SSL Review - Filament Magazine - I Just Read it for the Articles, I Swear

That's right people. This right here is the first SSL Review for a magazine. You may remember an earlier post about Filament, a UK magazine dedicated to the female gaze. I was eagerly awaiting the 3 back issues I had ordered. Turns out, I, being the genius I am, chose and paid for UK instead of US postage rates when I ordered them, so there was a bit of a delay. However, it allowed me the chance to correspond with the Editor and creator Suraya Sidhu Singh who was both nice and quite humorous in our brief exchanges. She took care of the situation, and I got my 3 Filaments.

I decided to read one, cover to cover, and do a review. I went with the first ever themed Filament - the 1920's issue. It was published June of 2010. Originally I thought I would just do a general review on it because a magazine that is trying to create a space for women to desire and men to be desired, is a magazine that helps balance the sexual culture and adds positively to a new perspective of female sexuality in general. So those in themselves were good reason to review, but turns out I can actually do an SSL review also, because there was a written depiction of female sexual response - lucky me!

I've already discussed in a previous post about the idea behind Filament. In short, it's a magazine, unbeholden to the status quo and gender stereotypes, that is geared toward women who are into men. I personally am ecstatic that this magazine exists because it is something that I have thought about for years. In my head, I've always believed that women would enjoy a magazine with eye candy and longer form articles on a variety of interesting subjects. Why? Just because. I mean, why wouldn't we. We like looking at pretty men and reading things that are interesting don't we? For real though, start paying attention to the content of magazines found in Women's Interest sections and compare that with the content of magazines you find in the Men's Interest. All I'm saying is that wouldn't you like to read about something other than fashion, your body, celebrities, shopping, crafts, or children in a woman's magazine. And, I mean really, men's magazines (with exception of fitness mags) usually have hot sexualized women on the covers, and if men are on the covers, they look powerful, interesting, or important (and their pores aren't airbrushed out). In women's magazines, we don't often see sexualized men looking out at us. We're much more likely to see hot ladies, airbrushed and beautiful, reminding us that we don't quite measure up and we should take a second look at that face cream on p.4 and the new ways to tighten your buns on p. 61.Yet there's a long tradition of believing women would never go for a magazine like Filament. I could go on for pages about how silly I think that is, but I'll just leave it with this. I think women deserve a magazine like this and I think it can be successful if done right.

So I'm actually going to review this magazine in a real way, because I think it deserves that. I'll start in this post with the articles asn the next with the pictorials. It is a great concept. It is a good read, and it has some fabulous pics. I wasn't bored or annoyed while reading it at all, and that's a lot to say for me - I'm kind of a bitch. However, I think there are ways it can improve, and I know that they are working to improve with each issue - asking for lots feedback from readers. So, for those who aren't going to read much further, let me say this. This magazine is only going to get better, and it's already good. So if you are interested in this concept at all, I highly recommend you get yourself some Filament. But in the meantime
- go ahead and read further for my loving critique.

First off, I really liked the advice columns: "Ask a feminist" - which was fun and witty and actually feminist,  and "Etiquette," which was really funny wry humor. I enjoyed it so much I read a couple out loud to Charlie (I just realized this wasn't in this issue, but is in others I had - and I think it's coming back so I kept it in). The articles in this, of course, all had something to do with the 20's, and you'd think that may get old, but it worked. The editor was creative enough to make a variety of subjects tie in.

The Flappers: Drinking Dancing and Democracy. This was a discussion of flappers' significance as a post-suffragist female identity. This was certainly topic appropriate and gave an broad overview of what Flappers did, how they dressed, and what they represented. However, in the end I wanted something more in depth. It felt too much like a Flapper book report. However, I did enjoy learning that the origin of the term flapper is hotly contested - possibly pertaining to these new female voters "flapping about" and voting differently from their men, or to the British term flapper meaning an awkward teenager girl, or the term flap and later flapper meaning a very young prostitute, or maybe it related to their free flowing attire. It wasn't a bad article, but it was at the lower end of my spectrum for this magazine.

An interview with musician Amanda Palmer was pretty cool. I've never heard of her, but found her discussion of her controversial image and other artistic endeavors (including a graphic novel and stage performance about conjoined twins) an interesting read.

I'm going to lump 2 articles together just to save time, "Cocaine: The Drug That Fueled The Jazz Age," and "Prohibition: Power and Subterfuge." Both were interesting reads that were comprehensive enough for my taste and pulled in our modern situation to fill out the discussion. The prohibition article did something I love while discussing prohibition and crime rate - it spoke critically about what exactly a statistic was actually saying instead of throwing one out there and assuming the most obvious meaning. It also threw in discussion about effective policy and the state of alcohol prohibition policy around the world. The cocaine article showed me a part of the 20's I didn't really know about and put the drug into a historical perspective. It also had some side bar factoids that I thought were interesting. For instance...you know how in movies they touch a bit to their tongue to see if it's real...well, that's because it has numbing properties. So next time you're buying coke, if it doesn't dumb your tongue, pull your fuckin' Glock and bust some cheatin' low-life bitches up.

The article on Polyamory (mutliple consenting relationship) ties in to the 20's because the group of bohemian young artists, writers, and intellectuals located around Bloomsbury London in the 20's known as the Bloomsbury set, were, well a bit beyond monogamy. You might know some of them, Virginia and Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, EM Forster, etc. The article was actually pretty thoughtful, and kept a open and realistic tone. I tend to see articles on this subject that are either, "ooo -wierd, I mean, how could anyone make this work," or "I can't believe that so many people are oblivious to the higher level of existing that is polyamory." It discussed some actual polyamorous people, what kinds of rules different people have created for themself, what kind of issues exist, and even legal issues. Plus there's a fun "Polyamory 101" page.

This brings me to the "Ten Top Tips (that's really an English way to say that, my American readers) to help you... Make Love Like a Modernist." A historian of sexuality and erotica references Modernist writers to help us be more like them. We could..."View coupledom as a Nietzschan battle of wills," or "Embroil yourself in a landmark pornography court case," or "Treat major events with an air of bored indifference," maybe you could, "Denounce homosexuality while at the same time being strangely drawn to it," or my favorite "Bemoan the sheer selfishness of the clitoral orgasm in a gruff Nottinghamshire accent." For this top tip, we were given the following quote from D.H. Lawrence's mouthpiece Mellors in Lady Chatterley's Lovers.

"She got no feeling off it, from my working. She had to work herself, grind her own coffee. And it came back on her like a raving necessity, she had to let herself go, and tear, tear, tear, as if she had no sensation in her except in the top of her beak, the very outside top tip that rubbed and tore."

"Grind her own coffee" - love it.

We also get book review on 4 books from the jazz age, and we get 3 short stories, two of an erotic nature. I enjoyed them all. I really never read fiction, and I haven't read short stories since I was in school, so it was actually a really refreshing nice thing for me. The last erotic tale was about a man and his butler getting it on - it was pretty straight up erotica, and I loved it. I love male on male action in my porn, and I'm assuming at least some other ladies do too, so thanks Filament for that. The first erotic one involved a man and a woman after a sweet one night stand, and then they do it again on a park bench. It was hot and, oh yeah, there was a female orgasms, and I will SSL review it...pretty simple though - these two were having a quicky.

"He lifted me impatiently onto his cock and I began to move around on it as he pulled his head up under my shirt and took my left breast into his mouth and fingered my clitoris gently. I moved around in a circular motion, helped along by his bucking smoothly back and forth as he flexed his hips up and down.
I lifted his mouth from my tit and licked his top lip. His tongue appeared and again we licked each other like animals until we both came."

I can reasonably assume that he's still rubbing her clit as they continue into orgasm, so....we have intercourse, but with additional manual clitoral stimulation, some circular motion in the hip area. Sounds like that could cause an orgasm to me. Good job at not having a woman orgasm in a ridiculous way Filament! It is also left to your imagination whether the two came simultaneously - no spiritual, out of body experiences resulting from two bodies quaking with orgasmic energy, floating into the stars as one entity - you know that sort of crap. As I realize two people can time their orgasms together (when both are in control of their own), I am bothered by the overwhelming amount of simultaneous orgasms that appear in media; particularly when someone else is in control of the female's stimulation or when the two are having intercourse with no extra manual stimulation. 1. It is hard to time your orgasm well when someone else is doing the stimulating, and 2. the motions needed for a woman to get the clitoral stimulation she needs during hands-free intercourse is different than the motions a man needs, so it's much more realistic to depict them taking turns.

The article i will end with and that was most surprisingly interesting was "Aristasia: Where Women Live in the Past." It introduced me to a peculiar community that I had never heard of. It was began by a group of Oxford women around the late 70's who decided to withdraw from modern society and create a female only community that contained only pre-1960's items; clothes, furniture, cars, etc. They evolved "a complex religious philosophy of feminine essentialism and a unique way of seeing the world. This community that they originated is still a thriving though largely clandestine subculture to this day." I do love reading about something I knew nothing about. Again -thanks Filament.

Now, quickly I want to express my personal thoughts on the cover of Filament. I may be the only one this is true of, but the type face used for Filament has a look to it that is slightly off-putting for me. When I look at it, it brings to mind fantasy novels, goth styling, something antique-ish, maybe something having to do with vampires. I don't feel that from the content of the magazine, but I worry that looking at the magazine's cover may give the impression that it is geared toward a particular subculture as opposed to smart women interested in sexy men and good readin'. So, point is, if you were unsure after looking a the cover for the reason's i just stated. Don't be.

To wrap up...As I said earlier, the articles in here are good reads. I have a bit more discussion and critiquing for the pictorials, which I will write about in my next blog, so stay tuned.

Filament 1920's issue, you deserve a full 4 vulva rating for your realistic depiction of female orgasm and your awesome devotion to the female gaze.

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