Trouble and Strife

The first time I saw Trouble & Strife in a bookshop, I picked it up and leafed through, but was scared off. I think it was the advert in the back with the phrase ‘dyke separatists only’ that did it. Um…. I’ve got nothing against that, but that’s not really me.

But this time I told myself not to be so silly and bought one from Borders. After all, I told myself, it’s research for my website, innit? Trouble & Strife has been around since 1983 and is published roughly twice yearly. It’s the magazine for radical feminists. This is what it says in the inside cover:

Trouble & Strife is cockney rhyming slang for wife. We chose this name because it acknowledges the reality of conflict between women and men. As radical feminists, our politics come directly from this tension between men’s power and women’s resistance.

Some of you will be punching the air and screaming, YES! Some of you will be screaming and running away in the opposite direction. But hold on, let me explain a bit more.

Trouble & Strife is not really a magazine, but it’s more like a journal featuring several in-depth essays or investigations into a subject (it just contains essays, not readers letters or short fillers, etc.). It’s definitely not for your average mainstream reader, and assumes some background knowledge of and commitment to radical feminism from the reader.

I was impressed by the content, which I found interesting and informative

I’m not sure if I would totally relate to their mission statement quoted above, but I was impressed by the content, which I found interesting and informative. I had picked up Issue no.42, which included an article on the book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ by Betty Friedan, a fascinating article on the excuses of child prostitute users, an in-depth book review of ‘Gender and Discourse’ by Clare Walsh, and an analysis of reality TV (including Big Brother and Popstars!).

Looking back at the contents of back issues, it seems that the magazine concentrates mainly on traditional second-wave concerns such as domestic violence, politics, prostitution, rape, pornography, expolitation by men, and patriarchy. I do not mean this to be derogatory but merely to try to give you a flavour or a feel of the position that the magazine is coming from.

They are not freaks of nature, monsters who are different from ‘normal’ men, but inherently products of the misogynist society we live in

A good example is the analysis used in the child prostitute article I mentioned above. The author Julia O’Connell Davidson interviewed hundreds of ‘sex tourists’ who are habitual users of child prostitutes. She analyses their excuses for doing so, and argues that these men are not freaks of nature, monsters who are different from ‘normal’ men, but inherently products of the misogynist society we live in. As she says, “The reasons and justifications they give for their behaviour derive from ideas about sex, race, gender, and money which are widespread and indeed ‘normal’ in the societies [they] come from.” It’s not something wrong with them as individuals, more that our society is at fault. This is a good example of an analysis from a radical feminist position.

Okay, now to superficialities. What does it look like? The cover is usually a bright glossy block of colour with black text (the issue I saw was bright pink). Inside, the pages are black & white but include pictures and lots of cartoons to liven it up. The essays inside are well written and are backed up by footnotes and references. It does seem to be professionally produced. They also have plans to produce a related website, so watch this space.

This magazine will not suit everyone, but even if you do not consider yourself to be radical, I think it is worth a read and you will probably find yourself agreeing with much of the analysis, as I did. To quote from the Dr. Pepper advert: “Try it, you might like it. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Note: At time of writing (Summer 2001), Trouble & Strife are having a sale of all their back issues at reduced prices. Contact them at 39 Eburne Road, London, N7 6AU.