In times of plenty it is very easy to be noncommittal. Articles crammed on webpages, social media rants to trawl through and endless, endless hyperlinks. More and more all I want is information, without bias, being berated or ending up disheartened. Riposte suits just fine.
I usually steer from women’s magazines. Some of them are too soft, uncertain of their footing, treading lightly, afraid to stomp. They discuss being insecure in their bodies, friendships, relationships, work spaces, and create a safe space in which to explore these anxieties. And that is ok; it’s what you need sometimes. But Riposte stomps and its quake enlivens ambition. This is your world, too, and you deserve the light as much as everyone else.
The cover star for this issue is Ericka Hart, bare-chested and stoic, with an attractive warmth in her eyes. It’s an incredibly bold cover, and excellently done, putting it apart from the usual tilted-head, downcast-eyed model of other magazines. You’d usually avert your eyes, but it's striking in its fearlessness, acceptance of her history, enjoyment of the power her body took to overcome disease. Cancer was a part of herself but not a definition. She has utilised its impact on her and diverted it to help others in a similar situation. Before even opening it, I already feel a huge sense of admiration; it is a sign of good things to come.
The definition of courageous is not deterred by danger or pain. I get the impression that this word applies to Riposte in its entirety. Pursuing something despite the risk, whether it is the redefinition of oneself or the bettering of others. There’s an inflexibility in the view of femininity sometimes. Confidence can come across as arrogance, kindness can come across as weakness. There’s a lot of expectation with being a woman, and Riposte focuses on ambition regarding womanhood, which leads to a constant reminder of limitation.
'It’s refreshing to have a confrontation of cultural norms, recasting attitudes and reshaping our lifestyle, without being begrudging or aggressive. The very simple act of showing that these people are here is enough to reassure me that you can walk on greener grass.'
Farshid Moussavi should feel limited working in the masculine world of architecture, but she finds it ‘uniquely flexible’; Ericka Hart should feel limited after bilateral breast cancer, but it empowers her; Ruqsana Begum should feel limited as a female Muslim boxer, but she inspires others by being a national champion. Being a man and having to play to masculine ideals is limiting. It’s refreshing to have a confrontation of cultural norms, recasting attitudes and reshaping our lifestyle, without being begrudging or aggressive. The very simple act of showing that these people are here is enough to reassure me that you can walk on greener grass. It may still be frightening and untrodden, but that is what comes with venturing to a previously feared or even forbidden place. All that had to be done was the simple motion of overstepping an invisible boundary as if it were never there in the first place.
That being said, Riposte does not shy away from the struggles and trials their interviewees have gone through to get where they are. Success and ambition is shaped by failure and determination. At times, it is raw and personal, and always wholly positive. They are treated with respect, given thoughtful questions to respond to, and can engage with the impact of their actions to a wider audience.
Riposte's latest issue is body positive but not patronising, inclusive but not pretentious. It has a sense of ease during interviews, a fluidity in the variation of its written content that could very easily leave things sticking out on a limb. It truly is for the smart thinking woman, and all women, who are open to seeing their gender as not one strict feminine thing, but one that is made up of a variety of talented females. What a diverse character the woman is, how many interests she has and what a life she has had. And I am so happy that they haven’t tried to shoehorn in a recipe at the end like so many other magazines. Why do I need to know how to make sourdough bread? I’m already well-fed by Riposte’s rapport.