Spare Rib is a feminist zine that was was first published in June 1972 by twenty-one-year-old, Rosie Boycott and her twenty-eight-year-old co-editor, Marsha Rowe. It was highly popular and went on to be published for twenty years.
Their creative covers include a variety of different mediums from photographs of icons such as Angela Davis and Jane Fonda to artistic illustrations of naked women to explore the importance of body image. SO many important issues that is still very relevant in today’s society, which touches on the reason why the topic of feminism is still a dominant force in the zine world.
From women’s rights in the workplace and contraception to self-defence and provocation, Spare Rib highlighted key issues and targeted them in a humorous way in order to communicate a message to their readers. Obviously the response they received from their content was amazing or else they wouldn’t have been able to keep publishing for two decades, which speaks volumes about how much passion there is for equality. The fact that we can still have some access to this information and there have been many other zines and publications that have been inspired to create work in a similar way is very telling in how strong this theme is felt in this particular field of expression.
Pamflet is one of the contemporary e-zines (and zines) taking on the issues of feminism much like Spare Rib. The introduction of e-zines, as well as original printed versions, allows the makers and publishers to keep followers more up-to-date by posting as often as they like as well as give them the option to purchase a hard copy, which definitely boosts the profile of the zine. Producing a zine in both formats also allows the viewer to see what kind of content will appear in the zine but the zine itself always offers a more artistic and creative edge that I think overpowers an e-zine.
Pamflet not only comments on issues of feminism but also takes on topics such as ‘Style, Books, Music, Arts’ etc. all with a feminist edge of course but this shows how broad a zine can be as you can choose to comment on essentially whatever you feel passionate about or have an opinion on. I feel that zines are a very powerful outlet for anyone who wants to raise an issue or convey a message about something they disagree with in the world like the government and their hatred for David Cameron or simply an interest they may have in something like the rise of female punk rock bands.
The feminist hardcore punk movement known as “Riot Grrrl” started in the 1990s and focused on ‘punk music, radical politics and a DIY aesthetic’ that has gone on to inspire and shape so many zines seen since. Bands associated with this movement include ‘Bikini Kill’, ‘Bratmobile’, ‘Huggy Bear’, ‘Skinned Teen’, ‘Calamity Jane’, ‘Emily’s Sassy Lime’ and many more. The movement allowed women to create music that would make political statements about the issues in society and could speak out about the double standards against women, rape, domestic violence, sexuality and female empowerment.
Kurt Cobain, lead singer of notorious rock band Nirvana (1987-1994) said:
“The future of rock belongs to women.”
Joan Jett, a member of the first ever all girl rock band, ‘The Runaways’ (1975-79) has been noted by many members of “Riot Grrrl” as major inspiration and role model for the movement.
Female musicians and bands that want to voice their opinions about the roles of women not only in their industry but also in society created some of these zines. Tobi Vail, an independent musician and feminist, was a central figure in the riot grrrl movement and was responsible for coining the spelling of “grrl” started the zine ‘Jigsaw’.
Since the punk movement was revolutionised in the 70s, punk progressed further. In the 1980s, faster and more aggressive styles such as hardcore bands such as Black Flag and Oi! bands like Cock Sparrer were the primary style of punk music. The post-punk and the alternative rock movement also resulted from musicians being highly influenced by the original punk movement in the 70s.
Punk zines became a staple way of communicating the opposition to “The Man” in the 70s as the movement really gained immense following. Punk symbolised a revolution that rebelled conformity and the government and used not only music to express this message but a new style was also developed in terms of the clothes they wore and their physical appearance. The people involved and supported the punk movement were heavily passionate and dedicated to their cause which is what makes it so interesting to research.
I love how even though all of these zines demonstrate the following of the same theme, display such diversity in their artistic, DIY aesthetic. I think that’s the most interesting factor of a zine versus a blog or a magazine as it allows you to be completely free with your creativity, especially with artistic illustrations, which I think is the predominant element that makes a zine so strong.