Global Grrrl Zine Network –
is this all about?|
Where in our adult-run media landscape can critically and politically thinking feminist girls and women, and lesbian, queer and transgender youth from around the globe express their voices without being censored or ridiculed? It is in self-made, independent zines (short for ‘magazines’) that we put together, publish and distribute ourselves where we freely unfold our own worlds. In zines such as Bendita (Brazil), Bitch (U.S.), Clit Rocket (Italy), good girl (Canada), Grrrl:Rebel (Malaysia), Pink Punkies (Argentina), and Pretty Ugly (Australia), we talk about our experiences and thoughts, as well as anger and resistance of growing up in a patriarchal and homophobic society. While forming a global network of grrrl zinesters, we passionately discuss feminist theory, politics and activism and their impact on our lives.
Mala Zine (U.S.), Equality (Brazil), Riot Grrrl Europe (Europe), big boots (Canada), Evolution of a Race Riot (U.S), Fight Back! A guide to feminist self defense (Sweden), Grrrl:Rebel (Malaysia), MagaZine (Brazil), The Urban Hermitt (U.S.), Bamboo Girl (U.S), Framing Historical Theft (Philippines), Anti-Muse (Germany), Clit Rocket (Italy), good girl (Canada), Grrrl Zine Network (Austria), Laughter and the Sound of Teacups (Australia), underpants (New Zealand), (her) riot distro (Sweden), Hip Mama (U.S.), Bendita: Latin women’s initiative against violence towards women (Brazil), Catch That Beat! (Japan), There are not enough hours in the world for all the bitching I have to do (Singapore), Girl Conspiracy (Sweden/Finland), Venus Zine (U.S.).
Throughout history, women have consistently demanded and gained the right to vote, study, and participate in social and political life through self-publishing. Grrrl zines represent a continuation of this long tradition of feminist alternative and grassroots publishing. When in 1991 the riot grrrl movement emerged out of the alternative and punk music scene in the United States, thousands of young women began to produce personal and political zines with explicitly feminist themes. Nowadays, many found a place on the Internet and are available as e-zines. Although both - zines and the riot grrrl movement - have been declared sometimes as dead, I found lots of amazing international grrrl zines and won't buy into the "feminism is dead" cry: IT'S NOT! It's very well alive! I believe strongly that grrrl zines are important tools for demanding and achieving global women’s, and queer and transgender people’s empowerment and liberation. Here, I would like to introduce you to a world of “grrl revolutionaries, queer warriors, raging artists, feminist fighters, underground rebels, attuned activists” (Girl on gIRL Productions, Canada) from around the globe. Listening to their voices will elucidate the personal power and political potential of grrrl zines!
global feminist network taking back the media|
Five years ago, when I was looking for feminist zines on the Internet there was no comprehensive resource site available. So I decided to create one. That’s how GRRRL ZINE NETWORK, came into being. My overall goal for the web site is to share resources on grrrl zines in different languages, and to create connections between like-minded but often far-away feminist youth who read and produce zines. Currently the site is listing and linking around one thousand feminist-oriented zines and distros from more than thirty countries in twelve languages. The resource section provides information about feminist organizations, art, popular culture, and music projects. Another part compiles books, videos, journalistic and academic writing on grrrl zines. To exchange information and ideas, as well as to announce new issues or calls for submissions, I have also created a mailing list and message board. Both provide a forum for people interested in talking about zines, feminism and the global network!
WE ARE THE REVOLUTION!
this is my little piece of the jigsaw puzzle
dedicated to all of you, grrrls, ladies, queer and trans folks
add some DIY action in real space, in 2002 four San Diego (California) grrrl zinesters
and me formed Grrrl Zines
A-Go-Go. The group facilitates zine workshops in community
venues and nonprofit organizations, and especially focuses on the empowerment
of teenage girls through the production of zines and artist books. The DIY ethic
is the cornerstone of the political aspect of Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go. We believe
zine-making embodies the phrase “the personal is political” by encouraging
active participation in the creation of one’s own culture, and independence
from mainstream media. This is especially important for teen girls who discover
a new avenue for expression that is uncensored; something that they can produce
alone, without the need for experts or expensive tools – their tools are
their mind and a pen – anyone can do it. It is a truly democratic form of
media, everyone who reads a zine can create one. Every reader should be a writer,
and zines make this possible, removing the fear of writing and emphasizing the
process for each person. We can only agree with zinester Olivia Pepper who has
said so beautifully:
What made you decide to start your zine or distro?
it or not, I was inspired to pick up guitar and form my own punk band after reading
a riot grrrl zine. My parents told me girls should not play rock music, they told
me to get piano lesson instead and I was like “What the fuck?”
do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
hope to build and celebrate a supportive network of proactive, creative women,
reach out to younger women to encourage them to critique mainstream media, and
have fun in the process.
started Ladybomb Distro because;|
*there wasn't any feminist zine distros (in Finland) and i wanted to start my own
*we need to create our own, new forms media that really speak[s] to us
*i am so fucking sick of the heterosexist, sexist, anorexic, racist propagandist mainstream media
*i want to support lady made, DIY political art
*i want to support and encourage all women to be active participants in the dialogues happening in our society
*we need to create forums of art that base on support and encouragement, not on competition and standarts of what "real art" is or is not
*i want to be truly revolutionary and radical and support all women, not just a priviledged few
*i want you to be an active participant with this distro, not just a passive consumer
*i want to inspire YOU to join us to fight against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy!
(Riikka Pennanen, Ladybomb Distro, Finland)
to get the zines I love out to a wider audience (…), and to see the zine
scene in Australia grow. I want more kids to discover zines as they're a way to
deal with angst, boredom and depression. With my own zine I just like the idea
of my writing being read and having people responding to it. I love independent
publishing. I also love zines as an artistic expression.|
(Kristy, Smitten Kitten Distro, Australia)
hope to create a space where we talk [ab]out our beliefs, desires, and emotions.
We don't have a scene for girls who love indie pop/rock/punk in Japan, so I admire
(Yayoi, Catch That Beat!, Japan)
first we just wanted a forum to express our outrage [at the way women are treated
in mainstream media]. Now it's broader, to foster critical thinking among our
audience and (hopefully) affect the way that pop culture imagines women and feminism.
(Lisa Miya-Jervis, Bitch Magazine, U.S.)
I started the first incarnation of Pretty Ugly (Kill the Real Grrls) I hoped to
refocus people's attention to feminism as a valid and essential movement, the
zine was also a great medium to explore feminist issues and concerns on a personal
level. As the zine transformed into the Pretty Ugly project, a major goal of ours
became to inspire young people, especially women, to write and perhaps make their
(Kelly, Pretty Ugly, Australia)
decided that I want to produce something that'll CHANGE people's mindsets, make
them think and talk about it, make them angry, make them stand up and spit, scream
and stomp on it. I want them to fucking feel for something. People are getting
more and more jaded and bored as the days go by and they cannot seem to emote
anything in their senseless and aimlessness. I want to stop that. I know I can’t
single-handedly start a revolution and overthrow the government or anything like
that. All I wanted was to start a tiny little revolution in all my reader's minds
and hearts that I hope it will lead to bigger changes. |
(Trent J. Edwards, Trippers Zine, Singapore)
What does zine making (and reading) mean to you?
(Ericka Bailie, Pander Zine Distro, U.S.)
come to mean everything - education, inspiration, motivation. |
(Clodagh, Ideas is Matches, Ireland)
It's a pleasure, it's getting to know people
from all over the world and from my own country, it’s to share ideas and
opinions, it's to learn and teach, it's to open my mind and help others to open
their minds. It's a very good and fun way to get information without all the bullshit
that TV or radio give.
love creating a place for women to share their stories and experiences. I learn
so much from each woman’s story.
not be a part of the establishment - ever! Also not in the so called scene. To
be close and open to the reality of other people and not to end up as a narrow
minded selfish movement/person. It's important to smash all masks and images which
do movements create, and which cause mostly a stagnation with no space for real
discussions and progression. That means sincerity in words and actions. In general
it's about creating space for women and making our different perspectives visible.
(Jennifer Ramme, Emancypunx, Poland)
me, women making zines, or art, or anything else creative is about taking the
media back - challenging the bullshit that goes on in the mainstream media, reclaiming
public media space, and above all, expressing ourselves creatively. It's about
creating our own spaces where this creative expression is possible, on our own
(Nikko Snyder, good girl, Canada)
making to me means creating our own channel to express just about everything we
wanna say and were never given a chance. It's so empowering. Especially coz in
a lot of occasions it gives a voice to marginalized groups whose voices (and lives)
have never been considered by mainstream society in general. Zine making is a
way to exist, really. (Isabella Gargiulo, Bendita: Latin women’s initiative
against violence towards women, Brazil)|
means freedom: doing what I want to do, saying what I want to say, featuring women
who don't always get recognition in other spaces.
making is basically a form of publishing that is really accessible to a lot of
people - you don't have to write brilliantly, you don't have to own any fancy
equipment or have lots of money and it's not really about profit, so in most cases
you don't have to alter your message at all to make a popular or profitable product.
So zines can really reflect individuals and talk about people’s interests
and thoughts and opinions and emotions in ways that you don't find in a lot of
other forums (besides the internet), and there's also a lot more openness to communication
between author and reader than there is with novels, for example. A lot of corporate
media (mainstream magazines, newspapers, 'reality' television) is really removed
from the experience of real people, I think, and sells really stereotyped, normalised
versions of what people are supposed to be like. At their best, zines are the
opposite of that: published by all sorts of people for all sorts of people, from
all different political perspectives and approachable.|
(Moira, Moon Rocket Distribution, New Zealand)
are independent, real, grass-roots, inspiring. Zines are one of the goods things
in my life that keep me rockin’ on. The best thing about doing a zine, and
also the biggest challenge, is in telling your own truth, and sometimes in reading
someone else’s truth!
I love about zines is that I get a lot of new perspective on things. It’s
inspiring to read what a girl on the other side of the world thinks about feminism
or what a girl 2 kilometers from here thinks about rape or whatever. It gives
me strength. |
(Stina B., (her) riot distro, Sweden)
Do you consider grrrl, lady, queer and trans zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think they can effect meaningful social and political change?
yeah. every movement whether it be hip hop, indie rock, or independent film is
still mostly made up of straight white men, or at least they are still getting
most of the attention. trans zines especially, cuz i know tons of queers, grrrls,
and ladies who are still very ignorant of trans issues. |
(Urban Hermitt, The Urban Hermitt, U.S.)
think all zines are an important part of a movement, especially grrrl zines. i
also do believe that zines with political content can spark change because it
gets the reader to think and question the new ideas and the old, and often inspires
people to become active politically, which is what makes change happen.|
(Thara Harris, Love Letter Zine U.S.)
and independent media is VITAL for any social change and movement. Grrl zines
are especially important because we live in a world where male voices reign supreme
and strong, independent, feminist women’s voices are few and far between.
They are out there, but we don’t often get to hear them... unless you pick
up a zine to read! |
(Kelly Elizabeth, Pretty Ugly, Australia)
don't necessarily think zines will inspire or create social or political revolution
on a broad scale but they are very important for networking with other communities,
creating our own culture and positive representations, providing support for each
other and working through our own shit by writing and reading our experiences
and ideas. I think zine culture is a very liberatory space - by that I mean that
zines can and do liberate us from what manufactured/ mainstream culture has told
us what is okay to be and how to live. Zines are good for creating "pockets
of resistance" to a corporate-owned world. |
(Caleb Kay, Soldier, U.S.)
What advice would you give others who want to start a zine or a zine distro?
confident about what you want to put together, create the zine you yourself would
be thrilled at discovering.
Do IT! Comprende? |
(Jackie Joice, Yellow Three, U.S.)
far as starting a zine distro goes, make sure you have the time to do one. Time
is EXTREMELY important! Take it from a girl who has been doing this for more than
6 years! You will also need enough money to buy stock and to pay zinesters and
craftsters. Not to mention postage, envelopes etc. And make sure you want to start
a distro because you TRULY want to help other people's projects get out there.
Not because you think that running a distro will bring you instant popularity.
You should always start something that you truly love with the best of intentions.
(Kerith, Pisces Catalog, U.S.)
of all: write about everything you want to write! don't try to make your zine
like all the other zines, that's boring. do whatever you like with your zine!
(…) another important thing is to let many other people know about your
zine by spreading flyers, advertising in other zines and so on. (…) basically:
just do whatever YOU want to do!|
(Elena Stoehr, It’s Not Just Boy’s Fun!, Germany)
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
|What are zines anyway?||What do I mean with "grrrl and ladies"?|
are independent little magazines published by people like you and me and completely
devoted to the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ethics. They are very diverse, covering topics
from music, art, politics, parenting, ethnicity, sexuality, class issues, religion,
feminism and much more. In zines anybody can write about anything.
have a small circulation and are distributed at concerts, record stores, through
friends, mail, distors...|
With "grrrl and ladies" I think of rebellious, resistant "girls" (which does not mean you have to be born a woman!) who are not afraid to call themselves feminists! The term also referrs to the riot grrrl movement and builds up on one of its many accomplishments - zines! The terms "grrrl" and "lady" are not meant to be exclusive, this project is definitely boy-friendly and open to all non-sexist, non-discriminatory, anti-racist/homphobic contributions and includes transgender issues, (indicated in queer and trans zines).
|What do I find here exactly?|
|What other projects are going on?|
October 13th until December 20th, 2001 the exhibition
Story - Women Building New Narratives for the 21 st Century"
took place in Porto, Portugal (Galeria do Palacio Cristal), curated by
Ute Meta Bauer. I did a part on grrrl
a look at some fotos from Christianes and my workshops!
Also, we were hosting the bookmobile in 2002 and 2003 on their tour through North America!
|GRRRLS, KEEP WRITING, KEEP FIGHTING!|
truth is, you and I are the stuff that great leaders are made of. We don’t
have to wait for a distinguished white man on a horse or a politician wealthy
enough to win office in a multimillion dollar campaign to usher in justice and
equality. The ranks of rebellions and revolutions that have shaped human history
have been made up of people like you and me. (…) The people who make a difference
are those who fight for freedom – not because they’re guranteed to
succeed – but because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s
the kind of fighters that history demands today. Not those who worship the accomplished
fact. Not those who can only believe in what is visible today. But instead, people
of conscience who dedicate their lives to what needs to be won and what can be
Just in case...: I am not responsible for any content or images of the sites I linked and do not adopt their contents. This is true for all links on my web site.
2001-2005 elke zobl