'crude intentions' is a new zine about women’s experiences with sexual harassment
How editor Grace Srinivasiah and designer Alex Tults used social media and illustration to empower women.
Rebecca Morgan. From Crude Intentions, published by Anthology Editions.
For Crude Intentions, a 56-page zine published by Anthology Editions, editor Grace Srinivasiah and designer Alex Tults asked women on the friendship app BumbleBFF to share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. “We wanted a diversity of experiences,” Grace explains, “so we made a point not to ask any of our friends or acquaintances.” They then assigned the accounts mined from Bumble to more than 30 illustrators — including Tara Booth, Frances Cannon, Amber Vittoria and Aurélia Durand — as a way to underscore the experiences as shared. “By having the majority of the stories illustrated by another woman,” Grace explains, “it filtered the experience to create a layered narrative.”
For one of the illustrations, artist Adri Peralta spoke with four different women who were being harassed by the same man. “Putting that information and especially the feelings down on paper was a hard task [that] inevitably brought reflection,” she says, adding that “illustration can have a way to generate meaning, bring healing, create awareness in a more sensitive and profound way.” Artist Kristen Liu-Wong continues: “I think one of the most important aspects of feminism is uplifting and supporting other womxn and this anthology embodies it in every way: Women collaborating with other women to help share their stories and add to their voice.” Continue reading for more from Grace and Alex about Crude Intentions.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Grace: It came from us talking about our experiences we had with sexual harassment, specifically the ones that were so stupid they bordered on the absurd. As we continued to discuss what we’ve been through, we started toying with the idea that it would make a great zine. And we both really liked the idea of seeing the story told through another woman’s eyes, specifically through illustration.
Alex: I remember a point in time where I was telling Grace about these bizarre harassments I was experiencing. I guess some people would consider them inconsequential, but they were really sticking with me. Like this guy openly taking flash photos of my feet on the bus. I think we just had a lot of frustrations with how harassment has been handled and brushed-off, and how outside parties often assign their own judgments to how serious (or not) an experience was. At some point we thought, wow, we should just make something about this.
G: Our initial focus with the project was pretty narrow, we wanted to focus on experiences while on public transportation, and then expanded situations similar to what Alex had on the bus (the annoying, absurd, etc.). But as we began to curate stories, we both came to a point where it was more important for others be able to tell their stories without us controlling the narrative too much.
Why was it important to you to share women's experiences with sexual harassment or assault?
G: While I think that women’s experiences in general have been elevated in recent years, and are receiving much more attention than in the past, there is still not nearly enough space taken up by these narratives. My intention with this zine isn’t to trigger women in any way, but to hopefully make them feel understood and less alone. Just as many of the contributors and illustrators expressed that this zine was very cathartic for them with their own experiences, I hope it can offer some catharsis for the people who read it.
How did you choose the artists for this book?
G: I went through illustrator directories on Instagram (@thewomenwhodraw, @womenofillustration, @womenwithpencils) and chose artists who fit the aesthetic of artists that Alex and I discussed in the initial planning of the project.
A: I follow a ton of illustrators and designers on Instagram, so this is where I initially looked for artists. I have admired the work of some of our illustrators for a while and was really excited to have them contribute to this project.
How does the book emphasize the collective female experience?
G: By having the majority of the stories illustrated by another woman, it filtered the experience to create a layered narrative. And what we have gathered from our readers in general is that these illustrations and the emotion behind them strongly resonate, even with the illustrations that are more abstract. I think anybody reading this book will find an illustration that either connects with them personally, or reminds them of someone that they know.
A: The visual nature of the zine allows for the reader to experience the work in a more intimate way. While each illustration does tell a specific narrative, these are stories not of one, but of many. I hope this zine shows people how how often this stuff happens, and helps keep up the momentum to fight against the institutions that allow sexual violence to continue.