Note: This is a guest blog from the editors of MVMENT magazine, “an outlet through which victims (of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, abuse and more) and their allies can describe their first-hand experiences and an open forum for our community to discuss issues of gender and sexuality.” You can follow MVMENT on Twitter @mvmentmag.
In wake of a series of sexual misconducts at U.S. universities and preparatory schools in 2016, a student at Phillips Exeter Academy, a preparatory high school in New Hampshire, formed an idea to take action. Students needed a place to go explore these issues outside of problematic and awkward health classes. In response, MVMENT was envisioned as a community of student activists, with a mission dedicated to discussing sensitive topics of gender and sexuality in an honest and open manner.
In December of 2017, MVMENT was one person – which grew to two, and then four. The students involved spread the message to friends on other campuses, eventually establishing a network of liaisons at 20 high schools and colleges from New Hampshire to California. They were in the midst of finalizing the website and writing editorial guidelines while interviewing future members of the organization daily. The first issue became available in March of the following year. With each successive issue, artworks and photography joined the literary pieces, MVMENT built a social media presence and the community diversified to still more schools and different types of media.
In order to reach as many fellow students as possible, MVMENT puts out monthly issues and blog posts every week. The magazine curates literary work from staff and contributors, pairing it with video, art and music projects. Issue 7, the most recent, was dedicated to the struggles of transgender students on their campuses. Works range from stories of survivors reckoning with their assaults to opinion pieces on current issues of contention to photography to original singles written and recorded for MVMENT.
Each successive issue, however, brings its own challenges. Many of the articles MVMENT editors receive account unconscionable violations of students’ bodies. Editors work to revise these pieces while maintaining the author’s voice and agency to tell their own story, and the process can be a taxing balance. MVMENT also has to be constantly changing to accommodate a growing number of staff and contributors. The board focuses on everything from the nuts and bolts of each week’s articles to the organizational plan months down the road.
Despite the struggles, every hardship pays off tenfold. MVMENT Magazine, after over a year of effort, now serves upwards of 35 campuses, and its pieces have been read collectively over 200,000 times. From the editors themselves:
MVMENT is becoming more than a magazine, it is an organization for activists, a resource, a place to dispel ignorance, a guide for a better future and the reason for building it.
If you want an explanation of why we undertake this work every day, every week, every month, look no further than the creed with which we stamp every issue:
Read. Engage. Discuss. This culture can only survive in silence.”