Monki x O-zine

 

At Monki, we always strive for  inclusivity and empowerment. And we feel honored to have collaborated with the first LGBTQ+ online magazine in Russia and their womens day special.

We’ve put together the translated interviews from O-zine, to share especially with you. Get to know four inspiring badass individuals, all with different stories but all fighting for an equal cause.

Read the original article here: here

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Katerina
Blogger and entertainer

What do you do?
Last year I decided to leave high school and moved from Krasnoyarsk (city in Siberia) to Sochi. Now I go to college part time and work. I also have a blog on YouTube and Instagram, that I started to be able to voice my opinion on abuse and body positivity subjects but now it’s more fun feminist content like ethical jokes – kind of a fun feminist, safe space.

How do you interpret the word ‘woman’?
I really love the word “woman” and use it all the time. I think that it is cool to be a woman now and be able to talk about female experiences.

What is your view on the gender binary construct?
I dream that our society will be totally gender-neutral someday and will focus more on equal rights for all. But I am not sure that I will live to see that.

What does Women’s Day mean for you?
8 March is the day to celebrate women’s power, celebrate how awesome we are and what a beautiful future is ahead of us. I don’t like this Russian concept of celebrating “spring and tenderness”. I want to celebrate Women’s Day every day, to meet and support other women!

Do you have a message on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community?
I came out as bisexual not so long ago. I find it really sad that my first bisexual awareness came from pornography, an industry that objectifies everyone through the cis-male gaze and for cis-male viewers. Now when I look at my peers in the LGBTQ+ community and how powerful they are, I am really proud to be a part of it. 

What changes do you hope to see for equality in Russia?
I want to be acknowledged as bisexual. I want assaults on LGBTQ+ people to stop, and that everyone would treat us as equals. I want the home violence decriminalization law to be called off. That our government wasn’t corrupt, and women were represented there by 50-60%. I want all reckless stereotypes about feminists to cease to exist and that being pro-feminist was as standard as being anti-racist.  

 


Maya
Trans-rights activist

What big life events have you gone through recently?
The main event was getting into hormone replacement therapy.  When you are a boy and everyone around you perceives you as a boy and then suddenly hormones start to work, and you don't look like a boy anymore. People get confused. In Russia it can make you feel unsafe. I have been taking hormones daily for ten years and I’ve started to look more and more feminine, it makes me so happy. Also, I have a female ID now.

The second very important event for me, was getting involved in activism. At the moment I’m working on the Elton John Safe Box projectwhich is the distribution of HIV self-tests and gathering support groupfor trans-people.  

What does being a woman mean to you?
Maybe it doesn’t sound feminist but for me it is taking on societal roles meant for women and not being judged for it. To have the opportunity and the rightto look and act like a woman.

And being an LGBTQ+ woman?
It means being an activist. I wouldn’t come out as transgender if I didn’t do activism. No matter how tolerant and educated the person is – my transgender experience always comes first for them. And all I want is to be perceived as a woman.

How do you celebrate Women’s Day?
Maybe I’m not that informed yet about feminism, but it was great to get presents and be acknowledged. I do know that there is a deeper meaning to this holiday, but I was so happy when someone wished me happy Women’s Day for the first time!

What is needed to advance equality in Russia?
I think it is important to work with the next generation. The way sexuality and gender are taught to children greatly influencesociety. I think we can reach equality faster if we start by teaching the right values within the home. Social roles are shiftingboth for men and womenin the whole world – including in Russia. I think we are living in a very interesting age.

 

 


Alyona
Artist and founder of the Women. Feminism. Disability festival.

Tell us a bit about your life as a feminist with a disability?
I have muscular dystrophy. It is progressingso each day is like a re-birth to me where I have to re-learn things and live my life by new rules. I don’t ponder on the past or think about the future – I try to live in the now. Also, another big event was getting an electric wheelchair. I felt human for the first time in 10-12 years. Even though committing to wheels was really hard for me, like I am betraying my own body. 

What does Women’s Day mean to you?
I am really proud that this year there are so many female centric events in Russia and I try to take part in a lot of them – to speak about what it is like to be an activist, and a feminist with a disability. I also organize my own festival, called Women. Feminism. Disability and this is the first time an event like this will be held in Russia.

Unfortunately, despite my strong passion for feminism I was unable to attend many events as they were not accessible for people with disabilities. This situation is starting to change for the better - I have begun proactively talking to my friends and organisers about how vital it is for the events to be inclusive.

Do you have a message on behalf of the LGBTQ+ and disabled community?
I want to underline how difficult it is for a disabled person to find a partner and accept their own sexuality when there are so many obstacles. It is hard for healthy women to accept their bodies due to standards of mass culture. For a woman with a disability it is hard to not only accept their right for sexuality, but for affection and acknowledgment.

I believe the situation could change if education was inclusive. If they taught us in school that all people are different, and all deserve love and fulfilling lives.

What is necessary for shifting equality in Russia?
I think that we should continue to fight for our rights, and I also hope that people who are not into feminist ideas right now will change their ways in time.

 


Lyusya
Geologist and photo editor

What’s your response to the word “woman”? 
I don’t see any difference between the word’s “girl”, “woman”, “lady” or “grandma”. When people call me “madam” I think it is super funny especially when I teach.

Have you ever faced gender discrimination?
I feel that it is super challenging right now - as a geologist I face professional discrimination all the time. When I participate in field work no one acknowledges my professional qualification but focuses on my physical appearance and the gender stated in my passport. In my experience, no one sees me as a professional individual, and instead hires a man who can be less prepared and less qualified but still he’s a man, so..

Of course, there are some nuances in my profession – like no one takes women to expeditions because period blood can attract bears in Taiga. Yet women don’t have periods 365 days a year so why don’t they handle that situation better. But it’s just that no one is willing to change it. 

How is Women’s Day celebrated in Russia?
I hate that in Russia the day that should be dedicated to solidarity, has become the day to celebrate stereotypes. 

How can equality in Russia progress?
It is important to focus on mutual respect – no matter gender or sexual orientation. Of course, it demands work and reflection, but everyone will profit from it. I think changing your own attitude and habits is sometimes way more important than to preach from a high pedestal.

 

Behind the print

Meet Karolina Kling, one of our talented print designers. Based in our head office in Sweden, she has been creating fabulous Monki prints for five years. In that time, she has helped to open a portal into our quirky world, through her hand-drawn illustrations and evolving eye for style. To celebrate our dreamy new print, we chatted to her about her inspirations and personal journey with Monki.

What do you do?
Last year I decided to leave high school and moved from Krasnoyarsk (city in Siberia) to Sochi. Now I go to college part time and work. I also have a blog on YouTube and Instagram, that I started to be able to voice my opinion on abuse and body positivity subjects but now it’s more fun feminist content like ethical jokes – kind of a fun feminist, safe space.

How do you interpret the word ‘woman’?
I really love the word “woman” and use it all the time. I think that it is cool to be a woman now and be able to talk about female experiences.

What is your view on the gender binary construct?
I dream that our society will be totally gender-neutral someday and will focus more on equal rights for all. But I am not sure that I will live to see that.

What does Women’s Day mean for you?
8 March is the day to celebrate women’s power, celebrate how awesome we are and what a beautiful future is ahead of us. I don’t like this Russian concept of celebrating “spring and tenderness”. I want to celebrate Women’s Day every day, to meet and support other women!

Do you have a message on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community?
I came out as bisexual not so long ago. I find it really sad that my first bisexual awareness came from pornography, an industry that objectifies everyone through the cis-male gaze and for cis-male viewers. Now when I look at my peers in the LGBTQ+ community and how powerful they are, I am really proud to be a part of it. 

What changes do you hope to see for equality in Russia?
I want to be acknowledged as bisexual. I want assaults on LGBTQ+ people to stop, and that everyone would treat us as equals. I want the home violence decriminalization law to be called off. That our government wasn’t corrupt, and women were represented there by 50-60%. I want all reckless stereotypes about feminists to cease to exist and that being pro-feminist was as standard as being anti-racist.