Some might argue that for an almost all-woman team of a magazine run by a woman, sexual and emotional power plays, such as they may be for a group of introverted editors like ourselves, must play somewhat of a part… because where you have a female majority, “surely” that’s par for the course. But you would be wrong.
I think the reason the magazine has been as successful as it’s been, is because of its female-centric team, in a world which, as we are so often reminded, was once reserved solely for men. Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t an “anti-man” tirade — what would that even look like, anyway — I think men are fascinating creatures… as long as they’re not trying to pigeonhole women into box-sized categories.
Many of the essays included in this issue focus on that line of thought from Maria Amir’s essay on body image and the male gaze (‘Cutting through the Fat’), especially relevant in a tabloid culture whose bread and butter depends on the use of Photoshop (applied generously to women with “a little excess” either way), which has naturally contributed to a false sense of perfection for girls today. In her essay ‘Reclaiming the Narrative’, Sana Hussain writes of how Pakistani Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai’s female characters use sex to their advantage in subverting men, a thread both Ghausia Rashid Salam and Tom Nixon pick up in ‘How Faerietales Stole Female Sexuality’ with a dissection of how faerietales set the dialogue for the treatment of women represented in the arts, and ‘The Gaze of the Voyeur’ which moves the discussion towards cinema and the male gaze.
All that isn’t to say the modern woman lacks power — we’ve got women in all sorts of fields including those more traditionally ruled by men (hello, gamer gals) — but, as argued by Mahnoor Yawar in ‘Losing My Fandom’, the battle is still an uphill one felt acutely in a genre that should favor the marginalized and underdogs. Aaron Grierson rounds off the discussion with an essay on online dating and the emotional power plays at work for children of the next generation — is technology facilitating an absence of real emotional connection when “love” is just a Skype call away?
Continuing our literary focus on countries and following on from our well-received features on emerging British, Pakistani and Indian writers, we feature some truly fascinating literature from Lebanon in an issue guest edited by Marcia Lynx Qualey (who joins us from ArabLit, a daily blog on Arab literature). Included in this issue is fiction from Elias Khoury, Hassan Daoud, Hyam Yared, Jabbour Douaihy, Alexandra Chreiteh, Najwa Barakat and Iman Humaydan, with poetry from Bassam Hajjar, Etel Adnan, Abbas Beydoun and Wadih Saadeh, with a special introduction by Ms. Lynx Qualey and Yasmina Jraissati.
Power plays, both emotional and sexual, are what anchor this issue and I hope — in however small a way — that our words resonate within you and become the change this world so desperately needs.