Whiny Femmes is a platform for a well-needed vent

Launch of local zine showcases femme resistance

In a patriarchal society that tones down sensitivity, the Whiny Femmes zine is a breath of fresh air. The zine launches on Oct. 7 alongside femme performances and visual art.

Editors Jules Hardy and Christina Hajjar created the zine to reclaim public space.

“Someone asked us why we don’t ‘get out there and do something’ instead (of making a zine), but I think it’s ableist to assume that someone has another place to vent,” Hardy says.

Hajjar and Hardy reached out to acquaintances via facebook for submissions. In fact, only a quarter of the contributors are local, while the remainder are international. The mixed-media publication showcases the work of 46 contributors and includes poetry, photos, mini-zines, drawings, selfies, doodles and creative writing of all kinds.

“It’s about femme resistance: being a killjoy, allowing yourself to cry and to pout,” Hardy explains.

“Whining is processing,” Vanessa Godden, who contributed to the zine, agrees. “It's a way to connect with others and not feel so alone.”

The intention of the publication is to validate the contributors, members of the queer community and anyone else who happens to come across it.

“Femme is something that any queer person can experience, some or all of the time. Femme isnt’ opposite to butch, and it isn’t something that belongs to cis white lesbians,” Hajjar says, “it’s a queer gender-identity, which can fluctuate to all genders.”

Hardy explains that for them, the term “femme” is a queer experience.

The zine is an outlet for marginalized people to share their stories.

“We want to let people know that it’s okay to be upset,” Hardy says.

Godden’s contribution is photo documentation of a performance art piece she performed in Toronto last year. In the performance, she used her multi-ethnic identity to process the trauma of sexual assault.

“My work focuses on the repressed voice,” she says.

The 40 minute performance involved sensory interaction from the audience in the form of smell and taste: Godden alternately chewed curry and flour, masticated eggshells inscribed with journal entries, and tore apart pomegranates with her teeth.

“The effect is meant to stimulate an exchange with my audience,” Godden explains. “They inhale the particles of curry and flour, gasp as they vicariously chew eggshells, and taste the sweetness of pomegranate juice in the air.”

“These exchanges convey the internal workings of processing trauma,” she explains.

“Our role as editors is to curate an experience that is intentionally created from beginning to end,” Hajjar explains. They stress that the submission-based format of the zine is important, since it allows for a multiplicity of experiences.

A physical copy of the zine is an archive of the time and place in which it was conceived.

“I find more sentimentality with an object that I can hold and flip through, keep forever and fold the page down,” Hajjar explains.

“An online publication would quickly fade into the internet,” Hardy says. The duo plan to eventually post the zine online, in order to make it available to people outside Winnipeg.

“(The zine) creates an international solidarity,” Hajjar says. “Even though some issues are more context-specific, we carry the same identity as femmes.”

The launch takes place on Oct. 7 at The Edge Gallery (611 Main St.), from 7-10 p.m. with a $5 cover charge. The zine will also be available at Canzine on Oct. 28 and on Etsy for $10 with a lower-income rate starting at $5.

Published in Volume 72, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 5, 2017)

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