People of Marvel: Julia and Charlie, Creators of The Rally magazine
“A mag that won't make you sad.”
In the digital age of news, it would seem that just about anybody can be a journalist. Understandably so, the stories dominating the headlines affect all of us living in the #metoo era, where upskirting and period poverty have become major points of contention, even entering the legislative arena, to varying degrees of success.
Women in particular have been galvanised by stories of exploitation, inequality, but also female empowerment, adding their voice, and their words, to the narrative of discontent that has come to define the current state of affairs.
While the collection of stories, essays and fem-lit proliferating our newsfeeds and inboxes should be celebrated, how do we separate the compelling and thoughtful pieces of work from the click-bait, which is carefully curated to be provocative and inflammatory; adding to the noise, rather than cutting through it.
To rise above the poorly written guff takes courage, guts and humour, and we think The Rally might just be able to square that circle, resisting the temptation of #fakenews to deliver topical, insightful, and at times uncomfortable thought pieces affecting young women today.
Inspired by the likes of Gal-Dem, ManRepeller and Caitlin Moran, Charlie and Julia are creating an online presence which faces up to the difficult conversations, speaking about periods, sexual harassment and unrealistic beauty ideals. Abrupt, unashamed, and brave, they ask the questions others are scared to, because lets face it, we're all thinking it too. Rather than rehashing the same old arguments, The Rally is tenacious and aware, they're not just a regular mag, they're a cool mag.
We caught up with Charlie and Julia to find out about the process of finding their niche, their take on modern day journalism, and why Piers Morgan is keeping them up at night.
What inspired you to start the Rally?
Would love to say it came from seeing clearly what was missing in women’s media and feeling like we had the ANSWER to it. But it was a lot more clouded, and full of self-doubt, than that. We loved writing. We found each other funny. We both loved learning about feminist issues and rambling about them as best we could in the corners of parties. So Charlie came up with the idea of starting a magazine. And I (Julia) then delayed the process because I got hung up on why people would want to listen to us and finding a single-minded proposition for our magazine. I thought once we had that clear, we would find our niche in a pool of such great emerging and existing online magazines.
The mag originally centred around female creative talent – we love looking at art and feeling cultured. But are we a pair of artistic Zeitgeists with culture reviewing know-how? Absolutely not. It soon descended into writing the kind of stuff we were chatting about at parties. The kind of stuff we want to read – informative pieces on feminist issues we’re learning about; interviews with fantastic females getting their advice and gems; and (hopefully) humorous pieces.
And actually, through writing what we want we’ve found our niche – our tone and we think an attitude that doesn’t pretend to know it all, but wants to give some useful, informative and positive reads to people our age.
Where did the name come from?
I (Charlie) sat with a notepad, writing every name that came into her head. Most were awful, feminist cliches or ‘ziney’. The Rally felt perfect as it reflects us well as a gaggle of gals getting together to try and make a tiny difference, plus The Rally sounds better than ‘The Gaggle’.
Do you guys have day jobs or is this a full-time thing? What's the mission?
We both have jobs outside of Rallying. Julia works full time as a creative at Mother London, Charlie is a model signed to Established. Both pretty useful backgrounds for thinking about a mag.
We meet when we can to write and come up with ideas. We used to berate ourselves for not meeting up enough. But we’re better now at being kind to ourselves and not putting too much pressure on it. We want this to be a source of joy and not a thing on the to do list to get done.
When we meet up we will spend a good portion chatting about the dream… to work on The Rally full-time and collaborate with an abundance of babes every day and to expand into all sorts of arenas. Basically, when we get together we get incredibly over excited and plan a podcast/sketch show/a series/an article/a party/an event/ a riot/an overthrow/a brunch.
But right now, our mission is to keep writing, and build a small readership who see us as a go to for some humour and some inspiring info on how to change issues affecting women.
What are your thoughts on the state of journalism at the moment?
It’s an interesting one, because the reason we appreciate the current state of journalism is the exact same reason we roll our eyes at it. Now it’s possible for anyone to get their opinions and writing out there. In some ways that is great, so many of us are impassioned and coming together to make change through writing which is important considering the current state of the world.
But on the flip side on the flip side the over saturation has meant that some writing resorts to click-bait tactics to compete and worse, just writing lies. There’s a lot of poorly written guff out there.
I guess journalism is how it’s always been – a mixed bag. It’s just the bag is way bigger. The thing we need to remind ourselves of doing is to branch out a bit and not only read the stuff that reflects our views, as then we just become victims of our own echo chambers.
As much as we love the Guardian, it’s important to get other points of view in our systems. We just need to navigate the mixed bag and find sources to trust. And that will never be the Heats and Daily Mails of this world that get clicks by publishing the most women-hating, backwards, anti-fem shit.
How can we reach out to more women, (ie. not just white, middle class women) via journalism?
You really only start to engage with journalism when you can relate to it. And only a portion of peoples relate to the white middle class voice. So the media desperately needs to represent a truly diverse range of men and women in order to reach the full breadth of society.
It’s great to tackle this at a grassroots level. Publications like Gal Dem were set up to give a non-white female perspective on issues for example. But we cannot rely solely on this. And it’s wrong to. Small publications reflecting a certain part of society is just indicative of magazine culture, it shouldn’t be caused by the feeling that the media isn’t representing you.
There are initiatives in the media industry to diversify the sector but they’re not doing enough quickly enough. There should be more initiatives that start in school, and free apprenticeships that get people into the industry. Diversify the routes in and you might diversify an industry so that it actually reflects and engages all of society.
Female empowerment articles are becoming more and more prevalent which is great. How do you feel about men being a part of this conversation too?
We couldn’t be more keen to include men in the conversation about equality. A one-sided chat can only move these issues so far. Men are deeply affected by the patriarchy too and we can’t ignore that anymore. A lot of women’s suffering is due to men’s internal suffering in silence.
There are certain areas that feel a little raw, and maybe require men to take the back bench a little, issues like consent and sexual assault, but as women we may need to open our minds too and sit and listen to a man’s perspective, it may be blood curdling, it may be enlightening, but we won’t find out and move the chat forward until we listen.
It would be really cool if we all desperately wanted to learn and listen to each other all the time.
Let's talk about ideas. How do you find them? Or do they come to you? Any advice for aspiring writers?
It's really good to chat to a collaborator. We try and force some ideas out of ourselves. Like ‘summers coming up … something about …. bloody… bikinis?’. But usually we will be ranting about something and a light bulb moment occurs.
Our beauty project ‘Too Much’ came about through a book we read about women that are ‘too something’ for the media to handle. We decided to create some make up looks that would inspire women to be a bit too much, too aggressive, too confusing, too sexy.
Write as many ideas down as you can – the seemingly silly ones, or even unoriginal ones. We would say always go with the one on the list that you’re drawn to, or the on you know you can write. Just to get writing is half the battle. Don’t get too hung up on what topic is best.
Humour seems to be an effective tool in your writing, can you expand on this?
We usually find our ideas by laughing at something. We think it’s pretty important to make our subjects accessible and fun to read as there are already a lot of magazines out there literally designed to make you feel terrible about yourself or are ultra-serious. Our aim is to make the reader feel informed after visiting the magazine, while also being positive.
How can we make sure better journalism *like The Rally* rises to the top and supersedes the "popular trash" that is the daily mail, heat magazine etc.
We think the tide is really changing now. People are constantly glued to the computer in their hand and people are because of that, they are constantly learning. Every single day people are learning and adapting their attitudes just through media they’ve digested from Instagram - we certainly do.
People want to read stuff they can trust, which is pretty hard to navigate in these terrifying times. If there is media out there like The Rally that commits to providing genuinely useful and considered information, then maybe as people seek a trusted source, they stumble across better journalism and support it. Also, we think women are fully sick of the kind media that makes you cry inside after reading them. So hopefully they will fade into obscurity along with Piers Morgan.
What’s the wisest thing anyone has ever told you?
Stop taking life so damn seriously - that was RuPaul.
Do you have a role model in the industry?
Charlie: So many! In terms of writers… Caitlin Moran blew my mind when I read How to Be a Woman, until then I thought being a woman was one long painful period and arse grab, she made being a woman and shouting from the rooftops really funny. And cool. She made women cool for me.
Julia: Admittedly I’ve not read that book. I have to say Nora Ephron for how irreverent, honest, reassuring, life-affirming her writing style was. Despite being the writing powerhouse that she was she had such a down to earth spirit in the way she talked about failure in both personal and work life. Agh. Just love her.
What keeps you up at night?
Charlie: Chronic Insomnia. Foxes shagging and epic Hollywood blockbuster type rants between me and Piers Morgan in my head. Hindsight. 20/20 BLOODY HINDSIGHT really gets my goat.
Julia: All my decisions to date and 3am crack deals outside my window. That sort of thing.
Any small, creative businesses that should be on our radar at the moment?
Break The Habit Press. They’re a duo who quit their day jobs to set up a publishing business for books that challenge the status quo. They have just published 100 women i know by Phoebe Montague, it’s a collection of candid accounts of rape and sexual assault, it’s painful but essential reading and a really important step in talking about consent and educating us on sex.
There are so many fantastic small businesses too, like ‘POTYOURTITSAWAY’ an independent potter with boobies on ceramics. Eliza Hopewell plates – she does beautiful personalised hand-painted nudes on plates. Liv and Dom who make beautiful naked lady ceramics to hang on your xmas tree or stick your incense in… you can see a theme arising here.
Fave newsletter/magazine that you're reading?
We keep mentioning Gal-Dem is amazing. Bitch magazine based in Portland keeps me (charlie) in line. I’m constantly learning from them. They don’t let anyone slip up, and every single article is so painfully considered and clever you learn a million things per piece.
Reductress for being hilarious.
Lenny Letter is a wonderful source of a true reflection of the female experience.
ManRepeller for its personal confessional pieces that make you feel less alone with your brain.
I’m (Charlie) also incredibly stoked to read Chidera Eggerue’s book ‘What a time to be alone’ - I’m hoping to soak up her self-loving energy that I think all women really need to focus on at the moment.