Queen Liv caught up with the self-proclaimed Angry Feminist duo Selma and Chloe, the kick-ass women behind CHEER UP LOVE zine. Here’s what they had to say.
Hi girls, first of all can you introduce yourselves to our lovely readers?
S: I’m Selma. I live and love in London but I’m a Brummie girl at heart. I do marketing at a contemporary arts organisation connecting powerful & political artists’ works to audiences. Right now I’m very into vegan cooking and I’m planning a 3 month trip with some incredible humans I call friends.
C: I’m Chloe. I’m a Bradford girl now living in London by way of nearly 10 years in Newcastle upon Tyne, and I currently work in arts development, raising money for the UK’s leading children’s theatre. I love art, music, food and making things. I used to work with Selma, and that’s how we met.
Now tell us a bit about CHEER UP LOVE.
S: CHEER UP LOVE is a zine for angry feminists, now into its second issue. It’s a platform for voices and personal experiences that aren’t heard enough or at all. It’s a temporary space for feminists dealing with the endless fight that is asserting women’s rights in a patriarchal society. A space for some self-care, but also filled with stuff to challenge and provoke too!
C: CHEER UP LOVE takes a wide view of feminism, and how it can dismantle all systems of oppression. Feminism that focuses only on the needs of one narrow group of people is useless, so as well as talking about topics that are easily identified as ‘women’s issues’ we also talk about wider political and social justice issues, with an understanding that true feminism works to protect the most vulnerable women in society, not just those who look and sound like us.
We love hearing about female collaboration. How did you come to work together on Cheer Up Love?
S: Chloe and I found ourselves screaming at the world together for the umpteenth time (I think it was at gal-dem’s V&A takeover) and this time the lofty promise that ‘we’ll do something about it’ and act, carried more weight. It was real. We’d had enough basically. Chloe came to me with an idea…
Chloe and I found ourselves screaming at the world together for the umpteenth time… We’d had enough basically.
C: Yeah the gal-dem takeover was amazing and gave us such a boost. We listened to an artist called Lotte Anderson talk about her process and she said that as creative women we needed to “make more, share more and care less” – that phrase flipped a switch.
For me the timing was profound, I had ended last year feeling so down. Since I was small I’ve felt this desperate need for the world to be a kind and fair place, and last year (Brexit, Trump et al) tore that dream into tiny pieces and stirred up so much rage and fear and sadness. Alongside that I was having a tough time personally and I realised I needed to talk to someone. I saw an NHS counsellor for six weeks at the start of this year and she changed my life.
Through our conversations she helped me understand the validity of my feelings, and see that rather than trying to suppress them, you need to acknowledge them and then decide what to do with them. That’s when I had the idea for CHEER UP LOVE.
With Lotte’s mantra going round in my mind I told Selma that I wanted to make a space to collectively acknowledge the rage and fear and sadness that so many of us have, and help channel them into something positive and productive.
S: After a bout of CBT I shared some of the techniques I’d learnt with Chloe, and although we didn’t want this to be explicit in CHEER UP LOVE, a lot of that ‘creating a space for anger’ comes from elements of these techniques.
Because we love to bring the love, tell us what you love about working with each other
S: Chloe’s passion for fighting injustice is an unquenchable and contagious fire. I love her hope (I can be quite a cynic) and her get-up-and-go attitude. She doesn’t just talk the talk. It’s super motivating. Oh, and she can take the piss out of herself, which is important.
C: Selma’s boundless enthusiasm, compassion and love for people is inspiring, and she’s incredibly supportive, which makes taking risks and conquering fears so much easier. She’s also the perfect balance of silly and serious; she cracks me up on the regular and she gets shit done!
When is the next CHEER UP LOVE Zine released? What should we expect, and where can we get our hands on a copy?
S: We’ve just got Issue #2 out and it can be yours for a fiver (with postage) via cheeruplove.co.uk. And what can you expect? Well it’s got words about Grenfell, cultural appropriation, self-confidence, sexual harassment, feminist literature & mindfulness.
C: And recipes for feeding your friends, colouring in, and motivational mini-artworks to remind you to be kind to yourself.
I see you’re accepting submissions. What are you looking for and how should our readers pitch to you if they want to get involved?
S: We love ideas! Anyone can pitch us their idea (by emailing email@example.com). But we’d like to remind people that this is ultimately a platform for people who identify mostly as a woman – as we know that women, especially women of colour, don’t have as many platforms for their voice to be heard.
We’d also love our writers to be fans too! So definitely try and read a copy before submitting to see what we’re about. And what we’re looking for… personal, political, empowering, intersectional words!
C: Naturally we’ve been talking about CHEER UP LOVE to our friends and we’re lucky to know some incredible women so a lot of what we’re working on currently has developed organically and collaboratively through that sharing process, which is brilliant. We’ve also been talking about the zine to people we don’t know, and had some really affirming conversations.
True feminism works to protect the most vulnerable women in society, not just those who look and sound like us.
Perhaps tellingly though, there have been a handful of men who’ve immediately insisted that they have a great idea and we should publish them, without asking any questions about how we curate or edit the work, or even where they can get a copy of the zine to read for themselves. It would be funny if it wasn’t so irritating…
That approach is never going to work and it’s why we will always prioritise underrepresented female/femme/non-binary voices.
You say on your website that Cheer Up Love is about channeling the anger we feel about patriarchal bullshit into something productive and positive. Let’s open the can of worms that is the ongoing sexual abuse scandal unfolding in the media – possibly the pinnacle of patriarchal bullshit.
Most of us have our own #MeToo story, and will have felt a lot of feelings reading the stories of others on social media and in the news. How have you felt about the revelations? And is there anything you’re doing to try to turn those feelings into something positive?
S: The revelations didn’t surprise me. Yes sexual assault is a violent and trauma-inducing manifestation of patriarchy but it is by combating the insidious, subtle bedrock which legitimises, supports and silences systemic abuse, that we can hope to stop this from happening as often as it does.
Also, men, please educate yourselves about how damaging #NotAllMen is (cousins with #AllLivesMatter and other such bullshit). A colleague read a piece in our latest issue which touches on all of this (written by my brave and eloquent friend) and said to me ‘you know what, it’s so right – this is why we need feminism, and this is why we need CHEER UP LOVE!’. Our zine (I hope) is part of this channelling!
C: I completely agree. I think the #MeToo campaign was important for finally getting things talked about in the mainstream media, and the more we can tear down the walls of silence that patriarchy builds, the better. But we need to ask ourselves why the world only seems to pay this much attention when it’s privileged straight white women calling it out.
These are conversations that have been going on for YEARS, and many women are still not in a position to be able to talk freely about their experiences for fear of losing everything.
These are conversations that have been going on for YEARS, and many women are still not in a position to be able to talk freely about their experiences for fear of losing everything.We can’t just pick and choose the hashtag we want to get behind, this stuff is all linked, and until women are freed from racism and poverty, as well as sexism, none of us are free.
Reading the news and being active on social media these days can be emotionally exhausting. What do you do when you need a break from it all? And is there anywhere you turn to find out about the good things happening in the world?
C: I tend to find it hard to switch off completely, but walking my dog and climbing hills really helps, as do music and podcasts. I love Josie Long’s Short Cuts podcast for energising me with curiosity and wonder, and 2 Dope Queens for making me LOL on the bus.
S: There are good things happening in the world? News to me… No but seriously, where are those stories? That’s why I love fiction! Although having said that I’ve mostly been reading non-fiction, most recently Vagina by Naomi Wolf and The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla. Like Chloe I find it hard to switch off. Social media is a drug! I watch lots of TV – including some trashy stuff I would almost feel guilty for if it wasn’t such a good brain chill.
Lastly, are there any other great female collaborations you’d like to give a shout out to?
C: We recently went to an event by artist collective Bedfellows (@bedfellowsresearch) – three brilliant women working together on a sex re-education research project. They make provocative and playful work that involves its audience as active participants, and we left inspired and empowered.
S: I want to give a shout out to Glass Ceiling (@GlassCGame) – a feminist board game devised and created by two of my friends Sarah and Catherine. Another great example of female collaboration, and the game they’ve created is fun and informative (I’ve played!).