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Bunnies on Strike: This is resistance the way we see it

An interview with Tanja of Bunnies on Strike
from Den Haag, The Netherlands

by Elke Zobl

July 2004

Working under the slogan "Kicked off girl-engined: made by and edited by girls" Bunnies on Strike magazine has a big riotgrrr-lady heart. But Tanja, Manuela, Sanne, Reinco, Daniel, Maaike, Gijs, Hester, Keerolyn and Angela (who made the website) are not only working on a magazine, they are also involved in other Bunnies on Strike DIY projects:

Bunnies on Strike - the Band
Bunnies Strike Talking - spoken word
Bunnies on Strike - radical cheerleading
Bunnies on Strike Forum
Bunnies on Strike Mailinglist

Read here what Tanja of Bunnies of Strike says about editing the magazine and her thoughts on feminism, and check out their web site!

http://bunniesonstrike.cjb.net/

 

Can 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? What do you do besides your zine?

I'm Tanja, I'm 25 years old. I was born and raised in a small town called Alkmaar. My mother is an open-minded woman and my father used to be an political activist in the 60's during the provo time. Therefor my upbringing was diverse. I didn't think anything was strange and was brought up to be able to get along with all kinds of people from activists to hospital managers. I now live in The Hague and work full time as a teacher. I teach 4-5 yr old children. Those children live in a neighbourhood that's considered a (freely translated from achterstandswijk/extra aandacht beleid) special needs area. I enjoy and love the children and want to specialize myself in learning difficulty and behaviour problems.

For how long have you been running your zine now? Are you the only editor or is there a team? What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name? What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them?

I started writing little zines when I was in high school. I didn't know about zines but aspired to grow it into a magazine. When I learned about zines I started to write. I learned about zines when I started to go to hardcore punk concerts, and read lot's of zines by boys. I was missing a lot of personal stories and discussed this with Sanne and Hester. We had never read a riotgrrrl zine then, only heard the music somehow... In 1998 I spoke to my friends about zines and decided to start one with my sister and best friend. We didn't really start till we had a name that truly excited us: Bunnies On Strike! Bunnies On Strike started as a zine but grew to be more: a radical cheerleading team and a spoken word duo.

 

We were working on our personal contributions to our zine when Hester and I turned on the tv as a background noise. There was a documentary about the 70's Bunnies and we were paying attention cos they showed a picture of Debby Harry [Blondie]. When they showed the bunnies striking for better working conditions and social security we knew we had the name of our zine and project: Bunnies On Strike! The name Bunnies On Strike embodies what we stand for: We believe that all bunnies should have the right to strike: all women in and round the sex industry and the test bunnies in factories. The name also embodies what we feel: no matter how we dress or act, man are treating us like sex objects, bunnies. We were frustrated by our lack of control over this objectification and wished we could take a 'day off from the humiliation' by striking.

 




I have never been part of a community. I like to float between communities. That is very easy to do online. I have lot's of contact with people who work for their ideals over email and their feed-back keeps me motivated. Through RIOTGRRRL-europe.net I got to know many more grrrls and bois.

I am the main editor, but I never do this by myself. We cover what excites us or what frustrates us. When we are on the look out for certain info we often start writing about it. We believe the personal is political and write about that too.

Making a zine is lot's of fun. Each of us spends time individually to write and think up idea's for the lay-out. Then we pick a date to get together and make melt the idea's together. Then one of us is left to do the final lay-out [page numbering, an index and a welcoming story] and we're off to the copy-centre to get it copied. The most challenging thing about making a zine is distributing it. Therefor we're still looking for someone who wants to do that. Copying and making out packages to send out is very time consuming and we all have busy lives so yeah, it's hard to find the time to do it all!

If you wanna start a zine? Get connected! Start mailing people and stuff and get their advice. Start small and grow! Try half size first and get the hang of all the work that's involved with zine-making and grow then. If you can use a copy machine for free: take advantage of that [believe me I spend tons copying, both time and money] and make millions of flyers and leave them everywhere you can. Spread the word by making a site with a sneak preview, and get yr url on every search engine and every forum. But most of all: Have fun!!!

 

Here you see another action of Bunnies On Strike: a zine workshop at Ladyfest Belgium in Liege 2003. Nina took the photo's there.

workshops
Bunnies On Strike do several kinds of workshops, like "zine-making" and "how to become a radical cheerleader". We participate in all kinds of events and speak out! We're loud and we're proud.

 

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?

1) Have fun and get issues/stories of my chest
2) Show that activism can be fun with radical cheerleading
3) I hope to get a discussion going
4) Motivate people to get their own DIY way of getting their thoughts out there
5) Keep the BUNNIES ON STRIKE project growing by finding new people who are interested in participating in one of the existing projects or wanna start a new project of their own in name of Bunnies On Strike.

What are some of the zines you read and admire?

Most zines I admire are older grrrl zines that were made before I knew about them and cover issues like the guerilla grrrls the start of DHR-Fatal, how to make music how to start a band etc. etc.

 

I am very interested in international grrrl zines. Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community or network in the Netherlands or in Europe? Are there others and who are some of the most active participants? Do you think that there is a separate grrrl zine community/network from the larger zine community?

There are lot's of small 'communities' that make zines in Holland, like the anarcha feminists. They are very well connected and have a very specific goal and public. Bunnies On Strike is not connected to a community but is just made by a few friends with totally different lifestyles yet rather like-minded: Hester owns a gallery in Rotterdam and is daily confronted with the conservative art world that doesn't shy sexism or racism. Sanne lives in a squat in Amsterdam, works in an anarchist bookstore and studies sociology, she's daily confronted with the sexism in the teachings of a modern university. I live in and work in neighbourhoods that are crowded with unprivileged people and try to motivate women to stand up for themselves and educate themselves. Our mixed experiences in different cities makes the zine extra interesting.

Do you consider grrrl and genderqueer zines as an important part of a social movement? Do you think grrrl, lady, queer and transfolk zines, resource sites, and projects can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?

DIY is there to show the world what's missing out there. I see that more and more DIY zines are getting more and more professional and change into magazines [think of BUSTmagazine] I think that's a very good sign. The more diverse mainstream culture gets the smaller the DIY scene will be, but for now there's enough missing to keep on DIY-ing. I think they're very important as they are a very good non digital and personal way to get the word out! The more a zine is connected to a specific community, the less it will reach others. Only zines that outgrow their community can reach people who aren't aware of the issues inside. These zines will always have the potential to change politics. However the changes of the mind within even just one individual is an achievement as such and a goal reached.

 

This pic shows Manuela and Tanja performing in Leuven, Belgium at Ladyfest.

spoken word
Tanja and Manuela do the spoken word section of Bunnies On Strike: BUNNIES STRIKE TALKING. They have performed at Ladyfest Belgium and Ladyfest Amsterdam. They are now writing more pieces and making recordings. They are in the process of getting bookings for coming festivals and projects like Ladyfest Paris, Ladyfest Manchester and more.

What were some of main influences that have empowered you in your life?

My free spirited aunt and father, my grandmother who was never scared to change her strong-minded opinion if new information concluded her to do so, my always motivating and proud mother, my 'so what?' and 'I'm not sorry' childhood and forever idol Madonna, my dear friends who were willing to read what I had to write, my faraway friends who convinced me that my writing was interesting, Hanin Elias, who has a major inspiring project called 'Fatal,' Huggy Bear for getting the art world into the DIY scene showing everything can be adapted into a DIY project, and my fellow Bunnies On Strike friends: Manuela, Sanne, Hester and all the Radical Cheerleaders (esp Maaike&Sarah!)

Which role does play the Internet for you?

It helps me get the thought out to people all over the world even some who aren't aware of the zine world. It motivated some girls to start zine-writing too [like Nina of Riotgrrrl Belgium] and it helps me to motivate me to keep writing, I need positive feedback every once and a while.

Do you define yourself as a feminist? [answered by Tanja personally, this does not reflect the answers of all members of bunniesonstrike]

yes, I try pointing people on their sexist behaviour, and show people around me why that needs to change.

 

What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/…)?

Emancipation of women is still in the image of the male example. What still considered the work of an man is appreciated more and has more status. EG man work full time, so women can do so too. But women are not appreciated as easily and have to prove themselves harder. The work known as womens-work is still under appreciated and has no status. Women are objectified. Because Holland is a country that has a lot of laws that are supposed to discourage sexism, most sexism is hidden. When pointed out, they try to make it sound logical and women are made to believe they're oversensitive. Sexism is still not a serious political point, that worries me.

What 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?

I believe feminism is definitely vivid in the little things, but the third wave is yet to come. It would excite me if the third wave would come from non-western women.

 

the band
Tanja, Sanne, Bianca and Frits are Bunnies On Strike - the band. They have performed at several festivals in Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Rotterdam, Germany and [of course] at Ladyfest Belgium and Ladyfest Amsterdam. They now have a split 7" out. It is a split 7" with BEER FOR BREAKFAST, in which Sanne plays bass as well. For more info, check the site Bunnies On Strike - the band.

What would a utopian grrrl-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-thought and transformed to come closer to an "ideal" world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?

I hope for a future that looks beyond sex, sexual preference, class and race. Where people can find a goal in life that suits their personal talent and wish. A world where there is such a variety of status's that everyone can find a field in which they have a higher status. A world in which everyone has options in the ray of their qualities. However, a utopia within this society and world, I believe to be non constructive. I believe that to be fooling oneself and am not looking for a sheltered little paradise.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?

In the far future I wanna make a magazine like Bust magazine for younger girls. This magazine will be as glamourous as political. It will have photo's and stories on the latest pop stars and trends as well as an update on women's issues, self defence tips, interviews with women in unconventional jobs or hobbies, non religious spirituality etc all in an easy to understand way of writing and links to sites that have more info. If I ever choose to do that I will have to have the right people around me so it couldn't fail, cos I believe it's important for young children to have access to such information on their level, for I remember really missing that.

 

radical cheerleading
For this project the cheers have been written and are continually written. The goal is to surpise people at protests and have a laugh whilst protesting. But we'll expand... Go check the site: Bunnies on Strike - radical cheerleading

 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Bunnies on Strike is a project that has many individuals in it. When I answer these questions I speak for myself Tanja as an individual. I am a part of Bunnies on Strike but cannot speak for all the others in Bunnies on Strike, so if you notice that other Bunnies on Strike grrrls/boys are disagreeing with me then that's because we don't always have the same thoughts and conclusions.

 

THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW, TANJA!

Bunnies On Strike have:

zines
Zines are 1,50 Euro. Five zines are 6,- euro.

= issue #1::::::::::::sold out::::::::::::
a lot of the content is found online.

= issue #2 the fast issue, format A5, 36 pg. on recycled paper.
contains: Emy writes on virtual lustobjects, Tanja and Keerolyn write poetry, radical cheerleading, Punk pretty: Jackie Joice interviewed, Suzi Blade recordings and the Color Guard in conversation, diy-tip: the t-shirt print and more!!

= issue '10 ways to be a radical cheerleader', format A5, 16 pg. available on white or recycled paper. We have made on version of this zine in english and one in dutch. It starts with a guide through readical cheerleading, centres with how to make pompons and ends with the cheers written by workshop-attenders at Ladyfest in a cut-and-paste style. Limited pages, but loads of fun!

mini-zines
Free on request if you order something else.
One A4 folded into a tiny little zine.

recordings
=split 7" of 'bunnies on strike - the band' with 'beer for breakfast' in which sanne plays the bass and reinco does the vox. You can choose if you want Sanne (l) or Tanja (m) on the cover.

=> undies and some t-shirts
=> soon to come: recordings of radical cheers!
=> soon to come: recordings of spoken word.

=> buttons
=> patch

 

DO IT YOURSELF!

___________________________________

Contact Bunnies On Strike!

Email:

tanja [AT] bunniesonstrike.cjb.net
bunnies_on_strike [AT] zonnet.nl


Mailing address:

Bunnies On Strike
postbus 10500
2501 HM Den Haag
The Netherlands
Europe

http://bunniesonstrike.cjb.net/

Message board:

http://members4.boardhost.com/bunniesonstrike/

 

All fotos and images are taken from the Bunnies on Strike website.


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