lip lit: womankind
When I heard that there was another magazine on the market for women, I was sceptical. Why add to the celebrity-driven nonsense already being circulated on newsagents’ shelves?
Womankind, however, doesn’t compare.
Simone de Beauvoir’s face graces the front cover, painted by thousands of butterflies. Flicking through the pages, I was caught by an article by editor Antonia Case: ‘Why we need more time, and less clothes’.
Finally, this was my kind of magazine! I was sold, completely and utterly.
Launched at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in July this year, Womankind describes itself as ‘Australia’s first women’s magazine to shun the things that the mainstream media tell us make for a good life.’
Its first issue, entitled simply ‘Papillon’ (French for ‘butterfly’), is a 132-page advertisement-free journal of thoughts, articles, reflections and research on life, art, beauty, literature and philosophy. And butterflies.
There’s a full-page photographical spreads of Parisian sidewalks, advice how to attract butterflies to your garden, and a lesson on minimalism. Not to mention book and documentary reviews and theatre and musical recommendations.
Case somehow commissioned a guest appearance from author DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little) who writes reflections on life and death. There’s also a well-seasoned peppering of thought-provoking quotations from radical thinkers like Simone de Beauvoir, Noam Chomsky, and Charles Dickens.
All of these delightful thoughts, images, articles, words, poems and much more beg the question: why has it taken publishers so long to cater for such a market? An educated, leftist point of view surely isn’t niche.
Womankind is for women of any age, background, culture, sexuality, lifestyle. It is an immensely public celebration of life whilst inspiring private reflection; like reading someone’s journal, we stumble across tiny snippets of wisdom and contemplation. Some are profound and leave us lost in thought for days and some are fleeting, like butterflies landing on your nose.
But, in spite of the issue’s title and eye-catching front cover design, butterflies are not the essential focus of every article. In fact, it would be almost impossible to accurately define what content the magazine covers.
In the end, this magazine is perhaps best understood by what it is not. It is not predictable nor does it have an equivalent; it fits no genre because it has established a new genre. It is everything that mainstream is not, and it discusses and analyses that which mainstream media would never attempt.
A success and tribute to the complexity and indefinable nature of the female spirit and mind, it is this critical analysis which also makes this magazine and its content so distinctive. No longer are there articles which simply present information and facts. This magazine intelligently and unapologetically calls into question our lifestyles, mentalities and everything we accept as ‘normal’ in a refreshing and philosophical way.
And I’m not the only one that thinks so – Womankind was the top selling publication at the Byron Bay Writers Festival bookshop, and is in the top five at subscription website iSuscribe’s women’s category. This mag is taking off.
Womankind is more than a breath of fresh air: it is the sensation of reaching a mountaintop after hiking for a day and feeling a blast of cool air. It brings a smile to your face when you realise how long you’ve been waiting for it.