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Dear Reader,

Welcome to MVMENT Magazine’s fifth issue!

Traditionally, a fifth issue marks a milestone, and while we are incredibly grateful to have grown our team and readership base, for us every issue is a milestone. Whether by introducing new forms of content in photo collections or music, broadening our scope to include more journalistic and opinion pieces or publishing more frequently on The Blog, we are constantly redefining our best work.

As noted in my Issue 4 Letter from the Editor, we now publish additional content on the MVMENT Blog, updated every Wednesday with new pieces! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the blog’s past three weeks of content. We are also excited to introduce share buttons to each piece, whether on our blog or in an issue. Now, it’s easy to share your favorite pieces with your community via Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Tumblr, email and more. For issue pieces, the share icon appears after each piece and on the top and bottom row of blog posts.

MVMENT’s goal has always been to offer as many perspectives about the gender and sexuality issues faced by millions of students across the country as we can. No matter our position as individuals, there is always a point of view or experience we have not heard; our readers and the students who submit their stories every day remind us of that. Therefore, it is not our job to speak for the voiceless, rather it is to amplify the young people who have been fighting to be heard. Knowledge and engagement about these issues are crucial tools in helping combat the toxic culture many of our peers face every day. We hope you will take advantage of these new features to help broadcast those voices and continue conversations in your own communities and campuses!

With Issue Four, we unveiled “Life and the Search for Normal” (a multimedia piece containing audio), our first pioneers piece and The Blog. Since then, we have spent a lot of time behind the scenes working to expand our team, redesign elements of our site and diversify our content even more. This issue stands a proud testament to that work.

In that same vein, we will be expanding the roles on our board to include the newly formed videography, animation and music groups. For those that are interested in getting involved with us in any capacity or learning more about our operation, the board positions, submission categories and more, please email Gracie Williams at gwilliams@mvmentmag.com. We are looking for passionate, communicative and accountable students to help shift the conversation surrounding these issues and use their skills to impact readers across the country.

In order to make the process clearer and simpler, we are in the final stages of redesigning our Getting Involved page. This new Getting Involved page will be uploaded soon, so make sure you follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (all @mvmentmag) to stay updated!

We’ve also been listening to you all who submit comments on our Contact Us page. Those of you who tell us what you like and what we can improve, thank-you. Your suggestions have been noted and in line with our vision, we are working towards a big change for Issue 6 and our website! I won’t divulge anything else now, but more info is coming shortly.

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone that has read our issues, engaged with our pieces, submitted content, joined our team, followed us on social media and believed in our vision when it was just an idea. Five issues is just the start of what we hope will continue to grow into a movement all individuals can rally behind. The issues we talk about are not simple or easy, but they are crucial to our identity and it’s now the time that we, as students, take charge of the conversation.

Read. Engage. Discuss. The culture we live in can only survive in silence.

Yours,

Vinayak Kurup
Editor In Chief

Trigger Warning

The writing, imagery, and other forms of expression below may contain explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, relationship abuse and other forms of personal violation.

The Good, the Bad and the Body

opinion other

by Pepper Pieroni

Beauty

lit. art

by Sophie Ulin


A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight
A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense
A beautiful woman

The question that is on a constant loop within my mind: Am I beautiful? I get insecure about the size of my nose, but your nose represents your religion I hear a voice scream out. Or the fact that I am not nearly as skinny as I once was, but you are not 12 anymore, you have grown. I look to magazines and television and see women who are just beautiful, plain and simple, and I wonder why not me? "Shape." A vague word and yet when combined with the word beauty, we are prone to think skinny. After all, the media taught me, perhaps even before I could walk, that to be pretty was to be skinny and anything other than that was wrong. My features are supposed to be what makes me beautiful, that makes me attractive to someone else's eye, but what about my own. Beauty can be intelligence, or the way that he acts around his little sister, or the way her eyes light up at the mention of curly fries. Beauty is not just what pleases me visually but what pleases my mind.

No Longer a Ten

concept

by Kathryn Phillips

I grew up in a family where your identity as Trump supporter or Trump hater determined your popularity and compatibility during any sort of family gathering. I have spent 16 years filtering through friends to bring home for dinner to make sure my dad would have nothing bad to say about them once their feet were at the other side of our closed front door. I have grown to become impatient watching my own family use politics to justify the things they say to me and my friends. Their voices start to imitate that of our President Trump. My father’s own words: “She is a slut,” “Of course she is asking for it” and “Miss Piggy” are what led me to make this piece to show him and everyone else that there is someone on the other end of every single comment, joke or intentional insult you make and support.


We are More Than Housewives

lit. art

by Ally Satterfield

To the boy with the judging blue eyes,
Who felt the need to ask me why I dreamt
Of a 70th floor job with views of the skies
And not a worry in the world to pay my own rent.
Why did you say the only dream I should dream
Was one where I’d wear a pretty pink dress
And bake you pear crumble and serve it with ice cream
While keeping the children from making a mess?
Whoever did tell you that you could decide
What dreams I should dream and what goals I could make?
Because I wish to be more than a mother or bride,
And shame on you, because a wish is something that you cannot take.

To the boy who I met in the heart of the city,
Who said without guilt that my tits were too small.
What? Did you think you were clever and witty
When you looked at my body and said, “That’s all?”
For years after that I suffered the pain
Of push-up bras and hating my chest.
And in my mind every time I’d complain,
There was your voice, loud and at its best.
But now I am here to wish that you might
Have dealt with the sadness you’d become so used to.
Because the hatred you showed me that night
Was not at all for me, but for you.

To the man at the bar who stood up so straight,
I was flattered when you asked to buy me a drink.
But I was not there to find me a date;
I kindly said no—you understand I should think.
But I was wrong, to my utter despair;
You spent the night tailing my tracts.
And when I was with my friends dancing there,
Without warning nor prompt, you grabbed my ass.
I don’t care for your motive behind your action;
You should have listened when I politely declined.
Whether it complement or harassment,
Your vile act darkened my mind.

To the unnamed man who lived on the sidewalk,
Who still, to this day, makes me feel so afraid.
You screamed in my ear, which alone is a shock
But what you said haunts me each day.
You told me to hide my pussy and run
You said that you’d find me and “do me in good.”
“God, please get me away from this bum,”
I prayed as you reached to hold on to your wood.
And even though somehow I lost you
Amidst the crowd under the archway,
I wish that I’ll never see you go through
The streets where you still prowl and prey.

To the boy who I thought I knew so well
And trusted with every inch of my soul.
At 2 AM you left my hotel,
Because you’d already achieved your “goal.”
For weeks after that, I felt like I’d lost
A piece of myself that I needed so much.
To you I was simply garbage you’d tossed
Once you’d stolen my love through your touch.
But I am not an object you get
To take and control with how you see fit
I am a person—a loving brunette.
But to trust and love you now? I quit.

To all the men out in the world,
Who think it great fun to hurt any girl:
Don’t dare to tell her who she should be,
Don’t dare to tell her how she should look,
Don’t dare to touch her when she tells you no,
Don’t dare to cause her any great fear,
And don’t dare to steal the love she once had.
The love that so rightfully belonged to her.
Because we are more than objects and servants,
We are more.
We are more.

Red

survivor

"Jessica" by Sarah Libby

“Jessica” by Sarah Libby

The Uber driver reminds Sophie of the guy from the club.

And that’s what makes her tug on the car door handle, the rubber of car tires screeching to a halt as she propels herself out of the car, stumbling, red dress, red face, and temper, red hot.

The passenger door is left open in her wake.

“You can’t talk to us like that!” Sophie’s words slur together.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You trying to get yourself killed?” asks the man who leaves little to no leg room for the passenger sitting directly behind him but somehow manages to squeeze in plenty of his unwanted comments about how her and her friends are dressed.

“Get back in the car,” Alena hisses, reaching for Sophie’s wrist. She manages to clamp down onto Sophie’s forearm. The other two girls in the back, Alena’s friends, Becky and Veronica, are in various states of comatose.

“No,” Sophie says just low enough that the inconsiderate driver doesn’t hear, wrenching her arm out of her friend’s grasp. “He can’t treat us like that! It’s late, we just want to get back home, and he’s going to say shit about what we’re wearing? He’s being an ass.”

But her words sound like they’ve gone through the garbage disposal and rattled around a few times before being spit out.

The end result is something more like, “Hesh bein an assssss.”

The driver catches this last part, and registering that Sophie is talking about him, yells angrily, “Hey, you got a real mouth on you, you know that? It might do you some good to keep it shut.” His voice has a unique intonation, but it’s low and gravely, not at all smooth.

Alena’s hair, illuminated by the street lamp on the corner, casts a shadow across her face so that her eyes are dark when she grits her teeth and says, “Sophie. Fucking. Drop it.”

And Alena rarely curses, so Sophie knows she’s serious when she says this. But she doesn’t care. She’s sick of caring.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knows there is really no justifiable reason for the anger she’s directing towards the Uber driver besides him making a couple of lewd and judgmental comments. She should just drop it like Alena says. But she doesn’t want to drop it. Perhaps, it’s that this faceless man—because in all honesty Sophie really is having trouble discerning any type of memorable feature on it—is the culmination of all of things that have already disappointed her tonight.

Alena’s birthday celebration was a bust, as she knew it would be. Not for Alena, of course. Alena was always the star of the show. People hung on her every word. Alena, stop it! You’re too funny (cue tinkling laughter). They were attentive. Oh yes, Alena that’s amazing, good for you (cue more tinkling laughter). They were understanding. Oh, you don’t need that type of toxic energy in your life, Alena. Forget about that girl (yes, still more laughter, haha. Ha.) But for Sophie, it was just another instance that she had gone out because Alena, who was her best friend, had wanted Sophie there. So despite Sophie’s clear and continual dislocation with the rest of Alena’s friends and her tendency to disappear into the background rather than be a part of the gaggle of giggling girls, Sophie had ponied up, thrown on a tight red dress and the only pair of strappy heels she owned, and attempted to infiltrate the party scene.

So when she said that the Uber driver reminded her of the guy from the club, she had lied. Or perhaps she hadn’t exactly lied—that was a little harsh—but she hadn’t been specific enough. It was his hair. That stringy, greasy hair that was the trigger. The rest of the Uber driver’s anonymity made him the perfect character for her to finally release all her pent up anger, and blame, and disappointment, all which revolved around her best friend; her current state of intoxication was simply the enabler for it.

“NO.”

Sophie’s voice is at a near yell now. Everyone else is quiet, but Sophie is fed up with her own inability to articulate more than fifty-percent of what she means and everyone else’s inability to meet her halfway with some sort of attempt at understanding why. She slams the door to the shitty Honda civic with the busted air conditioner and banged up fender that reeks of a bad nicotine habit and stale McDonalds fries. Alena quickly pulls her limbs into her body to avoid one becoming collateral damage. All the while, the passenger side window remains open, and Sophie feels the stench follow her out the small opening and cling to her like a small child not wanting to be forgotten by her parent.

“Jesus, Sophie, calm down!” Alena says out the window. Her arms are still pulled to her chest as if for protection from Sophie’s rejection of her wishes.

The Uber driver decides to contribute his two cents.

“You got a real attitude problem, you little brat.”

“Please,” Alena now directs her gaze towards the Uber driver. “She’s drunk and doesn’t know what she’s doing. We’ll be fine the rest of the way, I promise.”

“No, I’ve had it with her attitude. Y’all need to get out. Right now.”

Alena pauses as if preparing to try and reason with the driver again. And this is when Sophie realizes the problems she is causing not just for herself and for this man, but also for her friend. She knows she’ll feel stupid later, but right now she revels in the momentary lapse of caring and allows herself to be swallowed up by the dark, gaping mouth of apathy. She turns around and starts walking down the street. She can hear Alena calling after her.

“Sophie.”

She doesn’t turn around.

“Sophie!”

Sophie keeps walking.

“Fine, I’m tired of your crap. You can call another Uber. I need to get Veronica and Becky back.”

Sophie hears the driver hit the gas.

Illustration by Summer Cushman

Illustration by Summer Cushman

Sophie is left on the street corner, the sound of the her slamming the car door, her name rolling off Alena’s tongue, and screech of rubber on pavement still echoing in the narrow street bouncing between the small houses that barely have enough room between them to breathe. She can see the moths in the air, drawn towards the light given off from the street lamp. She screams into the dark and stamps her foot on the ground like a small child, fists uncertain whether they want to be clenched at her sides or raised up in mercy with palms outstretched and elbows at her ears. But this noise, instead of lingering in the air that has turned heavy with the desire to precipitate, seems to get swallowed up by its oppressiveness.

“Asshole”, she mutters to herself as if she can combat the sadness pricking her eyes with more of that red hot anger that first propelled her out of the Honda. She doesn’t know if she’s talking about the Uber driver or her best friend. She walks to the streetlamp on the corner, drawn to it like she herself is a moth flitting through the air. Her ankle rolls, but she catches herself, the straps of her shoes digging into her ankles. She can feel a blister forming on the back on her left heel and wonders why she even bothered to wear them. She hates heels. Her anger begins cooling in the chill from the night air.

She reaches into the small cross body that wraps around the left side of her neck, draping across her chest before resting on her right hip. She finds her phone and pulls it out, the screen blurring in front of her eyes. The phone falls to the ground.

“Fuck me,” Sophie says.

Wiping the screen off on the bottom of her dress, she unlocks the phone again, looking for the Uber app. Hopefully, she’ll get a kinder driver. She puts in her destination the little two bedroom apartment she lives in with Alena, and drops the pickup pin to her location now. Your Uber will be here in approximately 9 minutes. The glowing screen stares back at her. Nine minutes is one of those times that can be really short, like if you’re in the shower. But alone, late at night on an empty street—those same nine minutes can feel like a hell of a long time. Sophie locks her phone and leans against the street lamp, probably not the safest place to be right now, but Sophie’s known to be a little careless. She lets her temple rest against the cool, hard metal. Dizzy, she closes her eyes hoping the time will pass by more quickly.

“Hey.”

Startled, Sophie jumps.

Relax. She thinks to herself.

A man materializes out of the darkness on the street corner. He looks familiar.

“You aren’t going to give me a hug goodbye?”

Sophie’s stomach turns. There’s something about the man that makes her uneasy.

“Come on sweetheart, I don’t bite.”

The hairs on her arms stand up at the pet name coupled with the sound of that voice, and that’s when she remembers.

“My Uber is almost here,” Sophie lies.

The man’s long finger grab her upper arm.

“Don’t be rude, I want a hug.” He pulls her towards him.

And she’s frozen, suddenly transported back to the club 50 minutes ago where she’d waited for Alena and her friends in the hallway outside the bathroom. She had had no desire to cram into a single stall bathroom with three other girls, one toilet, a mirror, and zero toilet paper when she didn’t even have to pee. Alena and her friends were bound to be in there for at least nine minutes. Sophie had thought this to herself, face illuminated by the red light of the basement when the guy slunk up to her out of the shadows. Like a feral cat, he had raked his long thin fingers through stringy chin length hair and cornered her. She could smell the cheap cologne on him and the stench of cigarettes and what seemed to be McDonald’s fries on his breath. Sweetheart, I haven’t seen you round here before… how old are you 21, 22? She’d lied and said 23, the age on her fake. So young, he’d held one of those long fingers up to her cheek and she’d recoiled from the unexpected touch. And when he’d asked her for her number and she had refused to give it to him—that was the second mistake; she could tell by the dangerous glint in his eye and the smile that looked more like a grimace than any smile she’d seen. But the third mistake was what did her in. The third mistake was being afraid. So afraid that, when he’d said, well the least you can do is give me a hug goodbye, she’d leaned in. And that’s when he pushed her up against the mirrored wall, the hallway oddly empty, and with her hands grabbing at the one he’d put around her throat. She couldn’t say anything then and she can’t say anything now. She regrets making fun of the girls in the Law and Order episodes or Lifetime movies for not fighting back because sometimes it’s not helplessness, weakness, or stupidity, but the paralytic agent of shock and fear that renders a person incapacitated, both in action and thought.

And then he had laughed just walked away smiling that ghastly smile laughed one more time. But her body had already gone limp and her eyes remained glossed over.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

“Sophie?”

She can see the red of the neon exit sign over head as it twitches in the dark.

“Sophie?”

The color of the inside of her eyelids is red.

“Excuse me?”

Sophie opens her eyes and lifts her temple from the cool metal of the lamp post. She pushes herself away from it so that her body is now upright and cups her elbows with opposites palms. Her vision finally focuses on a plump lady in her early 40’s with cropped brown hair and small circular glasses with a red wire frame. The lady is parked alongside the curb right in front of Sophie.

“Oh, yes, hi that’s me.” Sophie spots the “U” sticker on the car, indication that this is, in fact, an Uber. She opens the door to the small silver BMW and carefully ducks her head into the door.

“How was your night?” The woman asks innocently.

“Oh, it was fine.”

“Alright honey, well that’s good. You’re young. You need to be doing fun things at your age.”

Sophie nods and smiles at the lady in the rear view mirror. The woman turns the blues/jazz station she already has playing up enough to let the music give each their own privacy. And Sophie’s lip quivers. She puts her head against the cool glass as well as her right shoulder, which she didn’t realize had been hiked up towards her ears causing her neck to stiffen. This stiffness finally relaxes. Her jaw also releases. She reads several texts from Alena on her phone.

1:51 am. Are u okay?

1:53 am. Pick up your phone.

2:02 am. I have grilled cheese waiting for you when you get back. I’m sorry.

A single tear slips out and onto the black leather of the car’s seats. It finally starts to rain.

Flashbacks

lit. art survivor

Illustration by Sarah Libby

A million things I could be doing
'Stead of sitting here
Wishing I were somewhere else
I see it, blue and clear

I could run a dozen miles
On the road up to the lake
And learn a foreign language
Or cook the perfect steak

I could take a woman dancing
I could take a woman home
I could make a toast, or five or six
I could book a flight to Rome
I could drive and hit the city
I could see the sights and sounds
I could make a midnight donut run
And serenade the town
I could write the book that makes it big
Or finish a new song
I could build the perfect treehouse
I could find where I belong

I could while away the hour
With trusted, faithful friends
And swap long-winded clever tales
That never reached their end
And laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh
In hopes my heart would mend
Yet here I sit, worthless and broken
Flashing Back
Again

Robbed of life just one last time
Remembering Again


I wrote this poem the morning after my sister had gone through another weekend of crippling insecurity and depression, a recurring theme in the months after her assault. Survivors don’t just survive an attack. They survive every day.

False Reporting and Its Effect on Survivor Credibility

investigative

by Ava Harrington

For every big-name sexual assault case​ comes a news article, report or overheard conversation about how the victim (or, in many cases, victims) is lying. ​We hear the retelling of stories such as the case of Heidi K., a female teacher who reported a male colleague of sexually assaulting her, only to be convicted of a false allegation five years later—after her alleged assault served a 5 year prison sentence. ​We accept these articles and reports as​ plausible; maybe the victim is seeking attention, or got confused, or holds a grudge against the person they are accusing. And it’s true that the majority of false reports of sexual assault are motivated by what researchers describe as “emotional gain,” such as revenge or attention. But our perception of false reports is vastly overblown. A 1994 study concluded that the false reporting rate was as high as 40 percent; however, this study only drew conclusions from police opinion, not cases that underwent sufficient trial. More rigorous and methodical research shows the more accepted rate of 2-8 percent.

How does this overestimation of false reporting affect the credibility of real sexual assault survivors? The fear of false reporting certainly damages survivor credibility, as shown by a 2008 study, in which participants were exposed to articles about the 2003 Kobe Bryant assault case. Of 156 articles studied by professionals, 65 mentioned or perpetuated one or more rape myths (i.e., “she is lying”). Those who had read an article that perpetuated rape myths were more likely to agree with the statement that Kobe was innocent and that the female victim was lying as opposed to those who read articles that did not mention such myths. Clearly, articles and conversations that perpetuate the frequent “they’re lying” claim are harming society’s ability to believe and understand victims of rape and sexual assault.

Weak credibility for survivors has damaging consequences. Many victims are often interrogated and treated as suspects instead of being treated as what they are: victims. Slip ups common for many rape victims​—avoiding eye contact, small inconsistencies and lapses of memory in reports and a lack of willingness to report—can suggest to investigators that real, traumatized victims are falsely accusing the perpetrator. In actuality, these behaviors are all signs of trauma and societal shame that rape victims tend to face.

The perpetuation of the myth of frequent false accusations gives our favorite celebrities and athletes a way out. Society imagines criminals as no-good, dirty and scary. It’s hard to believe that the icons we know and love can be anything but picture perfect, and yet time and time again we’ve seen that sometimes, they aren’t. By fixating on the slim potential of a false allegation, we allow ourselves to deny victims of sexual assault the credibility they deserve.

One study by Mumsnet) shows just that. Of over 1,600 respondents, one in ten stated they had been raped and more than a third reported having been sexually assaulted. And yet 83 percent of victims did not report to the police. Why not? More than half of all respondents said that they would not or had not reported due to embarrassment or shame. Over two-thirds said that the media was unsympathetic to women who report rape. This statistic is particularly astounding because it directly shows how debating and denying reports of sexual assault and rape affect both survivors and people who have not experienced assault.

False reporting makes victims feel hopeless, as though they will not be believed by anyone, even police. In fact, results from the same Mumsnet study show that more than half of respondents feel the legal system is unsympathetic. And this isn’t just an attitude or perception; according to the Department of Justice, only 18 percent of all reported rapes lead to a conviction. This mistrust drives down sexual assault and rape reports, resulting in a severe lack of justice and that astounding 80 percent of victims who don’t report.

So if the fear of false reporting is so harmful, what can we do better? Of course, better understanding from police and investigators is vital to uncovering the truth, no matter what that may be. Credibility should not be determined based on the victim’s behavior and personal judgement but by a thorough investigation. A program called "Start by Believing" conducts training for officers to believe victims who come forward and then investigate and is most definitely a step in the right direction.

We should not be putting effort into debating whether an allegation is real or not. Julie Bindel, co-founder of reform group Justice For Women, begs the question, "​Why are more people not up in arms about the huge numbers of false assertions of men’s innocence; false allegations of women’s complicity; and false allegations of how women deserve or enjoy non-consensual sex?"​ Yes, false allegations can be life-ruining. But our fear of these allegations is doing even more damage, and we must better understand false allegations and their prevalence in society in order to have adequate justice for assault and rape survivors. False reporting makes real victims feel hopeless and helpless and silences those who deserve justice.

Dress Made of Needles

music

by Pepper Pieroni

Press play and scroll down to read.


I adapted this song from “Sorry Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea,” a fictitious short story by Helen Oyeyemi. In her story, a pop star named Matyas Füst is being accused of sexual assault. He posts a public “apology” by way of a song titled “Dress Made of Needles.” Although the song is never quoted in Oyeyemi’s story, it is described by other supporting characters as less of an apology and more of a personal statement about feeling victimized.

While the girl’s pain is mentioned briefly, the primary focus of the song (which is only referred to in the piece) is about how the victim had intentionally planned to hurt Füst with these accusations. Presumably, Füst titles the song “Dress Made of Needles” because he assumes that she [the victim] intended to destroy him with the truth. By coming out with public accusations, Füst believes she ruined his career on purpose.

I was originally challenged to compose this piece for a friend who was putting on a production of “Sorry Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” since the song itself was never written in the piece. I struggled most with writing from Füst’s perspective where he victimizes himself while being the perpetrator.

While at some level, I can understand how these accusations would hurt someone in Füst’s position, it is vital to treat accusations appropriately and seriously. By only highlighting his own pain, Füst neglects to consider how his actions affected the victim and casts her aside as unimportant.

It is important to realize who the victim is. This fictional story can give us a glimpse into the mind of not the victim but the attacker. By bringing this song to life, I hope to show the dichotomy of accusation, and how an attacker might wrongly think themselves the victim. Voices are being silenced and like Füst attempts to do in Oyeyemi’s fictitious story, many times victims are blamed rather than the perpetrators.

Lyrics

She roamed the streets
in a dress made of needles
She had tried pulling them out

But it came with a sting
That was unsettling
And she left them with much doubt

So people came
from far and wide
Seeking a way to hide them

But they felt a sting
and grew their wings
leaving without the answer

She roamed the streets
in a dress made of needles
She roamed the streets
with a heart made of sting

She met a foul man
with an awful plan
intending to drive them in deeper

He didn’t mind the pain
for they both felt a chain
and two is better than one

They both bled and bled
until he was dead
His bones were made of metal

So the people pierced him
with the ones that pierced her
And he cried and cried and cried

She roamed the streets
in a dress made of needles
She roamed the streets
with a heart made of sting

Mascara

by Tess Lyons

“Mascara” focuses on breaking the gender expectations of getting ready. Stereotypically, women are portrayed as taking forever while the men sit back and wait. I wanted to switch the roles here, showing the man taking the longer time to get ready while the woman relaxes in the back smoking a cigarette. In addition, women are stereotyped to be more insecure about themselves and therefore spending more time in the front of the mirror trying to fix their flaws. Here, the dynamic is switched, with the man holding up a second mirror in order to control every part of his appearance. With its harsh lighting, I want this piece to be reminiscent of iconic 1950’s photography, showing how the issues with gender roles persist to this day.

Princess Destructo

by JaQ Lai

I left my home in Hong Kong for boarding school after finishing 7th grade, and ever since then the contents of my room have been suspended in that era of my life. As I was going through some of my old toys, it struck me how much they represented and reinforced the idea of boy-ness. For this shoot, I decided to play with my toys. I went through some of my sister’s old things as well, and tried to mix mine and hers in as many ways as possible; princesses rode monster trucks and robot lizards joined tea parties. This is one of my favorites.

You Choose

by Ally Satterfield

Slowly but surely, people around me are breaking apart fashion roles, specifically those limited by gender and sexual orientation. Not long ago it was only acceptable for a woman to wear a black pencil skirt, white button-up top, a black blazer, and black pointed stilettos to the workplace. But, last week, I—inspired by these “role-redefiners” around me— wore a navy blue wrap-around jumpsuit and men’s dress shoes to an interview and guess what? I’ve never felt more comfortable and confident. So, this photo is my “cheers” to those people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, who have boldly torn down the fashion roles appointed to them and worn whatever they pleased, whenever they pleased.

Fluid Elegance

by Kathryn Phillips

“Fluid Elegance” highlights the overwhelming backlash guys tend to receive when they break the mold they were taught to fit in. As a photographer in search of models, most of the guys I asked rejected my offer because they were afraid of being labeled as gay, queer, girly, or wimp. It’s as if modeling and creating art are things a guy should feel shame for. The goal of this piece is to point out that breaking gender roles isn’t just about expression through makeup and clothing, but also about pushing the barriers of what we are taught to do and not to do.

Crème Brûlée the Queen

pioneers

by Margot Becker

Gay people are just beginning to gain acceptance. Trans people have just come into the spotlight. Drag artists, though, come from a different echelon of LGBT society. The following is an interview with MVMENT staff artist and drag queen, Erik VonSosen who, when he’s on-stage, goes by the name Crème Brûlée the Queen. Erik is seventeen years old and a resident of the bay area in northern California. Next year he’ll be a senior in high-school, and he loves hair, makeup, acting and all things drag.

Q: For people who don’t know, what is drag?

A: I think a lot of people mistake it as just dressing up as a woman, but there’s also drag kings who dress up as men. Really it’s limitless because the boundaries of what a man or a woman should look like are endless. It’s essentially putting on a character. There’s a RuPaul quote that I really like: “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” Because really when you pare it down to the simplest thing, we’ve been doing drag since the beginning of time, just playing a different character and embodying a different person while still hanging on to your original persona.

Q: When did you start doing drag? How did you get started?

A: I was sixteen is when I first started, and I didn’t really get too serious about it until this spring when I went to my school’s prom in drag. After I got into makeup, I got bored of just doing normal stuff, so I started getting more into drag queen makeup and changing my face into something else; that escalated into getting my first wig, and then starting really getting into making my costumes and eventually performing this summer. I never really knew what it was per say, but it really reflected everything I loved.

Erik going to his prom in drag

Erik going to his prom in drag.
Courtesy of Erik VonSosen

Q: Is there a personality component to playing a drag character?

A: I did a whole bunch of musical theatre as a kid and I really liked performing and putting on different characters, so essentially, my drag character was a composite of all the things I really like about myself. I, at times, can be really quiet and hard to talk to, but I feel like when im in drag I’m really outgoing and it’s just a reflection of the things about myself that I’m really proud of.

Q: For those people who don’t understand drag, and for those who think of it as wanting to be somebody else, is that the case?

A: I’m just a gay male, but people get drag confused with being transgender. Even when I started drag, I kept questioning myself, asking: am I transgender, do I want to be a woman? But what I found out is that what I really love is the transformative aspect of it: at the end of the day being able to take the makeup off and wipe everything away and go back to being who I was before.

Q: So how did you find your drag persona? You’re Crème Brûlée the Queen, how did you find that?

A: Growing up I used to play a lot of different video games…and I was always sort of entranced by the female protagonist and female villain, so I’d always pick a female character. A lot of my modern inspiration comes from video game characters, that sort of strength in a fantasy world, but also I get a lot of inspiration from contemporary and historical fashion.

Still a student, Erik gets creative and makes a lot of his own outfits. Here, he's wearing a dress made from Trader Joe's bags.

Still a student, Erik gets creative and makes a lot of his own outfits. Here, he’s wearing a dress made from Trader Joe’s bags.

Q: What about the name?

A: I spent a really long time trying to figure out what my name was. I didn’t even find it until this June, when I was in Paris on vacation. I’m really into food, and one of my favorite things to eat, growing up, that I hardly ever had but still would eat every once in a while was crème brûlée…So I sort of thought of that as the dream, the unattainable dessert, if you will. And so when I was in France it sort of clicked with me that that would be a really interesting name. I really went forward with that because it’s sort of a high fashion, I wanted it to stand out, I didn’t want it to be a normal person’s name, but it has a sort of campiness to it that I like. It’s not taken too seriously because that’s the basis for my drag: not taking yourself too seriously.

Q: As I understand it, this summer you performed on-stage for the first time. Tell us more about the experience.

A: So [my first] event was an all ages, family friendly drag show…it was meant to show all of these mormon people what drag really is, because a lot of these people really aren’t exposed to drag, and I think sometimes the media can distort it into something that it really isn’t. I think the drag queen who put it on really wanted it to be an introduction for all of these people who haven’t experienced drag, and since I’m only 17, that was a huge opportunity for me because I can’t really perform in bars or clubs like most drag queens do. So I ended up planning my trip to Utah around that event and I invited a lot of my friends to go. That was my first time performing on stage.

Q: This was put on in front of people who didn’t know you, who didn’t really know what drag was, so what kind of feedback have you gotten?

A: I’ve had pretty much all positive experiences. I think when people don’t know anyone who does drag its very different, but once you get to know someone on a personal level it becomes so much more empathetic…There’s so much effort and work and emotion that goes into it, so I think once people see a queen perform, or see someone who does drag it really changes their outlook on it. I wouldn’t say I got any feedback that’s outwardly negative except for a couple of hate comments on instagram. When I went to my prom in drag I got a couple of looks with straight guys feeling kinda uncomfortable or kinda weird, but it wasn’t anything that was outwardly negative. I’m just so open with everything that I do…that I think people are pretty much used to it by now.

Erik as Crème Brûlée the Queen after performing onstage for the first time with Rob Zimmerman, co-creator of Dads Not Daddies).

Erik as Crème Brûlée the Queen after performing onstage for the first time with Rob Zimmerman, co-creator of Dads Not Daddies.

Q: What do you say to people that are uncomfortable with drag, or who think it’s unnatural?

A: I study a lot of history that goes back into the origins of drag. It really starts in the ancient Greek theatre, when they needed people to play parts and so they had men dressing up as women, and it continued going on through history. And so when you think back, drag has been happening for centuries, it’s not a new thing. When people start to understand it and really look into it, they start to figure that out, but I think that the thing that most helps people is honestly just knowing me and having conversations with me. I don’t have to explain anything specific to them, just seeing how much effort and work I put into what I do and seeing how much it means to me, without any words it really reflects onto people and they see how important this is to me and how much it means to me.

Q: Being in a mormon family, what was the result of your parents learning about your sexuality as a gay man and your passion for drag?

A: It definitely took a little bit of time to figure out because it’s something that the mormon church doesn’t like to talk about even with ongoing pressures for them to accept members of their church who identify as gay. Although I don’t go to church anymore or really identify with the religion, I still have a lot of friends who do, and for my parents, it took a little while. When I first came out, my family was like, “yeah, okay. That’s part of you, but we don’t really have to talk about it.” Like “thats just a small part of you”. But as my mom did more research, she started really getting involved with this community of mormon moms who are parents of LGBT children, and she really had to go through this whole metamorphosis of like, okay, I can still love my kid, my kid can still have a future, and I can disagree with these beliefs and still have my religion. My parents have come a long way. My dad has always been pretty chill with it, just because he’s a convert to the mormon church and didn’t grow up with it. For my mom, it took a while to get everything figured out because she comes from generations of mormon families, but now it’s incredible seeing how far they’ve come. My mom is now the vice-president of Mama Dragons, an organization providing support and knowledge for mormon parents with LGBTQ+ children. They help families around the world, so it’s been really inspirational seeing how my family has adapted and still love me unconditionally despite their religious beliefs.

Passionate, courageous and empowered, Erik VonSosen's drag career is just beginning.

Passionate, courageous and empowered, Erik VonSosen’s drag career is just beginning.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you had been bullied when you were younger, and drag is very public, has drag helped you to accept yourself? Helped to boost your confidence?

A: [Drag has] been probably one of the biggest confidence boosters in my life. I was bullied as I grew up for being effeminate and for having a high voice and for liking traditional girl things, and…the empowering thing is that now I can sort of channel that femininity that I was bullied my whole life for and channel it into something I love, which is super empowering. I find that I have so much more confidence when I’m in drag…and as I continued pursuing it, I began to learn how to transfer that confidence that I have in drag to me, also, out of drag, and learn how to have self confidence. For the longest time I struggled so much with self-esteem and thinking there was something wrong with me, and thinking that I wasn’t going to be loved because I grew up in this religion, and as I grew up, and I think drag has been the biggest catalyst for me learning who I am is okay, and what I do, although it may not be accepted by some, I still have the support of so many people…there are individuals in people’s lives that help them figure out who they are, and if I can be that person in someone else’s life, that’s the biggest motivator in everything I do.

To stay connected with Erik, follow him on Instagram @cremebrueleethequeen!

* Our interview with Erik has been shortened and condensed for the Issue. The full interview will be posted on the Blog shortly!

She is Made from Clay

lit. art other opinion

by Juno Williams*

Illustration by Brooke Ripley


ha⠂ram
/ˈherəm/

adjective

forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law


I’ve started to come to terms with the fact that almost everything I do will be a statement considering my skin. Considering my beliefs. Considering the fact I’ll always be unapologetic about the space I take up.

How could I? I was made with so much care. My body and mind were fashioned with beauty in mind.

I am made from the clay pulled from riverbanks. I am birthed from rushing waters and filled to the brim with tanzanite.

I am made from the sand of ancient beaches, with the ocean loving the shore gently. I am birthed with salt coating the inside of my lungs. Each breath I take is filled with a lullaby.

I am made from the earth, and birthed just like the trees. Just like the flowers. I am born filled with a pulsing heat.

Allah breathes life into me. Allah breathes power into me. Allah introduces me to my mother.

How could I ever be apologetic about the way I live my life if I was made with so much love?

Love that pours out of me in torrents. The earth springs full of life with all the love I put into it.

I am not haram.

Being queer and Muslim is just life for me. In my body they coexist. I am pansexual. I am Muslim. Neither contradicts nor comes before the other.

I came to God around the same time I found the word pansexual. I would say it was a coincidence if I did not believe in fate.

I am not haram.

I think the reason it took me so long to firmly solidify myself in Islam was the way others wanted me to be Muslim.

I was supposed to fear Allah. I was not allowed room to fail, or to fall off a little. I was to be solid in my faith, in my interactions, in my body.

People try to make me believe that being queer is to fail, and to fall off a little. It is not being solid in my faith, in my interactions, in my body.

This is not true and it doesn’t take me long to figure that out.

How could I be made with so much love if I was not loved in return?

Love is being allowed to fail, as long as I was trying to succeed. It is being allowed to fall off a little, as long as I was determined to get back up again. It is being allowed to be fluid in my faith, in my interactions, in my body.

I am not haram.

My God is made of love. Therefore, I am full of it, born from it, fashioned after it.

I am not haram.

*Due to the author’s personal safety concerns, a pseudonym is used to ensure anonymity.

Empowerment

lit. art

by Sophie Ulin

Illustration by Summer Cushman

I stood in the streets
Screaming
Crying
Loving
It was colder than LA
Two pairs of socks
Two jackets
Two pairs of pants
Shivering,
Not just from the chill but rather the
Recognition that the world was a much scarier place than before
That we were no longer safe
Protected
I have always acknowledged my privilege,
It is a part of me,
And–for possibly the first time–
I was terrified.

That morning we found out, many months ago,

All I remember are tears,
Enough to flood the school that I was imprisoned in
Enough to force me to stand up
Stand up and leave a classroom where He acted like nothing was wrong

Two months later,
I was shivering
Away from Los Angeles
My voice united with my moms
Two souls begging to be heard
“We will not go away
Welcome to your first day”
Shouting so as not to be silenced
And suddenly, the cold was no longer overwhelming
No, instead
Women from every walk of life
Heated up my soul
Liberated me
Freed me
Even if only for an hour
I have never felt love like that
The kind that enters your heart
And travels through your bloodstream
Until every part of you is consumed
The kind that you are sure
Without a doubt
Will never leave you
This love was defiant
This love was loud
With each step,
I lost myself into something more vital
Vital for me
For you
For them
I lost myself in what I wanted to be
But for the next week,
Month,
Year,
Lifetime,
I became a part of something monumental