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Writing a Riot

Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics

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Rebekah J. Buchanan

Riot grrrls, punk feminists best known for their girl power activism and message, used punk ideologies and the literacy practice of zine-ing to create radical feminist sites of resistance. In what ways did zines document feminism and activism of the 1990s? How did riot grrrls use punk ideologies to participate in DIY sites?

In Writing a Riot: Riot Grrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics, Buchanan argues that zines are a form of literacy participation used to document personal, social, and political values within punk. She examines zine studies as an academic field, how riot grrrls used zines to promote punk feminism, and the ways riot grrrl zines dealt with social justice issues of rape and race. Writing a Riot is the first full-length book that examines riot grrrl zines and their role in documenting feminist history.

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Chapter 1. Girl Zine Studies

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GIRL ZINE STUDIES

“I’m quiet because I wonder where I’d be right now if I had never read Sassy’s zine of the month article and had never seen Plume and never would have written away for it, would I still be miserable pondering suicide??????????”

—Amy Antonissen, Cutie Pie #2

Before examining riot grrrl zines specifically, I want to take up Janice Radway’s call for the need for zine studies as an “intellectual discourse about zines and zine-ing.”1 Starting with Stephen Duncombe’s book Notes from Underground: Zines and Politics of Alternative Culture in 1997, Radway traces literature on zines coming out in the early 1990s, based on the work of zine creators and fans who put together articles and books published by mainstream and alternative presses. She argues that the texts that were produced were “an indigenous research apparatus, a method of community self-definition, a kind of boosterism and subcultural cheerleading, a recruitment tool, and a critical review literature on the do-it-yourself world of underground communication.”2

Radway’s complication of the idea of “studies” being solely housed in the academy fits well with zines. Those who are involved and invested in zines have long studied the ways in which zines and zine-ing are valued in different discourse communities. This book highlights how those involved in zine communities participated in scholarship and zine studies work. It shows the ← 3 | 4 → way that zine creators critique each...

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