Even in the middle of a deadly pandemic in the world, we have no right to be lazy. We have to get out of our homes somehow like a mythological creature who knows more recipes and is more fit. Finally, we should have read all the books we have postponed, exercise, play creative games with our child and maybe attend online training.
Lazy Women is a platform dedicated to all women who have been accused of laziness at least at some point in their lives. We spoke with Zsofi and Bori, the founders of the Lazy Women website, who define their mission as fighting the negative connotations of laziness and the oppression of productivity that specifically targets women.
Could you please introduce yourself a bit -your background and life? And also, I am wondering when did you start to define yourself as a feminist?
Zsofi: I am Zsofi, I am from Budapest, Hungary. I studied and lived in the UK for a long time. I also lived in France for a while and now I am back here again. My background in terms of education and work has always been closely related to politics. I have always been interested in politics that’s why I chose it at university and then I worked in the fields of EU, Hungarian and municipal politics. Now I am working in a more diplomatic area.
So in a way, the idea of feminism has been around me for a long time. As the way I see it, feminism is inherently political. It is about questioning social structures and norms around us and to strive for a more equal society. That said, I am not sure if I was defining myself as a feminist at a young age. But even If I did, I am pretty sure I would have meant a different thing than I mean now. Probably in the last 4-5 years, my interest in gender, defining ourselves, and the world around us became more intense and focused.
Bori: I am Bori, I was also born in Hungary and I’ve been living in the UK for more than 5 years now. I came here first to study at university, and have been working here since. My education was in economics and I work as an economist now. I am fascinated by the relationship between economics and the concept of inequality and the intersections between income and wealth inequality and gender. Like Zsofi said, questioning why things are the way they are and exploring how they could be improved, with regards to gender, is something I’m passionate about.
When Zsofi and I were growing up in Hungary feminism was not necessarily defined as I would define it now, as in many social circles it had a negative connotation at that time. Maybe that’s why I did not define myself as a feminist at an early age. Due to my complicated family background, thinking about gender norms and inequality in a very personal way was present in my life from an early age but when it comes to labels, I don’ think I would have explicitly defined myself as a feminist probably until the age of 17-18. And my definition of feminism evolved since. So even today, the way I define my relationship with feminism, might not hold tomorrow, because I will continue to learn new things which change my perspective.
Who inspires you these days?
B: The young climate activists inspire me a lot. Probably most of us experience situations where our ideas, perspectives are dismissed by old men who hold more decision making power. Young climate activists face these situations very often, in front of a huge audience – and I admire the way they handle these situations and continue to make their case for a better future.
Z: It is a hard question. It might sound like a cliché but I want to mention something from everyday life, my everyday relationships with other women. There’s nothing more inspiring than when women support other women. I am very inspired by the support that women at the highest hierarchical levels show newcomers. They are in positions where few women can be found, and they support and share power with other women.
To mention a concrete example (and completely unrelated), when it comes to my writing on Lazy Women, the work of Haley Nahman inspires me a lot. She’s a Brooklyn-based writer who has a monthly newsletter called Maybe Baby which just deals with fascinating topics in the format of personal essays.
Let’s talk about the establishment of Lazy Women. Can you tell us how this journey started and how it continues now?
Z: It began when the pandemic hit. During the beginning of lockdown, the kind of media that women were bombarded with were always like “use this time to become the better version of yourself” or especially for women “finally you can do your work out” “come out of lockdown thinner and better”. Our website was a response to this kind of media which directs women’s focus to feel bad about themselves. : a platform where you have zero obligations, you can do, think and express whatever you want, and which gives and artistic outlet to women from all around the world.
Even though Lazy Women is often seen as Hungarian, in fact we are an international team. Our goal is to reach beyond the Hungarian audience, hence all our articles are in English. During the lockdown, we had a lot of time to work on this, so our kickstart was fast. Now it is more in the building of a community phase, where we have regularly contributing members. Apart from our online presence, we established several real-life events as well. Once the pandemic allows, we will continue to our Lazy Movement Lab in Hungary, a movement session held every Wednesday in MANYI And now in December 2022, we are proud to have created our first phsyical product, the 2022 Lazy Calendar.
Despite a lot of prejudices, many publications try to make wide and inclusive publications like Lazy Women. What were the challenges for you?
B: There are quite a few things that make it very challenging. I think one of the most challenging parts is that people are used to reading and hearing most stories from the male perspective. Hearing men’s voices in mass publications is the default, even if not explicitly mentioned. And so feminist publications are expected to be explicitly about gender, topics that are traditionally assosiated with women such as makeup, fashion, etc. or feminism, even though this is a very limited understanding of feminist media. It is also writing about regular things that we care about, such as politics, culture, etc. but from the female perspective. This is becoming more and more common,but it is still very limited in Hungarian media for example.
Another challenge of being an independent website is lack of resources. You know, most of our “competitors” have massive sources of advertising, and full time employees which makes running a website and sourcing content a lot more efficient. We have very limited sources, which definitely makes it difficult to manage day-to-day tasks such as making the website more visible, choosing titles, headlines, illustrations, and so on. We are working with incredibly talented people which helps an awful lot to be honest, such as our amazing illustrators whose work attracts a lot of attention on social media. Because you know, we are all competing for people’s attention in social media. A lot of people became regular readers from social media accounts. This is exciting for community building. But it is hard to compete with the companies pumping a lot of money into advertising, or trying to make our page as professional as we can. But this is what we are trying to do.
I love the illustrations you use. I think you work with many different artists, how did you establish this network, how do you bring writers and illustrators together?
Z: Illustrations are of the same value and importance to our website as articles. We enable illustrators and writers to work together. We have started a lot of great dialogues and acquaintances between different people. We have a very large team of illustrators. We have 12 illustrators we worked with for the 2022 calendar. All work is done on a voluntary basis, which shows that many young artists need space to see their drawings. We generally work with people who are also closely interested in the articles. They read the texts and decide which one they feel closer to and which they will draw for. They represent a very important part of the Lazy Women community.
B: Yes, it is a very good process for the authors and illustrators to work together, talk to each other, and try to decide what kind of illustration fits the article best.
When I read the article “NOT BEING A MORNING PERSON DOESN’T MAKE YOU LAZY” by Zsofi, I said to myself, “Oh, I’m not alone”. How does it affect you personally to fight these “productivity, positive vibes” impositions of capitalism?
Z: I can talk about that topic for ages but I am gonna try to make it short. Personally, all the articles I have so far written in Lazy Women somehow relate to the topic of productivity, one of the main subjects around which the platform was created in the first place. The whole world of work is conceptualized in productivity terms. However, we rarely talk about the dichotomy between reproductive work and productive work. Giving voice to jobs that were never seen as productive jobs in the traditional view is also important for us. And at the end of the day, the whole topic is about choices. Enlarging the choices of all women by questioning why we choose the paths that we are on, and what happens if we don’t. It is okay if we choose a job which traditionally considered a job, and it is okay if we don’t – our value should not depend on it.
How would you describe the current state of feminism and activism in Hungary?
B: It is difficult for me to judge because I have not lived in Hungary for the past 5 years. I moved out when I went to university. In terms of feminism, there is a long way to go for sure. I think activism is quite a big issue but I can’t be so helpful about that, maybe Zsofi?
Z: You know there is a Budapest bubble and the rest of the country. I think feminism is not reaching the places where it is needed the most Feminism is still often considered like a post-materialist, bourgeois thing and I think it is a dangerous game. We always have this discussion with Bori like “What is the point of talking about what is feminism instead of bringing it to people who need it?” Instead of spending too much energy on defining it, we should be focusing on bringing its core values to a wide range of people, if that makes sense.
B: This is what I was struggling to express. I do not want to say intellectual bubble but we can talk about young students studying and interested in feminism in Budapest. But I think that the rate of taking action is very low. When it takes action, it is usually very limited. For example, the problem of period poverty in Hungary has been talked about quite a lot recently, which essentially means that many young women do not have access to hygiene products. It’s been a hot topic. But there is a lack of wider discussion on women’s poverty here, which I think period poverty covers only a small area of. Are women generally poorer than men in this country? And if so, how is that linked to education, employment opportunities and norms? What are the other struggles these women face beyond the affordability of hygiene products? I think the scope of this discussion is a good example of what we mean. Such specific issues can be on the agenda from time to time, which is definitely a good thing, but there is still a lack of massive discussions on structural inequality. So there is still a long way to go. There are good developments in activism, it will only take time.
Issues such as the government’s LGBTQ+ law and The Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family received a lot of attention. How do you cope with those policies? Despite this political agenda, what are you doing to look to the future with hope?
Z: It is a really hard question for me because recently I was involved in daily Hungarian politics. I think this situation both scared me and gave me hope. The reason for hope was there is a new politician who breaks free from the corruption and pessimism typical of Hungarian politics. I had the opportunity to work with one of them: Mayor of the first district, Márta V. Naszályi.
B: In the current political agenda, you can be a woman or trans or outside the traditional heterosexual norm they see you as a threat to the ideal family. Imagine ideals of traditional marriages, men going to work, providing food for the family, women giving birth to lots of children.The world might have been like this for some groups decades ago, but now the world has changed. But you are going to be a potential threat to this family ideal if you have different plans for your life, and eventually be impacted by current policies. It is really hard for so many people, especially the LGBTQ+ community.
I think the current state of activism and public opinion on LGBTQ+ issues is very promising – they had huge turnouts at protests this year which really shows the increasing support for these communities. Unfortunately, there might be more LGBTQ+-related policies on the government’s agenda, but if the government changes, I am hopeful about the future when I look at society becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.
You can read the translation of the interview in Turkish here.
Cover image: Nori Csendes