CJLO Women+ Collective Launch a New Feminist Zine

The Scorn that Keeps on Burning: An Outlet for People to Share and Explore their Feelings of Frustration

“Scorned” is CJLO Women’s+ Collective’s first feminist zine. Photo Elodie Lima
Hanorah, a contributor of “Scorned”, performing her work at the VAV gallery. Photo Elodie Lima

“It’s imperfectly perfect,” said CJLO’s program director Allison O’Reilly about CJLO Women’s+ Collective’s zine, Scorned. “It has some mistakes and blemishes, but that’s what makes it beautiful.”

The CJLO Women’s+ Collective launched the first volume of their feminist zine this month. The event was held at the student-run Visual Arts Visuels Gallery on René Lévesque Blvd. last week. A cosy group of roughly 50 to 60 people showed up to buy a copy and listen to a reading of some contributors.

“Everyone deserves a platform, and all art is valid in one way or another,” O’Reilly said.

Aside from its appropriate name, the zine has raw graphics, which is also sometimes soft and pleasant to look at. The material in terms of text is dense, and the subject matters addressed are extremely intimate.

“Being a feminist in the world, there’s a lot of not so great stuff that happens,” explained Sophia Hirst Barsoski, whose two poems were published in the zine. “It’s not always appropriate to discuss feminism, and our concerns aren’t always understood.”

Contributor Zoe Baranek reading her published work from the zine. Photo Elodie Lima

For Hirst Barsoski, Scorned is an opportunity to share personal thoughts—the kind that most would gladly leave safely sealed inside their journals—without the downside of people attacking you because they don’t share your perspective. She’s not only featured in the publication, she also came up with its name.

“My relationship to the word is about the baggage you carry around from all these micro-aggressions and encounters that collect until they start weighing you down,” Hirst Barsoski continued.

“Everyone deserves a platform, and all art is valid in one way or another.” ⎼ Allison O’Reilly

The first issue of Scorned focuses heavily on addressing frustrations related to situations in which women feel misunderstood, patronized, or vilified by a partner, upon their demonstrating a sense of agency.

Hirst Barsoski’s poems, like many of the pieces printed in the publication, talk about the struggles she faced in past romantic relationships.“The Vagina Cleans Itself,” Hirst Barsoski’s first submission, was a short retelling of a conversation she had with a former lover, who had suggested she use Canesten cream—medication usually prescribed to women suffering a yeast infection—because he thought that “she should clean up down there.”

“He was basically shaming my body in this weird, twisted way,” recalled Hirst Barsoski. She said she is happy that her piece is able to relay her insulting experience with a comedic outlook on “the absurd things boys will say to you.”

Many at the event see the potential for this new outlet, and say it could be a great tool for the CJLO Women’s+ Collective to continue providing platforms for underrepresented voices.

“Sometimes you look at the media, and tell yourself ‘that’s cool, but I can’t tell my story,’” explained Bree Rockbrand, a film studies and art history student at Concordia, who attended the launch. “But then, you can put your story in this piece of paper and distribute it to as many people a possible.”

The Scorned team offers uncensored honesty with the publication. “We talk about feminism in waves,” said Mackenzie Smedmor, coordinator for the CJLO Women+ Collective.

“But it’s a conversation we have to have continuously. These are things that make us angry and that we don’t see in the media.”

Check out the CJLO Women+ Collective at http://www.cjlo.com/shows/femme-am