Upon hearing the word feminism, which of the following do you instinctually do? Cringe at the thought of it? Or does it inspire you to burn your bra and shout “down with men”?
A clear understanding of feminism is necessary before we condemn it, and that is where Yiara Magazine comes in. Preparing to launch its second annual publication, Yiara is a student-run, feminist art history magazine that began at Concordia in 2012. It attempts to offer a critical analysis of the involvement of women in the art world.
The confusing limbo between loving or hating feminism is where many individuals fall. The Concordian met with the Editor-in-Chief of Yiara, Tess Juan-Gaillot, and Assistant Editor Steph Hornstein in order to discuss the ideas behind their feminist magazine and the necessity of feminism in our day and age.
Hornstein begins the conversation with a quote from British suffragist, Rebecca West:
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
“It’s a very simple idea,” said Hornstein, “I think that at the base … most people in our day and age are feminists, even if they don’t necessarily proclaim themselves as feminists.”
“[Feminism is] about dialogue; it’s about talking to people … it is all about inclusion rather than exclusion,” said Juan-Gaillot. “In art history … it is a tool to really critique and see things differently. [In fact] it’s opening up a dialogue that we think we’ve had, but we haven’t.”
The notion that radical feminism is a thing of the past is perhaps a false one.
“I think there is still a very present need for feminism in our society even though there’s this illusion that in our North American society certain levels have been achieved, which is true but should not overshadow the fact that … there’s still a huge need for it,” said Hornstein.
The existence of a feminist art history magazine that began only two years ago may just be proof of this need.
“You have art being produced by people in your area right now that fits this subject matter. They didn’t create it for Yiara, they already have it. So there are already these issues being talked about,” explains Juan-Gaillot. “It is here, we just need to show that it’s here.”
Many people feel reluctant to express opinions about feminism because of the stereotypes.
“The danger is that a lot of people regard feminism as something that’s very angry and you don’t feel open towards something that you feel is aggressive,” explained Hornstein. “There’s lots of ways to fit into feminism and being radical and being activist is just one of those ways. There’re lots of little choices that you can make that are in themselves very feminist and they don’t have to scream and hold banners.”
Her best recommendation for those who are on the fence about feminism is: “Read Yiara!”
And chill out. Juan-Gaillot maintains that it’s important to just relax and not to base an opinion of feminism on the stereotypes that we know. “Take your time,” she said, “and see them as people first.”
Hornstein follows up, “The first step is realizing there’s a conversation to have and to not be afraid.” It seems that the only way to understand something more is to not roll your eyes and write it off because as Hornstein stated, “that’s where the danger lies.”
Yiara is holding its first ever exhibit at Café l’Artere from Feb. 3 – 24, with a Vernissage on Feb. 5. The exhibit will feature feminist works featured in the magazine, live music, poetry readings, food and non-alcoholic drinks. Visit yiaramagazine.com for more information.