And I think that there is nothing wrong with loving what you love; I do think it’s important to be able to critique problematic narratives, or stories that are pushing forward flawed representations (of gender, of race, of sexuality, of size or ability, etc.), and to be open to critique of your own work and of work that you enjoy — but at the same time I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the disdain for certain elements of commercial fiction and, especially, commercial YA. Certain conventions get employed so often because a lot of people want to read them, primarily women, and a blanket contempt for “cliche” more often than not looks to me like a blanket contempt for stories produced and consumed by women. That, to me, is often more problematic than the individual narratives themselves. You’d have a hard time convincing me that that kind of scrutiny and dismissal doesn’t get applied much more intensely to female writers and female readers than male writers and male readers.

And honestly, I’m not sure that those conventions are so much a problem — I think it’s doing teenagers (and especially teenage girls, who bear the brunt of our cultural concern-trolling) a pretty big disservice to suggest that, for example, reading Twilight is going to turn them all into brain-dead girl-zombies in abusive relationships (I grew up obsessed with Flowers in the Attic, which makes Twilight look like the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and I turned out pretty okay). If we want girls to be growing up self-reliant and making good decisions, that’s our job as a culture, not my job (or Stephenie Meyer’s job, or anybody’s job) as a writer.

I do think it’s a huge problem that publishers put so much weight and so much money behind the same kinds of stories — heteronormative romances starring white kids, written by white authors — but I think that’s a totally different conversation.

This interview with author Sarah McCarry is really great, particularly what she has to say about YA cliches.

it’s a hard knock life being a clown, projectile vomit happens, no clear winter look yet, I’m ok

Harriet Lee-Merrion

We have issues #4 and #5 of The Chapess! Grab a copy next time we’re tabling!

A feminist novel, then, is one that not only deals explicitly with the stories and thereby the lives of women; it is also a novel that illuminates some aspect of the female condition and/or offers some kind of imperative for change and/or makes a bold or unapologetic political statement in the best interests of women.

— Roxane Gay, "Theses on the Feminist Novel", Dissent Magazine Fall 2014


HA HA Gallery is very proud to announce that we will be hosting an extra special screening of The Punk Singer on Friday 7th November for Southampton Film Week.



Alongside the screening, we will be hosting a mini zine fair as a homage to the zine culture at the heart of the Riot Grrl movement. This will be open on Friday (for the screening), and will remain open for the rest of the weekend.

We wanna showcase some of the zines that are around right now, and we need your help!

Do you make a feminist zine? Or have done in the past? Do you know someone else who does? Alternatively, do you make a zine about punk or queer culture? If yes to any of the above, please please get in touch to tell us all about it.

The contributors we have confirmed so far are:

The 7th annual Southampton Film Week - 1st to 9th November 2014 


poem from the new order of st agatha’s translation of venezuelan poet miyo vestrini

It’s a…Jenny Holzer Sunday! Hope you all had the best weekends, Little Queenies, even if all you did was lie face down on the bed.

I want to insist that female pain is still news. It’s always news. We’ve never already heard it. It’s news when a girl loses her virginity or gets an ache in the rag and bone shop of her heart. It’s news when she starts getting her period or when she does something to make herself stop. It’s news if a woman feels terrible about herself in the world—​anywhere, anytime, ever. It’s news whenever a girl has an abortion because her abortion has never been had before and won’t ever be had again. I’m saying this as someone who’s had an abortion but hasn’t had anyone else’s.

Sure, some news is bigger news than other news. War is bigger news than a girl having mixed feelings about the way some guy slept with her and didn’t call. But I don’t believe in a finite economy of empathy; I happen to think that paying attention yields as much as it taxes. You learn to start seeing.

— Leslie Jamison

We want to believe that we can change the world, and change it right now! But we don’t always want to put the work in, the long and necessary and very disciplined work, to do it in a way that will stick. That’s the danger, to me. I worry that people, all excited by the transformative power of storytelling, won’t take the time to understand how those superbly transformative stories develop. The kinds of stories we’re talking about are filled with archetypal images and tropes that have been growing for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. The idea that you can sit down in a workshop one day and write a new story that has that kind of transformative power just doesn’t make any sense to me. Which doesn’t at all mean that people should stop trying, or stop writing stories! Stories are life. But we need to approach the process with reverence. As an apprenticeship. Stories are magical. They have to be seduced, cajoled. Stories are the basic constituents of the world – at least, of the way we perceive the world and our place in it. They deserve to be treated with respect.

— Sharon Blackie in Transforming Stories