always found rallies powerful, but for me this series of gatherings was different

Further encouraging to me are the suggestions of change by our government. By the time you read this, there may even be an update to the situation To see collective action making a difference has been transformative for me, personally. My hope is restored in the power of our voice. I hope this sentiment is shared with others fighting this fight

I intended to write this piece in anger I wanted to outline the deep issues of our health system, the sexism of discussions around abortion rights and the inequalities that are deepened by inaccessible services. I seem to have found a little hope while writing. But hope won’t do any good sitting in the words of a magazine Take the hope and go to a rally, start a conversation, sign a petition


Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

We are Womxn

We Are Womxn is a health promotion organisation working to reduce women’s stigma in Perth, Western Australia. Bringing evidence based and trauma informed bespoke health programs to young women, We Are Womxn works to channel the power of education and honest conversation to empower young women We Are Womxn provides a safe space to allow an opportunity for young women to ask tough questions, destigmatise typically “taboo” topics and enable women to feel empowered and confident “At We Are Womxn we strive to empower women by educating them about their bodies, sex, consent and how to communicate their wants and needs in today's world,” Co founder Kate Raston said.

“We want to change women’s lives. We want to empower them to be bold and loud and to take up space And the way we do this is through education” Co founder Nicolette Beard said.

The ‘Taking Matters into our own Hands’ project started as a way of empowering students to feel confident in the reporting process around assault and harassment on university campuses The idea to create easy to use resources came to light after reflecting upon the National Survey Statics, which showed students were far from confident in reporting what had happened to them on campus. It shed light on a lack of education on how to report and around what should be reported.

We Are Womxn wanted to enact change, so we took it into our own hands, and created educational

resources focusing on consent and the reporting process around assault an We wanted to start a conversation with these posters around consent and its complex nature “Consent is not just as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it is on a spectrum, and it can be complicated, awkward, and hard to navigate. Which is why it’s so important to communicate this to young people” Engagement officer Alexis Pallister said

The posters depict the reality of consent by using sharp and chaotic imagery to reinforce consent's complex nature. The collage technique is a metaphor for the steps and layers of conversation around consent, which ultimately inspired the posters' direction

This project utilised a collaborative method, bringing together local artist Maddy Watt and We Are Womxn to help propel the conversation of consent We want students to feel confident and empowered to access university support through these resources We want students to feel confident to start conversations around consent, continuing to broaden their knowledge of how to ask, give and revoke consent We hope these posters change students' lives for the better by educating them on the reporting process and consent

Contact Information

For further media information contact: Kate Raton, kraston@wearewomxn com au | +61 492138540



Wellbeing and Safety

Free Services

UWA Counselling and Psychological Services (+61 8) 6488 2423 | Website: https://www.uwa.edu.au/students/Support services/Mental health and wellbeing

UWA Medical Centre (+61 8) 6488 2118 | Website: https://www.uwa.edu.au/students/Support Services/Medical Centre

GPs and Mental Health Nurse, bulk billed for students with a medicare card

UWA The Living Room

Drop in hours: Monday Friday, 11:00am 4:00pm

A drop in wellbeing space for students to chat to peer support staff and fast track referrals to other services

Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) (08) 6458 1828 or 1800 199 888 (freecall from landlines)

Call hours operate between 8:30am 11:00pm, any day of the week

Forensic and medical support Counselling for sexual assault or abuse

Important Numbers

Mental Health Emergency Services (24hrs)

1300 555 788 (Merro local call) or 1800 676 922 (Peel freecall)

Immediate telephone response from mental health professionals

Call the nearest hospital if you cannot reach these numbers

Lifeline (24hrs)

13 11 14 Crisis support and suicide prevention

Suicide Call Back Service (24hrs) 1300 659 476

1800 RESPECT - Sexual Assault Helpline (24hrs) 1800 737 732

UWA Security (+61 8) 6488 3020

UWA Security (Emergency) (+61 8) 6488 2222

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone, and seek professional help Remember that you are not alone and there are so many support options

Women’s Department

UWA Women’s Department womens@guild uwa edu au | facebook com/UWAGuildWomens

Damsel Magazine damsel@guild uwa edu au | facebook com/groups/UWADamselMag | https://uwadamselmagazine wixsite com/damsel

UWA LGBT+ Women’s Collective facebook com/groups/UWALGBTWomens

UWA Women of Colour Collective facebook com/groups/UWAWOCCollective

UWA Women’s Access Collective facebook com/groups/UWAWomensAccess


A C K N O W L E d g e m e n t s

The Damsel team would like to thank Guild Design Officer, Xander Sinclair, for his continued support throughout the process of creating this issue, along with so many that have come before

Thank you to eva, for allowing us to use her beautiful photography both within the magazine, and as our cover art. With a theme such as ‘Body’, we knew that the cover would have to feature something striking and captivating, and eva’s photography is nothing short of that Their talent never ceases to amaze us, and it has been a privilege to have been able to include it in this year’s edition

Thank you to this year’s Women’s Officer, Chloe, who has worked tirelessly to see this Magazine, and especially the Department, run in full force Her dedication and passion is featured within the pages of this issue, and is carried, too, by anyone who meets her. Thank you, Chloe, for your belief in us, and in the Magazine.

Thank you, also, to this year’s Women’s Department Events Coordinator, Natalya, who is the reason behind so many of our events Additionally, Natalya has provided such loving support throughout this year, and it is only right that we recognise that support here.

To all of this year’s contributors: thank you, thank you, thank you! This year has seen the largest Damsel issue to date, and the contents of which is beyond either of our wildest dreams. The talent and rawness of the work between these pages is inspiring, and we hope that you never stop creating: whatever that means for you Every contribution speaks to the theme in so many different ways, and reflects, as much as possible, honest and diverse examples of what it means to have a body, from within our Damsel community. These examples are manifested in prose, poetry, photography, visual art, articles, and so many other wonderful forms Without your contributions, this Magazine would simply not exist So thank you, again, for allowing us to include your pieces amongst such a profound collection

Finally, we would like to thank all of the people who have made Damsel possible in the past Without whom, we simply would not exist as we do now Your issues have provided constant inspiration and comfort for us in creating our own, and we are honoured to now be able to place this edition alongside yours.

Millie and Tori

What if, some days,

What then?

I see my body differently as both and neither, as everything and nothing, as the standard and the in between.
Other and I' Sarah Birch she/they
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