Gender Equality

Q&A with Soofiya Andry, creator of #PeriodZine

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London-based graphic designer Soofiya Andry just launched an Indiegogo campaign for an intersectional feminist magazine about periods, with artist submissions, written pieces, drawings and more from a variety of people who menstruate. The mag is a not-for-profit project, so the raised money will solely cover printing costs and get the zines "bleeding out into the world." As soon as we heard about Soofiya, we had to reach out and ask her all about it.

What made you want to take a stand and create a publication dedicated to periods?

I talk about periods all the time. I text my friends long, often unnecessary updates on my uterus lining every month. We chat about how heavy or light our flows over a pub lunch, and often these conversations are funny, witty and relatable. It seemed a pity that only people on adjacent tables having a Sunday roast were the only ones to ever hear to them. So I decided to change that. I wanted to share our period stories, the horror of a surprise period, the feeling of not having a tampon; there's a real solidarity in that that's rarely spoken about it.

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Why is period solidarity important, especially now?

Period solidarity: my favourite kind. It’s important because often the narrative surrounding menstruation is shameful and treated like something to hide. I wanted to readdress that. The shared stories, some are heartwarming, some are sad, some are hilarious: but they're all talking. They're all standing in solidarity and sharing something personal. You slowly begin to realise there is no 'normal' period, and that's only really achieved through talking and sharing to help shift the narrative.

Also I wanted to show this solidarity isn't just for cisgender women, it's for everyone who menstruates. Often there's a lot of exclusionary language around the subject, like phrases such as 'lady time' or 'women's problems.' It's often very alienating. This zine and project aims to counter that. Inclusivity and intersectionality have been at the heart of this project. (One of the reasons I love the gender neutrality of Clue.)

Has there been any negative responses or backlash to all the period talk?

Hmm…I don't think so? It's an interesting question, but no. Everyone's loved the zine and been amazingly supportive in contributing to the fundraiser and sending submissions for the zine.

I'm lucky that most, if not all, of the people in my life and my friends are nothing short of brilliant. We're all quite progressive, conformity busting and little bit left of centre. We live social anarchy as a way of life. ✊ The only time I've seen a hesitation, is when my mum raised an eyebrow as the postman delivered 100 'bleeding vag' badges on our doorstep this Monday. I'm giving them away to supporters …but I'm also definitely her favourite child, so nothing to worry about there.

We're all quite progressive, conformity busting and little bit left of centre. We live social anarchy as a way of life.

What type of content can we expect to see in the zine? How deep will you delve into politics?

I've been really lucky and privileged to get a range of content from submissions so far for Issue 1. I've had stuff from non-binary people who menstruate, trans people who menstruate, one of my friend's mum even sent something about the menopause. It's been diverse and I want the next issue to be even more diverse. I want to keep it quite organic and not make any divisions just yet between the politics and art. I want to use art as a vehicle for socio-political discussions.

What's up with the gender divide in graphic design and how are you combating it?

I'm a graphic designer by day, vigilante conformity-busting feminist by night. This period project is one of a few projects I've done addressing taboo and issues. For me, addressing social issues and using design as a vehicle to do so is very important. The design industry itself is very male dominated. In design education there are 70% women and 30% men, but in the industry it's the reverse. What happens? I worked on a project which looked at the subject called the 'Open Quote Initiative.' I want to carry on addressing social taboos and non-conformity through my work, whether it's zines, books, apps, you name it.

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Who do you hope reads the magazine? Do you hope people who don't menstruate will read it?

Everyone! There's some really good and witty stories in there which I think everyone will enjoy. But primarily is a zine by people who menstruate for people menstruate.

Paint the town red. Share #PeriodZine and the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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