I don’t know what’s with this whole healing thing, but I no longer drink six cups of tea a day! Nobody told me that my sincere passion for tea would be less a necessity once I no longer had fatigue. So, hey, in retrospect, being ill makes you an awesome tea connoisseur.
I’m now in my family’s Yorkshire home but all on my lonesome. It took me less then 24hrs of being here before I broke the TV (what’s with the multiple remotes? I just want ON, OFF, change the channel!) In 48 hours I managed to lose my phone, which is on silent, somewhere in the house. And the most exciting thing to do in this town is go to charity thrift shops designed for 80 year olds (which is actually quite exciting, you should the English lady tea-time-at-the-horse-races hats). Basically, higher zine intervention is telling me it’s time to sit down and write my next zine. So I’m plonking away at the keyboard and hopefully there will be a new zine in your hands soon!
A few years back I gave my friend Jackie a copy of my first zine, I Am Not The Rain, which I put together with my friend Amber. It’s a zine about a lot of things, mostly about life after experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Jackie was quite excellently awesome and asked Amber and I if she could turn it into a video story. The video also turned out to be quite excellently awesome. I have wanted to get it on-line for a while but only just figured out how! This also really excites me because I have been having conversations about zine accessibility, especially for disabled people, and how we can encourage zines being in multiple formats that suit different mediums of knowledge sharing. Thank you so much to all of those involved in the project. Without further adieu…
CAUTION: This video may bring up difficult emotions, it may be triggering or upsetting. Please view the video with self-care in mind. For on-line support, visit http://www.samaritans.org/ and http://www.rainn.org/ and http://www.childline.org.uk
Now that I am for sures in Brighton for a while yet and have managed to tuck away a completed master’s dissertation I can finally return to concentrating on all that my sweatervest wardrobe endows: zines, zines, zines. I am eagerly piecing together a new queer, feminist, mental health perzine which will hopefully make its luscious ways to you before the end of the year. I just marked my calendar to head on over to the South East London Zinefest on 12th November. You may also catch me meandering awkwardly with a tote full of zines and a shy shuffle at the London Anarchist Bookfair. If you can’t make it to any of these and are still wanting to grab some of my zines, the on-line shop is newly restocked. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some zines to catch up on reading. Send me yours if you want me to make me smile!
After countless hours of planes, trains, ferries, metros, rental cars, buses and trams, my thumbs are back to twiddling in Brighton. With a summer of literal and figurative hurricanes it is a wee unclear as to which city I will yet be spending the next year of my life. London may be usurping me or Brighton may keep anchoring me in.
It’s been some turbulent times for me over the last couple months. I have been juggled around quite considerably by the clowns of academia in a circus of discrimination. Long story short, I have been pretty exhausted and finding myself a bit stretched with generating new zines. The good news is that I am a kind of an anomaly and the more I am discriminated against, the more determined I become. Besides, perhaps eventually I can throttle the whole experience into a zine that invites you all to shake your fists at the system with me!
Despite the distractions, I am eager to keep on top of all that’s going on in zines. I am planning on having a stall at the Camden Zinefest on October 8th. I am also soon to invade my local print shop and make a ridiculously large stack o’ zines to restock my currently sold out shop. So please, come around to my website or to the next zinefest and say hello. Keep up the good fight and fight it with all the love you got.
Sometimes people are awesome.
I ran a Survivor Zines workshop at the Women’s Library Zinefest that was really inspiring for me. Ya’ll packed the place out! Even though I’m always nervous before running a workshop or speaking publicly about being a survivor I was able to leave this event ready to take on the world. It feels to me like there is an eagerness for a new (and yet infinitely old in its routes) feminist based survivor and allies activism, a movement to speak out about our experiences and challenge a society and culture that repeatedly silences us. I want to thank everyone in the workshop, especially the people who talked to me afterwards, for their kindness as well as their courage. I hope that those of you who came were able to find positives in it and that maybe it will have spawned more activist resistance in you!
In other news, it is my last month in the grand (ok, so maybe more petite, lovely and cliched) city of Brighton! I am going to be on a two month hiatus, first going to the USA and Canada (let me know asap if you’re in this neck of the woods and want me to send you zines for cheaps) and escapades up in northern England until settling into the confusing disconnections of logic and city planning that is London. Unfortunately, this means I won’t be distroing any zines for the entirety of August and parts of September. Dessole! However, the plan’s to spend some time catching up and writing some zines to birth to you all soon.
As one last plug- all yous interested in survivor & allies activism, get in touch and let me know if there’s any ideas you have, events you’re keen to create, things that you already have going on, or chats you want to engage in. If you’re able to come to London, there is also The Flip Side: When Sex is Not Okay… Art Gallery Night! on July 22nd at the Lambeth Women’s Project (Oh and to be extra sneaky, one last-last plug– somewhere along the line facebook has inserted its presence too much in my life, so Sarah Tea-Rex has tea infused my way into facebook fanpages, “like” me if you’re into that kind of thing).
Wahoo! It’s finally arrived for you all- a wonderful and completed Graduating into Unemployment zine is now hanging out and waiting for you to download, order, or pinch from an upcoming zinefest. You can get all the scoop on it here. Thanks to all who put their time, effort and talent into contributing to the collection.
In my last post I was excitedly nattering about all the zine happenings in my life. Among these was hearing from Microcosm that they wanted to distro a zine of mine. Somehow the background on the founder and collective member Joe Biel being an abuse perpetrator had passed me by and I hadn’t a clue until one of my friends told me about it. I got some background information into what has been going on. On this basis, I have decided to boycott Microcosm, as well as register my complaint with them, and I encourage you to do the same. In order to explain this decision and demonstrate my protest, I am posting here the e-mail I have sent in response to Microcosm.
To Sparky/Microcosm Collective,
When I first received your e-mail that you were interested in my Get a Grip zine I was totally thrilled. Not only because it’s quite the compliment but also because I was excited about the possibility of my zine reaching a whole new group of folks. What an awesome way to start off the New Year, I thought. Then my friend told me about Joe Biel who, as I’m sure you’re aware, has been called out by his ex-partner as having been abusive towards her. His ex-partner has clearly and openly stated that she does not believe that he has acknowledged, taken responsibility for, and worked through changing these abusive patterns of behaviour. Despite this ongoing abusiveness, he continues to be a part of the Microcosm collective.
As a feminist, as an abuse survivor, and as a compassionate human being I believe supporting survivors of violence is paramount. This is a belief that is really fundamental to my life. Honouring the experience and wishes of the survivor needs to be central. I therefore cannot ethically provide Microcosm with any of my zines and I want to explain to you why.
I encourage people who have been called out for abuse to seek to change. I do not endorse punishment or social exclusion as solutions to violence. I do, however, expect that abusers learn to be responsible for their actions and to go through a process of changing their dangerous thoughts and behaviours. The person called out for abusive behaviour should respect the survivor’s boundaries; step down from attending events, projects, and contact with the individual if this is requested. I also expect the community in which the survivor is a part of to support and prioritise the needs and desires of the survivor, over that of the abuse perpetrator. While I appreciate this may be difficult for the abuser, it is important to understand that their behaviours come with consequences. I do not feel the need to cushion the experience of abusers at the expense of the healing process of survivors.
I have seen that the Microcosm collective has recently issued a statement about Joe’s abusiveness. Unfortunately, this statement was issued on an obscure website, instead of your own website, and was done so months after it having first been requested, and only after pressure from Cindy to withdraw her zines from your distro. This comes across to me as more of a defensive tactic then a proactive commitment towards accountability and support in response to abuse.
I really respect Alex, Cindy and others for having the courage to speak out against the way in which both the collective and Joe have responded to his abusiveness, especially given the sexist resistance that permeates so much of the discourse around violence. I find it really saddening that your collective has fallen so short of creating a supportive environment for abuse survivors. It is puzzling and frustrating to me that Microcosm would choose to select Get a Grip for distribution when there is a piece specifically on domestic violence perpetrators needing to confront their abusiveness and when the zine so clearly demonstrates the hardships of dealing with the after-effects abuse can have on survivors. It appears to me that your supposed ideals are inconsistent with your actions.
I write my zines because I am passionate about creating change. I write about topics like mental health and surviving abuse, which are really difficult for me to open up about and share with complete strangers. I do it because I want to challenge a society that repeatedly shames, blames, and silences us. I do it because every once in a while someone tells me that they feel a little less alone knowing someone else has been there, too. The amazing part is, in those moments I also feel less lonely and like we’re collectively working towards something bigger and better in dismantling all the violence. It’s disheartening for me to think that because of Joe’s abusiveness my zines, and the topics they discuss, won’t be accessed by many people and are therefore being funnelled through this systematic silencing of survivors once more. I had hoped for better in the zine community.
I think Microcosm, as one of the biggest zine distributors in the world, has so much potential in reaching out to new people, and exposing them to alternative, anti-oppressive, and totally inspiring art. I believe as a community, as creators of media, and as individuals, we all have a responsibility to support abuse survivors and those who have been targets of oppression. I will not supply Microcosm with any of my zines or make any purchases from Microcosm until I am convinced that the collective is also dedicated, both in word and action, to supporting abuse survivors. I know it is not easy but I hope you take this as an opportunity to demonstrate how communities and collectives can organize to foster supportive, radical environments instead of maintaining the same old injustices.
Cheers, Sarah Tea-Rex
If you would like any more information about radical communities and holding abuse perpetrators accountable here is a resource I would recommend world+without+sexual+assault. Please note that as far as I’m aware Joe has not been called out for sexual abuse and so, while there are similarities, also note that emotional abuse and sexual abuse do differ.