The first feminist zines were printed in the late ’80s into the ’90s, riding the third wave feminist movements and the riot grrrl music scene. But with the advent of the Internet, do we really need the zine anymore? I think not.
Zines were the perfect way to communicate feminist journals, stories, bands, and issues in the ‘90s. Women and girls would craft their own publications and distribute them at shows as a way to get their ideas and stories out. You could reach hundreds, if not thousands, of girls with the same feelings from your special handmade collection. Besides community meetings and shows, there was no other way to communicate outside of zines.
Fast-forward to the 2000s. With the rise of the Internet, zines slowly lost popularity and, similar to physical forms of music like CDs and tapes, faded into obscurity. Women and girls are building websites and starting blogs to share their stories. With the cost of printing your own zines and the infinite audience you could reach, who wouldn’t transfer their zine to an online platform?
One of the best online feminist outlets that hits the power of the zine is Rookie Mag. Famed blogger Tavi Gevinson started Rookie a few years ago after a mentioning the concept on her Style Rookie blog and since its inception, Rookie has quickly gained a large audience and support from fellow writers. It has produced two physical journals, Rookie Yearbook One and Rookie Yearbook Two, which bring the publication to a new light within a more “zine-like” format. This is the perfect example of what a zine can become online without the necessity of a physical form, although the yearbook is quite well-produced.
Some still hold onto the zine, romanticizing it as a relevant form of publication. I’m interested to see where the future of the zine lies, like LIES using Kickstarter to help collect funds to produce its second journal. It’s using the best of both worlds, the physical format of a zine with the help of the Internet, to produce their collection. I’d love to see a zine that is produced in both a physical and digital format like some comic books.
Regardless of the format of feminist zines or blogs, the stories and issues are what matter. While it’s hard to say goodbye to feminist zines, we can rest assured that the advances they made will continue through the blogs where women’s voices will be heard.
Somewhere Along the Margin is a weekly column discussing issues, events, artists and musicians that pertain to marginal peoples.
[Photo credit: Fanzines by Teal Triggs]