Zines are something of a rite of passage among feminist activists. If you’ve ever been to a feminist or social justice gathering, chances are you’ve seen a table full of zines. Zines are short, self-made booklets. They often include poetry, prose, artwork, and political manifesto. For many feminists, zines offer a quick, cheap, and efficient way of promoting their ideas. It’s also a great way to build community, make rad friends, and, of course, check your privilege (queue ‘zinefest).
On Sunday, March 25, activists and artists will gather at Barnard College for the 2018 NYC Feminist Zinefest. Barnard has a long history of promoting, collecting, and studying zines. The College even has an entire library wing dedicated to this most revolutionary art.
Oppression Olympics @ Zinefest
— Naomi M (@elastiqudesigns) February 26, 2016
Intersectionality is a top priority at this year’s zinefest. Many — if not most — of its vendors are (supposedly) oppressed minorities. Some are even marginalized in multiple ways, which makes them irresistible. Take, for example, No Shame Distro, a “collective of people of color distributing zines and small artworks by other people of color.” With their identity-specific material, admonitions against white men, and seemingly boundless intersectionality, they are sure to be a hit.
That being said, No Shame Distro is itself committed to diversity. Recently, they have been trying to prioritize “POC Trans Women” and “Trans Femmes.”
— Ladies Arm Wrestling (@weareNOLAW) January 21, 2017
Are you short on feminist protest art? If so, Kiernan Dunn’s got you covered. At her table, you’ll find a poster, print, or accessory fit for any rally. With just one sign, you can push back against Islamophobia, homophobia, fascism, and “hate” in general. Who says feminists aren’t efficient?
Once you’ve stocked up on cute protest gear, be sure to stop by Madelyn Owens’ table for inspiration. Indeed, her work burns bright with her “righteous feminist rage.”
On her website, Owens explains that she “has a lot of anger” and that America is “backsliding on women’s rights.” She is particularly outraged by “things [she] can’t control,” like “politics, rape culture, or the lack of three-dimensional female characters in most of the movies [she sees].” Worst of all, “some random dude” once commented on her leg hair.
— Madelyn Owens (@Madelyn_A_Owens) January 20, 2017
To say that Owens was disappointed with the 2016 election would be an understatement. In a particularly emotive and well-executed piece, she captures Hillary Clinton’s terror at a “looming” Trump. Her Instagram overflows with similarly poignant images.
Identities: Gotta Catch’em All!
— Amy Malessa (@AmyMalessa) July 27, 2015
It’s true — the 2018 zinesters are more than a bit obsessed with labels. Each vendor is exhaustively (if not compulsively) labeled, and broken down into as many marginalized identities as possible. Apparently, it’s not enough to just be a feminist, much an less individual. Instead, vendors must be categorized by race, sexuality, gender, and other stabilizing factors.
One can’t help but ask — why so many categories? Are individual artists reducible to these social markers? Do people need a thorough description of every vendor, as if they could only relate to specific experiences and/or groups? Are minority artists incapable of speaking to the majority? Worse, are minorities illegible even to other minorities?
— Ivy League Pix (@ivyleaguepix) February 29, 2016
While we can’t say for sure, the Zinefest’s frantic categorization likely stems from — you guessed it — intersectionality. The more identities one accrues, the more intersectional one is; in this way, one’s feminism is deemed valid, or sufficiently complex. Further, one must pay homage to as many causes as possible, and apologize for one’s privilege whenever possible. By arming themselves like this, feminists may hope to guard themselves against that most grievous of insults — “white feminist.”
Artist Nyxia Grey is an excellent example of this growing trend. Her work “focuses on self-advocacy, reproductive rights, sexual consent, equality, relationship boundaries, grief, feelings of belonging/home, body politics, and eating disorder recovery.” She is, in short, a one-stop shop for those feminists who crave diversity. By visiting her table, feminists can learn about topics as disparate and seemingly unrelated as “feelings of belonging/home” and “eating disorder recovery.”
Periods and White Supremacy, or Mysteries We Have Yet To Solve
— Deirdree Prudence (@DeirdreeDarling) July 19, 2015
Like so many feminist zinesters, Nyxia Grey is somewhat obsessed with menstruation. Indeed, a process which less enlightened women understand by age 13 is ruthlessly examined and deconstructed by these brave artists.
The Unceded Voices Collective is concerned with another enduring feminist mystery — namely, white supremacy. They are a “convergence of primarily Indigenous-identified women/2spirit/Queer” and “women of color street artists in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyaang, unceded Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe territories (also known as Montreal).” They “recognize [sic] the importance of walls and structures as critical spaces to reclaim unceded Indigenous land.”
The Collective is quite a bit more radical than most. These brave artists are concerned with battling white supremacy and colonialism, not mulling over alternative feminine hygiene products. White feminists who approach this table will undoubtedly be treated to a particularly thorough privilege-checking.
Are you ready to collect some rad zines and/or labels?
Loving my feminist af sticker I picked up at the NYC Feminist Zinefest this weekend next to my @Blackandpink99 sticker! pic.twitter.com/k9cKVwiBCv
— Rachel Corey (@CoreyRachel) March 7, 2017
The 2018 NYC Feminist Zinefest will take place from 12 PM to 6 PM at Barnard College. It promises to be “a jumble of magic, creativity, witchy energy.”
Will you be attending the NYC Feminist Zinefest? Let us know in the comments below!