Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (or, Why Alison is Awesome)

I was supposed to be a part of the blog tour for Alison's latest book, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism.  In fact, my post was due *weeks* ago. But swine flu and end of the semester craziness has slowed me down considerably.  But in this case, I think that's a good thing.  I've gotten to read the amazing reviews the book has been getting and have gotten to hear what other bloggers and zinesters have to say about the book.  All of these people have been talking about what they take from the book as feminists, as zinesters, as people interested in girl culture.  I'd like to talk about what I take from the book as an academic, as a person who makes her living talking and writing about contemporary culture.

For those unfamilar with zines or are familiar with zines and can't fathom why someone would write a whole book about them, here's a snippet from NYU Press's blurb about the book:

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.
Full disclosure: Alison and I are in a writing group together and I got to read Girl Zines as it was coming together.  What I find exciting in this book and in Alison as a scholar is her refusal to look at these quirky, personal, often silly, and just as often brilliant and heartbreaking creations, as either resisting patriarchal capitalism or complicit in female oppression.  She early on threw out the resistant/complicit binary, reading this framework as limited and as limiting our ability to really engage the work these zines do in female communities.  Their very existence, the sheer number of zines and zinesters and the fact that girls will very often make their own zines as soon as they discover their existence, is enough to make them worth our attention.  What do we make of these "messy, photocopied do-it-yourself documents" and the girls who make them?  Alison's response is to talk to these girls, read their work, and take them seriously.  It seems such a simple answer, but it's not a position academics often take, especially when we're talking the cultural work of girls and women.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Cool! Thank you so much for your thoughts! You are definitely the only blog reviewer who has taken up the fact that I was trying to work outside the resistant/complicit binary.

And thank you for all the support along the way that helped this book get written!