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Feminist / Riot Grrrl reading

I've been reading some articles about riot-grrrl related subjects. The absolute best one I've read so far is Congregating Women: Reading 3rd Wave Feminist Practices in Subcultural Production by Doreen Piano (what a name!) - a really well-written article which places zine-writing and riot-grrrl in the contexts of feminism, punk, consumerism, and so on. It explains the zine phenomenon really well, as the creation of alternative distribution networks which retain the means of production and stay (largely) clean of mainstream cultural influence such as paid advertising, and it spells out some of the realities really well.

I wasn't convinced by the article "A Little Too Ironic": The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians. It didn't seem to have enough evidence for its central point. Alanis Morisette might have been female and "angry" but that doesn't necessarily mean she was stealing ideas from riot grrrls. Does it?

What fucked version of hello kitty are you? was an interesting article, not least because I just bought myself a Hello Kitty bag. After reading this article, my girlfriend realised that she only ever wore Hello Kitty stuff in combination with big stompy boots - and now we know why: because of the subcultural semiology of course.

There's a lot of interesting writing about zines. I never realised that there were people keeping tabs on all this - universities keeping little libraries of zines, "annuals" being produced, etc. Wow! I wonder if any copies of my sister's wonderful zine (now sadly defunct) are archived on dusty shelves somewhere?

It's an interesting question to what extent the practices of zine-writing, distros, etc, can/should/are moving into the internet world. A lot of zines and such don't have any kind of obvious web presence, which might well be on purpose. I really like electronic media but I recognise it has built-in problems such as the cost of internet access, cost of hosting a website, the intrusion of commercial interests, and the differential access according to country/race/gender (boys still have better internet access than girls, e.g. although many families in the UK have internet-enabled computers, boys more often than girls have computer access in their own room). It also loses the person-to-person interaction of selling/swapping zines which is really good. (Piano addresses some of these issues in her article.)

Still, despite that, there's some really interesting stuff happening on the web. The rise of blogging is an excellent development, and the quasi-word-of-mouth connections between blogs allows for some kind of "subcultural spaces" to evolve. One really nice idea is The Carnival of Feminists, which is a collective enterprise in which bloggers take turns to compile an article discussing and linking to interesting feminist blog articles. It's a very good way to find some really interesting stuff to read! But note also the non-hierarchical, non-owned way it's organised. It's an excellent way of keeping a multiplicity of voices, and keeping the perspectives fresh.

I'll be doing more reading in this area. There's so much stuff to navigate, and so many interesting topics. I haven't even touched on the book recommendations I've had (and have yet to fulfil).

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