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Interview—Maile and Gemma from Accidental Discharge
Written by Sinead Stubbins — 26th February 2015

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Accidental Discharge is a new magazine with a name you have to whisper, depending on where you are. Editor Maile Shanti and Art Director Gemma Mahoney set out to make a feminist publication that could ‘unite women’ as well as offer them a judgement-free space for their writing and art. It’s all pretty impressive given Maile lives in Perth and Gemma lives in Melbourne.

We chatted to Maile and Gemma about feminism, being a teenager and how they came up with that name.

Why did you start Accidental Discharge?

Maile: Teenage-hood was a pretty tough time for me. I wish I’d had the chance to read a magazine that told me I wasn’t alone, that there was more to life than what I looked like and pleasing boys. I think girls really need communities of other girls who talk about things. High school and your early twenties are full of a lot of girl-on-girl fights.

How would you sum up Accidental Discharge to a potential reader?

Maile: Our magazine is a place that allows young women to explore female identity. It focuses on girls’ rights to portray their bodies in whatever way they wish, and is a beautiful space that inspires women to create and to unite together as sisters. I think women share very special connections—we aimed to show that in this issue.

Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted it to be like?

Gemma: We wanted the magazine to appeal mostly to girls. We wanted the pages and content to be engaging and inspiring; the look and feel of the magazine is intended to be quite feminine and simple. We wanted to capture a raw and hands-on feel, so we used a lot of collages to complement the articles. As we were states apart, we never really got to nut out the overall aesthetic together; we just let it come about naturally. For the next issue we will be working together in Melbourne, so we are going to really sit down to work out and develop our look and feel further.

How do you two know each other?

Gemma: We met in an unusual way—through a guy we both dated. We weren’t too fond of each other; it was a complicated situation. Despite all the drama, Maile contacted me to do all the design work. It was at this point that all was forgotten and we developed a real friendship. Now all I want is for Maile to live in Melbourne.

Gemma, I remember you telling me that some people were put off by the feminist angle of the magazine. Is that something that motivated you to create the mag?

Gemma: I think a lot of people think feminism can be dramatic and a little too ‘out there’. People may be put off by the nudity and honesty, but that is exactly what we want to create. We want to be an honest and pure magazine for girls. It is motivating to teach people about feminism and show that it can’t necessarily be stereotyped.

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What’s your favourite piece in the magazine?

Maile: That’s a pretty tricky question! I really loved interviewing Ros from Tsuno and Lina Esco from Free The Nipple. Reading what Lina spoke about is really inspiring to me; I read her article the most when I need a kick of inspiration and determination, especially seeing as she’s gotten so far over the past year. Also, Felicity Downie’s images are stunning. I feel so grateful to have been able to print her work.

Maile, you mention Tavi Gevinson as an influence in your editor’s letter. Who else inspired the issue?

Lena Dunham was and is another big influence for me. I loved her book and her TV series and the fact that she has such a strong, empowering voice. She just says everything how it is and doesn’t care what other people think of her, and that is really cool. Petra Collins was another major influence—I think for the first few months the only influences and details I sent to Gemma were Petra’s work. I was obsessed! Her work is incredible; it would be my dream to interview her about her work.

Lastly, does it make you laugh every time someone is a little bit uncomfortable saying Accidental Discharge?

Maile: It’s pretty great! I work at a little clothes store in town and we sell them at the counter, and I watch everyone’s reactions to the title. My teachers were so uncomfortable by it when I started it; it’s the whole point, so it’s fun.

Accidental Discharge is available at The Good Copy’s shop.