Interview: Staunch

Image credit: Daniel Gayne

TCS spoke with Emily Robb, the founder and editor, of the new feminist zine Staunch which launches on International Women's Day this Wednesday 8 March.

What is Staunch?

Staunch is a new Cambridge-based feminist zine. By zine we really just mean a small circulation magazine, but the format is one closely associated with grassroots feminist and social justice movements which seemed fitting. We’re aiming to include a broad range of content - from comment pieces, interviews, poetry and prose, to art and photography - all promoting and contributing to an intersectional feminist message.

What motivated you to start Staunch?

When I was in New York this summer I got my hands on a copy of Ms., a liberal feminist magazine set up by Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes during second-wave feminism. In its heyday it was revolutionary: a magazine run by women for women. Back home, I could find nothing similar on the shelves: Ms. was not distributed in the UK and we seemed to have no equivalent. The vision of the magazine had been to inspire female led journalism and content, but forty odd years later I was struggling to see this in practice. The journalism in Cambridge is largely exciting and powerful, but there’s still an imbalance between female and male editors. Staunch fell out of this realisation. I felt like there was a gap in the student market for a publication whose focus point was feminism, equality and representation.

How has the start-up process been?
It’s been incredibly encouraging. I started by tentatively searching for contributors and editors on Facebook and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We now have a brilliant team of editors who have worked tirelessly on the first issue and a huge range of content by contributors from Cambridge and elsewhere.

How is Staunch different to other magazines and groups in Cambridge?
I think the standout feature of Staunch is how creative it is. We’ve tried to impose as few boundaries as possible on the content: no word limits have been set and the ideas are entirely the contributors’ own. This lack of restriction has yielded exciting results - the range of content is broad and experimental as well as visually satisfying. We’re trying to break free of conventional journalistic narratives; comment pieces might be written with absolute conviction but alternatively they could also be just a series of musings - someone working through their thoughts and sharing these with our readers. This sort of freedom is, for me, the most exciting thing about Staunch and I hope that comes across to our readers.

What do you hope Staunch will achieve? How do you hope it will progress?

My main aim with Staunch is to provide people, particularly self-defining women, with a space to explore and exhibit their work, thus creating an empowering and thought-provoking publication for our readers. The outpouring of content so far suggests this is something people have been looking for, so it’s exciting for us to be able to present you with so much fresh and interesting material.

How can people get involved?

If you feel like you might be interested in contributing to future issues, please get in touch with us. This can be done via our Facebook page (search Staunch) or via email (zine.staunch@gmail.com). No experience is necessary at all; whether you have an idea or not we’d love to hear from you and get you on board. As a publication we are keen to prioritise inclusivity, so if you’ve been looking for a safe, encouraging space in which to publish your work, Staunch is the place for you!

What do you have coming up? What can people expect?

Issue 1 of Staunch will be coming out this Wednesday 8 March, which is also International Women’s Day. Join us at our launch at 8.30pm in the Union Bar to get your hands on a copy. It’ll be a night of feminist fun featuring live music plus lots of other exciting activities to get involved with! Entry will be £3 on the door including a colour copy of the zine. We’d love to see you there!

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