In late March, following a request for more nonfiction submissions to The Butter, a feminist publication and sister-site to The Toast, Roxane Gay listed reasons for why submissions were typically rejected. Her advice is solid, worth reading, and applicable to many publications — your topic isn’t evergreen, the essay is too chronological, the prose is just not good. Her advice is also specific to her personal tastes & the publication she is running, as it should be.
I see a LOT of essays about sexual violence but not enough of them look beyond the writer and her or his experience @joylanzendorfer
— roxane gay (@rgay) March 29, 2015
So when I saw this, I thought ok. I thought that’s valid. I thought that’s definitely true of my essay, which I am pretty sure I had also submitted to The Butter. But also: in the context of writing about sexual violence, there is no such thing as “overdone.” By all means, if your story looks beyond your experience, please send it to Roxane Gay. She is incredible and kind and doing great things. But if your story does not go beyond your experience — if your story is still just you working to reclaim your own experience as YOURS, if your story is a thematic mess full of you contradicting yourself, if your story is a poem that’s twenty pages of “rape fucking sucks fucking sucks fucking sucks” — there are still places for it.
The individual narrative is important. If you want to tell your story, there are people who want to listen, and publications wanting to showcase your voice. The individual narrative isn’t self-indulgence — I have learned more & understood more about sexual violence and the after-effects of trauma from reading the poetry of my friends, the essays of people who became my friends, and the writing of people who are still strangers on the Internet but whose voices are impactful and necessary and needed. This writing has contextualized my own experience, and validated my own post-trauma processing. It’s important, necessary work.
Are you writing about your experiences with sexual violence? Below is a list of publications that accept work on the subject, ranging from journals that specifically center around individual assault narratives (Empath Lit) to those that have a general literary focus yet understand that these subjects have a place within that.
Black Girl Dangerous: essays by queer and/or trans POC
Bone Bouquet: poetry
Community @ Feministing: essays
Electric Cereal: poetry
Empath Lit: essays, poetry, prose. Previously published OK
Entropy Mag: essays, poetry, prose
Finery: poetry, prose
Fruita Pulp: poetry
Girls Get Busy Zine: essays, poetry, prose
Human Parts @ Medium: essays
HYSTERIA: essays, poetry, prose
I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault: essays
Love Me, Love My Belly: essays, poetry, prose
LUMEN Mag: essays, poetry: prose
Luna Luna Mag: essays, poetry, prose
Model View Culture: essays incorporating social media or the tech community
No Tokens Journal: poetry, prose
Potluck Magazine: essays, poetry, prose
Quaint Magazine: poetry
Quill Magazine: essays
The ManifestStation: essays
The Riveter Review: poetry, prose. Previously published OK
The Rumpus: essays, poetry, prose
Split this Rock: poetry
Stigma Fighters: essays incorporating mental illness
TriQuarterly: essays, poetry, prose
Visceral Uterus: poetry
Weird Sister: essays
If you write or edit for a publication you’d like added — or if you just know we left something important off the list! — please comment below.
is a Moscow-born, Seattle-raised feminist poet and essayist. Her first chapbook, MY HEART IN ASPIC, will be published by Porkbelly Press in 2015 and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in No Tokens Journal, VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Bone Bouquet, Weird Sister, and elsewhere. She is an assistant editrix at Fruita Pulp and can be found online at sonyavatomsky.tumblr.com & @coolniceghost.