How do you talk about the changing body, about sexuality, about love that is often gentle but sometimes toxic, even violent, about signs of danger, about places to seek help? How can you tell without taboo or vulgarity issues that are often so difficult to address in families, between mothers and daughters, whose complicity is sometimes played out in the tsunami of adolescence?
” How ? But simply! Naturally! insists Zahra Agsous, flipping through the brand new and original school diary 2022-2023, full of freshness, humor and at the same time “educational”, published this summer by the Maison des femmes de Paris. This paradise for to listen and welcome all women, especially victims of violence, but also a place for debate and feminist commitments to “put an end to the patriarchal culture in our society”.
For this lifelong feminist, project manager of action against men’s violence at the “MDF” in rue de Charenton (12th arrondissement), but also a facilitator in “education for sexuality and emotional life”, the lines should still move and more easily touch women in development, teenagers and “adults”, middle school and high school girls. This diary is intended for those, written by the illustrator and author of comics Mélanie Body, whose stories and images evoke the whims of women’s daily lives. A feminist through her art and albums like “Le Blog de Susie” (published by YIL), she tones her commitment with bittersweet humor and benevolence that hit home.
From the changing body to the violenceometer
To this “pedagogical comics agenda”, the idea of which was born from her discovery of the Maison des femmes and her meeting with Zahra Agsous, Mélanie Body rushed back in her teenage years. His own, which is also his 15-year-old daughter’s and millions of young girls who don’t necessarily have an answer to their constant questions.
“These years of college and high school are a period of profound upheaval. Hence the idea of a short cartoon a week that deals with all the questions that arise for young girls becoming women,” she explains. We talk about body hair, anatomy, contraception, gynecology, consent… without taboos, without detours and without judgement.
Her heroines are the little “rebels”, expressive young girls who have all sorts of (mis)adventures. “I tried to do this with kindness and to bring a little lightness into the evocation of sometimes serious subjects, to tone down some of them”, explains Mélanie, who also chose to carry out the diary on a voluntary basis, each copy sold will bring 2.50 euros to the Maison des femmes for its many actions.
Thus the weeks pass and with them the often easy and fun discovery of what Mélodie Body calls “our felling”. The changing body, the little catastrophe of “poppies”, all these mysteries which are not necessarily a problem, but which parents are very often reluctant to talk about clearly. Yet another week and we go from the first consultation with the gynecologist to love, from the perfect and respectful agreement to the toxic relationship, from danger to proven violence that the cartoon version “violence meter” allows to measure. All sprinkled with short quotes from famous feminists, and little “rebels” with blank signs to color yourself, “to put your own thoughts on them”.
In the last pages, the diary also gives addresses and numbers “important in case of concern”. “I could have made a classic cartoon out of it. But when we have read it, we put it away, explains Mélanie. This diary is made to accompany young girls throughout the school year. If they don’t use it as a diary, with its two days per page so there is room to write, it can be used as a journal or even a family journal, allowing parents to tackle sensitive topics. »
How many girls will use it? How many will dare to leaf through the 194 pages with their classmates? All of them can in any case recognize themselves in the little “rebels” with hair, skin colors and appearances as diverse as in “real life”.
Comics Diary 2022-2023, 15 euros (with check payable to MDF), on sale at Maison des Femmes, 163, rue de Charenton (XIIe), or via the Internet (+€5 shipping costs) via the website helloasso.com