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Madame Anatema:
Solidarity, Feminism & Culture Without Borders


An interview with

Stefanie & Inés

Tijuana, B.C., México


by Haydeé Jiménez & Elke Zobl

February 2008


 


"
Feminism represents a new point of view for the critique and construction of a place where the domination of “the other” is not the main objective."
-Stephanie

"
To talk about what oppresses you and to share ideas is a good way to gain strength and resistance."
- Inés

 

Versión Español- haga click aquí


*********

Madame Anatema #0

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
S: My name is Stefanie Bórquez, I am 23 years old, I was born in Tijuana, I have lived in various parts of México, and it’s been around eight years since I’ve returned to Tijuana.
I: I am Inés Castillo, I am about to turn 29 and I was born in and still live in Tijuana.

What do you do besides your zine?
S: I study philosophy. I am part of “La Colectiva Feminista” – The Feminist Collective, I am interested in DIY, I like movies and reading zines and magazines.
I: I give art workshops to kids. I form part of "La Colectiva Feminista“ – The Feminist Collective and of “La Otra Campaña”. In my free time, I like to write and I play in a band called Parche de Ira.


Can you please tell our readers about Madame Anatema Fanzine?
Feminist publication, with a political slant. We like poetry, philosophy, music, and DIY.

We are against patriarchical Neoliberalism, sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and all gender violence, NAFTA, the World Bank, UN, NATO, economic warfare, and all ideological, physical and metaphysical borders.

We demand the release of all political prisoners, that justice be made for the disappearance of women in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and in all other parts of the world, that the maquiladoras –assembly plants- disappear, that there be fair salaries, that the army leave Chiapas, and that the world does not become militarized.

Quarterly publication carried out by Madame Sinnombre (Inés) and Madame Centauro (Stefanie).



What topics do you discuss in your zine most often?
We have approached reflections on our lives, on work and the women’s fight, on the freedom to decide what we want for our world; the body, work- at home, and in general everything that surrounds us. We are interested in feminist theory, where we have focused on the critique of gender norms, gender violence in its different forms, the inclusion of women in society in terms of equal rights, and the critique of the systems and structures of domination , namely governments, institutions, the state, and in México, the Catholic religion and the deviant "values“ imposed by Christian moral and the economic elite in power.

What inspired you to create this zine?
There have been many different reasons. For example, the being part of organizations with different struggles we identify with such as the struggles of: indigenous women, organized women working at the maquiladoras, DIY cooperatives that fight from the very bottom against capital.
I: I hoped that this fanzine would become a space of self reflection, where I could talk about my situation as a woman in society and to share with other people (readers) that maybe could identify with the content in order to get organized and fight together for the construction of a better life. One time, a German fanzine fell into my hands (produced at the beginning of the 90’s) from a feminist organization of which I did not understand its language. However, the images and design of the zine transmitted to me the will to do my own.
S: I am interested in D.I.Y. work, to make use of creativity in order to do projects in which I can question the prevailing economic and judicial systems in the country where I live. However, there are other influences such as small things that affect me daily like sexist language and all forms of patriarchy and domination. Although, sometimes, I like to share riddles, little stories, poems, songs, drawings and images that I feel will transmit something, or incite reflection within those who read it.


How long have you been making zines?
I: It’s the first one I make and we are heading towards one year.
S: Almost a year, before this I made another one but it did not have continuity nor distribution.

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?
S: My dad collaborated in a fanzine called "Germen“ and since childhood, he would talk about it. Afterwards, during middle school when I started knowing and getting interested in punk, I had the opportunity to read some zines (some from la Federación Anarco-Punk, from Unidad Punk Libertaria, and others that I would get from Mexico City); almost all were of a political slant. Then I started liking personal zines like Green Zine, by C. Road, La Dama, Verónica seca mi rostro from Argentina- a zine by a young guy that confessed himself as a fanatic of the Great Gatbsy by S. Fitzgerald. I also liked reading Slug and Lettuce, and the DIY guides by crimethinc.
I: Thanks to a personal zine, Kibutz, which is made by a feminist and lesbian friend of mine, I started getting interested in that type of magazine. I liked to read punk zines- those with music and band interviews, that would arrive in Tijuana. I also came to collaborate in a zine about philosophy that was named Archivos de Arcadia and with another one named Pluma Encendida, which contained leftist political material.

Where/how is your zine distributed? Who are your readers? What kind of responses do you get from your zine’s audience?
As part of the fanzines, we set up a Sexual Health booth in cultural events of the region and it is there where we distribute the zine- giving it away, trading it, or sometimes ask for donations. This way, we can earn money for more copies. We also leave some at a political and cultural space where various international collectives work. Like this, we have distributed the zine in different meetings and activities- almost always political.

The readers range from our friends and family, the people with whom we work, our school mates, people of all ages, and in general, all those who desire to read it. It’s to say, we don’t pretend to direct ourselves specifically to one particular sector, or group; we want to share it with anybody.

We consider that people have responded in a positive way with critiques that help us to grow and think of different aspects we had not yet considered. Up until now, we don’t know, and we have not heard anything negative, even though we do not expect that everyone agree with what we express. We would like to have all kinds of opinions.

We have created a space in this zine for all the readers’ letters and comments. We want to share with whoever reads us the opinions, reflections and critiques that Madame Anatema receives.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
One of the main and primary purposes that we set out for at the beginning of this zine’s production was to create a space where others could read what we write without having to resort to commercial press, which is too academic, elitist, conservative, moralist, one with which we do not share ideas, and one which many people do not have access to.

We decided to make of Madame Anatema a space, which is sometimes informative, where we talk about different projects in which we are involved with or interested in; we share the things that make us laugh, our bus trips, experiences, phrases, songs that we like, recipes that we believe contribute to having a better life quality and without the necessity to consume, and through this inform those who read the zine that there exit forms for critiquing, having fun, expressing who you are and maybe deconstructing the society in which you live in by making a fanzine.

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
I: At the moment of making a fanzine, I have fun cutting and pasting images and text on the pages, scribbling; when I remember my childhood, I used to do similar things. It’s not easy to make a fanzine. It depends on how you organize it and the time you invest in producing it; but when I finish it, I feel very good with myself.

Because I don’t produce this zine alone, while we put it together, we share ideas, conversations, gossip, different points of view about certain issues; and with this I feel that we get to know each other better and that we share more about ourselves.

What is sometimes an obstacle is the economic situation that limits me to not be able to produce more copies of the zine. Another obstacle is that I have very limited time and I sometimes can’t dedicate more time to the creation of new issues.

S: I like to think about what the next essay is going to be about and what is going on around me during the time of the zine’s production. I like to compile images and drawings with which we are going to illustrate our ideas. I like inviting people to participate with what they create.

I also enjoy our meetings when we put the zine together, even though they sometimes end very late at night. We laugh and get frustrated trying to organize the material. And even so, our will to continue is always present.

It’s stimulating to discuss which themes we want to tackle, searching for sources that will make me think and get a glimpse of situations which I am always not aware of. I like finding words and concepts that have been awakening and that show that there are always new forms of resistance.

The economic aspect is often difficult. The lack of material resources to distribute the zine is a bit discouraging, but it’s part of the capitalist system which imposes itself on people to not react or come up with alternatives, and to remain within the realms of apathy. Enduring all of this is part of the satisfaction you get when you manage to have a new issue in your hands.

As a collective, we get very excited with the process of creation. We feel that there are always things to include in the next issue. We don’t lack new ideas; we think that a lot of information remains in silence and that perhaps its sometimes necessary to share with everybody.

What do you think about zine-making today?
S: I think that today, many think it is easier to have a blog. I am not criticizing it; it’s a medium which can reach many people and without the economic problems involved in creating a print zine. Personally, I prefer print zines. I like to take them with me where ever, read them before falling asleep, or just about anywhere.

I don’t know many zines which are made in México, even though I have no doubt in that there exist good ones. I think that in the US or in Europe there is a “culture”, so to say, that reaches more people who decide to come out with their own publications. There are symposiums , libraries, or zine libraries, collectives and distros dedicated exclusively to fanzines. Maybe there is a closer tradition with propaganda and political pamphlets than in México.

I found out that in South America, different indigenous groups, like the Mapuches, make fanzines in order to disclose their problems. I would love that to happen here. In southern México, there are several zines with similar themes- like those produced by the Zapatistas. However, here in the north, there isn't something like that.

Also, recently, there was an anarchist libraries meeting in Monterrey, México, where there is usually plenty of zines. Although, most of the times, the authors are “classic” anarchists and there aren’t many articles from the same people who edit these classic writings.


I: In Tijuana, there isn’t a fanzine culture and, therefore, no zines, or if any, with a little distribution. I’ve found some very interesting zines at a national level, and especially from Mexico City, which deal with music, politics, DIY and personal issues. However, often, many zines contain cut & pasted information that appears in other international zines and do not really illustrate the real situation surrounding the zinesters. For example, in some music fanzines, there are only interviews and song lyrics which are supposed to be used as a means of informing, but commentary or critique of the band, song or style of music is not included. I think it is necessary to create spaces in print media which contain information that in one way, or another, is relevant to all of us as a society, and to continue the fanzine culture.

Which role does Internet play for you?
I: The internet can be used to distribute information and to reach unthinkable places. It also serves as a medium to bring out many things that are not accessable to all by uploading information on blogs and discussion groups. However, with time and thanks to the net, traditional print publications, such as fanzines are slowly being forgotten; now there are virtual magazines that do not fall into our hands (physically), unless you download pdf files (…and I don’t really like reading off a screen). Also, it’s not the same as the distribution, buying, or trading of zines as to meet people in person the organization or the individual who creates and designs the zine. I think that the internet has broken this physical link between people.
S: Personally, the internet keeps me in contact with people from other places of México, or even from other countries. Also, via email, we receive commentary, opinions and critiques of Madame Anatema. We have not distributed our zine through the internet much. It has always been by meeting people in events which we attend, giving it away or trading it. I would like to make more use of this media in order to distribute our zine to other far away places, distros and collectives.

What are some zines you have read lately that you would recommend to someone learning about the zine-making/reading world?
I: To begin making a zine, DIY Sharpie Revolution by Alex W. is ideal. It has advice on how to put it together, distribution guides, advice on how to use recycled material, distro addresses and many other stuff.

The zine Hot Pantz is really a publication that all women should have. It’s a natural gynecology guide which explains easy ways to treat vaginal infections, ways to take care of them using natural methods, herbal abortion recipes and more.

”Luna Roja
” is a zine from Mexico City which talks about different aspects of menstruation and several alternatives to commercial menstrual pads because we need to use more organic and reusable materials and the advantages are both good for women and the Earth.

La Utopia
zine is a local publication with two issues out. It is a collaborative zine which contains many interesting themes in form of small essays, thoughts and drawings. It is produces by Tania and Lalo.

S: Honestly, I haven’t read any zine lately.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
S: Don’t be afraid to have others read you. It’s always good to have a certain amount of confidence in what you do. Perhaps you may not be an eminence, but then again, we shouldn’t pretend to be one either. It’s best to do it CUT & PASTE or with drawings, pictures and scribbles. Computer-designed fanzines lose some sort of essence.
I: Organize your ideas. Don’t get frustrated if the zine doesn’t come out as expected, and it is never too late to come out with an issue.

What does the zine scene look like in Tijuana? Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you?
I: I think that the zine scene in Tijuana is null and I don’t feel part of a community because there is none. It is sad to say, but that’s how I think.

S: I only know one zine in Tijuana, La Utopia, and it’s been a while since they last published . I know people with the intention of starting a zine and those who collect zines, but I agree with Inés in that you can’t really call that a community.

It’s very common to see publications by independent publishing houses, but rarely do they include texts by those who edit these publications. I would like to be part of a feminist fanzine network.

Do you consider yourself as feminist?
I: Yes, I think all women should be feminist. However, feminism doesn’t lie only among women.
S: Yes.

What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/…)?
I: One of the problems I face daily is verbal harassment from men who don’t necessarily direct themselves at me. It affects me when it is directed towards other women because I am a woman and somehow I share something with them. I also feel attacked when men laugh about “their women” or about homosexuals. My country’s culture is machista and it bases itself on structures imposed by dominant conquerors who only oppress and don’t help the society or women at all. With that said, it becomes a bit difficult for me to walk along streets, or ride in taxis or buses without being observed by some obscene and pestering eyes which only look for sexual satisfaction by way of “women-object”, which thanks to commercial media has been promoted as a “feminine” stereotype; it doesn’t show any respect towards women who don’t identify with that stereotype. There are other factors like language, also sexist, which are difficult to change and improve in order to convey through words some sort of respect towards women. However, in some places I feel very identified with the men and women; I am respected, included and recognized for my comments and attitudes.

S: I think that one of the problems which we face as women and as individuals are the forms of domination to which we are all used to. It seems as though people become more silent towards the atrocities that happen daily on behalf of the economic elite, transnational corporations, governments and religions.

We women face additional problems such as verbal and sexual harassment and rape. In México, women don’t have the freedom of transit; we cannot walk freely through the streets without fear.

Another problem is the social constructions that have been created as genres, canons and esthetics that a woman must subject herself to in order to fit in the parameters of beauty. Purchasing power is another pressure. You are what you are able to purchase- a title, a pair of shoes, a religion, a trip, a place to live, the list goes on.

As a feminist, it is necessary for me to fight all of this. Feminism represents a new point of view for the critique and construction of a place where the domination of “the other” is not the main objective. I think it’s necessary to eliminate archaic ideas which have been created around this word. Women my age are afraid of calling themselves feminists. They believe it represents a form of sexism. It’s not like that. Patriarchy is still alive in the structures of the state and institutions and it is necessary to analyze it and destroy it.

What do you think about feminism today? How would you explain what feminism is to someone who has no idea what it is?
I: Most young men and women fear the word “Feminism”; they have an erroneous idea about its meaning. I enjoy talking to young people about how this term came into being and how it has been transforming through out time. That way, I can take their prejudice away through honesty. Everyday, I try to make the most of it by re-thinking of where I am and whether or not what I am doing is right. I notice that even though it is not easy to live in a city where my friends are educated that way, sexist, it is still possible to live and enjoy life by demonstrating that we women are not the same as men. It is because of this difference that we should be recognized and given back our place which has been for a long time taken from us.

Feminism is a sociopolitical term that should be adopted by all people so that women, homosexuals, lesbians, indigenous people and men have access to their rights, equality and equity to decide over social and individual affairs.

S: Feminism is not only the struggle of women; it’s something that should concern us all; it’s a way to construct new logistics in order to live in a world where exclusion and discrimination is not an everyday thing.


What would a “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: I believe that what has served me best is dialogue, listening to others and not judging them too deeply. More so, what works is presenting all the possible answers to a problem and creating alternatives on how to fight together, i.e. the organization of collectives where people can discuss and reach agreements, and with that, be able to go out on the streets and inform people about the situation via all possible mediums. To talk about what oppresses you and to share ideas is a good way to gain strength and resistance.

S: It would be a place where difference is celebrated, where exploitation is abolished, where sexuality is open and free, where economic interests are not more important than human interests.

Organize collectives, anti- hierarchical cooperatives, where there is room for freedom of expression, free forms of association, love, etc.


What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
I: It frustrates me no being able to do “everything” that I want to. However, I believe that by means of organization and discussion, we can create new forms of politics and a new way of living without fears. I don’t have any plans fort he future; I believe that life takes place day by day with new things going on and by being aware of them. I also think that art in all its forms is a good way to transmit knowledge. Literature and critique form consciousness. Most of all, try to be happy.
S: I would like to continue making a zine, to embrace the essence of DIY everywhere I can, and to unlearn or move away from the logic of consumption- and not only of material things. I would like to have a more pleasant view towards life and the world in which I live in and to not only see it as the decadence of decadence. I would like to continue studying and learning new things from others; it’s something that satisfies me. I would like to see a revolution. Last but not least, to be happy around those I love.



THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW!

Madame Anatema #1

 



info:


Madame Anatema
Tijuana, B.C., México

madameanatema [AT] gmail.com
(email)

Versión Español- haga click aquí


Translated into English by Haydeé Jiménez
haydeejimenez [AT] gmail.com

 


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