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!
The Women’s Library Zine Fest is coming up fast with all the ass kickin’, alternative press, and feminism making way in London. I am going to have a stall and be running a workshop on Survivor Zines. I hope that some of you can come along and say hello, trade some zines, or fill me in on your latest way of bringin’ about some change. Also, for those of you attending who want some of my zines if you e-mail me asap and let me know which ones you want I can put them aside for you and give them to you on the day (hooray for avoiding hefty postage costs). Otherwise, here’s the blurb about the workshop…
Survivor Zines: A discussion session on zines as a tool of self-expression, community support and active resistance for survivors of sexual violence. A look at how we can form more supportive communities and responses for survivors. Sarah Tea-Rex has written and compiled zines on surviving childhood sexual abuse, mental health, queer and trans youth resistance, reproductive autonomy, and unemployment. This discussion is open to people of all genders, to survivors and to their allies. A trained support person will also be present during the workshop.
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.
I’ve been lucky enough to do two workshops over the past month. One of them (at the Lesbian Lives conference) was on Zines and Community Support, and the other (at Brighton Zinefest) was with Red on Survivor Zines: Telling our Stories of Sexual Violence. I am really thankful to all of you who came to the workshops and either listened or shared with us. It meant a lot to me personally to see how courageous and supportive people within our communities can be. As one of the Brighton Zinefest organizers, I really had a great weekend of workshops and stalls and I now have heaps of new zines to keep my mind churning while I escape the rain. Thanks.
Microcosm Publishing, well over a month later, has never replied to the e-mail I sent them on boycotting their distro due to their, frankly, fucked up approach to dealing with an abuse perpetrator on their collective. But more independent and lovely distros are starting to pick up my zines so they’ll be available from friendlier sources anyway.
The Graduating Into Unemployment Zine is officially getting its act together and it will hopefully be complete in two shakes. Additionally, will has awesomely translated Get A Grip into Braille! So if you have an interest in nabbing yourself a braille edition, send me an e-mail and we can work something out. Also, will, thanks– you rock.
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.
In case you were feeling a bit in the pits about yet another gregorian calendar popping into the rubbish bin, here’s some zinester updates to tickle that geeky side of you into excitement.
Firstly, in all of my infinite tech savvy, I have managed to get to you lots of my zines, totally for free and accessible from anywhere in the world. Just go to the zine section on this website and get downloading.
The Graduating into Unemployment zine has gotten lots of really fantastic submissions which I’m in the midst of organising and putting into a beautiful compilation zine. There’s also still a chance of getting a piece of yours included, if you send it over to me asap.
I’m helping to organise the Brighton Zinefest, taking place on Feb 19 & 20th, which is set to be chock full of awesome workshops, zine stalls, music, and lovely zinesters. Contact us if you want to hold a zine stall or workshop, otherwise just mark it on your calendar and come check us out.
In my supreme zine excitement, Microcosm Publishing wants to stock my latest zine, Get A Grip! Plus, there’s a possibility that I may be getting inspired to churn out a second edition of the zine… so keep your eyes peeled ’till the next round of updates. See, so much zineing to anticipate in the new year, enjoy!