Feminist Zine Fest Round Up – Only 3 Weeks Later!

What can I say, our lives are endlessly fluctuating, chaotic, and there are enough monkey wrenches thrown our way for me to go into business with the motorcycle shop downstairs. However, having seen a flyer for Feminist Zinefest NYC in Bluestockings back when I was part of that Occupy Art show there, I managed to store the date in my head. I didn’t apply to be part of the festival because although I consider myself a feminist, I wasn’t sure if it was something addressed enough in Too Negative to really count (not to mention not all of the characters in that comic are written to be feminist.) I think I may have been worrying too much with that — there were zines there that covered a wide array of political, pop cultural, and personal subjects.

Anyway, the fest was held in The Brooklyn Commons, a space I was not familiar with but seems cool given the range of events they host there, reading a brief overview online. As usual on a weekend in Brooklyn, several subway lines were either not running or re-routed, giving Eric and I some re-configuring on how to get there. Nonetheless, we considered it an auspicious day because we spotted an owl perched atop a warehouse as we walked up Flushing, occasionally rotating it’s head or stretching it’s wings the minute any poor unsuspecting passerby get lulled into thinking it was just a statue.

Sorry, my camera doesn't have zoom.

Between the usual train-trauma and stopping at our favorite buck-a-slice pizza joint, we arrived around 3:30. Which was fine as the festival wasn’t especially large. It was relatively easy to make the rounds, listen to a few readings, and have time to pop by a friend’s nearby tattoo studio before meeting our friend Rebecca (she did have a table at the show) and Catalina at the corner diner once the festival closed around dinner time. This is by no means a criticism – in a city where both space and funds can be minimal, this is a reality, and at the end of the day quality will be remembered more fondly than quantity. I didn’t pick up half the things that caught my eye (see the thing I previously wrote about funds being minimal), but here’s a take on what I did get:

shit “progressives” don’t want to hear: A Journal of UNPOPULAR OPINIONS #1: Own Your Shit! – by Rachel & Jamie – This mini zine introduced itself with an indictment of “call-out culture”, which at first perplexed me. If you bill something as “shit ‘progressives’ don’t want to hear”, isn’t that itself a call-out? As I read on the authors clarified that they were not against calling out wrong or insensitive behavior as a means of constructive criticism or to promote understanding of where an Other is coming from, but of the culture (mostly seen online, where it’s quick and easy to do this) of those who seem to just wait to find the one flaw in someone’s ideas or writing – the one word they used that the caller-out disapproves of – to tear them down in a show of indignation that often looks like it’s less about finding a teachable moment and more about building their own moral superiority. They seem to be calling for a little bit of common sense in progressive communities – that none of us are perfect, all of us, like it or not, are products to varying degrees of a culture that brings us up in divisiveness and privilege and that hey–as long as we are capable of learning we’re learning from each other all the time. A little willingness to listen will probably go farther than making someone feel like a monster because they don’t know all the latest activist lingo.

Ours To Tell – An Anthology Of Abortion July 2011 –  At $5 this pink, hand bound zine was the most expensive thing I purchased at the show, but I considered that money well spend as it went in part to an emergency fund for those who may have difficulty in being able to get an abortion. (You can learn more about a recipient who is currently suing the state of Idaho on their tumblr) This is a collection of stories, many submitted anonymously, from women who have chosen to have an abortion at some time in their lives (or in some cases the partners who stood by them), some still in high school, at least one from before Roe v. Wade, some who have since had children, some identifying as childfree…there is even one story by someone who was treated poorly at the clinic she went to and felt she made a mistake. I felt anxious reading this, knowing that despite the entries overwhelmingly describing positive treatment at the clinics and that the authors had made the right decision, this would be what the forced-birther monsters seized on to attempt to control us. But all the same, I recognized the importance of allowing all women to speak to their experiences, to not suppress thoughts we feel might not gel with ours. And furthermore, if an abortion provider or clinic is treating their clientele in any unethical way, it is important to put a stop to it as we would insist for any other type of medical malpractice, not sweep it under the rug in the interest in presenting a certain type of image.

hoax issue number six. feminisms and communication– Another anthology. I could probably write an entire entry addressing the various pieces in here. Many examine not so much communication, as places where communication breaks down – the assumption that academic language is “better” than street language, alienation of women in punk culture (though I think there’s room for criticism here, I didn’t fully agree with the take presented), miscommunications between different cultures, on how survivors perceive violence in language others may not, about communication breakdown between 2nd and 4th Wave feminists. In that one, where some 4th Wavers correct the gendered language of a 2nd Waver at Slutwalk, the author finds them “ageist” for not giving her a pass. Except they weren’t mean about it and it sounded consistent with 4th Wave philosophy in any other situation (as well as being a factual point–that not all rape survivors are women.) So wouldn’t it have been more ageist if they’d said nothing simply because she was older?

Suburban Blight Issue #10 – The editor, Stephanie Basile, has a note in the back explaining that this zine was begun back when she did live in the suburbs, something I’d been wondering about since much of this zine deals with things specific to NYC/Bloomberg/New York Public Libraries/Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti. Again, not a criticism, there’s a lot of value in being involved on a community level, even if your community is one of the largest and most diverse cities in America. One essay that really stood out to me though, “Beyond Lifestylism”, is also beyond NewYo-centrism. The essay argues against the tendency in anarchist and other activist communities to become very insular and see their individual lifestyle choices as a social end in and of themselves. The author believes that to effect lasting social change it is important to engage with the rest of the world, embrace bigger causes.  While I do think it’s important to have your lifestyle reflect your beliefs as best as you are capable (face it, we’re a long ways off before anyone’s at their ideal world) I also have to agree very much with the point of this essay. It doesn’t stop there.

Loud & Queer Comics by K. Funk. K. Funk is a New Jersey based cartoonist doing comics dealing primarily, but not exclusively, with issues around feminism, queer and trans stuff, and other gender related topics. These mini comics are short and cleanly drawn reads – in the first it seems as though he’s still finding his legs and voice as a cartoonist, but the second had several laugh out loud moments, including a riff on the”feminist Ryan Gosling” memes (I have to tell you, I’m barely aware who he even is. Actor? Athlete?) and the piece de resistance, a Jersey Shore based Situationist gag…because what art-damaged, magazine ad defacing, last night’s smeared ka-jahl trainwreck doesn’t like a good Situationist gag?


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