XinSai Edition 2: Femininity

Page 1

Women’s bodies are often erased as if we are part of the landscape. We are constantly overlooked, talked over, and ignored; till we are silenced, and we start fading away.

Initially, femininity was a mere assumption, an overgeneralization that just so happened to make the world’s complexities easier to comprehend. Later, it turned into an insult. Then, it became a threat.

But right now, the most significant is not the word itself but its implications. The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines femininity as “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of women and girls”. The concept itself is just an idea; it isn’t inherently flawed. Instead, it is the human application and interpretation that turned it into one of our most sophisticated weapons.

As an American singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift once said, “There’s a different vocabulary for men and women in the industry. A man does something; it’s strategic. A woman does the same thing; it’s calculated. A man is allowed to react. A woman can only overreact.”.

Media’s fixture on an overemphasis on feminine traits representation in female artists and masculine ideals in their male counterparts compartmentalized these beautifully vague concepts, reducing them to nothing more than a sharp contrast, a never-ending striking comparison. If the man is powerful, the woman is weak; if the female is emotional, the man inevitably becomes logical…

The humans’ constant desire to label the world in a way that superficially brightness its intricacies added meanings, values, and associations, thereby fully developing the term “femininity”.The implication of such measures was the establishment of a degrading and oversimplified distinction between genders, or rather all that they compromise - you are either feminine or masculine, and if the society’s assumption does not match the sex indicated in your Identity Card, be ready for the wall of shame that someone will try to send your way.

The concept of femininity and all that it entails is just another one of society’s brainchildren that keeps backfiring. But the magazine you are about to read is here to fight back.

With this edition, we aim to redefine femininity as something strong; to be proud of. We wish to cut back its initial definition to “a set of qualities or attributes” that are no longer confined to people identifying as women. It is high time for society to realize that femininity is prevalent in all human beings regardless of gender identity. That the person who once vulnerably revealed to you their deepest secrets could be the most respected business owner in town. That the most rational, tough person you know may one day seek a shoulder to cry on.

It is time we stop minimizing human complexities and embrace the different characteristics within us. It is time we embrace femininity.

So here it is. I am pleased to present XinSai Magazine’s second edition, “Femininity”. Let it provoke your thoughts, raise new questions and fuel the pursuit of answers.

Let it spark the change.


Graduating Adolescents

Shame Anxi Sha

Artwork by Aren Hakhervydan

I had a breakdown when I found my body transforming in a way too unascertained for my peers to understand. The volcano in my stomach rumbles in a signified motion; beating like a bleat, it pulsates to the waltz of Johann Strauss II, condescending on a full moon night.

I felt my membranes convulse, echoing a change I had never experienced before: It mutilates my ego, contradicts my feelings and molests the shame I felt for my anxieties.

Shame Anxi

Gradually I frightened myself with the fear of salvation: ‘One who doesn’t recognize itself, will stay refrained from the recognition of God’my mother sustains her dreadful voice, propelling a message for her little girl, alarming her again and again about the limitations of being a girl.

The day I understand this change, I know the stars will come to decide that I am mature, as a horoscope predicted my birth long before I relapsed into silence on this earth. The minerals churn my ovaries, counting prime conversations of my parents musings about my future that they have to bear for the rest of their life like millions do.

I feel shy of your gaze. Yes, it is me, all of me that you see, From the insides and the outsides, The cranium skin and the plaster walls; All the greenery and the gore The cantonment and the core, The shy me that hides, And the brave me that stares.

Oh, I know not how I would bloom, In your foreign eyes that seek perfection.

On those nights, when you play me like a piano, my bare skin - the white keys and the black ones are your fingers. I wonder if you would find me on those nights, The reptile in me and the tiger in you, The moisture of me and the stiffness of you, The hummingbird that pecks And the octopus that sucks;

I wonder, Will there be a night when you will surrender?

Between sex and pillow talks, I will still feel shy of your gaze.

I Feel Shy Of Your Gaze

Saptarshi Bhomwick has always loved the last sip of his tea, just like how the last words come to him, hes much to get there. Came from the outskirts of a town named Berhampore, Saptarshi strives more and more in his world of limited opportunities. Although he had been mentioned to be lethargic, he managed to find joy with his plentiful creations. His poetries and flash fictions appeared in many international magazines and websites.

As most artists, Danelle Rivas’ art emanates from the day to day moments of life, beginning with my childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. Formally, my education and training at Pratt and NYU at a Masters level provided the foundation for the creation of my work, but it was the relentless creative inquiry that has driven my career. My paintings emerge from my sometimes merciless experiences, that are not just personal to me but I believe, have universal relevance and appeal. I hope to inspire audiences, to give the viewer the opportunity to reflect on their own lives by sharing

Original Artwork by C - penname

What Nearly Was

I was nearly Farah, the joyful girl. Yasmin, the fragrant flower.

Maia, Nahid, Mila, Sofia, Dari, Leila, Nasrin, Dalisay the pure girl

Maria he pleasure of joy, the gift from God, virgin Mary.

Dari, Darna, Delila, Iman, Mahsa, Noor, Ayla.

I am Jaidan, the karate kid, hot Cheeto, dusty TV screen, reading rainbow.

Jaidan, the sticky rice, fortune cookie, patch of itchy grass.

Jaidan, the frizzy hair, dirty fingernail, pawn shop gold, girl.

A pretty tree appreciator, stress-baker, and reluctant driver, Jaidan is currently a senior in high school in coastal Connecticut. Originally from New York City, Jaidan lived in Hong Kong for eight years where she fell for the written, spoken, and sung word.


Recently I read an article on how a group of researchers from Tel Aviv University concluded that plants feel pain. They tested tobacco plants and tomato plants by not watering them and by cutting off their stems. Then, they recorded their response with a microphone. They found that the plants emitted ultrasonic sounds, which they believed could convey their distress to other organisms and plants within their vicinity.

When the team of scientists deprived each plant of water for a couple of days, the tomato plants emitted even more sounds of distress. They observed that the tobacco plants let out louder sounds when they were not watered than when they had their stems cut.

If we starved our flowers, then mutilated their feet from the ankle and they truly screamed and sobbed and screeched, would they be sitting so subserviently on our kitchen tables? No, that would be too scary, because in that case, they would be just like us.

I don’t think we realize it, realize how much we look up to flowers. The way something so beautiful can grow so simply in a pot of soil in the sunshine when watered once a day; we envy that. We envy their resilience and effortlessness. We are all-consumingly, instinctively drawn to flowers.

There’s nothing we idealize and simultaneously abuse as often as we do flowers: they’re the subject of every other poem, inspirational quote, and kitchen table decoration. We selfishly idolize their elegance; as they wilt away in our vases, we systematically get upset they couldn’t last longer.

Flowers have always been alive to me, in a breathing, speaking, loving way. As a child, I went through a phase of making mud pies for the trees and flowers in my backyard, who I thought to have their own personalities and relationships. I can’t remember whether I gave the plants names, but they had their own palettes and mud pie orders. Every flower was a girl. As a child, I decided that there was something to flowers that made them inherently female: round, soft curves, and thick petals enveloping.

I visited my Aunt in Switzerland when I was eight, taking an exhilarating two weeks off of school. Her apartment in Zurich had a large balcony where she cultivated various flower beds. I spent countless hours on her balcony. The air there felt like molasses, magnetically charged in their pull and I never wanted to go back inside.

The balcony overlooked a lake and in the distance, you could see the stillness of the mountains. That’s how everything felt in Switzerland: still - the trees shutter but they’re still. They’re so still. The flowers didn’t seem to move at all, but I didn’t doubt for a second they were alive.

I played with the flowers like they were dolls: dressed them up with dead leaves, set up flings with the neighboring stone dudes, and traveled around to other flower beds for afternoon tea. That meant I had to pluck my main character: a bell-shaped, rosy pink flower. As an eight-yearold, I had the sense not to yank her off, but gently peel her away from the main bunch. I distinctly remember tucking her behind a pile of leaves at night for me to find her again the next day and play again.

One day, when I dug around the soil for her, she wasn’t there anymore, probably blown away by the wind overnight. I think I hyperventilated in that upset child way where you’re trying not to cry before forcing myself to get it together - some sudden consciousness that these were just flowers and they would grow back. Nonetheless, I couldn’t bear to replace my main character with another bell-shaped flower, I just started another story with a different flower.

At the end of my trip, my aunt ushered me to her bedroom where she had an imposing pile of books on a coffee table. I sat on the floor and watched as she sat and removed each thick, glossy, hardcover book one by one before reaching the thickest, widest one on the bottom. She opened the book with both hands and started flipping through the pages. She glanced at me excitedly, fingers jittering: “You’ve enjoyed the garden more than I ever have in these two weeks, so I pressed some flowers for you to take home with you. You can frame them and hang them in your room.” She found a page with a tightly folded piece of parchment. I leaned my chin into her thigh as she opened the parchment, revealing the flowers from her garden, crushed flat, still and gray.


Original Artworks by Nicole Tang

Nicole Tang is a Trinidadian visual artist who has explored diverse themes and media in her work. Her dynamic experimentation of ideas is playful and has led to collections of works of art in paintings and sculptures of different styles. She now dedicates her art making to explore her contemporary interpretations of Chinese ink paintings. These paintings have evolved overtime, beginning with the concept of blissful and minimalist landscapes inspired by oriental art, to a more fluid and abstract work, with overlays of lines and motifs. There is a focus on liberation, meditation, and flow of life through the manipulation of the ink.

Nicole Tang is a Caribbean artist with a diverse portfolio of works. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she has dedicated her life to her creative work in the form of teaching art to children, and other creative projects and volunteer work. Her influences came from the beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean and include brightly colored inspirational flora and fauna. The landscape and the cultures of the people, festivals and the beauty of a small island life bring much energy to her work. While she no longer works in the educational field, she continues to dedicate her full time creative pursuits.


Femininity used to be associated with being stereotypically pretty, fragile and sexy while strong and independent women have often been portrayed as very similar to men. Using their own voice, becoming their own bosses, building their career, women are sometimes called not-feminine. When we are growing up people say that we “are not like other girls” and that we should take it as a compliment. Why are some positive and strong personality traits only connected to being masculine? Why being girly does not allow to be courageous and a good leader at the same time? Presented photographs show my friend, Iga, portrayed as a strong and authoritative woman, a living “girlboss” she is. Her red lips stress that she is still feminine and attractive - those characteristics don’t make her less reliable or smart. Women can be successful, independent and still not trying to be masculine.

Wiktoria Sadowska is a Polish photographer. She is deeply fascinated by people which is why she specializes in portraits. By means of photography she can really bring to life any idea that appears esthetically and emotionally interesting to her. She says that it is kind of narcissistic to think that her perception is worth exhibiting but she feels like it is her obligation to share her admiration for the world, people and the reality they can create simply by fantasizing.


It’s like the world’s forgotten how to talk to ghosts.

Not that I meant to stick around. Not really. But back then, people talked to us all the time. Made it hard to leave, you know? Hard to say goodbye.

My sister, Mary, now she could talk to ghosts. Talk their ears off, she would. Back when I was alive, I used to ask who she was talking to when they couldn’t even talk back, but she said they did, in a way I just couldn’t hear. I thought she was talking bollocks, to be honest, but I’d just laugh and tell her sure they do, honey.

Sometimes she’d sit on the porch swing and talk to Mr Wishbone, and if you asked who he was she’d tell you he came with the house. It had been our ma’s house, before she passed, but Mary said she didn’t come round often, that she probably liked Heaven too much. But Mr Wishbone had no place to go, she said. And he wouldn’t tell her his name but he’d shut the closet door if you forgot and only made a bit of a big deal about it. Nice guy, for the most part. Mary said he lived in the walls.

Now I get it. I mean, I’ve never met any Mr Wishbone round here, but I see why he’d hypothetically stick around, and I see why someone might spend a lot of time talking to him if he did. Hanging in there okay, Wishy? Anything on your mind? No? Then I’ll talk.

Mary had a son, and then a grandson. I watched them both grow up in this house. They were nothing like Mary and everything like me. But then the grandson had a son and he was perfect, I saw Mary in every smile and sniffle, every step. He will grow up to do great things, I told Mary, though she’d moved on long ago. He’s just like you.

The Red Room

I was the only one there for his first words. Started talking a bit late, that kid. Had his mother worried. But his first go at it was chatting to me in the night, and you'd best believe I sat in that old rocking chair by the crib the whole damn night, and every night after for six weeks straight. Couldn't make head nor tail of it, of course, but when he finally stopped moonlighting and brought it out at the matinée he had his folks in tears. You should've heard 'em. Our little speech-maker, they called him. Our little poet.

He grew up quick. Height marked in white chalk on the doorframe, childhood littered all throughout the house. More of Mary about him every day. Each imaginary friend became Wishbone to me, every under-the-breath murmur was our crib-side conversation reenacted. Every year, I thought, let’s stay like this, M and every year he blew out his candles on the first of March and I was right there with him, trying not to mind how short a year felt.

I blinked and he was fourteen, face cracked with spots. Sweethearts and student council, staying out late on Sundays and me waiting up for him. Seventeen and one of the sweethearts stuck, and two years later he married her. And I liked his wife immensely. I think she was born laughing.

They were supposed to stay in this house forever, the two of them and me. But babies change things, and the latest baby M was so much more me than Mary that he was born to burn things down.

I considered moving on after they left. I mean, with no family left in the house and no one talking to me, I didn’t exactly have a reason to stay. Then a new family moved in, and they were all sunshine and smiles and matching pyjamas, and couldn’t I see a little Mary in them? In the absent-minded chatter, in the dimples?

Makes it hard to leave, you know? Hard to say goodbye.


I am in the apartment and someone is knocking on the door when there isn’t supposed to be anyone knocking at the door and I open it and it’s history. Suits I remember too well, tight-fitting over bulletproof vests, earpieces just like in the movies. I am fourteen storeys up and the elevator is bust but they aren’t sweating, even in rich-people fabric that doesn’t breathe. Part of me, a very big part of me, is inclined simply to say no and shut the door in their faces but my god they’re persistent and I let them in, with gestures rather than words.

I don’t remember these men, but I remember men exactly like these men in every way that counts. They dropped me off at school and drove me to baseball practice even when they knew I was just sitting on the bench smoking and the coach couldn’t give less of a shit if my lungs caved in and I dropped dead right there, I was so goddamn awful. These men took me to friends’ houses and birthday parties and signed me out of detention and never once sold me down the river, which was probably a bad call on their part but that’s just how it is.

These men are refusing to sit down, which tells me it’s bad. They’re just hovering around the coffee table in a perfect semicircle, in formation, like soldiers or ballerinas or some shit. But that’s their business. I return to my chair which is just off from the centre of the room and they adjust accordingly to face me like a firing squad, but I’m more concerned with the remote I’ve just knocked down the side of the seat and the amount of crumbs I’m going to have to dust off it when I’m through. The men nominate a leader. He takes a subtle step forward and coughs, and it’s a perfect beat-for-fucking-beat imitation of those fake mucus-less decorum coughs his bosses are so enamoured with. I complete my measly task before I deign to meet his eyes.

The name hits me head-on and something where

my left tear duct should be starts burning like sulfur. I should be used to it why am I not used to it it’s only on every fucking channel every hour of every day and don’t get me started on the papers. My shoulders lean me forward so it looks for all the world like I actually give a damn, it’s my Oscar moment and my body’s really playing it up, all sharp and focused and yes sir at attention sir but I might as well be six years old for all the good it does.

All the other words, all the sentences and syllables that keep coming from this man’s mouth and won’t stop, it’s like they don’t exist. I am caught up in one word, I am in the eye of a hurricane, I am underwater and my eardrums are just about to burst. Maybe I hear myself say something about water, maybe it’s still stuck in my larynx or my goddamn brain but I’m on my feet and in the kitchen, and my entire concentration is poured into not dropping this glass. I think I forget to drink the water, but the glass doesn’t smash and I’m still standing upright and the men haven’t followed me, but the view from my crummy fourteenth floor has turned stained glass and the ground is starting to slip.

President president president president.

I’m back in my seat and the men haven’t moved, probably haven’t even blinked or breathed or anything, just stayed all racked up like bowling pins. Mr Leader is still looking as goddamn nothing as before, neutral painted all over his face in the most forgettable shades of beige. When I was a kid I’d try to crack those faces, try to coax out the human in the drone, but I failed then and I’d fail now, even if I fell down sobbing.

I may not have heard the rest of the words but I know them. Some type of familiar static that just takes up space, recognised without being no-

ticed, plucked straight out of the Big Bang. Even though I know them, the words don’t come, to my mind or to my mouth, and they won’t leave until I say something but I can’t, can’t say it can’t think it, but in the meantime my hands have found an envelope. Discarded on the coffee table, contents still enclosed.

Well, half enclosed. The cheque was cashed the same day it arrived.

It occurs to me suddenly that the man is talking again, and could well have been for a long time. I tune back in at the wrong moment, and now there are two words fighting to sink me. Two nouns, one proper, one abstract. The hurricane kicks me onto a cracking ice sheet and my ribcage is splintering and I think I’d give myself over to the hurricane if I could but then the ice breaks and I’m a goner.

And this man isn’t done with me yet. It’s a phrase this time, the words all strung together as if they have any right to hold hands and sing kumbaya right now. And it’s not just because every letter of it is a lie, though that doesn’t help.

The envelope is still in my hands; I notice I’ve creased it, right down the middle. Couldn’t have been easy–there must be ten or twelve sheets in there, minimum. I want someone to take it from me, to pry it from my cold living hands and shred it, burn it, ferry it to the Bermuda fucking Triangle and drown it. But there is no one. And I have to put the envelope down myself.

It’s a funny thing, grief. Not weird-funny, not ha-ha funny, but when your dad’s dead and you can’t bear to hold his words in your hands, to make space for them, it feels right to have a chuckle at your own expense. Still, my head is spinning and the man is still talking, still prattling on about god-knowswhat, except it could well be a different man for all I care, and I can’t hear a single word.

It’s like TV static or the drone of a plane flying too low overhead. Take a breath. And another. My lungs are burning in that swimming-pool-chlorine-drowning sort of way and I’m glad to be sitting down.

My silence seems to have gotten to Mr Usurper, because it’s like he starts over, just hits rewind and plays the script again. I string the words together quicker this time, simplifying, paraphrasing. Mr President–meaning of course father, sole parent and provider, estranged–found dead–meaning gone, taken, irretrievable, estranged–this morning. Very sorry. He was… proud of you–meaning nothing.

I feel myself nod, and I hear myself saying, “Okay,” and I stand up and open the door. The men file out, military to the last, not a word between them while I’m still in earshot. I don’t shut the door.

The minutes pass slow and thick. Thoughts are rare, a patchy line between my brain and I. I think, maybe this is it, forever. And then a memory, sharp as wit, comes through the fold, and I don’t turn it away.

I am fourteen years old and the President is dying and my father–Vice President, non-dying–is telling me about it at the kitchen table, Number One Observatory Circle. He speaks through gritted teeth, knuckles pressing into his cheek, elbow propping up his tired frame, and I see our life will change again, that death will change our life again. I see the chasm stretch between us, the kitchen table lost within its maws.

My father reaches one hand across the table, rests it on my shoulder. There is a weight to it, a solidity, a mass I almost miss these eight years later. But that’s not what the memory’s about.

My father–Vice President, non-dying–gets up from his seat with the quiet sigh of a much older man and leaves, leaves for work, for his sparkling office in the big white house, shoes polished and shirt pressed. I remain at the table, head

Original Artwork by Toraa Designs

bent over an empty plate, while the soft hum of an engine approaching is cut dead, replaced by familiar footsteps muffled by new carpet, a metronome of a man splintering into the room. Tight-fitting suit over bulletproof vest, earpiece just like in the movies. And he says something about school, about traffic, about bringing the car around in the past tense, about being ready.

And when I don’t say anything, don’t even look up, he stops and waits, planted just inside the doorway, and he checks his watch, checks it twice. I see a debate in this man, in his posture, in the tension in his arms and the grounding of his legs. I know, without seeing it, how his face will be not-quite-right, a subtle shift from neutral, lost between gears.

In three steps he is beside me, the movement lost to a blink. Then, the sound of friction, of a chair leg dragged across carpet. The creak of old wood as he sits.

A hand on my shoulder, firm and sure. Indelible, perennial.


Isabelle Fahey isaprosewriterfromtheUnited KingdomandacurrentEgyptologystudentat theUniversityofCambridge.Hershortfictionhas previouslybeenpublishedinCanvasMagazine andNightSkyPress,andhasbeenlonglisted fortheEuropeanWritingPrize.Whennotwriting, sheisfindingothermeansofstorytelling,orelse submergedinsomeoneelse’s.

Artwork by Joy Chen

"Ahoi! Art" is a gender and age-neutral artist who prioritizes the art over the artist. W ith a focus on A.I. art, a young and controversial form, they see image generators as a tool for self-expression. While there is concern over the theft of intellectual property, "Ahoi! Art" believes that art has always been about inspiration and borrowing from others. Ultimately, the artist, the tool, and the work are unimportant compared to the emotional response that it elicits from the viewer.

“Yin Yang In colour”

Original artwork by RAD-pen name

“Female? Male? Non-binary? The concept of finding a fixed “gender” for yourself is over complicating my life. I feel that gender, sex and everything to me is fluid. You can’t force me to pick a side. I would rather be purple. A mix, but not non-binary. In a way where I could honour the way I was born to be by my parents and the way I love to live my life. I love both the dragon and phoenix in the colour they aren’t usually represented in. I love to mix things up. It is just a choice I make and society shouldn’t have a word on my opinion. I am busting down the boundaries and borders society is setting up. KABOOM.”

The Guerrilla Girls; Radicals Gals on the Initiative.

Ever since 1985, a group has haunted Art museums all across the United States and United Kingdom, calling out the hypocrisy of Art museums in their love of women in Art, but their seemingly absolute disdain for women making Art.

Sealing their identities behind masks of gorillas and acting anonymous and untrackable like guerilla fighters, these girls have much more to show than a simple play on words. Starting out with protests against the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition in 1984, where only a fraction of the artists were women, while women made up a bulk of the subjects of the Art pieces. The guerilla girls counted the pieces made by women as opposed to the pieces made by men but depicted mostly nude women. Then they made viral posters that depicted the extent of this inequality, such as the poster saying: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" It included the statistic that less than 5% of the artists in the Met's modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.

Not Just Talk

While producing pamphlets and posters proved very useful in spreading their message, they also had the effect of sparking debate and discourse about the role of women in Art; but the guerilla girls went beyond that, taking action directly by storming, or more appropriately, bombarding, the spaces of multiple museums and exhibitions to spread their message, and show direct denunciation. One of their most controversial but effective tactics was the occupation and subsequent trashing of women’s bathrooms, which they did in Guggenheim Museum SoHo, where they placed posters regarding their struggle for female representation against the museum's unequal and demeaning portrayal of women in Art and women Artists.

Not Just Women

The scope that the guerrilla girls covered expanded over time, and so did their policies and focus in writings, pamphlets, and protests. Most primarily, they began to acknowledge the inequalities that women of color in Art

face specifically. Just a year after their founding they began to focus on Racism against PoC Artists generally, and women specifically, in inclusion into Art exhibitions. While the group still has a long way to go, as it is being criticized by both enemies and members as being not diverse enough, they have made strides of progress in their views, especially in a time where such views would have been even more opposed than they are now.

The group has also tackled political issues, most exemplified by their criticism and campaigning against the Bush presidents, both Senior and Junior, in their domestic policy that was largely conservative and hurt women in the United States, and their foreign policy, but notably their launching of two wars against Iraq in 1990 and 2003.

They’ve also launched posters and pamphlets criticizing and mocking President Donald Trump in 2016, showing their general disdain for conservative and predominantly Republican American politicians, highlighting their progressive politics. They’ve also tackled the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S., as seen by their campaigning for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the 2012 election campaigning season, launching billboards in multiple cities across the U.S. to push for the institution.

Not Just Western

Among other developments the group has undertaken in their views is their shift from focusing on Western Art to a more global view and activism for women’s representation. Such views can be seen in one of their recent posters that reads: “MORE COUNTRIES THAN EVER BEFORE! Who Cares That Africa, Except for Morroco and Egypt, is M.I.A. (Missing In Art)!” in a 2005 lithographic poster posted in the National Museum of Women in Art. They have also taken action, aside from rhetoric, to make active collaborations with non-western women Artists, such as the Japanese Artist Yoko Ono, when they collaborated at the 2013 Meltdown Festival.

Al’awadi is an inherently political entity. Iraqi, Arab, 18, and controversial. He is not much of a writer, but there’s no better way to get his point across. Negatively optimistic and hesitantly daring.


XX is from DongGuan, a prefecture-level city in central Guangdong Province, China, and currently works as a janitor at a school in Hong Kong. She moved to Hong Kong in 1997 and has worked in this occupation for over 10 years, currently in her second year at this school. She has 2 children, one boy and one girl, who are both over 30 years old now. In her spare time, she likes to listen to music and enjoy traditional Hong Kong morning dim sum with her friends, many of whom are also janitors at the same school. As a mother and a working woman, she feels prideful towards her femininity.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about your work? Do you enjoy it? How do you feel about the treatment you receive from your employers?

A: My daily life consists of the following: 5:30am wake up, prepare breakfast and pack lunch, leave for work; 6:30am: arrive at work and unpack; 7am: start working til 4pm (with 1 hr lunch break in between). I love my work - although it is physically demanding and the conditions can get a little bit disgusting at times (when the students don’t tidy up after themselves!), I enjoy being around children and the income I receive is able to cover my living expenses.

Artwork by Joy Chen

Q: Would you say the treatment between men and women is equal in this field? How do you feel about it?

A: The male janitors at this school receive a slightly higher income (1000-2000 HKD more) compared to us although we work for the same number of hours. Although I do think it is a little bit unfair, I understand that they are working outdoors and perhaps have to perform tasks which are more physically demanding. In general, I’m satisfied with my treatment as a female in this occupation. In comparison to the last school that I worked at, this (current) school has a much fairer treatment towards female workers.

Q: How would you describe your connection with your children? Do you get to spend time with them often?

A: I miss them a lot. Personally, I see my children as more like friends. Unlike the typical Chinese ‘Tiger Mom’, I give them more freedom in their decisions, partially because they had to grow up independently since a young age as both my husband and I work. They are now working themselves too, one as a sales merchant, the other as a construction worker, and I could not be prouder of where they have come.

Q: Have you ever encountered an interesting experience in the school where you work? Do any of the students inspire you or remind you of your children?

A: I haven’t worked at this current school for a very long time, so I have yet to form any very intimate bonds with any of the students. However, I frequently have very nice conversations with some of them in the common room or girls bathroom, and many of them remind me of my children. That’s the main reason why I enjoy my work here.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: I’m most proud of my two children. Not any of their achievements, just them in general.

Q:What is your dream job?

A: I never really had a dream job growing up. I was always a realist who liked to focus on the present and not dream about the future. I’m happy with my life right now, and I can’t really see myself doing anything else.

“buried missiles”

my female fate has been standing at the gate of my dreams ever since i can remember

making it hard to breathe, making it hard to see till that night came, last December last December is when all i dreamt of came alive since December i have realised that that night something has died

i let my my “female” traits go to obtain the status quo i let my “female” traits go to never hear “no…”

i sacrificed the part that seemed imperfect in their eyes i sacrificed it forever. do i regret it? i soon might

my ruptured self received a recognition that the feminine life could not foresee but sometimes i wonder… why was it me?

why was it me that needed to break for them to cultivate this hideous trait for them to keep proudly evoking this ache Why was it me? Why is it us?

And just because, JUST BECAUSE, i succeeded, having left the female burden in my past this cannot comfort my shattered soul nor conceal my mouth thus let the stream of blood running down my face spell clearly that we will fight back, that justice is on its way.

(Although i shiver thinking of the moment that is yet to come, i know, i pray) someday we will fight back…

Artwork by Joy Chen


This poem is my expression of immeasurable sadness as well as anger regarding society’s perception of femininity. I did not choose to be a female. I did not accept being diminished due to my gender identity. I never signed up for this kind of life; none of us did.

And although I am proud to be a woman, every now and then, I cannot resist thinking about how displaying feminine traits in highly competitive environments will negatively affect my position and permanently alter my coworkers' perception of me. How just because I am a woman, some consider me inherently unable to succeed in business endeavours. How I cannot fully showcase my God-given personality, because I have these traits. How in some career fields, in some scenarios, I shall be offered an opportunity in exchange for sexual service (“no… but if you really want it…”)...

And how the reason behind it, is the limited, degrading and outdated perception of femininity, and by extension, us - females.


Camille lay on her side, ribs aching underneath the weight of her sleep-heavy limbs as she stared at the rain droplets slowly carving their way down the window. The faint rush of the highway, mingled with the thudding of her heart. They had known each other since they were 7; this was the second time this week she had woken up in the middle of the night smiling like a maniac, his brain-conjured face in her hands. Now was not the time for romance. Her aunt’s surgery had gone wrong and now her entire family was falling apart. She still had to get through her exams. Yet, the thoughts drifted into her mind like the cloying, greasy smoke from the Cha Caan Teng downstairs.

This wasn’t the first time she’d thought about kissing Archie.

She made her way to her mobile phone and dialled, hearing her ringtone rise up into the air, carefree as a braless woman in the winter. Her mouth felt like it was filled with lead.

“Hello?” Archie’s voice cracked as his body tried to pull him out of sleep, to see what his best friend wanted this time.

“Hey.” There they sat in the pale summer twilight, cicadas humming out the tune of their anticipation as the world spun slowly underneath their feet. Connected by the invisible thread of their breaths, they sat there listening to each other’s sighs, waiting for the other to break the silence.

“Look, I-” she started, then paused. The image of her aunt’s worn, leathery skin, once radiant, now sagging at the edges and clinging onto her depleted skull, drifted into the sides of her subconscious. Cam knew that she resembled her aunt too much, that the sight of her face made her mother uncomfortable from the way she never seemed to look directly at her. How frivolous of Cam, to think about ‘love’ while her aunt was five hundred miles away and only half-alive. “I don’t know if she’s going to be okay. I heard my mum on the phone again. Her wound is infected, I feel like it’s my fault. I’m a bad omen.” The frantic avalanche of words tumbled out of her mouth, concealing her true intentions but not her true feelings. Since they were kids, she had never

hidden anything from him. Until now.

“Cam, you overthink way too much.” His voice was soft, sleep-dusted, and warmed every inch of her body. “Your aunt will be completely fine. We’re living in the 21st century - medical miracles show up on the news every day, and that woman is definitely not human: she’s probably gonna live for another hundred years. Plus, you don’t even like most of your family. Now can you please let me go back to sleep? We still have to get through Chem tomorrow. We’ll drown all our problems with alcohol at the party tomorrow, okay?”

She sighed. “Wait, there was something else I needed to tell you”, but the sound of his soft snoring had already started to reverberate outwards from the phone.

Cam ached to leave this city. Years ago, her aunt used to take her and her sisters to the beach down the hill, forcing them to make sand castles while she walked around its perimeter chain-smoking and yelling at the people inside her phone, her face twisted and sneering. Cam remembers the way her aunt used to pinch her cheeks, gushing that she looked just like her. Now she was a decade older, the fissures on her forehead dug in deeper, her smile more pinched, and the whites of her eyes were just a bit more yellowed, constantly averting her gaze from reflective surfaces.

The next morning Cam’s mother had begrudgingly agreed to give her a ride to school. Cam’s nerves pulled taut like shoelaces while her mother sipped loudly at her coffee. As they inched closer, they saw that lying there, fresh and pristine, were two dead sparrows. Birds were falling from the sky, and the distant clouds were pregnant with an oncoming storm. She hoped she would get through her exams alright.

Three days later, it was a sweltering summer day and Cam had just returned from another exam. Humid air permeated the living room as she heard the muffled sound of her mother on the phone, quieter this time, sadder. Suddenly a sob escaped her mother’s mouth. Cam stood next to the door listening, a prayer held in her breath.

“Is everything okay?” She peeked into the door, her

Anonymous Writer Photography by Fernanda Armada

mother looked up and the sight of her tear-strewn face, wind-wrecked and pale, crushed Cam. Warily, she raised her arms and attempted to give her mother a hug, “Everything will be alright”, she whispered. With hunched shoulders, her mother shoved her away and glared, hissing at her to leave, now.

Cam struggled to remember one single time her mother had tried to hold her once she became able to walk on her own two feet, always cuddling her sisters or giving them kisses on the cheek. She caught a glimpse of herself in the window and repulsion writhed inside her stomach, dark and withering. She felt hideously selfish being so self-pitying while her aunt’s entire existence right now was that of physical torment, and her mother’s a barrage of medical paperwork and miscommunication. The great blazing stars emerged and the receding hills dimmed as the car raced past them, on the empty mountain roads. Archie grinned, pressing a button, and the sunroof inched open. Cam whooped up, thrusting her torso out of the car, flying alongside lorries and taxis, allowing the wind to engulf her, hair tangling as she batted it back from her face, raising her arms to reach the sky, tears ripping from her eyes, If I leapt right now, I could float. I feel safe enough to fall back into the wind. She looked up to the heavens, a divine yearning clawing its way up her throat, urging her to let go. All those wound-up worries, needless anxieties, fall back into the night, this dark, raw road, let it churn her under the endless wheels that ran through this highway, push her back into the underbelly of the void.

Instead, she yelled: “This is amazing!” - and gulped as the rushing air grabbed the words wriggling from her mouth, her fingers turning white as they held the car tight. Her friends cheered along with her then, these golden-blooded teenagers,without a care in the world. From the trees on the side of the freeway emerged a deer, baptised in moonlight, as it let out a low moan and slowly lay down in the middle of the road. The darkness swallowed it whole as they sped past.

“Here’s to the second last set of exams we will ever have to take!”

The mass of moving bodies made Cam feel like she was

swimming upstream as she tried to wade through them. Loud rap mixed her sleep deprivation with whatever bottle was in her hand. “C’mon girls, drink up!” a petite girl next to her made an elated gesture and voraciously swallowed the liquid in her plastic cup. Cam remembered sitting on Archie’s roof with him for 5 summer evenings in a row. listening to him gush about how pretty she was, then 4 more nights consoling him after she rejected his romantic offer to ‘annihilate her at Mario Kart’.

Archie was already out of it, flopping down next to whoever tried to ask him a question, giggling flirtatiously and telling them just how sexy they looked, regardless of who it was. Then: “Cam, where is Ca-am?” he looked around, eyes widening like a deer caught in the headlights before he wriggled over and slung his arm around her, leaning, whispering: “Can you come over here with me for a second?”. He dragged her to the empty stairway, both giggling as Cam tried to keep him upright. Gradually, he turned to her and clasped her face in his hands, eyes wide and earnest as he struggled to form a coherent sentence.

“Cam, I love you.”

Her heart dropped to her stomach: he was drunk, and she was sure he was mistaking her for someone elseor even worse, he thought he was someone else.

“I love you too, asshole”, she sighed as she manoeuvred him to the nearest surface, and shrugged him off her shoulders.

“But I’m serious,” he whined, clutching at thin air -“I love you, and not just in a friend way. I think I’ve always,”- He hiccupped– “Been a little bit in love with you.”

Acid rose up in her stomach. Her head throbbed. Sparrows flitted about in her mind. And then he hugged her: the first time she had been properly hugged in a long time. It felt like he was grounding her. Yet as she stood in his cotton-scented embrace,doubts and fatigue began to cloud her vision. She wasn’t sure if she meant anything that she was saying; if anything she did meant anything anymore. She remembered the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: as one measure becomes more precise, as Archie’s words did to her, the other loses its accuracy. The universe always ensures that a part of it stays inexplicable. Her skin shifted

across her body, figures melting into each other as she shut her eyes and ached for peace.

His hands trembled like bird feathers in the breeze as he walked her to the parking lot two streets away where her mother would pick her up. The narrow sky was black with rain, lightning pulsing against their bodies as thunder growled from the distance.

She was watching from the driver’s seat.

“What is he, your boyfriend? Your aunt might fucking die and you’re still out here living it up?” “ What will people think? You bring shame to this family.” The shrapnel of each piercing word dug deep into her heart. Her mother scowled at her, gaze grazing across her textured skin, disproportionate jaw, metal clamped teeth.

“You disgust me.”

They drove back home in a deafening silence.

She hadn’t seen her mother this mad since she was a child. Violence ran in their blood. Sometimes they joked about being a short-tempered family. Volatile, almost. When Cam was thirteen and her mother mentioned that she saw her taking the bus alone with a boy, her father threatened to break both of her legs if she dated anyone before she went to university. Their car came to a halt. The tire had popped. “God damn it!” her mother growled. As they stepped out of the car, Cam walked around its perimeter to check for any more damage. Near the back of the car, she spotted a heap of a dark soft substance peeking out from underneath the tailgate. Did someone leave their jacket in the middle of the road?

It twitched. Camille shuddered when she saw blood seeping out from beneath it. Slowly, the form of a ragged, trembling animal carved its way out of the darkness. It was a stray dog. Relief washed across her when it stopped moving.

Cam and Archie started meeting up a lot more after that night. They went to the movies where they shared a seat and giggled through an entire horrible film, eliciting dirty looks from the dismal middle-aged couples on their third scheduled movie date of the month. They went for late-night runs on the beach and sat side by side as they finished up essays. Some days she woke up feeling disturbingly happy. Underneath the table, she dug half-

moons into the pale white skin of her stomach to keep herself from smiling at the dinner table.

“Since it’s the last day of school, we’re gonna go down to the beach tonight. Wanna come?”

Cam stumbled over to the ocean and felt the great roar of the void as she gazed into the darkness beyond. Cam and Archie lay side by side underneath the stars, in the pitch-black maw of the night, wide open and frantic.

“Please,” she blurted, hanging onto him as if her life depended on it, “Don’t make me go home. If I go back my aunt will be ill again, all I do is make people angry at me. What if she dies while I’m out having fun?” Her skin felt like it was on too tight, eyes delirious while white spots danced in front of her vision. Summer always meant more family time, but this summer meant hospital visits in a foreign country.

“Don’t fall in love with anyone else while I’m gone.” The whisper escaped from between her lips.

He leaned down and pressed her forehead to his wide honest eyes looking into hers. “Do you really think I would do that?” A grin stretched lazily across his sleepy face as he glanced down at her lips. They turned, noses touching and without warning, her lips were on his, lips moving in unison, fingers moving through curled hair and sending electrical sparks through her skin. She looked up at him, this boy, his body backlit by moonlight. Time stretched itself out beyond them and it felt like they were alone in the universe.

If only for a brief moment.

Back home, she soaped her hair, humming a little tune to herself. She always felt disgusted for allowing herself to act upon these feelings that were so shameful, so inappropriate for someone like her. Someone so hideous and undeserving of love. In the corner of her eye, she spotted a soft heap of fabric in the corner.

Her heart stopped.

She could almost swear it moved. Images of blood rushed through her mind. She sat down in the shower, allowing the boiling water to trickle onto

her scalp, and wash away these blood-soaked thoughts.

With hair still wet from the shower, Cam waded through the thick air and stepped onto the small road that wound up their hill. At 4 in the morning. Their corner of the world remained tranquil and serene; the road was empty. Cautiously, as if performing a prayer, Cam lay down, dead-centre, in the middle of the asphalt. Her breath was coming in little gasps, the summer dark chirped and hummed, enveloping her in its dimming embrace.

The image of the deer laid down in the middle of the road, calm and unmoving like an angel that collided gently into the dirt, a spiritual being drawn to the ground, remained etched in her mind. A deep calm washed over her unmoving body. A truck came rushing past:

“Son-of-a– get off the fucking road, what’s wrong with you kids nowadays?” A man wearing a dingy white vest cursed at her, spitting on the ground next to her. She stood up slowly and dusted the dirt from her pyjama shorts, and walked home.

had saved up enough money to stop her from bringing shame to the family.

“Fat, too”, her father interjected, as he sipped his tea.

“Yes, this is much better for her.” Her parents nodded, words left lingering at the tips of their tongues, retreating back into themselves. Three days later and her aunt’s rhinoplasty got infected from her constant anxious itching, and the doctor threatened to amputate parts of her face. A week later and her immune system failed. Now she was hyperventilating in an incubating room, face cratered and debris-filled in her attempts to look beautiful.

Curled up in a blanket on her windowsill, she let her eyes gently close. Rows upon rows of small windows, each illuminating one brief snapshot of life: the couple slow dancing in their kitchen, the delivery boy sitting with his head in his hands, the old woman doing her late-night stretches. Every single one of them was fleeting and impermanent, yet Camille’s heart ached to see what they were seeing, to experience life from another body, if only for this one day. She shivered; the long night split into fragments. She felt like she was underwater. Memories throbbed in and out of her head: The images of the dead dog, Archie’s sleepy eyes, merged into one as they floated in front of her bleary eyes. Discomfort gnawed at her insides and she ached to claw it out.

“Your auntie was very ugly growing up.” Her mother calmly showed Cam the procedure that their aunt was finally going to undertake. They

“Cam, why do you feel the need to carry the entire world on your shoulders?” the memory of Archie’s soft voice drifting out of the receiver echoed in her mind. The hum of the night sky, the blur of shadowed figures as they emerged from her memory: shushing each other as they pushed a wailing woman into a room as crowds of people emerged, the disgust that crept onto her mother’s face whenever she looked at Cam. She had bad luck. It was because of her that the world came crashing down around them. The feeling of her intestines turning themselves inside out, constantly, when she thought about laughing with her friends, or Archie. Cam glanced at the lurcher staggering around across the road from them, soaked in moonlight; his matted fur, and pain-tightened eyes accepting of the suffering that life threw at him, calm in the knowledge that no one would ever touch him. This is how girls run astray, how girls become bruised like fruit rotting, discarded on the sides of the flea markets, maggots crawling through their hearts.

Stilted and awkward like a marionette, her limbs carried her off her bicycle, into the middle of the highway. All around her cars were rushing past, raising the hairs on her arms as the metal frame of her bicycle hit the road with a clang. The sheer inertia of living inside her head was not enough anymore, bitterness welled up inside her, seeking an escape. She felt the curve of her thigh as it aligned itself with the burning asphalt, in the centre of this momentarily secluded highway, breathy exhaust tickling her ear. Then, out of the soft darkness, sirens filled her ears as her vision was flooded with red lights as blinding, white headlights collided into her.

Sometimes she dreamed about leaving the world scorched at her feet.


I wanted to spark a conversation about gender, self identity and diversity of people and that’s how I started with these works.

“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes...but, I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.”

“It’s time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by WHO WE ARE.”

These lines from the inspiring speech by Emma Watson motivated me to think and explore more about gender and self identity. Which simply means that no person belongs to the idealistic stereotypes we have constructed and we all are somewhere in between.

Prabhani Amandika is an undergraduate in Interior Design degree program at NSBM Green University Sri Lanka affiliated with Plymouth University UK, and currently in her final semester of the program. She’s also a passionate artist who finds human figures, personalities and emotions of people fascinating. She’s mostly interested in speaking up for different personalities, identities of people to conserve the diversity within the society. She held her first solo art exhibition recently with the theme of ‘somewhere in between’ which simply means that no one belongs to any extreme stereotype and that each person is unique. She’s looking forward to improve her art skills from an art academy to express more about these topics.

Artwork by Marta Leszek.


I want to take my shirt off, I want to play in mud, dig a deep hole in the sand, hop over waves, I want to pick up an old, rotten stick, and pretend to be a knight, but I want to make daisy chains.

Would it be undignified if I pluck a worm and hold it in my palm, watch it squirm and listen to the squeals? Would it be unladylike to throw goose-grass at the back of my father and snort when it sticks to his fleece?

Would it be rude if I caught a spider under glass, released her under the garden shed, instead of wishing her dead?

Little girl, you’re free, be free, climb trees, make daisy chains.

Róise Curran is a young poet from Galway, Ireland. When she was young, she developed and interest in art and music but discovered poetry at 16 and hasn't stopped writing since. She struggled a lot with various mental health issues in her teens and writing helped her process her feelings and express herself. These days, she writes about all sorts of things, from politics to personal.

Marta Leszek is a self-taught illustrator, whose work is based on diversity, observation of people and originality. she is also the author of articles and other texts. she cooperated with various magazines and companies in Poland, but also undertook international cooperation


When you broke things off, You left behind a carcass. Whoever or whatever I loved Is still lying here with me; I don’t know what’s out there Walking in your shape.

Tomorrow I will beat the ground

Until my cries sprout like saplings. Tomorrow I will bathe myself In our slaughtered dreams And make my skin numb.

Tomorrow I will walk until my feet Wear down to the bone; I will ball up my fists and Claw at the air Until I climb above the trees.

Tomorrow I will carve the fat Off my thighs And burn it on a spit; I will cake my face in the ash Until my eyes turn dark. I will break my skull And peel back my scalp and Let the birds pick at my brain until Your memory is gone.

Tomorrow I will be scattered On the wind.

I will be reborn from eggshells and Snail slime and forgotten lullabies and uncertain prayers. I will strike my chest until All there is left of my heart Is a bruise and I will cut open my palm and bleed Out until I am human again. ww

Tomorrow. Tonight I will bury you.

Autumn Byars is an artist and poet based in Tempe, Arizona. In May 2023, she will be graduating with her Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting. Her work, which is often deeply personal, works to explore and catalogue the intensity of human experiences which we often wish to shy away from. This takes on a variety of topics, from feminism, to mental health, to religion.

She just wanted to exist, she just wanted to be. The greatest challenge of C was of course existing in this world with boundaries and norms; questioning existence when she was around 10 was how her journey began. She started writing poetry around the same time. Her interest always circulated creation, and she wanted to bring her raw, pure, intricate and complexically beautiful self into life and started drafting the world, a world that she could simply be.

Original Photos by C - pen name

Apparan is a London based multidisciplinary artist. Her work deals with social related issues such gender equality. Her murals usually depict women with colourful long curly hair and strong features. Her work has been commissioned by brands ranging from business, video clips and organizations like SOS Rape. She is co-founder of Art House Project London through which she has organised and curated dozens of exhibitions and the London International Pasteup Festival which specialises in large collage installations featuring artist from around the world.

This mural “Follow your Dreams” marks the creation of one of her projects called Gend-ity platform aiming to promote gender equality through urban art. It urges women’s will power to be able to decide their future and pursue their aims and objectives in life. Social pressures on women can be a tough battle. We only live once. No time to waste.

Follow Your Dreams


Femininity, I say

Femininity, I say…

Femininity, you say

it is obedience to unspoken rules the vague promises of happiness they dry my throat

Femininity, you say

it is the portrayal of bulky emotions the how-dare-you cries

Femininity, you say it is weakening subtraction, if it's ever described in formula –cruel minimalism;

it is the curve of ceramic fire-kissed, mounted with craftsmanship housed cracks and spots one of a kind

Femininity, I say

it is when Eve came from no one’s ribs that it's whole in itself eve as in prelude to a new phase

Femininity, I say

it is the moon energy casted by a dim tarot reading room the silent recovery of spores and dreams, sunk into the deepest night pollinators of the greatest desires

Femininity, I say

Femininity, I say

Femininity, I say

Jiaqi Zheng is a creative facilitator and an unlicensed social worker. She is currently in her first year at CSM studying fine art, with a focus on socially-engaged art, and using sustainable materials as medium for arts & crafts activities. In her free time, she loves to stare into the sky, watch pigeons fight, if she could, she wants to store every single bits of nature in her head.

Lida Afghan is an activist who recognizes the power of art as a tool for social and political change. She has used her artwork to voice her opinions and inspire people to join protests for various causes.She believes that art speaks louder than words, and she has used her creative skills to create thought-provoking pieces that have been displayed at protests and demonstrations. Her artwork has become a symbol of the fight for justice, equality, and human rights, inspiring people to take action and make a difference. Her passion is to continue to use art as a medium to raise awareness and create a dialogue about important issues.

A Towel in August

It is the 12th of August, 2022. I have just finished showering, and find myself reaching for the towel that has once again been replaced with my younger sisters’. The cool air seems to have seeped into the gaps underneath the bathroom door, whirling around me, leaving me shuddering. I reach for the towel, realizing, yet again, that it’s the wrong one. They’re almost identical; both white with some French text on the bottom, but one distinguishable difference. Mine has green stripes; hers, pink. A very pale pink that explicitly implies the countless washes this towel has endured. For practically no reason at all, I am extremely irked by the color. I shouldn’t even care, it’s just a towel. But I care. More than I would like.

My mind immediately wanders to the question, ‘Why?’. My sister and I have been raised the same way, or so I’d like to think. I like to think I see the world in monochrome, occasionally a hint of distinct vibrance here and there. Her world is a garden, full of flowers of every species spread out sporadically near a hill where kids holler in laughter as they slide down on hill sleds.

I remember being forced to go to ballet class as a child. There was something intrinsically drilled into me that a tutu represented femininity, and the term never even struck me until 6th grade, when I skateboarded nearly every day and made being a ‘street kid’ my entire personality. Even though that personality never stuck, it’s still a frankly, strange period of time I remember vividly. I wonder now if that had anything to do with the fact that I had just learnt about gender norms. The fact that society has normalized such arbitrary objects to be associated with the concept of masculinity or femininity, and older media has only catalyzed this change.

I reiterate the fact that I genuinely don’t know why me and my sister turned out to be such different people, given we were raised by the same people. ‘You have different personalities and traits.’. Yes, but why? Despite my unrelenting personality fluctuations, why are what we choose to express ourselves practically antithetical to each other? Why am I standing here, digging so much into the associations we make with certain colors or inanimate objects? You could argue the neurological and psychological buildup of our brains, but in a cognitive explanation, I can make out one small but significant factor: the color difference. Pink represents femininity, a boom in a world of varying perceptions. Growing up, I was someone who ‘hated pink’, albeit likely not the only one. Now, I think I always had some vague inclination to defy the gender norms a relatively sexist upbringing threw at me. I had always disliked pink, for truly no reason. It just

triggers a visceral, inexplicable reaction in me. My sister, on the contrary, embraced it with open arms. She adores the color, always has. If I’m honest, the rational part of me infers that she might have just wanted to be ‘different’ from me, so I wouldn’t get annoyed like any other older sister when their younger counterparts try to imitate them in any way. In a moment of epiphany, I realize that my words are words; there’s no refinement or embellishment. I am one person with a line of thought that never ends. In a line of people who may or may not think the same. It is still the 12th of August. I hear my mom calling me to hurry up, and my brother yells that dinner is ready. I look at the faded pink stripes on the fabric I am holding. I am still a 15-year old finishing a shower, pulling the towel off a hanger. There are only so many words that I can formulate into sentences, so many thoughts I can convert into a written format. I feel my head running out of thoughts. So, now that I’ve finished dinner, dessert and am about to close this Word document, I’d like to ask you: what does the towel represent? Maybe it’s just a towel. No need to get so hung up over it. I keep thinking.

Chinny is a high school sophomore in Hong Kong who mostly writes academically, but occasionally, to dump her brain out and squeeze out every thought, no matter how irrelevant. Is passionate about social issues and immerses herself in a range of experiences to gain exposure on seeking solutions. As someone who identifies as female, having to grapple with the idea of societal standards and what femininity means for different groups and communities is both an enlightening and visceral experience.

How long am I to go on?

Craving structure, importance, validation

Something they refuse to give

Conceited to the point where hating the idea of accepting myself is no longer a concept

Why I go after the people who do not see what I have to offer and those who use it for their own benefit are two concepts I have trouble differentiating Do you see meThat I am standing here-before you, in front of you? No,

They’re too busy talking about how the color of their nails is “too bright”

Again, I am on the backburner, the sidekick

The final priority.

Longing for the day when people will wait for me at the door

No longer me hanging back.

Hoping a sliver of eye contact will let me know that we are alright

“It’s okay”, I tell myself.

“It’s okay. If they like me, they will come to me..”

Twenty years later and I’m still repeating this mantra to myself.

Here’s to another twenty more. Cheers.

Meghan Kadambe Dhawan (She/her/hers) is a writer, poet, dancer, painter, and aspiring actress. The main focus of her writing centers on film and television reviews with societal commentary embedded within. Meghan has written for various publications, and is currently the Social Commentary Editor for Journal

D’Ambroisie (@Journal.Dambroisie), a Movie Blog Writer for Vocivia Magazine (@VociviaMagazine), and a Board Member for the Glamour Gals Foundation, LLC. In her spare time, Meghan frequents her local cinema and socializing with others to improve her connections and mental health.

Original Photography by C

As an illustrator from Mauritius, I am deeply passionate about using my artistic talents to promote feminism and women's empowerment. Through my illustrations, I aim to transport viewers into a world where strong female characters are at the forefront, conquering challenges and breaking down barriers. By combining fantasy and fiction, I strive to create a powerful and imaginative representation of women that inspires and empowers people of all genders. My illustrations aim to challenge traditional gender roles and promote a more equal and just society, where everyone is free to pursue their dreams and aspirations. I believe that by using my art to showcase the strength and resilience of women, we can create a better world for all.

Born and raised in Mauritius, Dippycurious has a deep passion for the fantastical. With an unyielding love for all things magical, they are constantly striving to capture enchanting moments through their artwork. Combining their unique perspective and skillful techniques, they create illustrations that transport viewers to other worlds and leave them spellbound. With a dedication to their craft and an unwavering imagination, this artist is sure to continue to create awe-inspiring illustrations for years to come.


Massive thanks to Aren Hakhverdyan for the magazine formatting, and for designing the front and back covers.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.