In this guest post, Charlotte Cooper considers how Christian Aid’s new user-generated magazine stumbles on issues of women’s oppression
User-generated content has been the bon vivant of publishing for the last few years: engaging people, breeding loyalty and ensuring a wide range of voices and opinions are presented to an audience. So it’s no surprise to see Christian Aid jumping on the bandwagon for their new venture. Aimed at the youth audience, Ctrl+Alt+Shift is a new magazine and online community aimed at helping despondent teens get keen on human rights and global issues of poverty, disease and climate change.
While the main body of content is user generated, Chantelle Fiddy, journalist with her finger on the pulse of young blood, grime and giving a shit, via her work as senior mentor at Live! Mag, and Neil Boorman, founder of Shoreditch Twat as trashed in TV series Nathan Barley, keep watchful eyes as editors. But with articles voted into the magazine by community users, it’s hard to know who to take to task for two seedy and offensive articles approaching women’s issues. Page Three Stunnah is a feature about prostitution in India and is handled with little interest or empathy and illustrated with an image of a prostitute, shirt pulled down to bare her breasts for the flash of the camera (don’t worry, it’s tastefully adorned with two red stars…) The jokey tone of the article, which opens: “Anybody fancy an Indian?”, and chortles through the fact she had her cheek slashed, seems totally inappropriate.
Sold! For Two Cows and a Bottle of Beer stumbles through bride price in Africa and after a series of irksome questions (Is your mum filth or a Milf?) the mag’s handy African correspondent tells us what the girls are really worth.
I’m all for a laugh and fully support the effort to mainstream perceived troublesome ideals in feminism, equality and social justice but perhaps we could find a way of doing it without treating anything involving women as a bit of a sexy joke.
Saying this, an article on the dangers of pregnancy in Afghanistan breathes a little balanced, informative and interesting life into Ctrl+Alt+Shift and it’s only fair to remember this is just the first issue. User-generated content means everyone gets a say so I recommend signing up and contributing, voting with your fingers and helping choose the content and saving the magazine from making Christian Aid look desperate and stupid enough to appeal to the lowest common denominator.