Underwire ‘Zine Gives Gender Issues a Lift

Junior Sarah Eargle is passionate about women’s issues.  The head of Feminists for United Sexual Equality (FUSE), Eargle has directed her passion into single-handedly bringing back a project that had long been discarded: Underwire.

Underwire is a zine that was started to bring issues of women, gender, and sexuality to light.  Seen as a creative outlet, it encourages students to be imaginative with gender issues and submit anything they create.  Submissions include, but aren’t limited to, poetry, essays, editorials, prose, photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, and sculptures.

“Underwire was born out of FUSE a couple of years ago, and then sort of disappeared for a while.  I really liked the concept and I wanted to “resurrect” it,” said Eargle.  She is currently editing and assembling the submissions for the next issue, due out in early December.

“I received about 50-70 submissions, and they were all really good,” said Eargle, “I just wish more men would have submitted.  It’s just as much a men’s issue as a women’s issue.”

Freshman Jessica O’Rear also picked up on the possibility of Underwire having a skewed audience when she said, “Unfortunately, I think it only reaches out to the demographic who are already aware of the issues at stake, and that is exactly why they’re drawn to the publication. Others don’t think there’s a problem and, therefore, ignore the zine. This is sad, but I find it to be true.”

Other students believe that Underwire can reach out to those who may not be interested in women, gender, and sexuality issues.  Freshman Johanna Galat, a member of FUSE, said, “People pick up magazines about things they aren’t interested in all the time just because they are something to read. I always pick up fundamentalist Christian pamphlets to look through even though I am not at all interested in being saved. So maybe it could change the minds of people who aren’t into feminism in the first place.”

Junior Stephanie Espinoza is a member of another program on campus designed to help women: the First Responder Network, a subcomponent of Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program (SARP).  She agreed with Galat about Underwire: “With the fact that sexual issues like harassment are such touchy topics, it’s good to know that someone has the guts to tackle them. People don’t think gender is an issue anymore but it really is, so Underwire sounds like a good way to get that point across.”

Unfortunately, while most students think Underwire is a good idea, barely anyone knows about it.  When one student was asked what she thought of the zine, she responded, “What do I think about bras?”  This was not an uncommon reaction.

Another member of FUSE, junior Jessica Earlbeck said, “I just found out about Underwire this year through FUSE and honestly, it’s pathetic how unknown it is.  I’ve read it once, but briefly, and it seemed interesting. It did address some very deep and emotional topics, but it’s just not a good way to get the word out about women’s issues since it’s not read.”

So along with putting in the long hours of bringing the collection together, Eargle is also brainstorming publicity ideas for getting the word out about the project.  “I was thinking of maybe having an informal party when it comes out and everyone who had a submission published can bring their friends.”  Whatever she decides, it will undoubtedly be the beginning of a new success streak for Underwire.

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