​​​​​​​​WOJO Magazine    Issue #2

Welcome to the second issue of WOJO.

First, a word of thanks to our new readers who've emailed with supportive comments in response to the first issue of WOJO.  We were  incredibly excited to be launching the magazine and immensely proud of all the contributions, but it wasn't without some trepidation and fear that WOJO went live - pressing the publish button at the end of November was pretty scary - but the feedback has been extraordinary.  As some readers noted, death (the main theme of issue #1) isn't the most upbeat subject with which to launch a new publication but as Julian Barnes notes,"Though God may be dead, death is alive and well" and "is the only thing of which we can be 100% certain". Though informed by my own experience of grief, the experience of bereavement is shared by all of us at some point and brings us together in both suffering and compassion;  silence both in its wake, and in preparing for it, isn't always helpful in meeting its particular challenges.  

Some of you shared your own experiences with us, or commented on the helpfulness of reading other's accounts of what they went through.  For all of these messages as well as more in relation to the evolution of sexual desire over the lifetime of a relationship,  the environment, the recipes for delicious comfort food (we haven't yet been able to include a print button as one reader suggested, but we're working on it), our first Wojo online exhibition and all our stories and features, again - a heartfelt - thankyou.

Quite a few of you suggested that we have a letters page for feedback so, in this issue you can read some of the responses to Issue #1 and, again in response to your feedback, we've added another new page to archive previous issues.  If you missed  some of the articles in the first issue and want to catch up you'll find them on the archive page.   As yet, you can't read WOJO on a mobile but it is something we're working on.

We've also introduced a books page.

So, to Issue #2 : 'Good Girls and Sluts'

We began WOJO speaking about death and we are continuing our discussion of great themes by talking (again) about sex. Sex and death - the way we come in and the way we go out - two of our greatest, and our governing, drives and, arguably, fused.   

In this issue we're investigating our relationship with the word 'slut' and its connotations - especially in relation to the idea of what it is to be good.  We consider if it's possible or even desirable to reappropriate the word  which, unequivocally misogynistic, has been used for so long to supress and control female sexuality.

The first recorded use of the word 'slut' was in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales  (c1386) where it described a slovenly, untidy man,  but now it's defined almost exclusively in relation to the behaviour of a woman and mostly, specifically, about her inappropriate sexual behaviour.  

In my own article for the features page, I try to unpick the idea of the inappropriate, considering what it means in relation to female behaviour, and I talk to a designer and an artist whose views, experiences and work inform an understanding of what it is to be a good girl and/or a slut:  one runs a company, designing clothes and creating workshops that celebrate the body, the transformative and the magical;  the other speaks from the male perspective and as an artist interested in labels, in the ways we name and percieve things and in relation to the shocking statistic that, in the US,  46% of teenage women  experience 'slut shaming'.  

I'd  thought, that in a - happily - far more permissive world than the one in which I grew up, guilt in relation to female sexual desire, the control implied by the imperative to stay pure - whatever that means - for marriage (or at least for the man you'd marry), the ridiculous condemnation of, and contempt for, the girl who slept around (but not for the boy who did) - that these unfair and dangerous restrictions on the behaviour of women had all but disappeared, rightly ridiculed by new generations of more confident young women raised in the wake and waves of feminism.  

How can this small word still wield any power to shame and contain women?  And what can we do about it?

'Good Girls and Sluts; Celebrating the Trollop' is my response to these questions.

As well, in Issue #2, Wendy Cotton, in '
Looking after the environment – something else to be “good” about?' considers the application and usefulness of a trollop sensibility to a discussion of sustainability, and interviews Kate Gathercole, co-ordinator of the Herefordshire Green Network  (as well as being an activist, homeopath and singer).  Emma Rawlins, in The Body,  explores our different understandings of the meaning of 'slut',  and Gill Fothergill, in 'A Seasonal Feasting', rejects a simplistic definition of the sluttish to embrace the indulgent and nurturing pleasures of cooking a feast for late Spring and early Summer.  With delicious recipes that celebrate the flavours and ingredients of the season and include middle eastern subtly spiced, slow roasted lamb, smoked aubergine labneh, balsamic roast beetroot and asparagus, socca, harrissa, puy lentils with wild garlic and smoked paprika - as well as chocolate mousse and a perfectly moist and simple hazlenut cardamom cake.

For Issue#2 we're also introducing a new, regular Book Page:  In 'Pushing Boundaries, Book by Book' Helen Finch describes and discusses the books that have informed and developed her own understanding of women's issues and rights.  Natalie Ramus, our WOJO curator, in 'The Space Between/Within',  presents the work of women artists using and opening the space between their legs to open dialogues about the space women occupy.

In response to our themes for this issue, New writing includes poems by Sarah-Jane Crowson and a reimagining of the story of Eve, and Tottie Aarvold's photo's are informed by ideas of the multiple meanings of 'slut'.

Don't forget that, in each issue, we put out a call for new creative writing in response to the theme of the next one. The working title for Issue#3 is 'Home:  Making, Moving, Migration'.  Home making is a fundamental need; the nesting instinct is a profound one and home provides us with security and safety and love.  Except where it doesn't.  For so many people forced to flee from poverty, domestic abuse, danger, and war, in the hope of something better, or who are rehoused miles from all that is known, home is a more complex construct.  How do you begin to make a new home in an unrecognisable place of exile or promise?  What does home mean and how is it built?   

In addition, for Issue #3, I've been talking to artist Sally Payen about her practice and her project, 'The Fence and The Shadow'.  Exhibited most recently at the MAC in Birmingham, her drawings, paintings and film articulate the memory and the landscape of  the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp .  Focusing on the experience of the women who camped there, and informed by archives and interviews, her paintings powerfully evoke and present the ghostly traces of the site  - reappropriating iconic symbols of the landscape and the protest, the fences, nuclear silos, knitting etc. to create her own painterly vision that celebrates the creative activism of the women who camped at Greenham. She discusses how site and memory informs her work and her understanding of the women and their protest.  Leaving homes to protest peacefully and camp outside the nuclear base in Newbury, the women challenged traditional notions of the feminine and created a community of peaceful resistance that acted as a temporary home and a base from which to question ideas of safety and security for everyone.  Sally's work can be seen at  http://www.sallypayen.info/

Celia Johnson


In addition to our regular features, each issue of WOJO will include articles by invited guest contributors and though the WOJO team is made up of women, WOJO is not gender exclusive.  Though directed by women , we welcome contribution by, and celebrate, all genders.

If you would like to contribute a piece of creative writing in response to 'Home - Making, Moving and Migration' then please email contact@wojomagazine.com.  The WOJO team will select pieces from the entries.