The Makings of Mxogyny with Maisie Palmer

Maisie Palmer
Maisie Palmer is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh who studies MA Politics. She is invested in amplifying the voices of those who are being failed by governments, institutions and society, at large. Prior to university, Maisie became a scholar of the Dick Camplin Educational Trust for ‘overcoming significant barriers to gain a place at university.’ During her second year at Edinburgh, she founded Mxogyny, a non-profit online publication which shares the art, poetry and writing of marginalised individuals. Last year, Maisie took her studies abroad when gaining a place at Sciences Po, Paris as an Erasmus scholar. Here, she collaborated with Sciences Po Refugee Help (SPRH) to draft a working paper that exposed the human rights violations of transferring asylum seekers from France to Bulgaria. She recently won the Ellie Maxwell Award, as credited by Firefly International,  for her work at Mxogyny and recently attended Scotland’s International Development Alliance Conference 2019 as a representative of the publication.

“As I’m beginning to pursue my own professional path beyond university, I’m becoming increasingly aware of how sexism can play into workplace dynamics. As a woman, you face the double bind of needing to be ‘masculine’ enough to seem competent in your work and ‘feminine’ enough to be perceived as attractive. I think I definitely fear not being taken seriously because of my gender, which can leave me second-guessing my own talents whilst instilling the belief that I’ll need to try twice as hard to gain the respect of the people I work with. I want women to feel confident when they move into historically male settings and know that they got there because they worked hard and not just because they got lucky. “

It was the class Personal Autonomy and Political Liberty that allowed Maisie and I to cross paths. For both of us, we were thousands of miles away from home but in Paris, we found another home. A home to art, culture, and belonging in forms we had never experienced before. This political theory class became the springboard for some of the many fruitful conversations we had about privilege, class, or intersectionality countering a critical lens with which to explore the Euro-centric canon of philosophers and theorists we were to learn about. It seemed such a beautiful coincidence then nonetheless to find friendship in this big city and to find the commonality of creating space through writing and arts within an online platform. For me, it’s ajourney2success but for Maisie it’s Mxogyny. We came across the importance of self expression through different journeys but it all was rooted in the cornerstone of human connectivity. The depth of human relationships as manifested through our feelings of belonging and our active engagement in building one another up to feel understood. Today, I’m glad to share the inspirations behind Mxogyny and Maisie’s story. Her life lessons that unfolded into her unique platform that has grown abundantly with the often unexplored and ignored stories.


C: Given your work in sharing diverse voices through Mxogyny, a platform you founded to highlight marginalised voices, what are some of the challenges you feel contributors still tackle and how do you think the arts play a role in dismantling systemic and oppressive forces?

M: One of the main challenges that my contributors continue to face is self-doubt, or a general lack of confidence, in their own work which is likely rooted in not seeing themselves represented in the media or the creative world. Contributors don’t always recognise that their own talent is worthy to be consumed, shared and related to; Imposter Syndrome is too frequently felt by marginalised voices when they enter competitive industries such as the arts. Mxogyny tries to counter this by creating a space where their presence as creatives is openly appreciated.

In terms of dismantling existing power structures, it’s not news to anyone that women, working class voices, members of the LGBTQ+, minority groups and the disabled have been historically under-represented in the arts. Though we’ve seen somewhat of an opening over the last century, the first to play ‘catch up’ are undoubtedly the members of these groups that are privileged – likely white with high socio-economic standing. I hope that Mxogyny in some way contributes to amplifying the narratives of those who don’t fit into this category whilst asking those who do to think critically about their position.

C: Right, I think you state it quite clearly that art has always been a medium that reflects power dynamics. How throughout history, we see the powerful dictating what culture is through defining what art is. Even our experiences in Paris with its plethora of museums and cultural experiences of the arts whether that be through opera, dancing, music, or more… the historical site of museums such as the Louvre has been a testament to what you term the “dismantling of existing power structures” by various artists and engagers of arts. You’ve hinted at the underlying factors behind the philosophy behind Mxogyny but were there experiences or particular people that inspired you to start Mxogyny? Walk me through your journey!

M: Mxogyny came into existence mainly because I did a lot of talking. I was inspired by the conversations that I was having with others about their daily experiences and I wanted to make these personal moments, that had instilled me with so much pride and courage, to be translated into something concrete that could be shared with others. My friends were dealing with so many different issues that were shaped by their gender-identity, be the topic endometriosis, working in STEM or sexual assault. Mxogyny was born because of the diversity of experiences that I’d been exposed to through connecting with others. I wanted to provide a place where contributors could claim ownership over their narratives and where they could also help others by making these issues public.

C: I think that it’s so beautiful that the conversations you’ve had, have spilled over into the pieces on Mxogyny. Experiences that may seem so unique to an individual in essence are but through bringing these stories public, there is a sort of validation of suffering, agony, grief, or joy that is also experienced in a different way by another individual. The shared solidarity and consolidation of diversity. The part about ownership is so valuable. It must be incredibly humbling to see contributors work online and feel that their story is heard, that their truth matters. What has been the most rewarding moment thus far? Is there a particular story or shared piece that resonates with you?

M: I think that the most rewarding moment so far was when Mxogyny won the Ellie Maxwell Award in May 2019. It was a big moment for me and the team because it validated all the time and effort that we’d put into getting the website off the ground. The award meant that we’d been formally recognised as a socio-cultural initiative that was making a positive difference.

The amount and variety of work we’ve received over the last 16 months has been overwhelming, I couldn’t pick just one piece. But I will say that I really admire it when contributors grapple with difficult personal issues such as grief, personal trauma, abortion … the list goes on. I find it so inspiring. Their bravery in sharing these experiences is the whole reason Mxogyny exists. 

C: A big congratulations to you! I’m sure that its often been said that it isn’t the extrinsic motivations of awards to propel creators to create but being recognized for your contributions certainly has a place in feeling like your work is making a difference in some way for sure. So to really cap it off then, I would love for you to reflect on your own experiences as a woman. And how that really shapes your creative direction with Mxogyny. It’s to my understanding that many of those who share their stories on Mxogyny identify as female, so what do you think continues to be a barrier for many women in your community or even for yourself?

M: As I’m beginning to pursue my own professional path beyond university, I’m becoming increasingly aware of how sexism can play into workplace dynamics. As a woman, you face the double bind of needing to be ‘masculine’ enough to seem competent in your work and ‘feminine’ enough to be perceived as attractive. I think I definitely fear not being taken seriously because of my gender, which can leave me second-guessing my own talents whilst instilling the belief that I’ll need to try twice as hard to gain the respect of the people I work with. I want women to feel confident when they move into historically male settings and know that they got there because they worked hard and not just because they got lucky.


Mxogyny, an award winning website, is a platform for marginalized individuals who face hardship due to their gendered, non-gendered identity or sexuality. If you are interested in submitting a piece, information can be found here or contact mxogyny@gmail.com. To stay updated, follow Mxogyny on Instagram or Facebook.


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