My interest in women's online zines is more than a passing one. In fact I spent nine months of my life incubating a Master's thesis on the subject. It seemed only right to put the final product online---click on the link if you'd like to have a look.

June 2001 - NEW! The fantabulous new anthology Turbo Chicks: Talking Young Feminisms, edited by Lara Karaian, Lisa Bryn Rundle, and Allyson Mitchell (of Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off fame) is now out, and has a chapter on women's online zines, authored by yours truly. Demand it at your local bookstore, or head to the website for Sumach Press.

You don't have to spend a chunk of your life doing research to find ezines, however, since I have helpfully put the grrlzine links (click on their title pix) up for you with a short review for each. As you can see, they aren't complete, but keep coming back as I finish reviewing each one.



bitch dyke whore zine

Definitely not for the faint of heart, bitch dyke whore is both an attempt to reclaim those words hurled at rebelling woman as well as to tell the visceral story of the creator's rape and healing process. It includes a helpful guide to budding young riot grrls on how to start your own riot grrl chapter.

 

"For today's cranky feminist". One of the two ezines featured for analysis in the research paper, Brillo takes an academic yet lively angle towards questions of race, gender and class online. Features interviews with cybertheorist Rosanne Allucquere (Sandy) Stone, a deconstruction of the famed "jive machine", reclamation of women in the Bible, "tampon tips" and tons of other interesting stuff in its three available issues.

 

 

 

Dead Jackie Susann Quarterly

"Perverse. Demented. Disgusting. Offensive." Its name honouring Jackie Susann, the woman who wrote the cult classic Valley of the Dolls, DJSQ is "kind of an anti-manifesto or more simply, an eccentric, schizoid mix of Post-it notes from the absolute edge of the margins." It's written by self-proclaimed "Cybersluts", "Slackerdykes", and "lesbo technomedia junkies" and contains a jittery jumble of satirical articles, stories, reviews, advice columns, cultural criticism, and "postcards from the corporate edge", and is alternately silly and incisive. It's in text-only format so don't expect any bells and whistles, but the simplicity of the text allows for focus on the "stroll on the darkside of Pop."

 

Nikol Lohr serves up her special smorgasbord of biting wit and acidic pop culture examination with a heaping helping of neurotic anger. Wickedly funny, Disgruntled Housewife carves up the dark and tasty secrets that we all keep inside our tasteful bungalows of life. "Naked ladies", "Meals men like", and "Slutty" are just a few of the hilarious comestibles dished out from the fruitful mind of Lohr. Secret Confessions and The Dick List are two of the juiciest pieces of voyeuristic gluttony I've ever chewed on; both are largely collections of reader mail revealing the social indigestion of the masses ("Waiters of the world, unite and kill your oppressors!"). This zine has enough attitude to necessitate a doggie bag.

 

Fat dykes and the women who love them. This zine takes it all on---fat, identity, sexuality, body image, and politics, with an in-your-face attitude. Includes fat grrl wallpaper and pics for you to download. FaT GiRL's efforts at reclaiming negative body stereotypes, particularly in the discursive sense, are analyzed briefly in the research paper. The ezine also examines the intersection of fat with class and sexuality. Best reclamation piece title: "A Fat, Vulgar, Angry Slut". Unfortunately, FaT GiRL doesn't seem to be around any more, or at least their URL has been taken by a porn site (what is it with these damn porno sites that take up all the good female-oriented URLs?), but check out the related site Fat!So? and Spawn of FaT GiRL.

 

Part of Crystal "PopTart" Kile's feminist links xtravaganza, Girls Can Do Anything is her zine on pop culture, riot grrrl music, and politics. A little outdated at the moment, GCDA 3 nevertheless provides an engaging read, featuring a peek at the 1995 Riot Grrrls convention.

 

The Aussie grrl zine by Rosie Cross (aka Rosie X), geekgirl extraordinaire, social commentator, and frequent contributor to Wired magazine. This link will take you to geekgirl #10, Control. Other issues are archived on the site. In the words of Rosie X, "geekgirl rox".

 

One of two zines discussed in detail in the MRP, Girlrights is the product of Rachel Mariko Pilitteri's teenage feminist angst. A snapshot of an evolving feminist consciousness, Girlrights contains Pillitteri's poems, drawings, rants and raves about everything from body image to capitalism, plus a couple of articles by feminist theorists, Riot Grrl band reviews and pithy quotes from other grouchy grrls.

 

"Chicks. Flicks. Politicks." Remember Duran Duran's oh-so-racy (for the time) video Girls on Film, which could be obtained by eager, um, fans in an X-rated format? Well, this isn't it. Girls on Film is a funny feminist film take on what's happening now in the world of celluloid gender politics. Also has reviews and ratings of current films.

 

 

 

Bonnie Burton's "head-shrinking phun" zine. A peek into some grrly things and the life of Burton. For some reason I found the blow-by-blow account of her diet perversely interesting.

 

 Those of you who've been around the ezine block for awhile might remember a little old thing called Bitch. Well, it caved for a number of reasons, and Maxi is its successor. A little slicker, a little mellower, Maxi nevertheless packs the same punch as its mother.

 

  Audra Estrones, creator of Marigold, lists this delightful Canadian site as "60% slumber party, 40% political rally", which I think neatly sums up the entire modus operandi of third-wave feminism. Fantastic design and layout, featuring everything from politics, to poetry, to activism how-to (and why-to), to arts, to chat forums. Marigold features writers from across Canada and boasts at least one writer in every province and territory. Fans of Marigold are called Maripeeps, and often make a point of getting together. Estrones says that aside from actual slumber parties, there are also "little brunches and parties and tea sessions and stuff in various parts of this country being planned all the time on my boards. It makes me proud, because people are taking the online community aspect of the site, and bringing it into 3 dimensions." Check out more from Estrones in the spring issue of Herizons.

 

 One night I rented a flick called Ms .45. It's about a woman with a big gun on a killing spree after some Bad Guy attacks her in her apartment. She offs him and stuffs him into the fridge, removing his body bit by bit in shopping bags. It reminded me a lot of Polanski's Repulsion, in that the heroine is a similar sort of apparently clueless person who just manages to pull it together long enough to do something destructive. Anyway, I digress. Given the plot of the original Ms .45, you should be able to figure out the tone of the ezine.

 

Mary Chen started the Girlie Mag as a school project but it grew into something larger. This zine draws on Chen's background of Taiwanese-Irish heritage to pointedly critique mass culture's use and abuse of Asian culture and people. The feature entitled "McChink" takes on western culture's banal form of racism: in the form of commodified stereotypes to sell hamburgers.

 

For those of us who were more Velma than Daphne (or more Daphne when Velma was required) there is NrrdGrrl, a cheerful reclamation of nrrd-dom by Amelia Wilson, also author of Grrowl. NrrdGrrl isn't really a zine but is still a cool site which features the gallery of famous nrrdgrrls (Brooke Shields, Jan Brady, Hillary Clinton et al) as well as the "zine rack", a listing of all kinds of zines online and otherwise. HOWEVER, some jerkwad from a porn site recently hijacked NrrdGrrl's domain, so when you try to go to the site, you wind up with porn in your face. I'm still leaving this synopsis up because I think NrrdGrrl was a cool zine and I want people to know that domain theft is a major violation.

 

Taking its name both from metaphoric descriptions of women's bodies, as well as symbols of fertility, Pearshaped Issue #2 features lesbian erotica, an interview with musician Jessica Fine, Riot Grrl defined, and transvestism in the middle ages. Plus a lengthy article on body image, media and dancers, which with its excerpts from Alice and Wonderland juxtaposed with stories of body experience captures the sometimes surreal oppositional consciousness we experience around our bodies. As a pearshaped grrl myself, I profess a certain affinity for this zine.

 

Riot Grrl is an extensive site co-authored by many women. It's a highly graphic and visually entertaining zine, vaguely reminiscent of Pucci in its intense colour scheme and striking graphics design. Although the site is complex and initially appears confusing (sensory overload!) it is in fact easily navigated in a variety of different ways and one is never in any danger of getting lost. Features such topics as MediaRiot, Geekology, SexRiot, Grrl-At-Large, and the perpetually amusing game Feed the Supermodel.

 

 

"Naughty but nice, edgy but elegant, more Hip than hype." I should add: more events listing than zine. Shescape began as an organization featuring the latest in the lesbian club scene, and this site is really just a social calendar with catchy design and a few articles. Its refined style and visual design evokes the 1940s, a time of movie stars and femme fatales, and lends the site an air of opulent glamour. Nevertheless it has a few interesting articles. One, by stand-up comedian Linda Herskovic, details the lighter side of that American story staple: the road trip. Another article gives the facts on osteoporosis.

 

One thing I really liked about this zine is its use of the medium of the Internet. Other zines often treat their material as onscreen print text, but WWWench articles are full of hyperlinks and avenues to explore. For example, in the article "Diorama", meditations on the death of Princess Di and its relationship to Crash, the word "photographers" links to the New York Library photography collection. Each article has dozens of such links, which makes for a really easy way to spend a LOT of time with this site. Not that I mind, of course, since the articles are engaging and extensive, ranging from politics to sexuality to the environment. In addition, there is also some hyperfiction. Fave article title: "Kato, Meet Plato."

 

A what-are-they-doing-right-now kind of zine, Xpress covers the women who are sticking it to the Man, the system, the government, and just about everyone else. Xpress' tales of grassroots political activism by the women-on-the-street, from the "Happy Hacker" housewife to the "rabble-rousing" high school student, are inspiring.

 

yOni

"Your gateway to the feminine", Yoni celebrates all aspects of women, from maiden-mother-crone, to sluts, sisters, superwomen and shamans.