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Good Girl!
Communicating across difference and building community among Canadian Women

An interview with Nikko Snyder

by Elke Zobl

June 2002




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?
I'm 25 and live in Toronto Ontario Canada. I grew up all over Canada, but
mainly in Calgary. I went to university in Montréal, and after that was done I moved to Toronto, where I've been living for the past 3 years.

 

What do you do besides your zine?
Right now I'm working on a Masters in Environmental Studies degree at York University in Toronto. I also have a degree in music, which I struggle with all the time - I'm not playing (cello) right now, but it's always in the back of my mind as something that I want in my life again. The other thing I'm involved with is yoga, which helps to keep me Grounded!

 


For 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?

We're just about to release the third issue of good girl, which is due out this June. I got a lot of help with the first two issues, with editing, layout, etc., but mostly it was just me. For the third issue I decided it was time to open it up and get some other perspectives involved to help me make decisions about the direction of the magazine. So I sent out a call for volunteers to sit on good girl's first ever 'volunteer editorial board'. I got over 30 applications from people across Canada - after interviewing all of them (what an incredible experience!) I managed to narrow it down to about 10 women. Together, we've spent the past few months collectively selecting and editing submissions, and putting together good girl issue 3. We're located all over the country (from Newfoundland to British Columbia!), so most of our communication has been over email, which has been a real challenge. Actually, this coming week almost all of are able to meet (in person) for the first time. Nine of the eleven of us are getting together to meet and hang out and have a meeting - I can't believe we're almost all in the same place to do it!

Bringing together a board is one of the best steps that good girl has taken. I think having a group of people working together ensures that a variety of perspectives and questions are raised about everything. It's challenged me (and everyone else, I hope) to think hard about what the purpose of goodgirl is, and how we want to help the project fulfil its potential.

 

What made you decide to start this project? How didyou come up with the idea and the name?
I was inspired by reading about the many awesome zines that have come before us - and also by my frustration because there wasn't anything with a national scope in Canada, and I felt there was a need. There's stuff going on in Canada, and a lot of amazing women doing incredible things, but I felt there wasn't enough communication between them. I also have mixed feelings about media in general - I really wanted to challenge the mainstream media and create an alternative for young women; a place where young women can create the media they want, instead of being dictated to by the mainstream.

I chose the name good girl because it seemed universal somehow. Not universal in the sense that all women will relate to it in the same way, but in the sense that a lot of women have experience with an idea of what a 'good girl' is. Whether their experience is good or bad, rooted in family or age or racism or whatever, I loved that it could spark people. Whether it makes them mad or laugh or think it's ironic, I hope that people can use this one phrase and whatever it means to them, and use it to jump into dialogue with other women.

What topics are most often discussed in your zine?
good girl is submission based, and I really want the magazine to reflect what women are thinking about at the time. For example, our second issue was themed "all things sexual", not because I wanted to publish an issue on sex, but because the theme emerged on its own from the submissions we received. I loved that it just happened without me forcing it. Generally, it seems that people are interested in talking about feminism and what that means to them, and different ways it's expressed or challenged in their lives. Sex and sexuality seem to be on people's minds too, and that can range from sex drives to sexual assault to sexual health to sexual orientation to motherhood to porn to whatever.

 


What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
I really hope to create a space where Canadian women can come together, build community and have a healthy, functional forum in which to discuss some of the hard issues that we face. Canada has a lot of unique issues that really distinguish us from the States - most of the time we get so bombarded by American media that it's hard to find space to talk about issues from another perspective. So I mainly want good girl to serve Canadian women.

At the same time, I don't think that good girl is specific only to Canada - I think it's just as beneficial for Americans to read perspectives other than their own, so I would like good girl to reach American readers.

What does zine making (and reading) mean to you? What do you love about zine making? What is the most challenging aspect of making zines?
For 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 terms. Of course, since these spaces fall outside of the mainstream media, it's hard to find certain kinds of support for them (ie, financial).

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
I didn't know much about zines until I started reading about how magazines like BUST had started as tiny DIY projects. I started good girl because I thought print media would be a good way to reach people across space.Canada is a very big country, but we have a relatively small population, so it makes it hard to reach people in different regions.

Do you consider grrrl zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change?
I think zines are important because they're about people taking space back and making their own space. This reclamation of space (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, you name it) definitely has social and political meaning, since so much of what is going on right now on a global level has to do with space being eaten up in ways that often seem beyond our control as individuals and communities. Making zines proves that we can take control of our spaces back, and that's definitely political!

At the same time, I think that zine culture has its limitations, and I think it's important for zine makers and readers to stay conscious about what these are. I think we need to be careful not to get stuck in our own worlds and heads, but instead keep reaching out to other people doing other stuff, pushing the boundaries, and pushing our own boundaries. good girl has been about busting down my own boundaries and encouraging others to do the same. It's all about continuing to make connections, communicate across difference - that's why I think a project like grrrlzines.net is so important!


What advice would you give others who want to start a zine?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, but also don't forget that there are plenty of people who came before you that can help! After making a ton of my own mistakes, I'm beginning to wish I had taken more time to learn from the mistakes and successes of others. At the same time, the only way to make something happen is to just start it. It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the reasons why something is impossible. Acting, just putting yourself and your ideas out there and doing stuff gets momentum going. It's amazing how stuff can just start to build on its own momentum, once it starts!

Do you define yourself as a feminist?

Yes. 100%!

What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist)?
For me the biggest thing right now is becoming aware of the contradictions within feminism and within my own feminist life. Like realizing that even if I'm fighting to end oppression for someone (like women), chances are I'm still in a position where I'm oppressing someone else. That's the way oppression works, and the hardest thing for me has been to become aware of my own privilege. At first I found this paralyzing, and it was like I couldn't do anything, because nothing was good or right enough. But I'm slowly learning that where the richest learning happens is through leaning into the contradictions, feeling them and learning to move around within them. Not ignoring them, but not being paralyzed by them either. This is a huge process for me, especially in my work on good girl.

Are you active in the feminist movement?
I feel like my involvement with good girl is my activism right now, and that making connections between women (which is what good girl tries to do) is really important feminist work.

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of Third Wave Feminism and what does it mean to you?
I do identify with the idea of Third Wave Feminism, and I think its strength is in challenging the contradictions in feminism and continuing the discussion. I think what it really means to me is that feminism does not exist only as a 'gender' issue. Feminism to me is about going to the hard places where sexism intersects with racism and classism and ableism and heterosexism, and all the other forms of oppression that exist in the world. Going towards these places is hard because it requires me to do what I was alking about before: really engage the contradictions, and feel them. And t doesn't always feel good to realize the ways in which I am oppressor and oppressed simultaneously. But that's where the work needs to happen, and I feel that Third Wave Feminism can help feminism continue to evolve to the place of being able to deal with this stuff.

The word feminism is a huge challenge in and of itself, and I think that's another huge challenge in the so-called 'Third Wave Feminist' movement. There are plenty of women out there who may not identify with the word feminism, for any number of totally valid reasons. So how do you use the word feminism without alienating people? I'm struggling with that a lot in good girl.


Which role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading zines?

The Internet is a hugely important means for communicating, especially when money is scarce. It's really the only way to connect with people affordably, especially in huge countries like Canada or the US. I think that's why there's so much revolutionary stuff happening online.

At the same time, I can't imagine the Internet taking over real books, zines etc. I could never read a book online, and I barely ever read anything off the Internet, unless I have to. I totally appreciate the work of the countless awesome online zines and projects, but I'd way rather sit down with a real magazine or book, get it all ratty and worn. That's why good girl is a print mag, even though it's so much less affordable.





info:


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http://www.goodgirl.ca/


copyright of images by Good Girl Magazine 2002


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