Five Things We Loved in Womankind Issue 29: Saudi Arabia
Womankind is a quarterly ad-free indie mag with stories from women around the world, art, philosophy, history and an interest in what it means to have a good and fulfilling life. You won’t find fashion spreads, or other typical lifestyle features, but what can you expect? To give you a little idea of what Womankind is all about, here’s five things we loved about the latest issue, Issue 29: Saudi Arabia.
- FEATURE: "Courting a Love of Words"
This is such a good piece! Written by editor, Antonia Case, it’s about learning a language as an adult, with advice from memory champions and memory experts and explanations as to how our brains can conspire against us remembering what we’ve learnt. I loved it because she so perfectly describes that unexplainable affinity you can have with certain words or languages that just sound delicious in your ears. (I’m obsessed with the song-like Brazilian Portuguese but the woman in this piece, Zora O’Neill falls in love with ‘the hum and snap’ of Arabic). The story had me dusting off my old Portuguese books and thinking that maybe it’s not too late to dust off those old language skills too.
- Narjes Mohammadi’s artwork
Womankind always has beautiful illustrations throughout, often side by side with sage quotes from the likes of Francis Bacon or Victor Hugo. It’s a part of the experience of reading Womankind, flipping over the page and spending a few moments there, before moving to the next feature. Just lovely.
Issue 29 features artwork by Narjes Mohammadi, an Iranian artist who draws dreamlike women full of hope that I can’t stop looking at. There’s also some beautiful pieces by Monica Barengo.
- FEATURE: A collector of women’s stories
In the ‘News from Nowhere’ section at the beginning of the issue (which is filled with short pieces and musings) there’s a lovely bit about a childhood game that Carl Jung used to play and what that taught him about perspective. Then later on in the issue, with this idea seeded in our minds, there’s a fantastic feature by author Nicola Sutcliffe on what she discovered about perspective from spending fours years collecting women’s stories in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She describes some of the women she met, and the conversations she had, and how the whole experience was a welcome reminder of the fallacy ‘that the west has everything to teach and nothing to learn.’
- The editor’s letter
I always start with editor’s letter when reading Womankind. It’s a little bit of wisdom, a smattering of philosophy, and stays with you throughout the issue. In issue 28: South Africa the ed’s letter is about positivity. ‘We’re evolutionarily inclined,’ she says ‘to seek out obstacles’ but practising positivity as a habit could help us to look on the bright side of life.
In issue 29 it’s about ‘making do’ with what we have, which we often see as a bad thing, but what if we thought less like builders who always start from scratch, and more like interior designers who take what’s there and make it better? My mantra for this week: Be less builder.
- FEATURE "The Bedouin"
The final feature in this issue is hands down my favourite. It’s an extract from Nicole’s book (remember her from a moment ago?) and it’s a woman named Hafsa speaking about growing up and living in the nomadic Bedouin tradition. She gave birth to her eight children in the desert and still lives there, while her children have all moved into the city. She talks about how things have changed and what’s been gained and lost as things have modernised. You instantly warm to her as she speaks so candidly and it’s nice to be reminded that we all have the same anxieties about our children, frustrations with our partners and pride in our way of life, even if our realities are worlds apart.
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