Week Six: Shianti meets with Ally Norman, Zine Librarian

So, in today’s society there are magazines filled with ads directed toward women and girls. Media screams how we should look, how we should dress, how we should talk, how we should act, etc.  When we actually find an article we like and it’s on a subject worth talking about, it’s “cookie cutter” and not in depth.   Most information geared toward women does not tackle the questions and concerns we actually have. This problem has been around for quite some time now and females around the globe have taken action. Women have created zines (pronounced z-ee-ns) to address and talk about the issues we collectively as females have. Zines address topics such as politics, societal “norms”, feminist views, sex, STI/STD’s, consent and sexual boundaries, LGBT issues, etc.

As you already guessed, zines is a shortened name from magazine (how clever is that!). Now a short history lesson on how zines came to be. These publications back in the day were cut, pasted, typed, mass printed and then given out to everyone they knew to read.  Women and other groups that have been fighting for their liberation and equal treatment have been self-publishing pamphlets since this country began.  But a newer movement emerged out of the alternative and punk music scene in theUnited Statesduring the 90’s. Lots of young women began to produce personal and political zines with explicitly feminist themes. (this is mentioned in the first paragraph above :]). In the present day, zines are found on the internet and in small stores and are available to the public as e-zines.

Some examples of zines are Bendita (Brazil), Bitch (U.S.), riot grrl (U.S.) Clit Rocket (Italy), good girl (Canada), and Grrrl:Rebel (Malaysia), Pink Punkies (Argentina), and Pretty Ugly (Australia). You can find zines from around the globe and in different languages at GRRRL ZINE NETWORK. [Insert link httpl://www.grrlzines.net]

My personal interaction with zines has been educational and entertaining. The zines, like I mentioned before, hit issues that I personally find insightful and worth reading. In the zine .B.E.T.C.H. RAG, a woman talks about having a safe but functioning sex life, while living with herpes. She then touches upon having safe sex with people who have STDs such as herpes and HIV. In what magazine will you ever find something like that? You won’t!  I went to Catholic school, so in the classroom, sex didn’t exist.  They just taught us about abstinence and pretended that this situation went away.  This didn’t help me at all for things in life.  This information is essential for young people in the 21st century- because it’s not like STD’s are going away. The zine Learning Good Consent, it has a piece on what consent is and ways to identify it. Useful stuff especially when you have no clue as to what consent is before reading anything like this.  Consent is saying yes to something you agree to while you are sober.  You have to say, “Yes I want to”, not a shrug, not a head nod, not an mm-hmm.  You have to say the words, “Yes, I want to.”  My mom knew that because I was going to Catholic school, she knew she had to teach me this stuff.  She always told me that no one’s allowed to touch you here, that no one has a right to make you feel some kind of way, and that you always have to say yes if you want to and no if you don’t.  I think other young people have probably not  had these lessons.

I met with a zine librarian named Alison Norman. She is really nice and had the most amazing pink hair I’ve ever seen. She works at a cool little place called ABC No Rio. She talked to me about the many zines in the shop and located all over the city.  We looked at other zines together, like one that was about a woman’s lifestyle and how she was struggling with alcoholism.  We talked about how society tells you you should just act like a lady, but most women’s lifestyles just don’t coincide with that.  ABC No Rio’s library has a lot of zines to be accessed , and they are opened to the public for … wait for it … FREE!  ABC No Rio also has a screenprinting shop and photography studio.  I found out that some colleges have a zine library.  Colleges know to have these wonderful things on hand so I think they need to advertise that they have them. Bringing this to a close, zines are a great read for the girl who’s tired of the superficial magazines and the non education and or exciting articles they contain.

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