It’s always an exciting time, new places, new zine events, new shops to try to woo into discount printing my zinester enthusiast work. I’m really excited that this Saturday is Queer Zine Fest London. Bloody hell, I haven’t been to a zinefest in ages because of health issues and mobility problems. I’m looking forward to seeing all my old friends, and all the new people, especially in a queer specific space. That’s awesome.
The last couple weeks have been really hectic. For fucks sake, I spontaneously managed to get over a litre of air trapped between the walls of my left lung! Damn, they call it “pneumothorax”, and it’s kind of a bad ass to fix. So far between the bad health, the waiting times in A&E, and being homebound, I’ve added a new page for you! This one is my comics! More is coming in the future… but feel free to take a peek, there’s a newbie up there.
Maybe I’ll see you at the fest on Saturday? Come over and say hello!
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!
Join me as I’m as I’m about to drink my first cup of tea since the operation! “What operation?”, is probably the question kicking around in your noggin right now. Well, as usual, I am a person of perplexing and unique character. I am not one in a million but I am two or three in a million— those of us in the world who have Cushing’s Syndrome. This essentially means that I am one of those people who had a noncancerous tumour attached to my brain that was blocking off important messages (including the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol) from being communicated. I always said communication is important and, believe me, my neurology can testify to it!
My lack of blogging, zine writing, and schlepping along to zine fairs has been because I have been going through quite a difficult time. I’ve dealt with some not so endearing symptoms such as severe depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint pains, among many others. Luckily, after a long misty journey to having this syndrome finally diagnosed, I had an operation to remove the tumour last week and I should be on my way to gradually getting back to good health now. I feel a bit lousy at the moment but I can feel my body slowly getting stronger.
In fact, hold on, I’m going to take that sip of tea now. Ahh a strong green tea. Fucking fabulous. I’d like to write a zine about my experience with Cushings, disabilities, gender and healthcare access. But as is the way with actually living it, feeling able enough to produce the zine may take time. I would like to eventually get my story to you, and I’ve learned that I’m a pretty determined woman so be on the look out for its eventual emergence. Until then, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy drinking green tea again.
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).
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!