"for me, zines are not about creating ‘good literature’ though i do believe they qualify as good…"

for me, zines are not about creating ‘good literature’ though i do believe they qualify as good literature (spellcheck or not). they are about SURVIVAL. they are about breaking isolation, saying the things we are not allowed to say anywhere else, making connections, making friends, dealing with the fucked up shit that happens in our lives. they are not supposed to be about recreating hierarchies and cliques and making up rules for what a good zine should be.

if a zine doesn’t float your boat there is no reason to attack it’s creator. there is no reason to make zines feel like a secret club that only some people are allowed into. for many of us, zines are not just about making art, they are so much more than that. they are a lifeline and sometimes they are the only lifeline available, so elitism in the zine scene is utterly dangerous. is making yourself feel cooler really worth hurting a grrrl so deeply that she may never again take part in the community that could save her life??

so grrrls, please, don’t be disheartened by mean bullshit. i promise you, we aren’t all mean. there are many of us who don’t care if you spell shit wrong and who won’t call you ‘intellectually mediocre’. i encourage all grrrls to make zines, make art, make music and express yourself in any way you can. tell your stories, tell how you feel and reach out to other grrrls. if you encounter hatefulness, brush it off, don’t take it in. i know it’s hard, espcially because what we write in zines is so personal and close to our hearts, but don’t let their hatefulness stop you.

- from Clementine’s excellent post on zine elitism

2 Comments to “"for me, zines are not about creating ‘good literature’ though i do believe they qualify as good…"”

  1. I clicked through and read the entire post and its comments. I’m glad someone is addressing the elitism in ‘zine culture, but I think of elitism as not everyone having access to zines or the obstacles that come with making one (money for copying, etc.). I’m old enough to remember a time before computers and the people I knew who were making zines were boys in punk bands writing about other boys in punk bands. I didn’t know there was an entire culture of girls writing and publishing zines until I was well into my twenties or early thirties and by then everyone was starting blogs. I’m not sure I’d consider a harsh review a sign of elitism, but if it’s bad for the morale of zine culture, maybe they shouldn’t be reviewed at all?

  2. I don’t think she is saying a harsh review is a sign of elitism–she is pointing out that the criteria being used for what is a “good” zine or a “bad” one or what is “good” writing or “bad” writing is elitist and comes from privilege. It’s absurd to read a really emotional and personal zine and then complain about misspellings.

    I am sorry you didn’t get exposed to women making zines when you were young, but I can assure you that there have been punk women out there making them since the late 70s and early 80s! Ben is Dead started in 1988 and we were by no means the first. And even before the officially “punk” zines, there is a long tradition of women and other marginalized people making their own media–there are radical feminist zines from the 60s and 70s, anarchist zines, black power zines, even going back to the early 1900s the suffragists made tons of zines. It’s real and it’s out there.

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