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Girl Zines

Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism

Alison Piepmeier
with a foreword by Andi Zeisler
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Girl Zines
    Book Description:

    With names like The East Village Inky, Mend My Dress, Dear Stepdad, and I'm So Fucking Beautiful, zines created by girls and women over the past two decades make feminism's third wave visible. These messy, photocopied do-it-yourself documents cover every imaginable subject matter and are loaded with handwriting, collage art, stickers, and glitter. Though they all reflect the personal style of the creators, they are also sites for constructing narratives, identities, and communities.Girl Zines is the first book-length exploration of this exciting movement. Alison Piepmeier argues that these quirky, personalized booklets are tangible examples of the ways that girls and women 'do' feminism today. The idiosyncratic, surprising, and savvy arguments and issues showcased in the forty-six images reproduced in the book provide a complex window into feminism's future, where zinesters persistently and stubbornly carve out new spaces for what it means to be a revolutionary and a girl. Girl Zines takes zines seriously, asking what they can tell us about the inner lives of girls and women over the last twenty years.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6850-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Andi Zeisler

    I’ll be honest. I never felt cool enough for girl zines.

    I was living in Chicago when I discovered them, interning as an editor/proofreader/general office gal at a tiny literary magazine run by a thirtysomething married couple out of their apartment. I knew only a little about the medium of zines: I’d read reviews of them inSpinandSassymagazines. My kind-of boyfriend/devoted pen pal published a one-page, double-sided newsletter about punk rock and veganism decorated with Victorian-style clip-art filigrees. And I had made the pilgrimage to Quimby’s, the Wicker Park store that brimmed with alternative-publishing products ranging from...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Fans attending Bikini Kill concerts in 1991 might have received a small photocopied booklet with the titleJigsawprinted across the top in a large typewriter font and messy handwriting across the bottom scrawling the words “true punx, real soul and the revolution girl style now.” The cover features a photograph of the band Bratmobile performing. In the blotchy, photocopied image, the lead singer of the band stands with her hands on her hips, mouth open, singing into a microphone. She looks defiant and also feminine, wearing retro cats-eye glasses and a dress with a small white heart on the...

  6. 1 “If I Didn’t Write These Things No One Else Would Either”: The Feminist Legacy of Grrrl Zines and the Origins of the Third Wave
    (pp. 23-56)

    In 1988, Sarah Dyer began working as producer of the successful, nationally distributed punk zineNo Idea. She and her co-producer, who was male, started a record label and put on punk shows in addition to publishing and distributing the zine. They worked collaboratively at every level. Dyer quickly realized, however, that with in the context of the punk scene, and the zine scene affiliated with it, her work was invisible. She explains, “We would get phone calls and they would ask to talk to Var because they just assumed that my name was on there just because I was...

  7. 2 Why Zines Matter: Materiality and the Creation of Embodied Community
    (pp. 57-86)

    I became aware of the significance of the materiality of zines through my teaching. Every time I teach a class about zines, a significant percentage of the students begin making their own. Many of them have never heard of zines, but when I bring in a pile for them to flip through and take home, they become inspired. This doesn’t happen if I require them to read a published anthology of zines such asA Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World; getting their hands on actual zines is necessary to ignite this creative urge. They read the long-running zine...

  8. 3 Playing Dress-Up, Playing Pin-Up, Playing Mom: Zines and Gender
    (pp. 87-122)

    Disrespect and violence form a constant background noise for girls and women, defining features of a culture where “fighting like a girl”—or doing anything “like a girl”—is an insult. Stefanie Moore describes life in a body that is liable to be “ignored + humoured + beaten + raped,” as well as “not . . . taken seriously.” In order to survive, in order, as Kathleen Hanna says, “not to hate myself and my best girlfriends,” girls and women must develop resistant consciousness. Both epigraphs to this chapter articulate what this resistance might look like. Hanna, Moore, and grrrl...

  9. 4 “We Are Not All One”: Intersectional Identities in Grrrl Zines
    (pp. 123-154)

    Grrrl zines are a space for girls and women to articulate complex identities, with attention to the intersections of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and history. As a number of scholars have noted, “multiculturalism” and “diversity” are now popular, pervasive ideas that have, in the post–civil rights, post–black power era, been drained of radical political power, becoming individualized, apolitical tropes linked to brand identities and market demographics.¹ Asian iconography appears on merchandise from tattoos to t-shirts, Mexican music and language have become affiliated with food sales (“Yo quiero Taco Bell”), and hiphop music is used to market...

  10. 5 Doing Third Wave Feminism: Zines as a Public Pedagogy of Hope
    (pp. 155-192)

    In an essay called “Ohio” inDoris#24, Cindy Crabb muses on a number of things—determining a turtle’s age from the rings on its shell, change in her life over the years, how she has come to reconsider her own fears and assumptions, and the tools for social justice work that she’s assembled from groups she’s been involved with and from her own reading. It’s not an essay with a linear trajectory; instead, it’s a kind of rhizomatic collage of thoughts, with links that work in multiple directions. The essay consists of typewritten and handwritten text surrounded by and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-200)

    Recently I gave a presentation on zines for an undergraduate American literature class. I described zines, showed slides of zine pages, and discussed the wide variety of things people do with and in zines. At the end of the class, a quiet student approached me.

    “So, zines are, like, little booklets you make on paper, and photocopy, and give to people?”

    I told him yes.

    “Could they have poetry in them?”

    “Of course! Lots of them do.”

    “Then, I think I made a zine.” He reached into his backpack and pulled one out and gave it to me. It was...

  12. Appendix: Where to Find Zines
    (pp. 201-206)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 207-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-248)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 249-249)