Jerry Barnett On Censorship

In our first issue, the anti-censorship campaigner Jerry Barnett writes

It would seem unfair to label the British prudes, yet , the establishment in Britain has always seemed to be particularly determined to keep us far from erotica, pornography, and other instances of sexual expression. For a nation that prides itself as a global beacon of liberty, the UK has a multitude of censorship laws; a disproportionate amount of which are dedicated to keeping us all ‘safe’ from sex.

He goes on to argue that, far from simply keeping the people from sex, such laws represent – and underpin – the UK government’s large and powerful censorship machine. Earlier this week, a had a brief chat with Jerry about the issues raised in his article.

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Condom Over Knife - Sasha Kurmaz - 2010 = Homonormativity

Richard McDonald on Homonormativity

In our first issue Richard McDonald asserts, simply, that

The ‘good life’ is a capitalist one.

From this position, he examines what happens when gay men are inducted into this good life through victories (marriage equality) and greater acceptance:

Gay (white, cis) men are now protected as members of the productive economy, able to buy into the dynamic of cruel optimism that lives in the image of the nuclear family: the stable job, the high wage, the relationship founded on marriage, the children born in wedlock, and so forth. This signals a momentous shift away from the radical rethinkings of kinship once so dear to gay men. As capitalism offers us a tool with which to carve out a space for ourselves in mainstream society, it tempts us to leave behind the radical aspects of gayness and queerness that it finds distasteful. When the dust settles, and your space is carved out, the template of sexual identity you have left is a very strict one. It represents a new wave of homosexual normality: the ‘homonormative’ template.

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Jean Dielman Chantal Akerman

We Miss You, Chantal

For our first issue, the poet Trisha Low wrote a wonderful, heartfelt piece on the passing of the great Chantal Akerman.

It’s 2015, not that it matters. I’m supposed to be working, but I’m distracted, my lover is supposed to meet me at home, but they’re a half hour late, messy haired and callous, because they like to make me wait. What’s the worst thing that could happen, I ask myself absently, like my Dad taught me to, years ago to calm myself. They could be dead. That wouldn’t be so bad, I think to myself, uneasily, but I know that’s not true. I check my phone because my hands feel too idle. My friend Liz has posted on tumblr – Chantal Akerman has died.

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Molly Parkin describes her shoot for LYRA

Molly Parkin had the best idea for her photo shoot in issue 1

… I could hurl numerous garments together, it is so easy for me, and I thought that I wanted to do something different. I don’t recoil in shock and horror when I take my make up off and after I cleaned my face. I could be like this happily in front of myself and in front of the lover or anybody. There is something moving about it, the kindness and connection in that bare face. So, let’s shoot that.

And here’s the woman herself talking about growing old, and the beauty this brings.

Photo: Molly Parkin by Anthony Lycett, who photographed Molly for us earlier this year. Check out his wonderful portraits.

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Ailsa Ogden education

Constance Watson on Sex Education

Earlier this year the education secretary Nicky Morgan announced that PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) would not become compulsory, leaving the choice to teach children about sex and sexual health, among other things, up to the whims of heads.

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Woman's Emporium

Sh! Woman’s Emporium

I used to live across the street from Sh! Woman’s Emporium in Hoxton, but I didn’t go in until I interviewed their founder, Ky.

I’m not sure why: partly, until recently, men needed to be accompanied by a woman. And it was too close. I don’t like having to say hello to someone every morning (a problem I had with Goodhood) because, often, I am in no mood to do so. And, I always figured, if I needed to buy something from them I’d rather the experience be somewhat alien finding the erotic, generally, to reside in the unknown. After a few weeks, it simply ceased to really exist for me. It was just another shop I walked past, like Goodhood or, latterly, Prohibition Vapes.

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Fighting Bricklayer - Masculinity

David James Fox On Aggressive Masculinity

Earlier this week, the artist Grayson Perry attacked Bear Grylls’ (that name!) for promoting a ‘useless’ brand of masculinity that’s ‘a hangover from a more violent age’. He argued that the sort of thing Bear (!) gets up to, hunting, killing, climbing et al, are useless in our modern age – well, obviously.

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Mauritshuis Borch - Woman Writing a Letter

Why I started LYRA

I don’t relate to the way the mainstream media portrays women, and it makes me angry. All the time. It’s the paradox on which they operate: selling unobtainable beauty while shunning women for being, well, women. Relying on an ugly sexualisation, using sex to sell, while leaving the issues that make many of us, women especially, uncomfortable around sexuality and nudity. Never spreading an understanding of sexuality because such an understanding liberates.

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We’ve launched our Kickstarter!

We launched our Kickstarter yesterday, and – obviously – celebrated last night. Well, to clarify, we all stayed up – at our respective laptops – until the small hours. Still, at least one of our team popped to the pub, for one drink.

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Roots Frida Kahlo - Hair

Luisa Fernanda on hair shaming

My London friends had no idea that my natural hair is curly and unruly.

My natural hair is curly, undisciplined and frizzy. I have straightened it since I was very young. I liked it more: it was silky, sophisticated and, somehow, people reacted differently to it. I was definitely a fan of my straighteners.

My mum was a straight hair advocate, and I followed her steps. We used to spend hours and lots of money at the hairdresser’s. I never questioned our moth-daughter tradition of despising all hairstyles that were not straight and silky. When I came to London I realised that African hair, braids and corns where considered ‘unprofessional’.

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