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What do We do When:
"Community Response"

An interview with


from Sydney, Australia

by Elke Zobl and Haydeé Jiménez

March 2008


" I hope the zine is able to reflect the scope of what the word ‘community’ can represent."
- Bekka

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Can you tell me a little bit about your personal (age, place of birth and residence etc.) and educational background?
I’m Bekka, I’m gonna turn 30 in a year! I live in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been involved in punk rock related stuff since I was a teenager: doing vegan food stalls at shows, making vegan cookzine, general zine nerd stuff, being involved in organising 3day DIY festivals in a small coastal town south of Sydney, being in punk bands, blah, blah, blah

What are you currently doing, or involved in, besides your zines?
I’m in a couple of bands, both mostly girls (one has a dude on guitar – Scum System Kill, the other a dude on drums - Walrora). I work as a street outreach worker in South Sydney – this being what I do to pay rent etc… I run a distro for the What Do We Do When zines (I call the whole project Whadda-Whadda, the nickname comes from the acronym for What Do We Do When being a confusion of w’s and d’s – maybe just another example of the Australian habit of shortening everything! ). I’m also involved with the Thunder Collective who meets (pretty irregularly just at the moment) to discuss, debrief, plan actions, support & address issues raised by sexual assaults in our communities. We’re part of a national group of collectives who are community responses to assault.

Can you tell our readers about What Do We Do When? Community Response To Sexual Assault? Whadda-whadda started in 2003 as a project my friend Sophy and I started. It was originally supposed to be a resource to go along with a workshop we were running on the same topic. It broadened into lots of workshops & discussions and 3 zines in total.

The zines are cut n’paste style and are a collection of stories, articles, interviews & other writings. There’s lots of reprints in amongst it all. It’s designed solely as a resource for folks thinking about how assault affects communities and thinking about how to respond. For me ‘community’ is a loose term that can describe anything from a group of friends to an art or music or political scene to an ethnic group to the wider community. The idea of this is something I think about a lot & is really important to me, I hope the zine is able to reflect the scope of what the word ‘community’ can represent.

What has motivated you to get involved in support/survivor work?
Oh gosh, its real strange to think there was a thing that happened for me to choose to do this work cuz so often I feel like there is not much of a choice –I wonder what would happen to us if people didn’t care about this stuff and do work on it? And even more strange to think that there was a time when it wasn’t a part of my life.

But what motivated me was two things - someone I knew got called out for assault. I didn’t know what to do. I knew that there were lots of discussions and support type things going on, but I wasn’t involved and didn’t really how I could help and be there and be useful.

I didn’t know what to do. How to let people know I cared about them and others know how betrayed and angry I was? So much confusion.

The other motivator was Sophy – we talked and decided to work together on the project cuz in Australia at the time there was just no information or much talk or thought (I mean open ongoing type stuff) about rape and assault within radical & punk type communities. We wanted to address that & raise the issues in our community that we so desperately need to talk about: consent, support, responsibility.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zines ?
Guess I already answered that one.

Please tell us about your distro. What kind of zines do you distribute?
What kind of responses do you get from your costumers?
I guess the main idea for the distro is to make resources available for folks. I’ve been real lucky up to now to have access to cheap/free printing from a variety of sources (and wonderful friends!) and to some free postage in Australia.

My main goal is to make everything I have as accessible as possible. I give away as much as I can for free. Just recently I’ve tried to figure out how many whadda-whadda zines have gone out… it’s gotta be a few hundred, I know I sure am sick of photocopying them!

I distribute the whadda-whadda zines, some other resources put together by other folks including the Philly Dudes Collective & Philly Stands Up, consent zines, self defense zines, mental health zines & Icarus Project resources, gender resources, sex positive resources, patches and other odds and ends.

I’m not so sure about the responses I get. Folks seemed to be excited when the new ones came out and others have reprinted stuff from the zines which is really great. I think me and other folks involved get more response and feedback from the workshops we’re involved in.

How long have you been involved in zine-making and distributing? How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?
I think I did my 1st zine when I was 18. I had this friend who was in highschool at the time who had been doing a regular, and amazing hardcore fanzine for a few years and I thought if he can do it, so can I!

There was some pretty amazing & inspiring zine ladies around me at the time doing really political and challenging stuff – No More Apologies changed my life! Lots of stuff coming out and really questioning a lot of sexism around the hardcore scene at the time, lots of good feminist politics, bands, information, writing & poetry.

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
Its always been about the layout for me. I love all the things that go into making just one page of a zine. All the cut-outs and collage, and the pasting down of one line, one word of text at a time. The creepy glue marks that appear on my pants from wiping my hands on them all the time!

I’ve always been, and still am real nerdy about layout. It’s the thing I look at most when I check out a new zine.

Which role does the Internet play for you?
Mostly its for searching for content & keeping in contact with contributors & the odd obsessive day on google image search.

Please name some of your favorite zines and the reasons why you like them.
I feel real outta the loop of zine culture these days and I never really followed zines in any committed way. My zine box is full of random stuff that ultimately comes down to how they look more than anything else. My big love is tiny artzines.

But in the beginning – No Apologies, Personality Liberation Front,

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
Read them!

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 Sydney?
I don’t know. A zine community is not really one of the communities in my life. That said, I know lots of zine folks who are involved in writing for long running political zines or who just do one off’s for fun or for a specific project or event.

There’s not much in the way of regular zine fairs in Sydney, there’s some, but I’ve not really been involved or had energy.

I really miss the lack of zines in punk rock though. That’s how I got into it, cuz back then it felt like everyone was photocopying or stapling something together and handing it out at shows. It was a way to feel inclusive and included in the community & there’s just not enough of it around anymore.

Thanks for the Interview!

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