Category Archives: Zines

Pandora Press #6 out now!

The sixth issue of our zine, Pandora Press, is out now!

Pandora Press zine body feminist zine

This issue is themed ‘body’, and features diverse writings by Swansea women on topics including sexuality, body hair, street harassment, and gender roles.

Copies of all our zines can be purchased at any SFN event, or via paypal – contact the editor Cath at pandorapresszine @ gmail.com for more info.

All The Single Ladies: A Comparison of Take Me Out and The Year of Making Love

As someone who has spent bar far the larger portion of my adult life responding to questions about whether I’ve managed to find another human to put up with me yet with a cynical ‘ha!’ or a quip about how I’m keeping myself free in case Bellatrix Lestrange decides that she is no longer fictional or a psychopath, it’s fair to say that I have a vested interest in the representation of single women in the media.

The aforementioned lack of a relationship means that the time I am not required to spend on having sex, being a bit smug and arguing in public can be used on more intellectually stimulating and emotionally fulfilling pursuits such as eating chocolate, wearing pyjamas and watching trashy TV. And what better way is there to meet other single women from the comfort of my own living room than by watching dating shows?

Take Me Out has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time. For those of you not familiar with the premise: 30 single women get to know one single man by hearing him talk about himself, and then either hearing someone who knows him say a bit more about him or watching him show off some kind of talent. It generally goes along the lines of a man coming out who is loved all the way through until the second round, when his sister reveals that he sometimes wears her dresses. Anyway, the women all have a light in front of them, which they switch off if they hear or see something which means that they don’t want to go on a date with the man any more. If there are any lights still on at the end of the two rounds, the man gets to pick which woman he goes on a date with.

The Year of Making Love is a series which has recently started on BBC3, and it’s a different kind of dating show. It’s essentially a social experiment in which a few hundred single people were brought together in January 2012 and matched using ‘science’ (I haven’t seen an explanation of what that science is… it seems to be some sort of personality profiling) with someone who is theoretically a compatible partner. Each programme then follows the stories of a few of the couples for a year, to see if any of them stayed together.

The main problem with Take Me Out is the way women are reduced to being virtually identical, with the representation stripping them of both their intellectual and physical individuality. The men know very little about from their looks. There is often a sense that women are being ‘dumbed down’ in order to provide entertainment. Their physical appearances are also generally very similar, or made to be so. With a few exceptions, they are young, slim, white women, wearing short dresses and heels and fake nails. The older and black and minority ethnic women they do have on the show are still presented the same in terms of their make-up, clothing and accessories. The women who fall outside of this standard appearance are generally the ones that don’t get dates.

This is not to say, however, that the women on Take Me Out are actually as generic as they are made out to be. There are instances when real personality shines through, most notably at the stage when the man is about to pick he who is going to take on a date out of the two remaining women, and the presenter reveals an interesting fact about one of the two women, but doesn’t say who it is about. Sure, sometimes the facts are things like ‘one of these girls once kissed her boyfriend’s twin brother because she couldn’t tell them apart’, which further perpetuate the idea that the women are stupid. Often, though, they’re quite funny things, like that a woman won a competition for how many grapes she could get into her mouth at one time, or that she named her cat after a character in Fireman Sam – things that make the woman they are about stand out, make her more than her appearance, basically identical to the woman standing next to her.

In contrast, The Year of Making Love has a bit more emphasis on variety, and concentrates more on personality than Take Me Out does. There is not the same presentation of women as stupid or so desperate for a date that who they are doesn’t matter. The more flexible format means that it is much less heterosexist, with gay couples being included in the same way as heterosexual couples, and not being sidelined to their own show, as is the case with Take Me Out.
It still has its fair share of horrific, with one guy on the show using the chat up line “if you were a car door, I’d slam you,” when talking to the girl he’d been matched with, but generally watching it is far less alienating than watching Take Me Out. There have been women I can identify with, which I guess is what I was unconsciously looking for in representations of single women.

I wouldn’t say that the women on The Year of Making Love are necessarily really any more or less articulate and interesting than the women on Take Me Out, but what’s refreshing about it is the way it shows that it is not necessary to represent single women as stupid.

I appreciate that a lot of these differences stem from the different remits and audiences of the two shows. Take Me Out is pure entertainment where it’s all about the ‘game’ of the selection process, whereas The Year of Making Love presents itself as an experiment, and, at least on the face of it, aspires to create long-term relationships.

However, despite the differences in their representations of single women, what both shows do, deliberately or not, is reveal that single women can be intelligent, interesting and attractive. Single women are not ‘defective’ (as I think is so often a cultural assumption) – they are just single. And with that in mind; populated with all kinds of women (some of whom can name all 52 original Pokémon characters), the ‘shelf’ feels like a much less shameful place to be.

This is a guest post by SFN committee member Kirsty, originally published in the SFN zine Pandora Press #5.  

Pandora Press #5 out now!

The fifth issue of our zine, Pandora Press, is out now!

front cover issue 5

This issue is themed ‘media’, and features diverse writings by Swansea women on topics including body hair, page 3, relationships, chick flicks, and activism.

Copies of all our zines can be purchased at any SFN event.

You can buy a copy online at Marching Stars Zine Distro, or via paypal – contact the editor Cath at pandorapresszine @ gmail.com for more info.

We are now looking for submissions for our 6th issue, the BODY issue!  Details can be found at our Pandora Press page.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Pandora Press #5, the Media Issue!

media advert

We’re now accepting submissions for the spring 2013 issue of Pandora Press,  the Swansea Feminist Network zine. The theme of this issue is MEDIA. We’re mainly interested articles and opinion pieces, but are also interested in the following (many of these, such as the reviews, will not need to fit into the theme):

Poetry
Short Fiction
Cartoons
Artwork/illustrations
Reviews:
– Films
– Music
– Blogs
– Zines
Interviews
Swansea Women’s News/Events

The theme MEDIA is a vague one, open to broad interpretation, but with some sort of focus on gender/sexuality/feminism. Here are some ideas where you could go with this:

– Advertising
– Print media: magazines, glossies, newspapers
– Online media: websites, blogs, social networking, memes, “trolling”
– Music
– Film
– Theatre
– Independent publishing (i.e. zines/pamphlets)
– Books
– Art/photography/fine art
– Television: soaps, documentaries, current affairs, reality TV, etc

Don’t feel limited by these ideas though; even if you want to write/design something that you feel doesn’t quite fit into this theme, submit it anyway and it will probably be featured (if not in this issue then certainly in a subsequent issue)!

Contributors must be from South Wales, preferably the Swansea area, and must self-identify as women. Just email your ideas, questions, or submissions to the editor Cath at PANDORAPRESSZINEatGMAIL.COM.

***Deadline: 31 January 2013***

NB: we are unable to pay writers for their contributions at this time, but you should consider this writing opportunity as a great chance to share your thoughts and creativity with others, and an encouraging and supportive environment in which you can develop your portfolio/CV!

Music Fundraiser Review & Pandora Press news!

We held our Music Fundraiser this Friday in The Garage, Swansea, in aid of the  Swansea Women’s Centre (which has recently revamped its website!).  As well as some excellent music, we had delicious vegan cupcakes,  a raffle, a feminist disco, and the newly released SFN zine Pandora Press for sale (if you couldn’t make the event but would still like a copy of Pandora Press, get in touch with Team Zine at pandorapresszineATgmail.com to see if we can post you a copy)!

pic by Ali Morris

Act 1: Catherine Elms (www.catherineelms.co.uk)

Act 4: Sleepy Panda Club (http://www.myspace.com/sleepypandaclub)

An excellent evening was had by all, and our event managed to raise close to £500 for the Women’s Centre!  Pats on the back all round, girls!

Some SFN girls partying! (pic by Ali Morris)

Pandora Press is now looking for submissions for its second issue!  The theme is sex.

Here are some suggestions in which you could go with this theme:
Sex in culture
Sex in the media – literature/music/zines/mainstream press/film
Sex and religion
Gender and/or sexual identity
LGBTQ issues
Sex and love/relationships
Sex-positive feminism
Sex throughout history
Social attitudes to sex
Prejudices surrounding sex
Sexual violence
Sexualisation/raunch culture
Sex for sale: pornography/prostitution
And anything else you can think of!

As well as general articles, we need the following submissions, which will not need to fit into the issue’s theme:
Cover art
Poetry
Cartoons
Interior art/illustrations
Reviews:
– Films
– Music
– Blogs
– Zines
Swansea News/Events

The deadline for submissions is 2nd October 2011.  Please send any ideas, questions or submissions to Cath at:

pandorapresszineATgmailDOTcom

Finally… we’ve added a new page to the blog – upcoming events!  Take a look at what we’ve got coming up this month and come along to whatever takes your fancy! :)

(Written by Cath, media officer of SFN)

Call for Submissions: SFN’s first zine!

Hello everyone!

Caitlin, Eleri and I are currently in the process of planning Swansea Feminist Network’s first zine (a zine – pronounced ‘zeen’, derived from ‘magazine’ – is a self-published booklet)! The zine aims to be a publication written by and for intelligent creative women, that represents what the Swansea Feminist Network is all about!

The theme of the first issue is OUR FEMINIST HEROES.  Write about a feminist who inspires you – a politician, a relative, a musician, an actor, a philanthropist, a medic, a writer, a goddess, a good friend, anything you like!

As well as general articles, people are encouraged to submit some of the following:
Cover art
Poetry
Fiction
Cartoons
Interior art/illustrations
Reviews:
– Films
– Music
– Blogs
– Zines
Interviews
Musician Profile
Swansea Women’s News/Events

Contributors should be from South Wales, preferably the Swansea area!  Submissions from all genders are welcome.

We’re aiming to publish it in time for our music fundraiser at the end of July (RSVP here), so the deadline for submissions is 17th July 2011.

Please send any ideas, questions or submissions to us at swanseafeministnetworkATgmailDOTcom!  Happy writing! :)

Cath x

p.s. want more info on what a zine is?  Check out Wikipedia’s entry on zines, or zinewiki.