GUTS Canadian Feminism Magazine publishes literary essays and reviews, long-form journalism, interviews, fiction, and new media that further feminist correspondence, criticism, and community in Canada. Just in the last year, they have been producing fresh, bold content that has been catching the attention of readers across North America.
Just recently, they launched their fifth issue which was dedicated to 'Food' and the intersections related to food and feminism, something as we all know I hold near and dear to my heart. I decided to sit down Cynthia Spring, one of the editors of GUTS Canadian Feminism Magazine to discuss what it takes to run a feminist publication, their latest 'Food' issue, their upcoming GUTS Winter Dance Party and the issues that feminists are facing today.
Tell the readers a bit about how GUTS started!
GUTS started in Edmonton after my co-founder Nadine Adelaar and I finished our MAs. We wanted to keep thinking about and engaging with the feminist ideas and theory we encountered in school but in more accessible and creative ways. We both had some time on our hands and were inspired by the incredible work being done by other digital feminist publications; we taught ourselves how to build a website and started developing an editorial mandate for what is now GUTS.
What are some of the challenges that the magazine has faced since launching?
An ongoing challenge for us is trying to find ways to keep the magazine afloat financially. Thanks to support from our readers and the Ontario Arts Council, we are now able to pay our issue contributors, but editors, event coordinators, and writers for our blog are still volunteers. Because everyone who works on GUTS is often balancing paid employment with the unpaid work that goes into magazine, making time to expand our readership, broaden our publishing program, plan events, and take care of ourselves and each other can be challenging, however satisfying and worthwhile!
Do you run the publication full-time and if not, what do you do?
I work as an editor and researcher; I just finished a contract at academic press CSPI/Women's Press and I'm hoping to now pick up some freelance jobs. Other members of our editorial board work in web design, graphic design, editing, farming, academic administration, or are students.
Who else is on the GUTS Magazine team? How can people contribute to be a part of the team?
We have editors located in Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg, and Edmonton who help with acquiring, editing, copy-editing, proofreading, and artistic oversight. We are always looking for new contributors and volunteers to help us, especially with community engagement. If you’re interested, we would love to hear from you! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does GUTS function? How do you manage innovation?
GUTS is a collective project with a non-hierarchical structure. Although certain tasks and responsibilities are divided, we make decisions and brainstorm ideas collectively when having conference calls in the evening or chatting on Slack during the day. I cannot imagine working on a project like this without having a team; creativity for us is not an independent endeavor but an outcome of collaboration.
Your latest issue was on 'Food' - why do you think food is a feminist issue?
On one level, we understand feminism to be an exercise in revealing the work that goes into upholding oppressive systems, whether that’s racism, patriarchy, capitalist exploitation, or our ecologically unjust food system. Considering our food in Canada comes from stolen land, that the growing and processing of our food is mostly terrible for the earth, that the food industry (in many different stages) exploits its already vulnerable workers, and that food is classed and racialized, there seems to be a lot of dismantling to do within this theme.
There is also the reality that food preparation in the home has traditionally been a woman’s responsibility. The kitchen can be a space for creativity, for self care, for intimate and productive conversations, for solidarity, but it can also be a burden to be the sole provider of food for those you share your household with. This is just one aspect of women and women-identified peoples’ complicated relationships with food; navigating the pressures to be “healthy” (eat in a normative way but remain relatively thin) is also a form of labour, however emotional and private. These issues are all relevant to feminist thinking and we chose this topic in order to continue addressing questions we have asked before: What forms of work are valued? What forms are seen? And how can we change that?
Do you think food is political?
Yes, for many of the reasons stated above, we see food as a politicized issue. We also felt that it was inextricable from the topic of land, a highly politicized issue in our colonial state and one that we have always intended to address as a Canadian publication. Pieces like Frankie Noone’s graphic essay on hunger as a tool in residential schools and Janina Grabs’ article on food sovereignty in Northern Manitoba showed how food and land are at once deeply personal and systemic issues.
How can people support GUTS?
You can help us continue to pay writers and artists by coming out to our fundraiser in Toronto on January 23rd, or by donating money through our support page. But if you can't make it to our parties and can't donate money, there are other great ways to support us. You can share and invite friends and contacts to our event, follow us via Facebook and Twitter, and spread the word about the magazine with your friends, family, and coven. You can also submit to our next issue—the call for submissions will be coming out soon!
You have an upcoming event, can you tell me a bit about it?
Yes! We are having a party at The Steady in Toronto. There will be incredible raffle prizes, hot Toronto DJs, and GUTS editors and contributors in attendance! We hope that anyone who is interested in the magazine will come early and introduce themselves, and anyone who's looking to dance the night away in a safe space will join the party! All proceeds will help pay contributors and keep the conversation going. For more details see our facebook event page.
What are some of the most pressing feminist issues happening in Canada right now?
We are hopeful that our new self-proclaimed feminist government and Prime Minister will undo some of the harm Harper and his predecessors have done. We hope that the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women will change the way policing and social services happen in our communities.
We desperately need changes to our sex work laws that enshrine the rights of sex workers to work safely. Islamophobia has been disproportionately affecting visibly Muslim women, and the responsibility to fight back against that violence and fear falls on all of us, particularly white settlers. Not all parts of the country have equal access to safe reproductive care and abortion services, and this remains an enormous problem, particularly in PEI and in Northern and rural communities. And at the national level, we need public health campaigns that promote the use of anti-oppressive language, language that isn’t cissexist and recognizes the fact that men get abortions too, and that it's not just people with uteruses who need access to sexual health and reproductive care.