Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism
Making Media, Doing Feminism
by Alison Piepmeier
$22.00 List Price
Few things herald the end of a subculture like the book-length critical study. Yet it's thrilling to see zines taken seriously in Alison Piepmeier's Girl Zines, which explores the world of handmade magazines created by women as a kind of social activism. The idea of an academic treatise on "grrrl zines"—grrrl with its triple r referring to the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s—is probably what compels Andi Zeisler, a founder of feminist magazine Bitch, to warn humorously in the foreword that "it can be difficult to talk today about the impact of the medium without giving off a whiff of the . . . wistful old-timer." Piepmeier's smart, insightful book, written in a theoretical idiom, is intended for zine enthusiasts but may best satisfy feminist scholars.
Piepmeier traces feminism's "tradition of informal publishing" over the past 150 years to scrapbookers, health pamphleteers, and mimeographers. Scrapbooking, in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century women's clubs and again in the suffragette era—feminism's first wave—inspired feminists of the 1990s to embrace self-publishing as a "space for girls and women to comment on mainstream culture and also to construct community and solidarity." During the second wave—the 1960s and '70s women's movement—mimeographs and pamphlets distributed by health collectives revolutionized information about female sexuality, giving rise to such classic manuals as Our Bodies, Ourselves. At one point, Piepmeier notes the resemblance between the covers of a 1970s mimeograph, Sisters Stand, and a 1993 issue of Riot Grrrl, both of which feature
REGISTERED USERS of bookforum.com and BOOKFORUM SUBSCRIBERS have access to this article, but must be logged in to view it. If you are not a registered user of bookforum.com, please create your free login here. If you are a subscriber, but haven’t activated your online account, please do so here.
SUBSCRIBE NOW for access to our online archives,* and receive the printed magazine for the discounted rate of $18 a year.**