They Call Us is a new online, feminist literary magazine publishing a themed issue every three months. Past themes include They Call Us Flawed, They Call Us Theirs, They Call Us Damsels, and They Call Us Dykes. The current open call for poetry, prose, and artwork is for the theme They Call Us Sluts and Prudes. “We are exploring sex and reputation in relation to gender oppression. If you have ever been catcalled or looked down upon based on your sexual interactions, or lack thereof, please consider sharing your experience. We want stories and art surrounding both the polar opposites of being called a ‘slut’ or ‘prude’ and show that these are possibly the same thing.”
Many thanks to They Call Us for publishing my poem “All Words for a Woman” in their They Call Us Bossy issue. I love the aesthetic and artwork in this feminist zine! Make sure to check out the entire zine while you listen to the corresponding curated playlist.
Feminist leaning lit mags and journals are some of my favorites, so I interviewed editor Kailah Peters to find out more. See my interview with Peters and a link to submission guidelines below. For my updated list of feminist lit mags, check out: Feminist lit mags & journals.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about They Call Us.
KP: They Call Us is a literary magazine created by four university friends who want to empower other womxn. Using media, art, and literature as a means to inspire, They Call Us aims to tell the everyday struggles of womxn from around the world. We believe the purpose of art is to create change, so They Call Us works to unite womxn and artists to tell the stories of those that are normally silenced. Our goal is to ignite conversation and encourage womxn of all ages, races, sexuality, nationality, ability, and the like to share their stories. They Call Us wishes to diversify the messages we see online and change the dialogue to give credibility to all of us womxn who have felt helpless and lacking a credible voice.
HOPKINSON: How/why was They Call Us originally started?
KP: They Call Us started when Morgan Kail-Ackerman, the co-editor and founder, told Arran Bowen and I that she wanted to start a feminist lit mag. It was right on the cusp of graduation from DePaul University and we were all itching to leave a mark on the world. Fueled by a desire to do something important, I reached out to Morgan and started seriously planning the launch of this magazine. We got Meg Harris involved as the social media coordinator and reached out to other contacts in the Chicago literary community. By international women’s day of 2020, we had the first edition done and launched.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
KP: Feminists! This magazine is designed for anyone who believes in equality and exploring the fault lines in society. We hope all readers feel welcome and see some part of themselves or their struggles reflected in the magazine.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
KP: Any and all of it (prose, poetry, and art)! Each edition focuses on a different theme, shown in the adverb chosen (They Call Us Theirs, They Call Us Flawed, They Call Us Bossy). Our submissions are currently open for They Call Us Sluts and Prudes. We are lacking on art submissions and would love if you would spread the word and get some amazing art to us!
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
KP: We are always looking for more diverse opinions and experiences. We’d love to see prose, poetry, or art that reflects less mainstream cultures or experiences. We tend to get more poetry submissions than anything else so please send us prose and art. Check out our website for more details on our submission guidelines.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with They Call Us?
KP: My favorite part of working on They Call Us has to be fighting for a cause I’m passionate about with people I love. These women are constantly inspiring me to be a better version of myself and have become some of my closest friends. I think the support we feel from each other really shows on the page. They Call Us isn’t fighting for one type of womxn, but everyone who has ever faced discrimination. Intersectional feminism is our roots.
HOPKINSON: Are there ways people can support They Call Us?
KP: They Call Us is not-for-profit, so we are limited in the ways we can print and promote the magazine. Aside from submitting, following our social media and telling your friends, supporters can donate through patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TheyCallUs
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
KP: Email submissions to TheyCallUsZine@gmail.com and you’ll receive a response within the week but final decisions aren’t made until submissions close.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
KP: Through the contact page on our website, DM our social media, or email us. We work hard to be accessible.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 17, 2021
THEME: They Call Us Sluts and Prudes–“We are exploring sex and reputation in relation to gender oppression. If you have ever been catcalled or looked down upon based on your sexual interactions, or lack thereof, please consider sharing your experience. We want stories and art surrounding both the polar opposites of being called a ‘slut’ or ‘prude’ and show that these are possibly the same thing.”
FORMAT: online and downloadable PDF
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: poetry, prose, and artwork
SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram
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