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  • Wonderful Women: Amy Middleton Founder of Archer Magazine

    Amy Middleton is the founder of Archer Magazine. Archer Magazine is  dedicated to documenting sexuality and the relevant discourse of our time. Archer is forward thinking and dynamic and Amy is committed to breaking down the stigma associated with sexuality in this country and starting a new conversation around all its facets.

    Archer is looking to publish two print additions a year and will be publishing the first one around November. Their current Pozible campaign (http://pozible.com/archermagazine) is asking for your support. So, get to know Archer's founding editor below and do all you can if this project resonates with you.

    Mia Muse is definitely happy to be supporting Archer, particularly after reading all the juicy, insightful and dynamic perspectives Amy had to share with us. Brilliant and important stuff. Hells yeah to Wonderful Women!

    Interview by Vanessa Muradian



    So first up tell us who you are and what Archer Magazine is, please!
    I’m a Melbourne-based journalist with an interest in sexuality and difference. The idea behind Archer is to capture a snapshot of Australia’s current attitudes to sexual diversity, so that each print edition provides a relic of the sexual equality movement. We’re aiming for two issues a year, with a cross-section of Australian writers and photographers, both established and emerging, expressing those attitudes in a balanced and interesting way.

    So I read that you have been a journalist for the past 10 years. Where did you work and how much of the past decade served what you’re doing today?
    My started out at The Bulletin, an iconic weekly news mag that was axed soon after. I’ve worked on a string of Aussie mags since then including Australian Geographic, Wheels, The Big Issue and Rolling Stone.
    This career path has had a huge influence on Archer for the simple fact that if you’ve been an editor for 10 years and you suddenly have an idea for a magazine that you really believe in, it really becomes your duty to put it together. Otherwise you aren’t really doing your job properly.

    Were there points where the dream was greater (maybe even the dream was Archer) and you felt your job didn’t serve you? If so, what did you do to keep motivated?
    All the magazines I’ve worked on have taught me something. But when you are researching and writing about topics like science, travel, cars or caravans, a little voice keeps luring you back to the topics you feel most innately passionate about. For me, those are around relationships, sexuality and individuality – all the areas Archer will explore in its first few issues.

    Why is conversation about sexuality and the surrounding issues important to you?
    Conversation around sexuality is important to everyone, not just me. I focus on it because I’m interested in it but in terms of relevance, it’s as universal as any other aspect of the human experience. It’s also the most stigmatised. Sexuality is so varied and conversation shines a light on these differences, makes them easier to understand, accept and identify. There is also a level of responsibility we need to take for our sexuality, which is why I haven’t shied away from topics such as the sexual desire for different age groups, which is being covered by The Slap author Christos Tsiolkas in our first issue. The topic is challenging but it’s very real and very important in our collective conversation.

    In hindsight at what age did you recognise these passions?
    I was a pretty sexual kid, so I’ve been curious, concerned, anxious, bewildered and excited by my own sexuality since I was about five. I fell in love with a girl in my early teens, so I was forced to examine my stance on diversity (and everyone else’s) from an early and impressionable age. I’ve had relationships with males and females since then. This history puts me in a unique position – I’ve been talking to people about sexuality for a long time, giving me years of mentally documented attitudes and reactions.

    How do those around you feel about your endeavour?
    There has been a lot of excitement about Archer since I first mentioned the concept, both within my circles and externally. When friends of mine started hearing about Archer from people outside my circles, I started to realise how much anticipation there was around the title. There is a real excitement around new media in Australia, and it’s a great motivator to get the magazine out there.

    What do you do when you’re not focused on Archer? What keeps you vital?
    I work at Australian Geographic on a near-full-time basis, which keeps me plenty busy in addition to Archer. I’m also heavily into the music and writing scenes in Melbourne, so I’m out most weekends seeing bands or meeting people for drinks. (It isn’t just a cliché that alcohol is synonymous with journalism, and for good reason – some of the best stories are passed on over a beer. That’s my justification, anyway.)

    What’s the biggest bit of advice you’ve received in taking the leap toward running a start-up?
    Zoe Sanders, editor of Meanjin, suggested we swallow our pride and crowd-fund the first issue, which is happening right now (http://pozible.com/archermagazine). I was sceptical, purely because it’s hard to ask people for money before they’re even familiar with your brand, but it’s proven really valuable. It’s a good gauge of public interest, which has been really high so far.

    Now these next lot of questions focus specifically on sexuality, as we’re a sex-positive site and open conversation is important to us. However, I also strongly believe that when women are following their dreams and doing their ‘thing’ that this is the sexiest of all (I almost sound like Ashton Kutcher now) and strength, passion, creativity, the mind and sexuality should be celebrated as one! So I hope you don’t mind. ;)

    One thing about sex you wish they taught you in school?
    That desire is nothing to be ashamed of.

    What does sexuality mean to you?
    I think people underestimate how much sexuality is a part of identity. It can be the difference between a friendship and a relationship. It can define you, it can be secondary, it can be a mystery… it’s as variable between individuals as a fingerprint. I think it’s really vital in understanding ourselves and other people, as well as human interaction.

    Have you had any breakthrough moments regarding your sexuality?
    A huge one occurred when I was about 12, and I made a sobbing confession to my mum that I was masturbating. She told me that was totally normal, and proved it by showing me the relevant chapter in the book Every Girl. I wasn’t raised with any prescriptive religion or dogma, and my parents are open and liberal about sexuality, but it was still a long time before I could shake the shame that accompanied my own desire. This is probably the biggest piece of evidence for me that society is stunted when it comes to sexuality. If a bit of discussion around sex can save some poor kid the guilt and sadness I felt around my instincts, then that’s a huge win.

    What does sexy mean to you, what do you find sexy?
    One of the sexiest things for me is diversity. I find it really attractive when people naturally exist outside of prescribed roles and stereotypes. Androgyny is a big one, and not just in an aesthetic sense – any individual who embraces their difference in a genuine and unapologetic way. If I dig a little deeper, strength of character, confidence and the ownership of individual desire are at the basis of these qualities.

    When do you feel sexy?
    I’m at my best when I’m independent and committed to achieving something. This definitely doesn’t happen every day – I’m all too in touch with my own vulnerability – but my finer moments occur when I achieve something based on my own ability or strength of character.

    Describe sex in one word?
    Imperative.

    Any tips on harnessing your sexuality?
    Only that it’s completely individual and should be owned, with all its quirks, kinks and vulnerabilities. It’s liberating when you remember there is no ‘normal’, only a standard you set for yourself and a lot of fun to be had in between.

    Thank you Amy!

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  • Comments on this post (1 comment)

    • Lauren says...

      This was a wonderful piece…Thank you Vanessa and Amy! I bet there was some other fascinating discussion that wasn’t printed. I can’t wait to read Archer – it is time for it’s arrival. Lauren x

      On September 08, 2013

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