‘The Beaver’ brings feminist perspective to campus
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 02:07
There is a new magazine circulating campus — it’s bright pink, filled with student submissions and centered on feminism. It’s known as “The Beaver,” and the first issue came out near the end of the spring semester.
Kelley Johnson, a senior majoring in creative writing and the co-founder of the magazine, which is a free and independently published booklet, has been spending time and money to get it off the ground.
While she is still working on getting the second issue out to students by the second week of the fall semester, Kelley spoke to The Oracle about her hopes for expanding readership of “The Beaver.”
The Oracle: What inspired you to create the feminist magazine, “The Beaver?”
Kelley Johnson: I wanted something that was really submission based so that I could include everything I received in the issue. But I got a few 10-page papers and I had to say, ‘Sorry guys. I’m broke, so I can’t print your 10-page paper.’
I also wanted something that was central to USF experiences, both good and bad. Like recently, I was sitting in class and my professor asked students to write their favorite words on one side of the board and their least favorite on the other side.
A girl raised her hand and said, ‘I hate the word vagina.’ I was just like ‘Excuse me, you can’t put ‘vagina’ on the hate side of the board just because you don’t like the way it sounds.’
I want people to write in about their own experiences and how they defended feminism. Or what their definition of feminism is, and whether or not it creates strife in their life or makes their life better.
Opinions are what I want; they can take the form of poetry, short stories, articles or anything. I want it to be blunt and honest.
O: Do you take other feminist blogs or magazines into consideration when writing for “The Beaver”?
KJ: I have a few favorites… Have you ever been to Taco Bus? Well, Taco Bus has green salsa and red salsa. And I like to mix them together because the green one is kind of spicy and the red one is too sweet.
So one blog I read, called“Feministing” is like the green salsa. It’s very spicy and it has the possibility of scaring people away. And then there is another blog — “Jezebel” which is like pop culture issues from a feminist perspective, and it’s like red salsa. I feel like I need a mixture of both of them in “The Beaver,” and I need to not scare everyone away.
It’s sad because it’s the one thing that holds me back — I can’t scare everyone away, because feminism is a scary word to a lot of people, even though it’s basically just a surname for equality.
O: How have others helped you?
KJ: I have a friend and current classmate, Danielle Leppo, who has agreed to help me with marketing.
Danielle told me that “The Beaver” would work better as a web-based zine, which I didn’t like at first. I wanted it to be kitschy and on paper. So we agreed to do a paper issue at the beginning of every semester, but keep a WordPress going of “The Beaver” between print issues.
Bills pass and things happen in a split second, so with just a print zine, it would take months to talk about something that happened yesterday.
O: While “The Beaver” in its entirety will be about feminism, will there be a different theme or specific idea for every issue to focus on?
KJ: I’m wavering still because it’s in the beginning of it and I’m just surprised the “The Beaver” has picked up at all.
I still want it to be submission based and I don’t want to turn anyone’s work away, unless of course it’s a 10-page paper. But if I could get a theme going and everyone was on board with it, then that would be awesome.
For instance, one could focus on respecting your body. Like a section on “Getting your bikini ready” and the article would say ‘Just put on a bikini and you’re ready. You don’t need to do anything to yourself.’
O: So it will also be body positive?
KJ: Yes, body positive and also (transgender) inclusive. One thing about feminism is a lot of times it excludes trans- anything. I want to be inclusive of all races, all genders and just people in general.
O: Does that mean that male submissions are encouraged?
KJ: There was one poem I got from a guy. I was actually looking a lot for men submissions. But they kept asking ‘What do I submit to a feminist magazine?’ And it’s like, ‘You submit whatever the hell you want.’ The boy that submitted had an interesting poem though.
It’s just difficult for some men to want to be included in the feminist realm because there is such a disconnect sometimes. But I know there is a middle ground. There is a red-green salsa mix somewhere.