Editor’s Letter – Aug 21
Growing up, I always felt like I was one step behind everyone else. I was behind at school as a kid, behind with trends as a teenager, and I was late to feminism as a young adult. In fact, some kids at my secondary school used to call me the ‘slow one’ – which as you can imagine did wonders for my self-esteem. Not to say that I was unintelligent or even that I thought I was. No, I simply felt that I was one step behind. It’s a similar kind of feeling to when you think that you are okay at everything but great at nothing. It’s infuriating, especially when you’re constantly trying your hardest to be on everyone else’s level – like trying to run in a dream.
I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self because I would tell her that I’m not behind and that actually everyone is different so embrace your differences and do not be distracted by the pace and direction of the people around you. That’s why I wanted to create Allie, the new mascot for TNF, designed by our incredible illustrator. In many ways, Allie is me; on a continuous journey of feminism and self-discovery. I want her to be the voice of new feminists everywhere. She’ll make mistakes and occasionally walk down the wrong path but ultimately she’ll grow and learn. No one is a perfect feminist, including me.
This month’s feature focuses on Burlesque; what some people believe to be a “middle-class version of stripping”. But what these people don’t know is that Burlesque is an empowering form of expression and middle finger to the male gaze.
This powerful article got me thinking a lot about how I felt when I used to dance. As a child, I was painfully shy and my mum thought that by making me join a dance class I would come out of my shell. She was right. I went from hiding behind her leg to belting out my lines when my class had to present in assembly. I had been as quiet as a mouse for the entirety of primary school until one day I found my voice and recited my lines with perfect volume and diction, it echoed across the hall, completely stunning the teachers. Dance brought me out of my shell, it helped me express myself in a way that felt safe. But as I grew older dance began to feel different. As a little girl everyone would say “aw isn’t she cute”, but as a teenager, the focus shifted from how cute I looked to how certain dance moves may be perceived as sexual.
That was my first glimpse into the toxic world of the sexualisation of women. Burlesque dancers reclaim this sexualisation and I can only imagine that when they dance it feels just as safe and as empowering as it did when I was little. Freedom. Sexual liberty. That is the power Burlesque holds and that’s why we should look to dancers like Tempest Rose and Onyx Fatale as role models and not as “middle-class strippers”.
It’s been an amazing month for us here at TNF but it’s only getting better. Next month we’ll be launching The New Feminist Bookshelf. A book club where each month we choose an incredible feminist book that you can read along with us, ending with a live Q&A with the author. Our first book is ‘My Hair is Pink Under This Veil’ by Rabina Khan, an influential and empowering politician.
We couldn’t be more excited to show you all the great things we have planned for TNF, so stay tuned, we’re only just getting started.