What JNSQ Taught Me About Womanhood
Photo Credit: Thomas Trutschel
It’d be silly of me to start this article presuming you all know me. You won’t, by the way. I’m not that well-known. Yet.
My name is Hannah Van-de-Peer; I’m a twenty-year-old-frightfully-British-hairy-feminist-woman-in-training. I say, ‘in training’ because I often worry that I’m not able to woman as well as other women. It’s an alarm that frequently goes off in the back of my head which sounds a lot like a patronising man; every time I think negatively of another female – bad! Bad woman! Every time I don’t assert myself enough in my relationship – bad woman! Every time I preach self-love, before going home and crying about my stomach rolls – bad woman! Terrible woman! I’m slowly beginning to realise that one doesn’t have to be an uber-flawless-Feminist in order to feel like a true woman. She just needs to try her best, and that’s all I’m trying to do.
I started a little WordPress blog back during the summer of 2018. Six months before that, I was writing satirical think-pieces for one of the most controversial magazines of our generation; which took a lot out of me, to be honest. When I made the decision to start JNSQ (then called To Preen or Not To Preen), I’d effectively made up my mind that I wanted it to consist of light, puff pieces. I wanted to combine my first favourite hobby – writing, with my second favourite hobby – makeup; which resulted in three-to-four months of lacklustre beauty reviews. Starting every piece with ‘Hi, lovelies!’ before going on to gush about some awfully average makeup brand, which I had honestly hoped would end in me receiving a lot of free stuff, quickly became my staple. A staple I didn’t want to be associated with, because it wasn’t me. I like to write pieces that cause a stir; even better if they irritate some men along the way, but I wasn’t able to achieve that on the path I’d chosen. So, I got back on the internet and read some blogs. Like, really read some blogs. I came to a decision that I wanted to get real; write about the stuff I was interested in while leaving the shit that brands wanted to hear in the care of the professional beauty spin-doctors. I was going rogue.
Well, I say rogue… I still felt compelled to censor the word ‘fuck’ in my posts; and I actually, embarrassingly referred to a vibrator at one point as ‘your friend’. I was, however, ready to start a new chapter. I wanted my blog to feel like sitting on your friend’s sofa at two in the morning with a glass of Shiraz, and a brain full of deep chatter. I almost wanted to be the voice of ‘everywoman’, documenting my cringe stories in order for other women to identify, without having to humiliate themselves personally. In November 2018; I published my piece, 5 Things Tinder Taught Me. I knew it was going to be risky. I talked about old men, young men, receiving mediocre head, sending nudes… and I knew it wasn’t what people wanted to hear, particularly the readers who knew me IRL. While promoting it on my social media platforms, I felt compelled to say ‘I’m really, really sorry. You’re allowed to hate it. I’ll never do anything like this again. I’m disgusting.’ before dropping off the face of the Earth and never picking up a pen for as long as I live…
A few hours later, I got a message on Twitter from two of my now-blogging besties: ‘we’ve been trying to find you for ages! Are you the girl who wrote the funny Tinder piece?’
I had an epiphany at that moment. Fuck self-awareness. If one woman, somewhere, can identify with a piece I’ve written; it makes all the hard work worth it.
It was February when I began the Great Magazine Conversion. Which is, essentially, a pretentious way of saying; ‘uni work is killing me. I need more people on board with this to keep it afloat’. I hired my second-in-command, Isabella, as my new Feminism and mental health writer. I have to credit her massively for keeping me sane. Having another writer on board is a blessing, and she produces such consistently brilliant pieces of work. Our bodies of work are so wonderfully contrasting, in the sense that I rant about stressful experiences; encouraging people to identify with the anxiety of being a woman in her twenties. Isabella is the voice of reason; providing advice for winding down and nurturing your mind.
Over the last few months, my writing has become increasingly progressive. I can thankfully say ‘fuck’ with zero regrets. I talk about vaginas while ignoring all possible inhibitions, and it’s all down to the amazing responses I receive from other women. Talking openly about my experience with Vaginismus has become my latest milestone. I’m completely in awe of the fact that people still message me for advice after reading the article, despite it becoming my most-read piece just twelve hours after publication. Helping people out through my writing has become one of the most humbling aspects of what I do when all I really do is vent about my life.
So, I’m starting to feel like I’ve got this womaning thing down; as long as I’m providing a voice to those who need it.
The Writer Behind The Writing
Hannah Van-de-Peer is a 20-year-old journalist and magazine-owner living in Cambridge, UK. She is currently studying at Anglia Ruskin University for a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. She is the owner and administrator of critically acclaimed feminist magazine JNSQ, which boasts a family of talented journalists and a readership of several thousand people. She has previously written for Affinity Magazine.
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You can also find Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.