marmite kitteh

Issue 17 AKA the ‘love it or hate it’ issue

There has been some recent discussion over the front cover of  Zine’17. CZ should have addressed it earlier in this blog, we’re doing it now. There is no opportunity to make comments on this post. Radically we’re banning comments as everything that could possibly have been said has been said. If you want to make comments please do it on the many facebook threads (not the most measured and reliable of forums, but certainly a popular place to voice your opinions) or email us.

So CZ published as it’s front cover an illustration by a local Derby artist depicting a naked female figure with a squid head, wearing laced up stilettos with a crucifix vagina sitting on top of a tank with fish swimming in amongst plantlife. The crucifix vagina had fluid coming out of it filling up the tank.

Now we’re not stupid and the zine has a reputation for ruffling feathers, we wern’t however quite prepared for the nuclear assault on this illustration. The debate has been raging for over a month now and we’ve made our position abundantly clear wherever it’s been challenged, here it is again for clarity: “The Zine will not censor any submission. The Zine publishes whatever is submitted whether we agree with it or not. We encourage free expression, non censorship and debate. We encourage everyone to do the same”

We think that an image which has caused such a lively debate over art and the nature of offence is a positive thing. People have talked, discussed, debated, shouted, formed friendships and fallen out over this (we’re definitely not advocating the shouting and falling out, a measured reasonable display of adult debate would have contributed less to high blood pressure, but you get what you’re given). How often does an opportunity to get right into the nuts and bolts of debate come along? It’s exciting to be part of a debate that actually questions and allows you to examine  deeply held beliefs. And to truly take into account other people’s point of view which will possibly challenge your own is a valuable part of continually learning and developing as a person.

A few points that the Zine would like to address:

This illustration is sexist – Ahh this has been the most hotly argued point. The people involved in publishing this image do not believe it’s violent or oppressive against women. We’ve read and discussed a lot of the arguments and have come back to the same conclusion, it’s not sexist. The figure in the image isn’t being subjugated, we’ve stared at it long and hard, sorry, but we just can’t see how the figure promotes rape, abuse or violence against women. Non of the arguments we’ve read have held up either. We take the point that it’s a very stylised westernised ‘perfect’ female image, would it have been better to make the breasts smaller, or the hips wider or the skin flabbier or the legs hairy or the body older?

The legs are spread so that makes the image ‘porn’ and therefore sexist – Women are obliged to spread their legs when giving birth, riding a bike or going to the toilet, not just when having sex. It’s basic physiology.

Children could see it – We all, young and old, are subjected to sexualised, violent, sickening, horrifying images every day on television, the internet, in newspapers, magazines, adverts in the street, on billboards, in shop windows, on t shirts etc etc. Why is it so important to shelter children from confrontational images? What is the right age to allow a child to view an image you believe to be ‘adult’. Children are smart cookies, discuss these things with children to help them to understand a wider world view, you never know their opinion might teach you something.

What actually happens when children see images that are ‘adult’ in nature? Do their eyes burn out of their heads? Do they immediately only view adults as one dimensional sexual creatures? No. For the most part when this argument has surfaced at least one parent has stated that they are happy for their child to see this image and they are much more worried about the bombardment of early sexualisation of young people in advertising on their children, than a piece of imagined work on the front cover of a magazine.

For the most part the Zine is distributed in pubs and bars across the city. These venues are 18+, unless people take the Zine home and show it to children it’s unlikely to fall into their hands.

This illustration will trigger post traumatic stress disorder in people who have been abused –This is a really tough one mainly because there is an infinite number of factors which can trigger PTSD. Like the offended point, what will be fine one day will send someone into a spiral on another day. And no two people are the same; two abused people will react differently to the same stimulus. If we considered every factor that might trigger PTSD we wouldn’t print the Zine at all for fear of upsetting abused/traumatised people.

Most importantly the image wasn’t printed to deliberately cause offence or upset. If this is has happened to a survivor of abusive act/s then the act and the upset caused is tragic and we sincerely hope that you are able to move through this time in your life to a happier, safer place very soon.

People will be offended by this image – Images that offend are everywhere. For the most part we don’t bat an eyelid, we accept it as the everyday. Some of these everyday images will offend you, some wont. Some will offend your next door neighbour or your parents or your friends and you’ll think “wow what’s your problem?” and vice versa. This offence might depend on a number of factors that are utterly subjective and changeable. Try examining if something actually offends you or you think it should; and why this is. More importantly why are you worried about what other people think? What do you think? If you really don’t like the cover, tear it off and mail it to someone you don’t like/ burn it/ throw it away. There are 39 other pages to read and enjoy, don’t fall at the first hurdle, turn the page, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something else in the Zine that you think is awesome.

This illustration should be on the inside not on the font cover – excuse the flippancy, but it’s not; it’s on the front cover, too late now, deal with it.

So we hope that this has cleared a few things up, (if not; it’s back to facebook for you, please spout your daily mail opinions there). And as it’s been a month now can we please draw a line under the matter.

One final word C*ty Z*ne truly loves every single one of us crazy humans for our likes dislikes, quirks, opinions, idiosyncrasies and we look forward to publishing all of them. See you at issue 18, don’t worry about the cover it’s sorted, we’ve really nailed it this time 😉