Sister magazine’s Strong issue puts the power in girl power

by Grace Wang in April 2017
Current affairsFashion & styleWomen

I experience a three-stage enlightenment when I pick up daring feminist magazines. Flipping through page after page of important questions to do with women, it’s like this: heart-pounding joy, when I’m assured that others go through the same thing as me; excitement, as I want to shout it to every female that’s around; then frustration/motivation, because these vital conversations are completely left out of the dominant media.

Themed ‘Strong’, the latest Sister magazine looks at the issues women face in an age of Trump and Brexit. From the patriarchal roots of the female contraceptive pill, to the powerful act of female friendships, and a trio of women filmmakers tackling rape, it’ll cycle you through joy, excitement, motivation, then back again. We talk to editor Beccy Hill to find out more.

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In the interview with author Holly Grigg Spall, you write: “It’s funny, because she tells me the things I already know, yet I feel surprised to hear them repeated back to me.” I feel like this sums up Sister magazine, as often the most pressing issues affecting women are the ones that are most easily overlooked.
It’s really great that you say that, as in my first ‘manifesto’ for Sister I remember writing something like “Girl power is nothing new. I wish to provide a platform for all the female talent I see around me.” I still believe that to be the case – there have always been girls out there creating, fighting, empowering, it’s just that perhaps there was nowhere where they could take centre stage. I want Sister to be that place, where opinions can be aired safely, and effectively build a community of the like-minded.

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The feature with Holly raises a range of questions about the contraceptive pill, like why the burden of pregnancy prevention falls on females when they’re only fertile six days of the month, and males are fertile every day. What was the most important thing you learned from her?
I know I wrote this in my opening editor’s letter, but Holly really was the inspiration for this entire issue. Getting to speak with her was amazing – we were on Skype for almost two hours! It’s hard to choose just one thing that I took away from that. She raised so many eye opening and relevant points about contraception and society’s attitude to it. I think the idea that people felt she was ‘un-feminist’ for speaking out against the Pill – that really shocked me. I just don’t see how her work can be perceived in that way. She’s also not forcing her research upon anyone, but simply presenting women with the facts, so that they can make educated choices about their bodies. 

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In another feature, Sophie Holmes of Achey Breaky Heart zine writes that female friendships are feminist acts. Tell us about working with her.
I think Sophie’s extremely inspirational. We first met when she came to a panel discussion which I was a part of. I spoke with her afterwards and she told me that maybe she’d like to make a zine. A couple of months later Achey Breaky Heart was born, and it’s been so great to have been a part of that journey from the start, and to feel that I played a small role in it! What she’s doing is so relevant, and so relatable, and I adore the pedestal upon which she puts companionship, instead of competition between females. 

Model Emily Bador (below) stars in a fashion shoot, but she is also interviewed about using social media to speak out against the fashion industry’s approach to weight, mental health and race. Why was it important to you to give her a voice?
I’ve been obsessed with Emily for a while – it’s pretty hard to work in fashion and avoid her gorgeous freckled face! So to see her recent social posts, especially for someone who is so young, I just wanted to celebrate that. Models’ Instagram pages usually serve as portfolios for their work, and I just love that Emily is effectively flicking the Vs to that, and really being herself. She has a lot to say, and I see great things happening for her.

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I definitely feel stronger after reading the issue… what are some things you hope readers will take away from it?
That’s so great to hear, honestly, that really makes me happy. I hope other readers feel the same way you do. I also hope they take away my chat with Holly and are inspired to look into her research, evaluate their chosen method of contraception and become more in tune with their bodies. I also hope people realise that physically strong doesn’t mean unattractive — our shoot with the body building girls clearly highlights that. 

You’ve done issues themed on size, swag, street, sex, strong. What’s next?
The themes tend to flow into one another — I have a vague idea right now but nothing concrete. Watch this space! 

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Another great feminist magazine is Ladybeard, which we sent out to our subscribers last year. Sign up to Stack to get our favourite indie mags delivered to your door





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