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Park it up your arse:

"This zine is for all us 'weirdos'!"

An interview with
Leigh Ann
from: Limoges, France / Ireland

by Haydeé Jiménez & Elke Zobl


January 2008

 

"As with politics in general, when you open your eyes, you can’t go back to your normal life, most prefer to keep them closed."
-Leigh Ann


 

Can you tell me a little bit about your personal (age, place of birth and residence etc.) and educational background?

I’m 21, I was born in Ireland and moved to France when I was 11. I now live in Limoges, a small city in the middle on France where I study geography at university, and hopefully will pass my degree this year; but since I’ve started Park it your arse, I’ve realised that I’m obviously not studying the right subject, and that writing is much more fun!

What are you currently doing, or involved in, besides your zines?
Well the main aim of my zine is to promote female activity in the French punk scene, so I’m organising my first concert in March which is very scary. Talking about it in a zine is great, but what’s the point if you don’t do anything afterwards? I am also in a student union and spent a whole month out protesting (and barricading the University at the same time) in December, plus my political activities.

Leigh Ann

Can you tell our readers about park it up your arse?
Park it up your arse is an auto proclamed Riot Grrrl zine, and as said above, is dedicated to promoting the grrrls in the DIY music scene. Riot Grrrl hardly existed in France and is often considered a lesbian sectarian man-hating cult thingy. The first time I hear of it, I was told it was “girls who wear short skirts and run about spray painting I love my girlfriend on walls!” and obviously, I thought to myself, yeah that sounds like fun! With Park it up your arse I want to clear up the misconceptions on Riot Grrrl, explain what Riot Grrrl really is and help girls to accomplish what they want want to do and talk about it, cos’ obviously for the moment no one else is!

What topics do you discuss in your zines most often? What language are they written in?
The zine is in French, I guess I sort of decided that I wanted to import Riot Grrrl to France, true Riot Grrrl (i’m not sure i can say that sort of thing...) not : yeah I’m Riot Grrrl but only when my boyfriend agrees, if not I shut up and say OK... and stuff like that.

I wanted to do something general so there are stuff on the Riot Grrrl movement and groups like Huggy Bear, and on recent grrrl groups in France and Europe plus music reviews. There also is a whole bit on DIYers, clothes makers, artists, Ladyfests etc. and a short piece on womens place in society which is more political. But I’m trying to find more girls to participate because I find it trying doing everything myself, you can tell most of the articles are by myself, it’s more interesting to get other opinions and points of view.


Park it up your arse Issue 1

How long has this zine been running?
I’m a bit embarassed to say that the first issue is only coming out in February, with all the student strikes and stuff, I knew that I had more immediate work to do there which really slowed down the zine, plus an interview that still hasn’t come back which I think I’m going to skip because I can’t wait any longer. For a first issue it’s quite long, 24 A4 pages, and is more a sketch of what it can become, more like a review of Riot Grrrl in all its forms as to inspire people interested in participating. I’m also looking for someone to illustrate because that’s really not my domain of expertise!

Where/how are your zines distributed? Who are your readers?
Even though it hasn’t been distributed yet, I have already someone to distribute in Paris and Bordeaux plus lots of people from around France that are waiting for it to come out. Mostly people in the music scene, grrrls I’ve met on the French Riot Grrrl forum and the Ladyfest Bordeaux group, and also all my friends who will have to get it!


What kind of responses do you get from your zines’ audience?

Well I’ve been testing the waters for quite sometime by putting pieces I’ve written on my myspace blog and the responses have been varied, to say the least! From closed minded men and women who were shocked by the way I talk about sex, about womens place in a sexual relationship and my criticism of girl hate, who very nearly openly insulted me, calling me a slut, man hater and shit like that. But I realised through that the limits of certain friends and actually how far they would go in the “Riot Grrrl Crusade”, and yet, I also got a great many of warm responses who appreciated the easiness in the way I spoke about taboo subjects. From experience, I’ve realised that there is no in between in the way people apprehend Riot Grrrl, they either think it’s important and a fun and open idea, or else they’re scared out of there wits, openly or not, by the fact that women can think and talk about oppression, love, sex, gender, etc. so easily. You can tell they feel threatened so they tend to go for the jugular at every occasion to criticise and put you down. But what I’ve kept telling myself (cos it’s not easier to be shot at in the back by girl or boy friends) is that I’m doing this for everybody that doesn’t feel at home in this society, that believes there is more, and even if they don’t take an open stand that they know that they are not aliens, rejects or anything else. This zine is for all us “weirdos”!

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?
Through the punk scene and an associative shop which opened in Limoges about a year ago and there are lots of zines, but I found most of them boring, there was nothing on Riot Grrrl or for girls, there was a huge opening so I jumped in!

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing park it up your arse?
I want people to write what they want to read, Park It up your arse is hopefully going to be more like a blank page waiting for grrrls to fill it up. I just want to encourage girls to go it alone if necessary, to do things, to get in there and make what they want to do come through. As I wrote in the presentation of my zine, it all started in that aim, so obviously altruistic (lol), but in writing Park it your arse, it also encouraged me to do things (like organising concerts) because like the zine, I realised if I didn’t do it, no one would do it for me.

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
Writing, writing, writing, it’s very fulfilling to see ideas take form in writing and not only in our heads, but the real challenge is organising the zine between articles and the layout, which is even more difficult seeing as it’s Delphine a friend that is doing the layout and it’s very hard to coordinate things. I’ve realised that things don’t come together as easily as I thought, especially when it’s been done by computer, so I’m impatient to get the second issue started, and to do things better next time around!

Which role does the Internet play for you?
Internet is unfortunately very important, I prefer direct contact with people, open discussion, eye to eye if you know what I mean... But thanks to internet, I’ve made lots of contacts whether it be in France, with other grrrls or people interested in my project, or all around the world with zinesters, ladyfesters, etc. which is very important, you can exchange experiences and ideas which is great!

Name some of your favorite zines and the reasons why you like them.
There are two French zines that I read, none of them about riot grrrl though, which are near nigh impossible to find. There is New Wave which has been running for thirty years! and has all sorts of information about nearly everything that’s happening on the alternative music scene in France. Patrice who has edited it all this time takes a real interest in everything to do with our (grrrl) activities and has been a great help to me!

There is also “Anorak City” a zine done by a friend of mine who has also an independant music label (Anorak rcds). It’s specialised in indie pop and through Fabien, who runs it, I have discovered a lot about Riot Grrrl music in England and in Europe.

But I have also found some many zines and girl stuff on the internet which is really great!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
Just go ahead and do it! Don’t wait for anyone, once you’ve got it together, you’ll find out who is truly interested in giving a hand. It’s a bit cynical but it’s always hard to get people going, especially when you really believe in what you want to do, I’ve realised that the people you can count on aren’t necessarily those you thought you could, and along the road you’re likely to meet a lot of very inspiring people!


Leigh Ann

Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you? What is the zine scene like in Limousin?
I guess that even though the first issue isn’t out yet (I had the idea about six months ago, I spent a lot of time researching, and a lot more writing) a lot of people from the music/zine community have been so much help to me, and now if I go to Paris or Bordeaux for a concert, I finally get to meet them. You tend to feel right at home anywhere and they will help you out anyway they can. The zine community is a sort of safe environment, everyone has been very supportive. I mean, if I need advice, there is always someone willing to answer, or at least to try answer. If there were a word to describe it, it probably would be “exchange.” The zine scene in Limousin is unfortunately non existant, a part from Anorak City and a few political reviews. But then again, the Limousin is very rural and a part from Limoges there isn’t to much information on alternative ideas.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Of course! Till I die! : )

What do you think about feminism today? How would you explain what feminism is to someone who has no idea what it is?
It is very hard to be a feminist today, capitalist history has done a lot to downplay and discredit it. In western culture, our oppression is so subtle and seems so natural that people prefer to pretend that, since the seventies, women have absolutely no reason to complain. I guess it’s a lot easier to pretend that everybody is equal rather than realise that it’s not true, because that means doing something about it. As with politics in general, when you open your eyes, you can’t go back to your normal life, most prefer to keep them closed.

What would a “grrrl”-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-envisioned and transformed tin order to become an “ideal” world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
I don’t belive in a grrrl friendly society, because somehow it still infers that girls are not like other people (ie : men). I believe we grow up learning how to play pretend, learning how to act like a girl or a boy, what and how we should feel because we are of that sex, we subconciously reproduce the inequalities because we have been educated like that. For example a girl gets a barbie or a plastic kitchen for Christmas, a boy gets an action man or a DIY set, and parents tend to get all in flutter if the son wants to dress up as a girl or prefers dolls to miniature cars.

The ideal world would be one without gender and without gender limits, where sex or relationships would not be qualified as heterosexual, homosexual, plurisexual (that probably doesn’t exist but I mean bi, or with why not more than one partner), a society where we would be free to live as we like, without fearing social codes or constantly fighting them.

I don’t belive in policies, because I don’t believe in working with capitalist ideology, which creates oppression and divides people to serve its ideas; which is why I believe that to truly change things, you have to change the capitalist system.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
I would love to get a riot grrrl distro and label together, and if there are any grrrl bands looking for dates in France, they should contact me!

If not I would love to get back into writing in English (since my zine is in French, and my English is going slowly down the drain) so if there any zinesters interested : )

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Run amok, run wild, run RIOT!

Thanks again for taking your time for the interview!

 


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