Ericka Hart and Campbell Addy head up the new issue’s two covers with features on Studio Ghibli, Islam and feminism and women’s porn habits inside
Riposte is back with issue #8 and with still ten days until the launch day its already making waves. Earlier this week it announced sex educator, writer, performer, and cancer survivor Ericka Hart as one of its cover stars – photographed by Shaniqwa Jarvis – and the second shot by Campbell Addy to explore if feminism and Islam can be bedfellows.
Inside we’re treated to the feminist heroines of Studio Ghibli, Dana Lixenberg discusses her two-decade long photo project, real tips on how to stay focused from working women, what masculinity means in 2017, female porn habits and the women turning up our club culture. Below, Pender fills us in on the new issue and shares some unseen spreads ahead of its release party at London’s The Ace Hotel on May 21.
This issue is packed – a lot of subjects are covered. What was on your mind, day one, when you began #8’s process?
Danielle Pender: The content is always based on conversations I’ve had or the team have had in the lead up to putting the issue together so it very much reflects what’s going on in our collective mind. Things are really weird and messed up politically and socially at the minute and it feels like we’re all trying to work a lot of things out so this issue reflects that – you’ve got to throw in some fun as well though!
In issue #5 we featured an article on Nova Magazine and looking back at their archive issues was very much a turning point for me. Nova was a really radical women’s magazine in the 60s and 70s. Their design and photography were amazing and the topics they dealt with were huge but it was all done in this very cool and smart way. It really encouraged me to be a bit braver with our content, to not limit our readers or treat them like idiots who can only handle a couple of bigger topics per issue.
“More than anything the aim of both covers was to create something we were proud of and to represent women who aren’t normally profiled in the media never mind on the cover of a magazine” – Danielle Pender
Was there a particular theme you were tracing?
Danielle Pender: No. I think you can lose people if a theme is too explicit throughout an issue, it just becomes too restrictive. I like that element of surprise – having banging features one after another and you’re not sure what’s coming up next.
Also, I don’t think our readers devour each issue in one sitting. As we’re biannual I think people read a few things then they come back to it over a period of time so I don’t feel the pressure for it to make sense under one neat theme.
Tell us about Ericka Hart and the decision to put her on the cover – what do you hope people see, or learn from her story?
Danielle Pender: Oh my god Ericka! What an incredible human! She had a breast cancer at 28 and had to have a double mastectomy before she was 30 but she defies your ideas of what a cancer patient is.
I found out about her through her her speech at the Women’s March in January and I was completely mesmerised. She is so smart, so fearless and so inspiring – I want everyone to know about her. I want everyone to listen to her ideas on gender, sex, illness, race and politics because she’s the truth.
The covers might be seen as controversial to some people – was this a conscious decision?
Danielle Pender: More than anything the aim of both covers was to create something we were proud of and to represent women who aren’t normally profiled in the media never mind on the cover of a magazine.
Ericka talks about how when she was diagnosed with cancer at 28 she googled “double mastectomy” and she was faced with pictures of Angelina Jolie and a bunch of other white women. She didn’t see other women like her. Her whole agenda is to raise awareness and educate other black women about breast cancer and about her story so that they get checked out.
There’s only a very narrow narrative about women with breast cancer and Ericka is challenging that. We didn’t style her to manipulate the image, this is how she presents herself, on the shoot it was just her and Shaniqwa. I’m not interested in causing controversy for the sake of it to shift more magazines but if people find it controversial and have a conversation about it then I’m glad because it means it’s dealing with something that hasn’t been discussed enough.
With our text cover, I genuinely don’t know enough about Islam and I’ve never met a Muslim feminist so I was really interested in stepping out of my own bubble to feature someone who could write about that experience and profile their honest personal point of view. Again this hasn’t been done to cause controversy for the sake of it, I’m just interested in giving a platform to women whose voices aren’t normally heard in the mainstream media.
Women are the centrepoint of Riposte – however, it’s not women only. What decisions are made when bringing a male collaborator or artist on board?
Danielle Pender: We’ve had men involved in each issue from the start. It’s been quite an organic process, they normally know the women they’re shooting or we have a close relationship with them. Or it could be that we really respect their work and we’re looking to bring their aesthetic to the issue.
Men play an important part of our lives and I think that if we want to move the conversation about equality forward we need to include them.
If a dude picks up a copy of Riposte because of a guy he follows or knows is in it and he changes his perspective on something or gets a better understanding of a woman’s experience then that makes me very happy. My male friend comes to our events and always comments how it’s men who should be listening to our conversations. It goes back to that echo chamber issue and trying to reach people outside of our usual bubble.
“Oh my god Ericka! I want everyone to listen to her ideas on gender, sex, illness, race and politics because she’s the truth” – Danielle Pender
This is issue #8. How are you seeing, or have you seen, Riposte evolve?
Danielle Pender: We set out from the start to make this issue more visually striking and I feel #8 has definitely been a step up visually. I think we have a clearer idea of who we are and where we want to go as a magazine and as a platform – I want to affect people and make them think when they read Riposte otherwise what’s the point?
What are you most proud of from issue #8?
Danielle Pender: Having the guts to go with Ericka on the cover.