Lips puckers up for sexuality

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March 25, 2008

5:40 AM

Who would have guessed that a homespun, black-and-white Xeroxed cover would open up to pages of unabashed explorations of sex? Lips — succulent, moist and quite pink — just might be the new badge of female sexuality. The zine for females by females, coming out in mid-April, celebrates female sexuality on campus while encouraging discussion of the subject. Lips hopes to raise brows, break boundaries and push the envelope of taboo subjects such as, well, sex.

p. The magazine, which made its debut last year, was created for the committee action project as an introduction to a women’s studies course. The project, headed by creators Annie Brown ’10, Sarah Ruth Goldman ’09, Ashley Poling ’09 and Janet King ’10, led to the conception of the magazine.

p. “The zine is about creating open space to express women’s sexuality without judgment,” Brown said.

p. The magazine — which Brown and Goldman refer to as a zine, or a smaller circulation of self-published work — features an eclectic, unabashed female point of view on sex through art, poetry, photography and essays submitted anonymously by female students here at the College.

p. The magazine also dismisses the coy approach of conventional cosmopolitan sexuality, which is often perceived as the mainstream form of submissive female sexuality.

p. “This is anti-Cosmo,” Brown said. “Girls look at Cosmo and see how to please their boyfriends. It’s not about little, embarrassing stories. Instead, [the girls in our magazine are] screaming it.”
Many women continue to discuss sex in a sensitive manner, treating it like a taboo subject. The magazine’s goal is to surpass that sensitivity by generating frank discussions about sex.

p. “[We’re] just getting people to talk about sex,” Brown said. “It battles the stigma against sex. It’s just honest talk. We’re not in it for shock value.”

p. The inspiration, according to the creators, is the women on campus.

p. “The zine is made by women who aren’t afraid to do this. The women’s studies department itself involves activism, and for the women’s studies department to encourage this is good,” Brown said.

p. The modest, scrapbook appeal of the cover conveys the publication’s approach as a non-commercial foray into female sexuality.

p. “I really loved the cover,” Goldman said. “My personal favorite part of the magazine is the really cool artwork. It’s really powerful.”

p. Brown and Goldman both felt that the magazine’s approach to sexuality explores a large variety of issues.

p. “A lot of the work expresses the desire for the male body,” Brown said.

p. Goldman expressed similar sentiments, stating that each submission took a slightly different approach to sexuality.
“Right next to the man-on-woman section, you see the woman-on-woman section, which lays out the similarities,” Goldman said. “This is like a “Post Secret.” For example, there’s one piece where a girl questions her sexuality because she likes oral sex. Women get a chance to formulate their thoughts and see them published.”

p. The magazine, though controversial, has been well-received on the campus.

p. “No hate messages here. I have not gotten any bad response from the students. It’s funny. It’s hard to be mad at something that’s funny,” Goldman said.

p. The publication has faced problems in finding funding. The College administration has been resistant to granting publication rights.

p. “There’s a lot of caution by the administration sponsoring it, especially after the Sex Workers’ Art Show — problems with the school administration funding is the only resistance we get,” Goldman said.

p. The exclusive, females only section of the publication, according to Brown, should not be seen as discriminative.

p. “There’s a joy of seeing female sexuality,” Brown said. “Men have always had that space. There’s a need more for women to talk about sex more so than men need it. The criterion is that it is from a female point of view.”

p. The magazine has greatly increased its size since last year, a fact that is a source of encouragement to the creators.
“We have a group of 10 to 20 working on this zine, as opposed to the four last year. Men are also allowed at our meetings. We’re definitely ahead of the game as opposed to last year.”

p. Lips has gained status as an official club, which further demonstrates the campus-wide growth of open discussions on female expression.

p. The zine stays true to its roots — a simple, modest forum about sexuality.

p. “We don’t look like the DoG Street Journal,” Brown said. “There’s a place for glossy and a place for other things. We don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on this, so we stick to the black and white form.”

p. The magazine, which has a 20-page limit, is accepting submissions until April and is also open for submissions from students outside of the College.

p. Lips has also gained status as an official club, which further demonstrates the campus-wide growth of open discussions on female expression.

p. Brown enthusiastically explained: “We have our own WM server — wm.lips.wm.edu.”

p. Commenting on the zine’s appeal, Brown said that the publication stays true to its roots — a simple, modest forum about sexuality.

p. “This is why people appreciate it — we don’t take it too seriously,” Brown said. “Sex is meant to be fun and hilarious and interesting. Why should we go to shows if we can talk about it?”

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