Spreading feminist ideas in the Czech Republic
An interview with Emca
from Prague, Czech Republic
by Elke Zobl
Revoluce means "Emma
The Revolution." According to zinester
Emca, this was a nickname of a dancer
in a club in Prague in the 1920s. She was the first to introduce tango (considered
as a 'dirty' dance) in Prague, and therefore she gained the name "Revolution."
Some eighty years later, Emca is starting a grrrl revolution with her zine
Bloody Mary the the Czech Republic!
designed by twoFace
you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where
are you originally from and where do you reside now?
at present i am 23. i live in prague, the capital of czech republic, where
i also come from. Living in a big city is huge advance - lots of people
you can cooperate with, lots of events, access to internet etc. I do not
plan moving to another place or town as it is not easy to find a place
to live and job in smaller towns.
do you do besides your zine?
study at the charles university in prague, for bachelor degree i´ve
studied humanities and now i´m studying media studies. However in
the centre of my interest are gender studies or the intersection of gender,
subcultures and media. At present i don´t have a steady job. My
other activities are fireshow, writing poetry and painting, but i don´t
have much time for that these days. What our Bloody Mary collective does
beside the zine are concerts (for raising money and promoting grrrl bands)
and feminist parties, we make t-shirts, badges and pathes with feminist
motives, sometimes participate in organizing demos (usually anarchist)
- but that´s not very often.
how long have you been running your zine now? How many issues did you
put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
Mary has started in spring 2000. since that time we´ve published
nine issues and the 10th is coming soon. We are a team of usually 4 grrrls.
However, the editorial stuff has been changing all the time. In the beginning
there were 3 founders and since that time a few girls joined and left.
Me personally joined the collective in spring 2001. that time we decided
to use computer programm to make the layout and also to be more "political".
The cooperation is sometimes very weak so one issue was done only by me.
Now we are four girls again.
made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea
and the name?
i guess i am not the right person to answer this squestion as i came after
one year of running the zine but i´ll try to explain it. There were
two friends- punk girls who met another girl on a concert where she had
been harrassed by a drunk guy. The two "saved" her and they
become friends. They came to the idea that they don´t want to simply
comsume things that men create. First they wanted to have a band but then
they decided to found a zine. There they wanted to pass their ideas to
other people, both male and female, especially the feminist ideas, though
they didn´t call them feminist that time. The name was invented
just by accident - originally the girls were talking about drinks and
mentioned "bloody mary". After that they realized it would be
a good name for their zine as it has lots of meaning: Bloody Mary is beside
the red drink also nickname of english queen Mary I. And it is also innuendo
on woman´s period.
topics are most often discussed in your zine?
issue is focused on one topic. We have had female warriors, pregnancy,
menstruation, prostitution, subcultures and patriarchy etc. Beside the
main topic each issue contains regular columns as "the beauty myth",
"famous woman", "women of the world", and many others.
We want to have serious articles because feminism and women´s right
are serious things, but we also want to have fun, so many of the articles
are plain irony, full of jokes and absurd ideas. We have parodies on articles
from magazines for teen girls, contests, comic strips etc.
do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
want to inform people - give them another point of view. We want to show
that women have also something to say and that they can do it. We want
to spread feminist/riot grrls ideas. And, we want to have fun and amuse
other people as well. The zine sometimes works as a sting for it criticises
sexist behaviour of male in "the movement" (i mean anticapitalist
or anarchist movement which we are part of).
does zine making (and reading) mean to you? What do you love and find
challenging about zine making?
lots of things. I feel that there are many things and topics left undiscussed
and unveiled. So we want to bring them to the light and make them public
- as in the case of the bleeding issue. For me personally it means that
i can came across lots of information about various topics, women etc.
when i look for data for my articles- so, making the zine is a sort of
studying. And it is also very exciting to create something - after the
new issue is printed i treat it almost like my child and i am very proud
of it (although there are lots of mistakes and things to be improved).
And each issue, though we are over the moon when it is ready, is a challenge,
too. We have to learn from our mistakes and try to make the next issue
even better. Other zines give us good amount of inspiration.
did you find out about zines? What have they come to mean to you?
are an alternative source of information and they are done on d.i.y. principle
which means that you can take part and express yourself. When i came into
the "movement" it was just natural that there were zines but
it took me a while to realize that i could be editor of one of them.
advice would you give others who want to start a zine?
be afraid to start something. If it was to last just a few months it is
worthy making it. Perhaps you can help others to change their lives or
encourage them in their own activities. As i see it, it is mainly girls
who need such empowerment. And may the zine have no impact or audience,
still there is a group of the editors who are good freinds - at least
our collective (or some of us) makes trips and parties, goes to concerts
and we try to support each other, which is a good thing. On more practical
level: in the beginning just a few articles is enough. And then you can
manage to have as many pages as 72 in a printed zine as we have now:
are some of the zines you admire?
problem is that we don´t have many zines here - it also depend on
the definition of "the zine". There are lots of alternative
magazines in czech republic (anarchist, few feminist, antifascist, enviromentalist
etc.) but i wouldn´t say they call themeselves "zines".
And moreover, we don´t have much "input" from abroad so
i actually cannot name any zines that i really really admire and that
you would know
you feel part of a zine community or network and what does it mean to
i´ve joined the RGE forum i slightly become to have such a feeling.
I have already exchanged experience and few zines with other grrrls, done
interviews with interesting women groups abroad. It is good to know that
there are many other people who share your point of view and who you can
be inspired by. This was about the virtual grrrl community. But there
is also the physical community - our collective which i can feel much
stronger as it is present somehow permanently or instatnly
understand what i mean. The community is mainly about cooperation, friendship
"farewell barbie" - for T-shirts and badges!
you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community or network in
your country? Can you estimate how many other grrrl zinesters there are,
and how do you interact with each other?
i have mentioned above, there are no other grrrl zines in czech republic.
There is one project "let girls rock" which supports women in
rock, runs a database of female musicians etc (the website is www.rockerka.com).
There is also one tremendous guy who is very interested in riot grrrl
movement, activies and music and who runs a website dedicated to them.
(his name is Frankie and has a member profile on RGE website) It was him
who invited me in RGE forum. Them there are some grrrl bands who run their
websites but noone is explicitly riot grrrls´.
role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines
and doing/reading zines?
internet is of much help in this. It provides communication and thanks
to it i found out about you and your grrrlzines.net:) we plan to have
Bloody Mary website as it would bring us more popularity (hahaha), provide
more space than the printed version, and would be accessible for people
from abroad in case at least something would be in english. On the other
hand, reading paper zine is sometimes more convenient - you can read it
whenever you want, not just on your computer. So, the inspiration from
e-zines is that i´d like to run both paper and virtual zine as both
have their advantages and disadvantages.
you define yourself as a feminist? Do you identify yourself as a riot
grrrl, lady, or any other term?
define myself as a feminist, but feminism is a very wide river with many
various streams: radical/socialist/liberal/anarchofeminism etc. So to
be precise i define myself as a riot grrrl although my age probably overtops
the average age of the early riot grrrls:). For me, riot grrrl means to
be strong and have fun while still be aware of serious things that affect
women in patriarchal society.
you feel part of the riot grrrl movement (or any other movement)? Do you
think it is still alive and thriving? Why (why not)? How has it changed
in your view?
the movement is alive as long as its member are alive and have something
to say. For me, riot grrrls have challenged the too academic feminism
of their mothers and fit well into the third wave of feminism. In our
country there isn´t anything as riot grrrl movement so, as mentioned
before, i can feel as a part of it just virtually, via the internet. Here
where i live i feel more as a member of anticapitalist movement. Capitalism
is younger than partiarchy but it has hasnessed its forgoer for its own
interests. Feminism therefore should fight capitalism as well for it constitutes
strong opression of men, women and children.
are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as
a woman/feminist)? Are you active in the feminist movement besides making
a grrrl zine?
harassment, rape, beauty myth, and people´s negative attitudes to
feminism. and many other things telling you what a girl should/can and
shouldn´t/can´t do. I don´t have much time, so my other
activities are poor. They usually consist of participating in demonstrations,
writing articles for other magazines
were some of main influences that have empowered you (punk/feminism/zines/friends?)
in your life?
start from the very beginning it was my parents who influenced me. They
raised me and my sister partly as boys - doing sports, be active etc,
on the other hand we recieved a good portion of feminine education as
every girl. And then, as i grew up i felt that things around me weren´t
alright (mainly the environment, animal rights, poverty, rasism
and with guidance of my older sister i joined my first demos. At the university
i had lessons on feminism and ecology, and paralelly i came into the anticapitalist
movement. Of course it was punk that influenced me but these days i am
rather disgusted by "alko-punks" how we call the constantly
drunk dirty people who beg money just to buy another bottle of beer and
whose only protest against the society is getting drunk and destroying
oneself. The subculture, music and image is important in a way but when
it is the only thing you have than it is pitiful paucity. These days i
have a few really good friends who i trust and support. As late as now
i found out what a real grrrl solidarity means and i am very happy to
do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of Third
Wave Feminism and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or why not?
like to see myself as part of 3rd wave of feminism but this is difficult
because in the eastern europe with 40 years of soviet totalitarian regime
there was no feminist movement. One has to admit that women here were
employed and could do what women of the west hardly could do, but many
things that feminism puts stress on remained unchanged. So, it is not
easy to create the 3rd wave whan we hadn´t the second. However,
3rd wave feminism is eclectic in a way - which is good. It says people
(women) are diverse but that doesn´t mean that they deserve to be
diminished, despised or opressed. I think that in this phase feminism
contains other movement striving for liberation - liberation of women,
men, people of color, of different ages, and of various types of sexuality;
and i can go further to include animal rights and environment.
you consider grrrl zines as an important part of a social movement or/and
a feminist movement? Can you see any unique contributions they may have
made to society and these movements?
think that every political activity, and riot grrrl movement is a political
activity, sooner or later finds out that they need a "room of one´s
own", they need something where to communicate their ideas to the
public and among each other. Therefore the zines exist. So, i think that
the zines and other media are essential part of any movement. there is
no action without communication. And what about grrrl zines particularly:
if they were of no importance, they wouldn´t become a phenomen.
I think that lot of girls (and boys) were empowered by them. They are
suitable feminist response and alternative to those terrible mainstream
magazines for girls and young women. The more parts of their lives people
take in their hands the better for them and the worse for the patriarchal
capitalist system. And amongst those parts of our lives belongs what we
watch, read, and listen to. So, yes, the zines are important and efficient
part of any social movement, including the feminist one.
you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change at large?
If yes, how?
can provide people with information and attitudes that the mainstream
media will never give you. On the other hand, reading such a zine doesn´t
necessarilly mean that after you have read it you´d go and organize
a protest, smash McDonald´s window :) or behave and think in absolutely
new way. So, the zines are kind of "ideological support" which
is needed but doesn´t lead directly to an action or social change.
bloodymary [AT] bust.com
- Bloody Mary
Po box 223
Praha 1111 21
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