You should never underestimate a teenage girl. Ridiculed for liking One Direction, laughed at for taking an interest in politics all whilst experiencing the high school sexism many teenagers have had to endure for generations before. Therefore it was only a matter of time before they fought back. Constance Pope is a teenager, living in Brighton, who one day decided to make her own feminist magazine. Paracetamol is already on its second issue, with the first one selling out fast. On issues ranging from the Tampon Tax to slut shaming, it’s written by young women to inspire people to change the world. A mixture of articles and photos, some of which are of our lovely Brighton, Paracetamol really captures the passion behind what they are trying to do. Bjournal spoke to Constance about how she came about creating the magazine, and her views on some issues facing society today.
What made you decide to create the magazine?
I was bored of hearing comments about how ‘women should stay in the kitchen’ and other sly, sexist jokes. I was bored of people my age, people younger and even people older not actually realising that what they were saying was sexist and harmful. And I was bored of adults not understanding that what these children were doing and saying was negatively influencing others. The more it happened the more people in control, for example teachers, were turning a blind eye.
How did you go about making it?
I’ve always enjoyed starting projects and learning as I go, I googled what programmes were good to use and to be honest I just went with the first one that was free and looked reliable! My technique worked and I’m still using Bookwright to edit issue 3.
Where did you find contributors?
I used Instagram.What I discovered was that teenagers don’t have many ways to get their arguments heard and their points across. Social media is the most common use but with that you’re usually making a point to the people who already agree with you – you’re probably following each other for that shared view, shared interest already. People were enthusiastic to contribute art, poems and articles as it was a means of getting heard, those opportunities don’t come about that often and I was equally as happy to provide that platform for their benefit as well as mine.
Did you let the contributors write whatever they wanted?
Pretty much, most of the time the people who asked if they could write an article were fairly sure on what they wanted to write it on. I made sure that no one else had chosen to write about the same thing as another person and that it was relevant and interesting but all of the contributors are so aware of current issues I often found myself googling their proposed topic so I could brush up on my own knowledge!
How did you come up with the content?
It was almost entirely down the the contributors, sometimes I would guide them towards one idea over another but really the credit of the article goes to them.
Do you think it’s important that teenagers learn about feminism/women’s issues?
Incredibly. Even in 2015 women are globally and economically oppressed. It is thought that 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their life, equally as important is that 1 in 6 men will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. No, the figures aren’t the same and yes women do experience more abuse however that does not mean men’s suffering and abuse should go unnoticed. Part of educating about women’s rights is educating about mens. Feminism is equality, not women bettering men and the sooner that that can be taught, the sooner we can start to become equal.
Do you think schools are doing enough to educate young people about these issues?
I can’t speak for every school, however, I do think that in recent years with the help of campaigns such as He for She and people like Malala the teachings of women and feminism have improved. In my school we aren’t taught specifically about what feminism is but we learn about issues surrounding it.
What would you change about the education system to achieve this?
I’m actually part of a campaign, PSHE Matters (http://pshematters.wix.com/pshe-matters) which is aiming to make PSHE compulsory in state schools in England and Wales. We also are campaigning for the syllabus to be updated and as a result of the syllabus update we would like to see more taught about women and feminism.
Do you think society does enough for young feminists?
No. There is so much campaigning and activism that could take place if the right opportunities are there and in my opinion the government is not there to support that – maybe they are scared of how powerful our generation is. More needs to be done to remove the stigma from feminism.
Has the feedback been widely positive?
The feedback has been awesome! I couldn’t have achieved anything without the incredible contributions from other young people. When I proposed starting a feminist magazine to my friends they were very enthusiastic and keen to help but I think we were all surprised as to how well the public received it. I think it shows that there is a gap in the market for young people to express themselves, social media can be brilliant for sharing views however having your words in print is something else altogether.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing about Brighton?
Anything goes! There’s this sort of unspoken ‘no judging’ rule. You have to be open-minded and a little crazy, you never know what’s around the corner!