Katherine Shaw blends laughter and feminism at The Syndrome Mag

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Katherine Shaw has always appreciated comedy, and she has recently embraced the title "funny woman." In fact, humor was a much needed relief during her 4+ years working in community health care. Clinic life was extremely stressful, requiring her to respond to life-threatening situations on a daily basis. “Seeing the humorous side of things has always been my form of medication” she says, but the stress took a toll on her personal health. “It's kind of funny - all my years of studying trauma and yet there I was, being traumatized by my career without realizing it,” she says. Eventually, Shaw found her exit and opened a new chapter. 

In 2018, Shaw made a dramatic shift to embrace feminist writing. She began writing for a non-profit called The Syndrome Mag, whose mission is to promote gender equality through humor and satire. Shaw writes on topics such as: body perception (body politics, fat-shaming), the beauty industry, women's health, reproductive rights, and sexism in the workplace.  Now part of the editorial team, Shaw and several colleagues released their first book in March 2019, Random Female Syndromes: Funny fixes for all the things you thought were wrong with you.

An M.A. in Cultural Studies (MACS) graduate, Shaw created a pathway for uniting her passions for humor and feminism. “The MACS program provided me with language and an understanding of power dynamics so that my humor is better informed. For me, humor is a tool that undermines discrimination by pointing out the hypocrisy and malevolence active in our society. Writing feminist comedy is my favorite political act, and I combat the belief that ‘women aren't funny’ and other stereotypes with every punchline."

Shaw appreciates The Syndrome Mag for the rare platform it is. “There are so many stories that are never published, and Syndrome works to give those stories a space,” she says. “As an editor, I've been gifted an opportunity to mentor new writers and collaborate with funny women, all while we fight for social justice. It's extremely fulfilling to engage my MACS knowledge into an everyday practice - hey, those student loan payments weren't for nothing!"