Click on the links below to read what I have to say on lots of topics but especially the subject of 'the lack of girls in hardcore'! BTW my old nickname is 'Albatross'.
Interview 1 is with a UK zine; Autumn 1998
Interview 2 Malaysian zine; Autumn 1998
Interview 3 Malaysian zine; Summer 2000
Interview 4 Argentinian zine; Summer 2000
Interview 5 Filipino zine from Summer 2000
Interview 6 Croatian zine; September 2000
Interview 7 Malaysian zine; Summer 2001
Interview 8 Malaysian zine; Summer 2001
Interview 9 UK zine; December 2001
Interview 10 Indonesian newsletter; January 2002
Interview 11 Malaysian zine; January 2002
Interview 12 Australian zine; 2000
Interview 13 American webzine; October 2002
Interview 14 Croatian research survey; March 2003
Interview 15 Malaysian zine; June 2003
Interview 16 UK zine; January 2004
Interview 17 German zine; January 2004
Interview 18 UK book; January 2005
back to about synthesis
1. Would you say feminists are anti male or male haters and can men be feminists? It's funny you should ask that last bit because the Women's Officer at my last University organised a debate about whether men can be feminists. Unfortunately I couldn't attend, and I can only guess at the sort of issues around this question. I believe most feminists, including sympathetic men, would say that no, men cannot be feminists. The reasons would be primarily to do with the fact that without the experience of being female in a patriarchal society one cannot comprehend and empathise with feminist outlooks etc. Similarly, I've known black people who say that black people cannot be considered racist because the whole ideology of racial separation is a white invention. Personally I don't feel strongly either way about progressive men being considered feminists. I have known many men who were tremendously understanding, respecting and sympathetic of feminism and that should be acknowledged. As it happens though, in spite of their best intentions, each of those men still had outlooks and behaviours about or towards women, both conscious and subconscious, that were obvious remnants of a patriarchal mindset that only a man would have.
Back to the first part of the question, no kids, it can now be told that feminism is first and foremost about women and not about men at all. It wouldn't be very feminist to group all feminists under a particular mindset anyway, but anti-men or anti-male would certainly not be one of them. Men or maleness are not the enemy, patriarchy is the enemy. Everybody has an opportunity and a duty to fight patriarchy and you don't have to be a woman to see that patriarchy is not just about maleness.
2. As a feminist what certain beliefs do you hold on things such as gender roles? As a social scientist I feel pretty confident that gender roles are mostly socially conditioned and not biological. The gender roles assigned to girls and boys and women and men are just limitations for everybody. Everybody gets oppressed by their own and other people's attempts to fit the gender roles assigned to us by tradition.
3. Do you think men's roles in society are better than women's?
Men are less aware of the limitations of their roles. Society expects more from men, so there is a greater burden of responsibility and achievement, but on the other hand men are far more likely to be recognised for their achievements. For these reasons I'd say men's roles are a better experience than those assigned to women.
Male gender roles are completely worthless. Society has no need whatsoever for people who are competitive, arrogant, violent, selfish etc. Therefore, the stereotypical female traits of emotion, caring, co-operating etc. are much better.
4. Women who use sex to make a living; is this women being exploited by men or men being exploited by women?
By men being exploited by women I can only think that means because men are supposedly slaves to their sexual urges women take advantage of this for their own profit. But if you think of it practically, the vast majority of women in this line of work are just trying to survive. It's not a profitable or secure type of work for most women. Furthermore, I would say it is exploitative of someone to reduce another human being to an instrument for personal gratification.
What the theoretical debates always ignore is the sex industry itself. Most of the people in the profit-making hierarchy of the industry are men. Most importantly though, at the bottom of this hierarchy is a culture of rape, drug addiction, economic exploitation etc. which is inseparable from the day-to-day functioning of the sex industry. People who support pornography etc. are supporting all this as well just as surely as if you buy a Kit Kat you are supporting Nestle's infanticide in South America.
5. What would you say is feminism/ your definition like.
I'm glad you asked for my definition, because I am not comfortable saying, 'this is what is or is not feminism' and defining it for all feminists since trying to set boundaries like that seems pretty patriarchal to me. For me personally, feminism means challenging patriarchy in all its forms. It tends to work out practically as inseparable from anarchism really, since patriarchy is coercion and coercion is patriarchy. First and foremost of course I see the effects of sexism and misogyny in everyday life and look for the alternatives to these.
1. Okay, Albatross firstly·tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get involved in this HC/Punk scene, your contribution to the scene and your future plan? First of all I better point out that I am a girl since I have this androgynous nickname and, as I've said before, people are male until proven female. When I was a teenager I got bored with chart music, so when I heard a type of music that sounded exciting and actually was politically radical like myself I knew at once it was for me! I've been a punk since I was 15. I'm 24 now. I live in London and am at University here studying for my Doctorate in Sociology. My area of research is the children's rights movement in Western Europe. For 4 years I've done a zine called Synthesis (issue 4 out now). Soon I hope also to start organising shows/tours for diy hardcore bands, straightedge bands preferably. I have been straightedge for as long as (or longer than) I've been a punk. 2. What is hardcore to you? your own definition of it?
Hardcore is the punks who reject mainstream societies values and practices and work to create an underground alternative counter-culture free of things like capitalism, profiteering, sexism etc. 3. Hardcore is a trend, do you agree? and what do you think about darkcore, evilcore, krishnacore·etc?
Kids who are looking for a trend to follow are nothing to do with the hardcore as I defined above. Certain aspects of punk have become very trendy in many societies in recent years and it fucking sucks because it just proves how shallow people can be. The sub-cultures of punk that you mentioned are the same. They are more to do with people playing with shallow identity games than trying to create something meaningful. 4. How about your hometown hardcore scene. Any new zines or bands come out?
London is so spread out that we have not had much of a self-generating scene here for a long time. There is lots of good stuff in other parts of the UK, but London· I cannot recommend any hardcore zines from London. There is a new emo band with some kids I know in it including one sxe. They are called Hythe and they will probably be putting out a 7" soonish.
5. You are sxe right? What is straightedge to you? your own definition about it? And do you think that straightedge is for hardcore only or it's for everybody?
Avoiding mind-altering substances and exploiting other people. I am vegan, but I don't think that is fundamental to sxe although it goes along with it very well. So I don't drink or smoke or take drugs or fornicate and this is a personal choice and nothing to do with religion or peer pressure. I want to keep my mind clear and in control. I think everybody should do the same of course, but sxe came out of punk and if people are going to adopt the sxe aesthetic as well as the practices I think they are poseurs if they consider themselves separate from hardcore.
6. How would you define D.I.Y.? And your opinion about Victory Records.
DIY is following hardcore to it's logical conclusion. I'll borrow a quote from the awesome Newland zine:'DIY does NOT mean doing everything on your own, but doing everything without help from this capitalist system and its tools'. That means not bringing the profit-motive into the scene and not dealing with people who do. Victory, Lost and Found, Revelation, Goodlife etc. are nothing to do with hardcore. They use the hardcore aesthetic and target an audience of people who are interested in hardcore, but they are patently not hardcore or even punk. They are not an alternative and they only harm the scene and people in it.
7. Your opinion about bands that sign with major labels? Again, they are not hardcore, they have selfish motives and they only bring harm to this fragile alternative some of us are trying to build.
8. Your opinion about political bands? your views on politicians and the political situations there and your political ideology·.
The more politics the better in hardcore as far as I'm concerned. I do like a lot of bands with personal lyrics, but it's only in hardcore that we get sincere political bands and that's awesome. As long as the bands aren't fascist or theocratic or something·Politicians·I can think of some individual politicians like Mandela and Mary Robinson who seem ok politically and as people, but most politicians are self-serving, power-hungry and all that bad stuff. Contemporary Britain is a perfect example of this because for the past 1 ¸ years we have this new Government of complete self-serving, anti- democratic, Stalinist centrism. Their only ideology is to keep themselves in power and having a nice inter-national profile and they are perfecting the art of propaganda to do so. I guess my only ideology is being against ideology. I am pretty idealistic I guess and I am happy to call myself an anarchist. If I were to give another label to myself I would add that I'm a feminist.
9. What do you want to say to bands that try to spread their religion in the HC/Punk scene? Mind control, patriarchical religions and ideological propaganda has no place in a scene that is about questioning authority and having free thought. These bands are taking advantage of the fact that kids in the scene tend to be impressionable and they are in the process of developing their identities so they might fall for the lies of religions.
10. How about your society around your place? Have they made any problem with your scene?
Britain has in the last few centuries been very open and tolerant to alternative cultures in comparison to a lot of countries. Punks don't get bothered much these days, but ravers get in trouble and get busted for drugs a lot. Punk is pretty well established as a musical culture. As an arm of punk though, the squatters movement has had a lot of problems in recent years especially under the old Government. It is definitely not comparable to the sort of cultural warfare and police harassment you get in SE Asia though!
11. Why do people like to judge someone from the outside look?
That is the primary way people have of understanding what another person is about. We should be able to then continue from that point of under- standing through other methods as well, but some people never learned how to do that. Some people can tell instinctively many deep things about someone they have never met before, and some cannot. Some people were taught intolerance of new and different people because of the way they were raised by their family for instance and some people were taught tolerance.
Some cultures are more tolerant than others. The USA for instance is very geared towards conformism and there is a lot of suspicion of people who seem 'different', and Britain is a very tolerant culture especially when it comes to things like alternative lifestyles. As I see it, every new generation seems to be more tolerant and less authoritarian than the last one. We live in a very shallow world, but it is also a much smaller, more international world so nobody can avoid diversity in society anymore, so I think there will be less judgement of people from that level.
12. 'Male against female' do you think this confrontation is ending?
I think the feminist revolution is still progressing in various forms and women's empowerment is increasingly in evidence, but unfortunately there is less evidence of the actual conflict between men and women ending. In fact, there is a tremendous backlash now with men becoming aware that their relative position is decreasing and they are reacting with more hatred of women. I think this backlash will end eventually.
13. I want to know how do you see this:
i) Child Abuse: A debate has just begun in Britain about whether it should be illegal for parents to hit their children. Of course I am very big on children's rights and I think nobody should hit children or anybody else. The reason adults hit or beat children is the same reason adults sexually abuse children; because children are weak and wherever in society there is a power relation (men and women, police and citizens) there will be a (ab)use of that power.
ii) Free Sex: Everybody should be free to have sex with whomever they want whenever they want. That is a very important realm of personal empowerment; control over one's sexuality. I don't think that people are naturally monogamous, but I don't think having lots of partners just because you can or because of sexual competitiveness is a very healthy attitude to have either. I know it's not right for me, and from what I've seen it only causes trouble for other people. Using people for your own gratification without considering their feelings is another example of the selfishness that makes the world such a nasty place. And people do get hurt either because they feel used or because they get a disease or whatever.
iii) Racism: ·is the ideology that the human race can be broken down into smaller races with biological distinctions. It was invented to justify the atrocities of imperialism, and it is still around today. Racist murders happen in my own city, London on a regular basis and these are usually committed by the police. So racism is still very strong and it's something we always have to fight. I notice it in everyday conversation even with my friends, and when that happens it has to be challenged and cannot be tolerated.
iv) Capitalism:It is getting stronger all the time. There is only one political power in the world, and that is multinational corporations. They know how strong they are and how much stronger they can be and they are even working together through things like the Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI) to ensure that we are all slaves and can have no alternative to their hegemony. We have to fight every single possible aspect of capitalism in our everyday lives. Not just by keeping it out of hardcore, but by not buying products from multinational corporations, by supporting union rights, by not falling for the consumerist ideology· 14 Your comments about fastfood outlets like McDonalds?
That is one of those multinational corporations that has to be boycotted and campaigned against. They are responsible for destroying rainforest, the enslavement and murder of millions (billions?) of animals, the exploitation of children through their advertising (this was proven in a British court last year), spying on people who tell the truth about them and selling unhealthy food as well as contributing to the general American cultural imperialism of the globe. In fact, you and I can both be sued by McDonalds if you print what I've just said about them because they are so powerful they try to smash anyone who speaks against them. McDonalds must be stopped! In case they do try to sue us, I'll just put a disclaimer here that the above is all a lie and that McDonalds is great, never does anything wrong ever and that eating McDonalds' food will make your skin white and your hair blonde (according to the Director of McDonalds in Japan - he really said that!).
15. What are your top 5 favourite bands/ singers/zines/labels/people /countries/books/meals/drinks/ place/friends? This is the self indulgent bit eh? Favourite band of all time is Dead Kennedys. I think the best punk band ever though was Crass. Right now I also like Ordination or Aaron, Broken Hearts are Blue and Peu Etre.
Singers·Morrissey, David Gedge of the Wedding Present and all those French kids who scream in bands like Peu Etre.
Zines·Sanjam, European Manhood (France), Forkboy, Newland (Belgium), Once So Close, Slaves of Mainstream (Netherlands), Rigsby (UK)
The best zine I ever read was Mazel-tov Cocktail, a one-off zine by and about Jews in punk.
Labels·Le brun, le roux, Opale (France), Spread, Armed With Anger (UK)
People·Jello Biafra, Noam Chomsky, Dirk Bogarde, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Wat Tyler
Countries·Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and (although I've never been) Norway.
Books·Ada (Nabokov), Down and Out in Paris and London (Orwell), my Dictionary, my guide to films, my vegan food guide
Meals·Yaki Soba, Sweet and Sour Tofu, Pad Thai with Tofu, any Thai Curry and anything chocolate
Drinks·Provamel chocolate soya milk, Provamel strawberry soya milk, orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice
Place·London, Southeast London, by the Thames River in London, on Parliament Hill in London, on Primrose Hill in London·
Friends·of the punks: Joris Forkboy, Brob Tilt! (Belgium), Rob Tinderbox, Chris (UK), Jobst (Germany), of the non-punks: my 2 flatmates; Graham the artist and Grant the sociologist, my best friend John whom I've known since we were 15, David whom I've known since we were 18, Linus who is the only one living in London·I have never had many female friends!
Interview 3 1) First words and tell us a bit about yourself? I'm reading the second of the Harry Potter books: they are children's books written by an English woman all about a boy who is a wizard and who goes to a school where he learns how to use magic. They are awesome books. As of February 2000, I'm 25 years old, proud to be a woman, love to listen to powerviolence, study for a research degree at Goldsmiths College, University of London, my favourite hobby is cycling, I'm an anarchist, I love being involved in the punk scene and the best part of that is the great people I am in contact with all over the world. Most of my non-pen friends are not punks though and that is nice too. 2) Some brief information on Synthesis zine, what is your zine mainly about? what did Synthesis zine set out to achieve? Trying to think back four years now when my life was quite different. I know I wanted to be more actively involved in the scene and I had things to say and thought I should contribute them to discourse in the scene. There was noone out there who was saying quite what I thought, in fact almost all I ever read in zines was from (and about) older American boys who played in bands. Since starting, Synthesis has become progressively more oriented towards outspoken anarchism and feminism and I tend to normalise things like veganism and straight edge as well and to promote diy ethics in hardcore as the necessary alternative to creeping commercialism and capitalism in the scene. 3) What inspired you to put out Synthesis zine? are they any new outside projects ( gigs etc )? Oh my gosh yes, apart from the zine is my growing zine distro which I am very happy about. It's pretty much necessary to have a distro when you do a zine with a large print run since most of your own distribution will be trades with other zines. Also I am now starting to put on monthly gigs at a local punk venue. I use the name the 'Xdot cottonX grrrls crew' which sounds like a collective but right now I just want to sort things out myself. Dot Cotton is just this funny older woman who is a character in a great BBC soap opera. By doing the gigs regularly and in the same venue I am hoping to get this part of town more familiar to the kids around here and to get them in the habit of coming. Most importantly from a hc point of view, the gigs will be an alternative to the more commercial & violent scene that dominates London at the moment. More importantly overall, the gigs will be really positive & political with hopefully lots of networking, exchange of ideas, diversity and activism coming out of them. Each gig is a benefit for a local refugee organisation I'm in contact with and which is badly underfunded and also overstretched since the Kosov@ conflict. Every gig will have announcements of upcoming demonstrations and other events as well as info & distro stalls. Next month will also be a speaker from the Campaign Against Domestic Violence and I would like for spoken word stuff to be a regular fixture in the gigs. 4) So, what is the latest development in Synthesis camp? Issue 5 will be out soon and I think it is the biggest, best, most varied etc. I've written about some issues that have been particularly important to me in the last year or so like human nature, gentrification, genetically modified food, women's empowerment etc. For the first time I have also involved other people in the zine by taking a couple of contributions and doing surveys on things like the experience of being punk around the world. Also there are interviews in Synthesis 5 (the first since issue 2) which are with a radical newssheet in Britain, a British activist and one band. This is the first issue I'm having printed instead of copying and the first print run will be 1,000 (on recycled paper of course). 5) What bands do you look out for (interviews/bio)? are there any pre-requisites for bands to get featured in the zine? I'm not much into band interviews and music isn't something that interests me very much really so the music bits in my zine are pretty few. When I do have a band interview they have to be really worth giving attention to. They should have something to say about themselves, the world, the scene and the role of their band. Synthesis 5 does have an interview done by a friend of mine with an exciting band of feminists from Brazil called Dominatrix. They are an intelligent and positive band, their gigs and songs are about more than just music, and they have a diy approach to hardcore. 6) Is it hard for girls to be in the scene? How are girls involved in London's underground scene? It seems like right now there are several scenes in London that don't know much about each other. I guess I'm more involved in the 'hardcore' aspect and neither girls or boys are really actively involved in things at the moment but hopefully that will change. I think there is more sexism in the hardcore scene in Britain than in the punk rock or poppunk scenes. The macho metalcore thing is fairly significant in London and elsewhere in Britain and that always comes with a significant degree of sexism among the boys. Those boys do actively try to exclude girls from the scene and undermine us with sexist comments. It does seem even worse to experience sexism in the scene even if you are used to experiencing it every day. 7) Are you straight-edge? If YES...how has Straight Edge changed your life/personality? Yes, I've pretty much always been straightedge. To me that means no drinking, smoking, drugs or promiscuous sex. It's completely a personal choice and one I made before I knew that anyone else involved in punk were like me. I was sxe because I was a nonconformist and I still am so it didn't change me much! 8) Are there any Straight-edge movements or gigs which are held for SxE bands and Followers only? No, I've never heard of any. I'll be very generalising here and say that people in Britain usually don't go in for extremism and tend to be more tolerant and that includes scene kids. There are almost no hardliners here and the ones who are hl usually have to keep quiet about it since they know everyone will think they are foolish. 9) I personally think SxE is a great and Healthy life. However some people have misinterpreted SxE as kind of a new religion and some even put down people who aren't SxE? Absolutely anything can be turned into an Identity with a set of strict rules and procedures, but this is not because of some inherent quality in the original ideas but just a tendency people often have to load ideas with an outward expression instead of finding the value of the ideas within themselves. It gets negative when that expression comes to involve enforcing ideas onto other people's lives. This all happens most obviously with religion but it also happens with just about anything that young people and teenagers get involved in. Often instead of becoming familiar with one's identity people will choose one and then adopt it's outward expressions as an attempt to become grounded in that Identity. It is understandable that people would do this, but it is not necessary in sxe, religion or anything else. 10) So what would you define Punk these days? A radical alternative lifestyle emerging from underground art, music and performance scenes in the 1970s and evolved into a widely diverse international network of friends with potential to contribute to major changes in society. 11) Do you see any conceptual difference between the old punks and the modern punks in terms of what their lifestyle and what they fight for? I think modern punks are FAR more influenced by commodification, even if it is only because they have to work harder to resist it. I think also these days punks are more likely to come from middle class backgrounds than they were 20 years ago. Animal rights, veganism and vegetarianism are huge in the scene now and probably the greatest single issue in the same way that in the 1980s American militarism was the big issue. As I write in Synthesis 5, I think that although we have achieved a lot of progress toward animal rights, the spread of vegan Identity in straight edge has been extremely detrimental to the scene and has been the excuse for a big political cop-out. 12) Do you see it 's somehow irrelevant, when you're a punk but you still do the 9 to 5 job? any comments? We can live and even work without giving up all our ideals even if it is difficult in a capitalist system. Everyone has their limits, but I would hope that punks can keep in mind the dangers of being too accustomed to and dependent upon the securities that full-time employment seems to provide. So many people lose their spirit and individuality through work and it isn't because of the drudgery or routine or even having fascist bosses, but because we tend to hold on to the way of life we have built up and get terrified of losing it. 13) How exactly does D.i.Y stands for bands/zines and labels? I think if our scene is at all set apart from and better than mainstream social, political and musical norms it has to be because we take an approach that rejects the greed, profiteering and consumerism that tend to become a part of every aspect of life. Any hardcorepunk project has to be done for it's own good and the good it might bring to our community and the world at large. Zines, labels, bands, gigs, etc. should not be done for personal material profit. And it isn't right to encourage capitalist norms by having adverts in zines, putting on bands that demand guarantees, putting barcodes on records; all that rubbish. There is more than enough competitiveness and self-interest in the world, let's not have it in the punk scene as well. Let's declare our independence! We can do it without following the example of the mainstream music or any other industry. 14) Would you consider yourself a feminist? What are your thoughts on Feminism in London generally? Feminism is the most awesome political thing I've ever come across. For most of my life I was sort of unconsciously feminist but since getting to know other feminists and getting more involved with the women's movement I have been more interested in raising the profile of the concept of 'feminism'. I guess in Britain the women's movement has almost always focussed on London and this region of the country. It was a bit different in the 1980s when women were organised in major direct activism in the North and the West of England. The campaigns I take part in tend to arise from the students' movement and have an often middle class focus. I can see that this is a very incomplete picture, but these are the areas that I find most comfortable and accessible at the moment. Women's rights suffered a terrible backlash in several countries in the 1980s and we are only recovering now. After laying low for 20 years, a new wave of feminism is emerging and I think this time we will be making some pretty great progress. Many exciting things are happening in London anyway with the direct action movement and various other radical resistance and now people are more likely to see that this is all one big struggle and we can all work together with all our particular approaches whether it be from the women's movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, whatever. 15) Have you faced any problems at the mosh pit? Did the people harass girls over there ( at the mosh pit ), and how would you react when someone do that particular thing to you? Unfortunately I have to pretty much stay out of the pit these days because it is just not fun the way these lads get all macho and violent. I know from other girls though that a lot of bad shit goes on like boys touching you and feeling you up. At one of the violent metalcore gigs a girl I know was dancing and of course got punched in the face by some stupid violent dancer. As she was on her way to the bathroom to clean up her bleeding nose some boy said to his friend 'Serves her right for getting in the pit with the big boys.' I wish we could expect LESS sexism from boys in the scene than we get outside, but we can't. To be honest, when I get harassed by a man I tend to be too shocked to react. I wish I could react constructively. 16) What would be your favourite zines and records? Zines: It's Raining Truths from the Netherlands is very good, as is Ugly Duckling from Belgium and I like Heartattack and Inside Front. Records: In/Humanity's 'Occultonomy' 7" and 'The History of the Mystery' LP, Team Dresch's 'Captain My Captain' and 'Personal Best' LPs, Hard Skin's CD which has a title too rude to mention. 17) One last question, What did you set out to achieve in this new millennium? I didn't think about it actually. In 2000 I want to do these gigs but apart from that I have the same long-term plans I've had for a couple of years: doing my doctorate degree, working for children's rights, human rights and women's rights, living in South London and being happy, being with friends, changing the world, bringing positive change to the punk scene, watching more good films and reading more good books? 18) Thanx for the interview, we wish you all the best for your zine. Cheers girls, best of luck for yours too. Everyone feel free to write me? Interview 4 1)What's your point of view about pornography? And prostitution? Most pornography is made by men and for men and this stuff tends to reflect an appalling hatred of women so it makes me uncomfortable and I hate it. It's like concentrated patriarchy being rubbed into your eyes. I don't have a problem in theory with feminist ?produced porn, but I've never seen any. Prostitute women are the most disempowered members of society and feminists should support them all we can. I have no respect for the men who use prostitutes though; I think one must have a lack of respect for a person's humanity to want to buy their body and I think it degrades physical intimacy to turn it into a commodity. 2)What's your own definition of love? When it is love of a person; selflessness. 3)In your opinion, what is the reason because a lot of people are afraid about feminism? It is fear of disempowered people becoming powerful and how that might threaten their position and feeling of self-worth. Also people who fear the disempowered tend to think that when we liberate ourselves we will treat them as badly as they treated us and oppress them instead. 4)Have you ever heard about guys who don't want girls in the hc/punk environment? Actually no, but I certainly know that in the more macho sections of the hc/sxe movement there are the sort of boys who think women have no place dancing with them in their pits. Interview 5 1. to tell you the truth laura, I know very little of you so how would you introduce yourself to people who dont know you or the way you would like others to know you? Im that tall girl with the XfeministX?necklace who interferes with boys doing violent dancing at gigs and who does that politically correct zine Synthesis? I am 25 years old which I guess is about average age for a hardcore kid in the UK. Feminism and anti-capitalism are my favourite political activism issues at the moment and Im pretty active in the scene too. 2. were you a lot different when you were younger, say before you were exposed to this hardcore punk thing? How far do you think has HC-punk changed you and the world revolving around you? I have always been a radical; but punk gave me a focus for it. When I was younger I was much more intolerant of all sorts of things so I have improved through finding lots of different views and lifestyles within the scene. Punk has given me a much more varied and exciting life thanks to all the friends I have met and experiences I have had from being involved. Some people I know think that the scene is escapism and an excuse to avoid real activism but it is obvious to me that punks have been changing the world for the past 20 years. All sorts of radical activism happening around the world has emerged from the punk community and/or has significant numbers of punks involved. We do make a difference! 3. in your own opinion how important are the ideals in hardcore punk? Ideals are always important since the further they go the more will actually be achieved. Most people in the various scenes in our community dont seem to give much thought to possible ideals but the people who do pursue them are the ones keeping the scene from descending to a mere music scene. 4. taking about ideals, what would you to those people who act differently and very much against the philosophy of punk? It can be worthwhile encouraging them to take it further and it is always a good idea to carry on with ones own projects and lead by example. I do encourage boycotts and/or telling people that I disagree with them; especially when they are doing something that encourages hatred of women, gays etc. 5. can you tell us something about the feminist movement in the uk? Do you feel it has gone forward since it started? What goals have you achieved and what other things are you still striving for? Feminism is having a resurgence now for the first time in 30 years. The last wave of British feminism did encourage more women to take all sorts of active roles in society and to refuse to be trampled on. We dont come up against as much sexism in our daily lives as we used to but it is still very ingrained in every institution and interpersonal relationship. The primary thing I would like to see change in British culture is the attitude that teenagers have towards sexual relationships. Even after all the empowerment feminists have been trying to bring to women, teenage girls still are basing their self-esteem on whether boys think they are attractive. And the hatred of women ingrained in society translates to a date rape mentality in teenage boys ?making them inhuman sexual predators who use females to score status points with their male peers and this is something we must change. 6. as a feminist yourself, what would you say to those feminist women who hates men? And to those who tolerate their boyfriends sexist activities or attitudes? I have never met any woman, feminist or otherwise, who hates men, but I can tolerate it. I see feminism as a broad movement in which we do better supporting each other than pointing out factional disagreements. Tactically, hate is almost never useful in promoting the goals of a movement, but where there has historically been real oppression I can understand where hatred of the oppressor comes from. When I find a black person who hates white people I expect they have their own reasons for those feelings and do not get very offended about it and if a woman hates men I see that this is her own personal perspective based on her experience. It is certainly a fact that patriarchal societies like the ones we all live in are full of all kinds of hatred for women and sometimes maybe we should point this out with some of our own hatred. Similarly, capitalism is a violent system although we might not be aware of it in our everyday lives and so fighting it with violent?destruction of property seems justified to me. At first thought, I cannot understand why some women put up with their partners sexism but then again each woman deals with all sorts of sexism every day and we are most likely to tolerate negative attitudes in the people we know personally. I guess most of the time women and even feminist women will choose a partner because he is only less sexist than the other men she knows. It sucks when you feel like you will never meet a man who is truly and consciously anti-sexist, pro woman, anti-patriarchy etc. But it is also very true that women are much more tolerant of their male partners than men are of their female partners. If your boyfriend is being an arsehole, women are very likely to make excuses for his behaviour, blame herself, tolerate it and suffer in silence etc. This is because we are taught that we have to be kind to men all the time and give them what they want and to not demand or even expect what we want. So I worry that many women are falling for this sexist brainwashing when they dont tell a man he is a jerk and has to change. 7. from what I have read in your zine, I noticed that you really love living in london. What do you think is the difference between london and other places around the world? If you were the one to choose where would you like to be born and to be living right now? It does seem like being born right here in Southeast London and always living here would have been pretty awesome and I wish this always had been my home. Certainly now I feel very happy if I can live here forever. London is the best, most fascinating, most exciting city in the world in my opinion. We have such a long and varied history and it is all on display all the time anywhere you go in this city; you get ancient Roman architecture next door to 1990s architecture, every street seems to have at least one literary and historical significance, this city has for centuries been the place of exile for refugees, artists, and political radicals and the result has been such tremendous diversity. On display are all the many youth cultures that have emerged from the inventiveness and tolerance of British society. This could be the most cosmopolitan of cities and there has never been a conformist melting pot?effect here to kill off diversity. We have zillions of things one can do for free whether it is walking in our beautiful parks or visiting the Tate Modern which is the best modern art gallery in the world. London is also a travel hub for the whole world and so a great place to be based if you want to explore the rest of the world as well, although one can live here forever and never get bored or run out of things to do. 8. UK has quite a huge and diverse punk scene so where do you find yourself dancing?most often? These days I guess it is the gigs that my friends and I are most involved in with me or a friend organising them and our friends' bands playing. Gigs in Britain tend to happen in pubs with a venue space in them. The gigs I go to range in style from very mellow emo to metalcore. 9. Were pretty much interested to know about the state of the abortion issue worldwide because here in the Philippines, it is illegal to commit abortion even in the worst cases of rape. Is abortion legal in the uk? Are abortion clinics visible for anyone interested in them? What are your views regarding abortion and the freedom of choice of the woman vs. the right of the child to live? In Britain we can have legal abortions but we still do not have easy enough access. There is a lot of bureaucracy and extra emotional stress to go through and there is a time limit on how late in the pregnancy it can be terminated. We should have free abortion on demand at any age and without parental consent. Abortion clinics, free contraception and family planning advice are all pretty accessible in the cities although recently there have been some reactionary people trying to prevent schoolchildren from having any access even to contraceptive advice. Contraceptives should be available free at schools as well and in Britain we still do not have access to the abortion pill? To me abortion is solely an issue about womens freedom to control their bodies, their sexuality and their reproduction. The fetus is part of the womans body and it is her right to carry through with the pregnancy or to terminate it. 10. could you expand more on this line that you wrote in the pages of your zine- I strongly believe that the personal is the political and the political is personal? for the sake of those who feel confused about this whole thing? Some people have this idea that politics?is something out there?and separate from their everyday lives. Often they think it is all about governments, parties and the like but humans are political animals and every decision we make or do not make, every action we take or do not take is a political choice. Whether we are active in our communities, whether we are selfish or selfless people, whether we are sexist or fight sexism all of these are political issues and personal issues. To say I am not interested in politics?or to decide to avoid being involved in politics are also political choices. Choosing apathy or ignorance in this way is denying a part of our humanity. 11. you seem to be pretty much educated in the topics you discuss. Can you tell us something about your educational background? Do you think it is necessary for people to go to school? Can you recommend alternative ways of educating ourselves rather then the traditional way of education? Nobody needs formal education like school. Read all sorts of publications, discuss ideas and issues formally and informally with friends, strangers, groups of activists etc, experience as much diversity as you can find, and most of all, never stop questioning everything. The hardcore punk scene is a great environment for self-education if one is open to it. Reading zines, being aware of the political basis of hardcore and meeting different people in the scene has challenged me to think much more than formal education ever has. 12. do you think that there is any place in our HC-punk community for any kind of organized religion (ie. Christianity, krishna)? What do you think is the difference between spirituality and organized religion? No way, no organised religion ever in punk! I think spirituality and organised religion overlap so much that I would find it very difficult to say there is a recognisable difference. Whether someone does good in the world is what matters; not whether or how they worship? Too often religious people think it is more important to try and convert and oppress people than to just be good as individuals. 13. in the review of inside front no. 12 in your zine you said that the refused feature was almost enough to convince me that they are more than just an overhyped bunch of hypocrites who were taken more seriously than they deserved? Why did you say that? Personally, I think refused was a great band. Do you see hardcore punk bands in major or big indie?labels a contradiction? People sometimes tell me how political Refused were, but I dont believe it. The politics was a pose, just as it often is for many hardcore bands. How deep it really went is obvious from how they behaved then and what they are as people now. Plenty of bands talk politics from the stage. Refused for instance had an anti-capitalist pose which they never practised even at the simple level of how they put out their records. All but one of them stopped being straight edge when the band ended. Their performances were not situationist art but an empty spectacle put on for the entertainment of their fans. Of course it is wonderful that some of the people who believed in Refused got some personal emancipation from the music, but I think that is because that tendency was in these people already; it was not placed there by some boring band. Their music wasnt even original. If a band is on a label that is commercial geared towards making a profit and encouraging consumerism ?that is simply not a hardcore band. That goes against the very basic principles that started the hardcore movement in the first place! 14. since this is very much prevalent topic in our community, can you give us some suggestions of how we can smash our traditional gender roles? Why do you think some men act so defensively when they hear about women-only spaces or when they read feminist zines? I guess men are used to the world being run by and for them and they are not accustomed to being excluded like women are. Also it must feel like a threat when people who have been treated like shit forever suddenly take some self-empowerment. But there is absolutely nothing threatening to men about women-only spaces or feminist writing. It is a threat to patriarchal oppression and the people who want it to continue, thats all. How to smash gender roles when there is sexism going on; stop it. If your friends / a band / a stranger make sexist or homophobic comments then tell them what you think about it. If you are a woman, dont be silent and docile but speak up and cause trouble! Men; stop using competitive methods of communication. Make sure that everyone has a chance to make their voices heard and that women are particularly encouraged to speak. Talk about gender issues with everyone you know ?make sexism, homosexuality and feminism visible so they cant be ignored. Challenge other people with your own expression of gender ?kiss and hold hands with friends of all genders, experiment with the way you dress and act. Think about how to make all spaces safe spaces for women and gay people. 15. would you like to see prostitution be legalized in england or even the rest of the world? What do you think are the benefits or consequences that we face if this issue ever sees the light of day? Yes, prostitution should not be illegal. If it were not illegal, we would have to face the hypocrisy behind the way humans and sexuality are commodified all the time in society while at the same time women who work in the sex industry are accused of causing societys ills and made the most disempowered people in society. I have nothing but contempt for the men who use the sex industry, but I feel it is the duty of feminists to support and protect prostitute women. 16. are there some organized groups of large individuals?that challenges existing social orders such as the enlargement of spaces for large individuals?or much radical groups that blows up or smashes artificial beauty?companies such as AVON or any other beauty fascists? what direct action groups are you involved in and can you tell us about the activities that you do? I guess I have not been involved in many organised groups for action but I have been taking part in the awesome autonomously -run global days of action against capitalism in London: June 18th 1999, November 30th 1999, May 1st 2000. These involve things like dressing up in silly costumes or bringing funny signs or carnival ?type things to the demos, defacing symbols of capitalism or government, general graffiti-making or urban reconstruction (digging up roads, planting seeds, plants and trees), attacking objects like cars & McDonalds restaurants, singing & chanting, meeting new & old friends, critical mass bike rides, frustrating the cops etc. The hardcore kids in England tend to take part quite a bit in animal rights actions ranging from lobbying Parliament to harassing animal abusers and ALF-type illegal actions. Im hoping to get involved in more feminist direct action right now ?defacing billboards, harassing rapists etc. 17. how does an ordinary day in your life goes by? What things do you do in your free time since I assume youre pretty busy with your HC punk activities? I am supposed to be a full-time student so I should spend most of each day in my office or in the library doing research, but instead lately I do lots of cycling, exploring my neighbourhood, reading, visits to the gym for my physiotherapy, visiting with friends, travelling and planning for travelling, skipping (dumpster diving?, and playing with my beloved guinea pigs Blodwyn & Myfanwy. Everyday involves some forms of hc stuff whether its talking with friends who I know through the scene, reading and answering letters, sending out packages of zines, making patches to send out with zines, reading zines, planning for upcoming gigs etc. 18. have you encountered any direct/indirect sexual abuse in any punk shows or political greeting or gathering? Hope you dont mind me asking! Ive not had much of that actually, a couple of times Ive had men touching me at gigs which has not been terribly traumatic. It upsets me more when I see boys acting macho at hardcore gigs or when I see someone wearing a shirt for some misogynist band like Arkangel. 19. we all know that music has to be emotional in order to move people otherwise it would be really meaningless. How do you feel that the emo?tag has been fucking associated with indie rock bands trying to cash in on our HC-punk scene? Yeah, that really sucks but I guess it was inevitable. I just wish that some hc kids would actually open their eyes and see that this is obviously what these bands and record labels are trying to do by using the emo?tag. 20. I hope its not too personal but can you tell us when was the last time you cried? And when was the last time you felt really happy you thought nothing will be wrong again? Sorry, the first part is too personal. The last time I felt like everything was going to be okay was a few weeks ago, but I dont feel this as confidently as I used to I guess. I have been generally very happy lately though. 21. can you name the 5 people that influenced you directly/indirectly how have they affected and changed your life? Sorry, I can only name 3! Ronald Reagan ?made me hate government and therefore made me an anarchist! Jello Biafra ?made me question more things more thoroughly and speak out more My best friend when I was 13 years old ?together we found all sorts of different kinds of fun that were outside the mainstream culture 22. what projects are you looking forward in doing? Do you have any plans that youd like to share with us? Would you like to come and visit us in the Philippines someday? Sure, I would love to visit you folks and to see what the Philippines is like. Right now Im looking forward to possibly writing a childrens book with an illustrator I know, possibly being in a feminist band, and visiting Denmark, Iceland and Spain for the first time. 23. are you familiar with the fantastic true story of findhorn? (regarding the amazing growth of plants even from barren soil) If yes, do you think such discovery will ever show some proof of the stupidity of technology and science of the corporate genetic transmutations on plants? Wow, Ive never heard of findhorn. That sounds cool. I think the powers that be will ignore the wonders of nature all they can but we can always keep showing them that we like nature better than their technology. 24. is there a good bicycle scene in your country aside from the stereotyped bicycle tour? Something like food not bombs tours europe in bicycle? Any movement or org. Using bikes as a tool for revolution? And what is your own definition of anarchocyclism? Oh yes, lots of cool bike stuff in London, South East England and I guess in England in general. Im a member of the London Cycling Campaign which is a political organisation promoting the interests of London cyclists. There are also lots of leisure cycling organisations. Several dozen critical mass bike rides happen on a monthly basis in towns and cities around the UK. Some pretty cool creativity has emerged around the critical mass scene in London too like bike-powered sound systems, carnival bikes, bike orchestras etc. I have not heard of a touring Food Not Bombs though. A bike is a great tool for exploring personal freedom and liberation. Oneâs experience of the space one lives and moves in is so different by bike than when one depends on combustible transport. 25. how do you see yourself 7 years from now? Would you like to be a mother someday? If so, how would you raise your children and what values would you like to pass on to them? Would you like then to be like you? Gods no, I want to never have children. If I had to raise children they would of course be vegan and live in an environment of tolerance, gender equality, respect for life and nature, and awareness of their own self-worth. Seven years from now I just hope I will be less confused than I am now. 26. this is all the questions I have at the moment. Thanks for helping us in this interview and we hope you didnât get too bored with the questions we asked. Are there any special people that youâd like to say hi to? Cheers for the interview, I hope I didn't use too much boring academic language. Sometimes I canât help it. Your questions were great. Hi to all my friends who are working to make the difference!
1. A small introduction of yourself at this point in your life... When is the next issue of Synthesis coming out? Any news? There won't be a new Synthesis for quite awhile. I'm doing other things in the mean time. However, there are occasionally 'Synthesis supplements' that one can get from me for free. I will also be contributing to other people's zines, updating my website, publishing a book or two etc. 2. Do you think language as such is prejudiced and burdened with centuries of inequities (for instance word woman being derived from man and such?). If so what can we do about it? It's up to us as individuals to be aware of what we are saying and the meaning behind it. This is quite a simple thing to do really and it becomes easier with practice. 3. I was told for instance that the use of word "bastard" is in itself verbal abuse against women, or should I say womyn, because it is prejudiced verbal violence against women who chose to have an illegitimate child, do you think so? I never use language with any possible sexist or racist interpretations even as a joke unless it is with friends who know that I am not being derogatory. Words like 'bitch' and all the many, many anti-womyn words do contribute to our oppression and we can and should find alternatives. 4. Do you think political correctness can become a burden and censorship and make people afraid to express themselves honestly? No, it just stops them from being lazy and cliched in the way they express themselves and makes them actually use their brains when they speak. Also it exposes the people who really are trying to oppress others. 5. Does your life require you to lie? If no, how did you accomplish this, if yes, what do you think of it? I guess not, and I have always tried to avoid lying as much as possible; I do think it is wrong for me and wrong in general. I do however do things that can be considered dishonest like the occasional bit of stealing, fare-dodging (not paying for train tickets) etc. 6. Do you think violence is ever justified? Would you defend yourself if physically attacked? Would you defend people you know who were physically attacked? I wouldn't know unless I was in a particular situation. At the moment, I'm in a particularly aggressive phase of my life and I sometimes feel that if I were attacked I would physically fight back. In the same frame of mind, I would defend someone if I thought they wanted me to. 7. Would you defend people you do not know in the same situation? Would you step in to defend a woman/girl abused physically by her boyfriend/husband? Do you think domestic violence is a personal issue or others' problem as well? Domestic violence is certainly not a personal issue. I would help anyone being abused by their partner and in theory I would defend them physically too. 8.You work in the field of children's rights & freedoms. Do you think children's rights also include the right not to be brainwashed by the marketing psychological war divisions and if so what can we all do about it? I think I have the right to not be brainwashed so I'd say everyone else does too! The uniqueness of concepts of children's rights is that it totally opens up the world to interpretation of whether something is positive for children or not so all sorts of nasty things that we don't challenge in general can now be challenged for the sake of children. 9. Were you popular in school? What can be done to prevent bullying/violence in schools? If you had a child, would you send her/him to school? Wow, that's the most personal question I've ever been asked! I went to a different school every 2 years and each one had a different social system and I experienced a pretty wide-range of reception from the other pupils. There are two prongs to stopping bullying: 1 - The difficult bit is addressing authoritarian structures in society in general since these create the same hierarchies, violence etc. in school situations. 2 - Directly naming & addressing the problems within schools, making schools democratic and children being empowered to make schools the sort of environment they want. 10. You are very against major labels and have been quoted to say bands on major label do so for 'selfish motives' but what is a selfish motive? Is it wanting a decent distribution like Sonic Youth did when they signed for Geffen? Should we write artists off and their arts just because at some time they didn't have much political awareness or had different opinions from our own? Can everything be valued/judged from just the political perspective? I am against capitalism. 'Artists' certainly lose credibility the more geared towards profit-making and fame they become. In the music industry however, most bands never had the artistic credibility in the first place since it was always their intention to make their 'art' a consumable product. I would not criticise Sonic Youth for hypocrisy because as far as I can tell they have never been anything other than a capitalist rock band just like most others. We can however expect more from a band that comes out of the punk scene because punk is fundamentally a rebellious and challenging approach to music, popular culture etc. Our hardcore scene is a good place for building alternatives to capitalist, profit-motivated cultural forms. Some bands who have been exposed to this alternative chose to follow a capitalist path anyway. They know that they are motivated by greed, laziness etc. and this is why they give excuses like saying they want to 'spread their message' or some similar rubbish. But the medium IS the message. Everything is political. 11. Do you think that HC/DIY scene has a tendency to become a bit too hermetic? If not, can you give us some example of how HC/DIY has cooperated productively with people from different walks of life? The diy punk scene has given us Reclaim the Streets, Critical Mass, the global anti-capitalism movement, the contemporary animal rights movement, countless squats, autonomous spaces and other local projects and so many other things. These have been achieved through our awareness that we are part of the world, through working with all sorts of people and by having some imagination! Many people come into the scene because they are socially isolated in the first place and many of them immerse themselves in the scene as their protection against the world. But others are able to use the community they find in the scene as their base from which to work to improve the world. 12. What do you think of spirituality and religion? Spirituality is okay as long as people can keep it to themselves. Organized religions tend to be phallo-centric and authoritarian and I hate them. 13. Do you think it is important to stay physically active to have a positive outlook on life? Yes! 14. Do you like travelling? What places you visited did you find most exciting? I do travel a lot although it can be a headache. The most exciting places were probably St. Petersburg, Russia and Vienna, Austria. 15. Anything else? Many thanks for the interview. I want to encourage all the kids out there to go out and do some feminist direct action. It's fun! Interview 7
1. Please introduce yourself first punk! Laura, 26, straight edge feminist punk etc etc. Currently working on issue 6 of my zine Synthesis as well as running a zine distro, website and zillions of non-scene projects. 2. How do you get involved in hc/punk scene? Are u still gonna to stay as a punk forever? I first got involved in the scene when I discovered that was the place to find people who were as politically radical as myself. I'll still be here when I'm a 90-year-old in a zimmer frame. 3. Synthesis now have release 5 issue already. Tell me about your first issue. What makes u to do a zine. Has Synthesis covered feminist issues since the first release? The first issue was very bad and coincidentally there was almost no feminism in that one as well. I do a zine because it is an excellent way to be involved in the scene. 4. Right now you have to handle two things at once, the zine and the distro. Do you face any problems with that? Tell us about your distro. How has Synthesis distro been going lately? Right now zines are taking up too much space in my little flat, but other than that it's not a problem. If you want to have a good big distribution for your zine you pretty much have to have a distro too. Since issue 6 my distro has been doing really well and for the first time I get lots of mail orders. 5. How many interview did you received from my small country Malaysia? In the past year I've probably had 6 interviews from Malaysia and that is more than the rest of the world put together. Maybe it's my destiny to bring feminism to your part of the world. 6. You have contact with many people around the world.Did you faced any communication difficulties like language barriers or problems like too many email/letter to reply? So far language has been alright. Right now though I am doing a very bad job of replying to letters and emails. 7. How does hc/punk in U.K doing lately? Did you all face any problem with police/government or even nazis? Nazis have been lying pretty low for a long time in England. Perhaps they know they would not achieve much if they crashed our gigs. The government does not tend to victimise the punk scene here like they do in Southeast Asia, but since Thatcher in the 80's there has been a lot of legislation intended for destroying counterculture in this country. That is still going on now that the Blair regime is targeting our anti-capitalist movement. 8. Are you a straightedger? Straight edge is a positive lifestyle and it should be promoted in society. What do you think about that? Well, for me sxe is a personal choice and I think there are better things to promote to society at large such as veganism, feminism and anti-capitalism. 9. Hc/punk nowadays sucks. People using our community for money-making. Give your comment about those stupid punks who make rubbish? Those sort of tendencies have always been in the scene so we might as well just ignore the greedy bastards and get on with making our own positive punkness. 10. How do you use your hc/punk ethic to improve society? I mean the way you spread your messages or whatever. My punk life is something my non-punk friends do not know much about although everyone who knows me knows that I am concerned about particular things, I do particular sorts of activism and I make certain radical lifestyle choices like veganism. The best we can do is work together with our comrades in radicalism to create alternatives like our own cooperative housing, squats, autonomous centres etc. 11. You are a vegan. Is it hard to live as a vegan in London. Can you named us your self-made vegan recipe? London is probably the best vegan town in the world. I like to make sandwiches with sprouted beans and pulses, cucumber and a sauce made of tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil and oregano. 12. Give an advice for those who want to start doing a DIY zine. Read lots of good zines, think about what those zines do well and that will help you avoid making mistakes. In particular, remember that if the zine will be photocopied you will have to have a clean layout without lots of grey bits. 13. Besides running a distro and make a zine, what other thing you do? (play in a band etc) I organize gigs occasionally, next one will be Catharsis this August. 14. What do you do during your freetime? Cycling, cooking, walking around the parks in London. 15. Your country will organize Commonwealth Games 2002.What are you doing to supporting your country? I think sports are shit and all this competition and nationalism is a load of time-wasting rubbish. 16. What do you think about Malaysia's hc/punk scene? It seems promising. 17. Any question for me? What do you think about Malaysia's scene? And why do so many Malay kids write to me? 18. Give us your last word before we end up this boring interview. Good luck to all you kids and don't let the fascists keep you down! Interview 8
1. Tell me about the political situation - capitalism and the police in Britain at the moment. The Prime Minister Tony Blair uses Stalinist methods to carry out his political goal of getting re-elected. Ironically his New Labour Government has brought in some very progressive policies and campaigns but only very quietly; almost secretively! Their high profile policies are reactionary, populist and extremely, dogmatically capitalist. They are carrying out Thatcherite policies of privatising everything, making protest illegal and supporting every right wing insanity the US administration comes up with such as Son of Star Wars. After the police bungled the follow-up to a racist murder 8 years ago, they are facing some much-needed overview and reformation. There are some instances of brutality and incompetence they are less likely to get rid of but of course like every other police force in the world they are also encouraged to carry out any extreme of brutality against anti-capitalist activists. They are also cracking down on the animal rights movement. 2. I have heard of so much direct activism in Britain, tell me some about the organization and history of the movement and its impact on British society. We have a lot to be proud of with the direct action movement. We have politicized things like roadbuilding and capitalism at a time when it seemed like people would never fight for anything again. It all happens at grassroots level and much of the (dis)organisation involved practical (not ideological) anarchists who are against hierarchy and bureaucracy so things really are done totally without 'leaders' and 'spokespeople'. Actions happen because they are necessary and because we have thought of fun and creative ways of doing them. We involve thousands of very different people, we do not have membership. 3. About BSE/Mad Cow Disease, how can this be prevented and how concerned are animal rights activists? At the moment the UK is in the grip of another agricultural panic because of 'foot and mouth disease' which is resulting in tens of thousands of animals being killed all over the country. BSE is caused by the totally unnatural practices of farmers such as feeding cows agricultural waste such as cow flesh! British farmers, like farmers everywhere are drugging and abusing animals and destroying and polluting the environment. Britain's agricultural economy is a big thing to address from the basis though of course it upsets all us vegans here to see the daily destruction of sick and even healthy animals on television. Most animal rights campaigns address other industries such as vivisection which is easier to change and more sympathetic to the public. At the same time of course we are encouraging people to change their eating habits and this is effecting the meat and dairy industries. 4. So, what is the reason of the Genetic Experiment - pollution and VCJD production - is genetic modification dangerous? The usual reason - evil greedy capitalists. They want seeds that can't grow, vegetables with pretty colours but no vitamins and all sorts of other totally unnecessary rubbish. The cause of VCJD is still unknown. It will be generations before we know the results of GM. If we let the GM industry get away with their abuse of power that in itself will be dangerous. Already their products have resulted strains of indestructible insects and I am certain that many of their creations will continue to have adverse effects on animals, people and the environment. 5. What are your dealings with political activism? I get to the global days of action in London, occasionally go to animal rights things, distribute lots of literature and resources and do similar little things like that. I am particularly interested in activism in these areas: feminism, animal rights and peace & disarmament but I do a bit of everything I guess. 6. As a feminist what is your impression of fashion slavery and economic exploitation of women/girls by the industry? It will take many years, a couple of generations to get people, and this now includes men and boys, out of this mindset of concentrating on their outward appearance. The people in these industries surely have no conscience. It goes beyond exploiting people for financial gain; it affects how people view and treat each other; whether it is between females or between the sexes. It affects people's feelings of self-worth. Ultimately the 'beauty' and 'fashion' industries contribute tremendously to a cycle of unhappiness and consumerism in which most people are trapped. 7. American democracy and law - your perception of that? The American people have many destructive mindsets, but a major problem with their policymakers is a totally insular perspective; they just do not know that the rest of the world exists and this helps them to not see how evilly destructive their foreign policies are. The recent rejection of the chemical weapons treaty is a classic example. I hate the USA and wish it would fall into the ocean. 8. What do you have planned for the future of Synthesis zine? A new issue out in 2002 all about the nature/nurture debate, feminist direct action and contraception. 9. Anything to add before the end? Thanks for sending me some of the most inspiring questions I've had in awhile. Solidarity with all you kids in Malaysia fighting the authorities! Interview 9 1. Please introduce yourself, who you are, what you do, why you
do a zine.
Im currently 27 years old and a research student in the
Sociology department of Goldsmiths College; the famous haven of
radicals and artists. I also shelve books in the library to pay
my expensive London rent. My lifestyle is pretty typical for a
London anarchist type: vegan, cyclist, activist. I am also part
of the collective that is setting up the autonomous centre
Emmaz. I started doing Synthesis zine when I was 20 because I
wanted to be more involved in the underground scene and writing
for me is easier than music If I have a bee in my bonnet the
zine is a focus for expressing and exploring the issue.
2. What does your zine focus on? What does it mean to you?
Issue 3 was when my zine took on a distinct personality. The
articles tend to have a strongly feminist point of view. Each
issue has some sort of critique of some aspect of the straight
edge scene, and there are one or two spoof pages. Up to now I
have had zine reviews but the next issue will be review-free.
With Synthesis I wanted to provide an interesting, fun,
intelligent, inspiring zine that encourages people to engage
with radical politics, feminism, veganism and the other things I
like. My zine has put me in contact with dozens of people all
over the world including some of my most beloved friends. Most
of all my zine gives me another way of engaging with people.
3. Whats so great about zines? Any shortcomings?
Zines give us much of the social, political and community
aspects of the underground and ensure we are a network and not
just a music audience. However sometimes the people who write in
zines can become something of an elite in themselves much like
the people who play in a band.
4. What do you think is the political relevance of zines?
Much of our political dialogue takes place in and is documented
by zines and zines can also be a force for change when the
writers use them as a place for campaigning. For example, my
article on Nestle in issue 4 brought the issue to many, many
people for the first time and encouraged more people to take up
5. What generally impresses you in a zine?
I like to see good writing and I like to see it laid out well
and attractively since this makes people more likely to read and
take in what is being said. I love to see good feminist pieces
that are lacking in cliches and political articles that come
from peoples personal experience. The womens issues of Heart
Attack were pretty good. All these zines are by women: a London
riot grrrl zine called Bitter Strawberries, Morgenmuffel,
Fucktooth and Personality Liberation Front.
6. Who do you reckon reads your zine? Do you get a lot of
Most of my readers are hardcore kids/punks, some are riot
grrrls, some are general feminists, some are non-punk
anarchists, some are non-punk friends of mine. I do get a great
deal of feedback, usually by letter. Best of all is when it is a
young woman who has felt inspired or empowered or when it is a
young man who has started to question his sexism.
7. Any advice on entering the world of zines?
Read good zines and take account of what is good about them.
Print zines cheaply and on recycled paper. Distribute them at
gigs and other events aswell as through the post. Trade with
other zine editors and keep track of your zine-trading network.
1. what make you interested to made this zine ? is
this your propaganda to develop SxE all over the world
I do think that the world would be a better place if people did
not use drugs or alcohol as a crutch or as a way of avoiding
reality. Promoting straight edge is one way I like to encourage
people to look at alternative ways of living. However sxe is
just one part of my life and of my zine. Mostly I do it as a bit
of self-expression and as a tool for networking with other
people around the world. I also promote feminist, anarchist and
2. today SxE is not talking about " i don't smoke, i
don't drink, i don't fuck " only, but it has been
improved just like with veganism and vegetarianism. you think
veganism and vegetarianism are part of SxE it self ?
No, they just got tacked on later. They have very little to do
with escapism or with abusing other people. I am glad though
that the adoption of animal concerns by the scene has brought so
many people to a more compassionate relationship with other
3. how long synthesis has been going? can you
introduce yourself? are there any other
activities that you do beside being an editor of the
Synthesis started in 1993 and now there are five issues. For the
past two years I have been taking a break from the zine mostly.
I have many other projects and things keeping me busy. At 27
years old I am still at University in London researching for a
doctorate in Sociology. I also work part time in a library to
pay my rent. I am big on cycling and use a bike to get around
London and sometimes the countryside and at the moment I am
taking a bicycle maintenance class to learn all I need to know
about my bike. Also recently I have been taking a womens self
defence class run by local anarchist feminist squatter girls.
4. england is known as forefather of punk culture,
but for generations of bands or punk / hc scene
nowdays was very rarely or maybe almost never heard again. can
you explain this? and can you mention some hc
bands from your city ?
Sorry, I really am out of touch with local bands. Music
knowledge has never been my strong point. Several bands have
broken up lately and the only one I know about that is still
going is called Palehorse. There is a local South London band
called Nailbiter who are actually Brazilians living in Brixton.
About the low profile of punk here; almost every youth culture
movement you can think of began here and they all have their era
and then they fizzle out and eventually something else is
created. Punk was one of these but because it was based on more
than music and fashion it did develop an underground that took
the ideas much further but of course the appeal was not likely
to be as broad. The result is a very strong underground
political network which has led to things like the high
proportion of vegans and vegetarians and to the wonderful direct
action movements of the last ten years. Unfortunately we have
not had a very rich musical culture alongside it and I cant
give any clear reasons for that.
5. what kind of topics does synthesis talk about
besides SxE ? is there any topics that you bring up
about women rights ?
Synthesis has been having a more and more feminist focus
recently and the next issue will almost completely be about
womens liberation and gender equality issues. I also tend to
include critiques of aspects of the hardcore scene such as the
macho tough-guy culture, I always have a vegan recipes page and
I write about the evils of capitalism in the world and in the
6. as a girl do you have any obstacles in the
underground community ?
I think I have not gotten much support in some of my projects
where a boy doing the same thing would get a lot of
encouragement from other boys in the scene.
7. many girl scenesters here feel uncomfortable when
they were in the gigs, maybe the problem was the scamp
hand and disparaging view of women in the scene.
do boys feel the same way about girl scenesters there ? is
there any certain point that all of us can do, to improve
I have had men try to touch me up at gigs before. They are such
idiots. I do not see much overt sexism in the scene here in the
UK though. One of the most effective things we can do about
sexism is to not let people get away with it. When anyone says
or does anything sexist we should immediately and strongly show
them they are wrong.
8. your future plans for
synthesis zine or any other things ?
A new issue sometime in 2002 probably, more updates on the
synthesis website, a book of writings by anti-sexist men, a new
anarchist club in London, more womens self defence classes
9. do you have something or some word that you want
to tell the SxE ers and specially for the girl
scenesters here in indonesia ?
Keep SxE positive, political and PRO CHOICE. Be strong women.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself,what you`re doing and little
definition about feminism.
I see feminism as the only consistent challenge to patriarchy. I
want to live in a society based on co-operation and peace rather
than coercion and greed and so I am a feminist and an anarchist.
Believe it or not I'm not really into labels, but they are
useful! I live in London where I am researaching in sociology,
bicycling and helping to establish an anarchist autonomous
2. You making a zine,right? By making a zine,how you think it can
change people's views about feminism as long as that reading
material is only at your circle and seems people especially
woman is less concern about this topic.
Issue 5 of my zine Synthesis had a 1000-copy print run and is
also being reprinted as well as distributed around the world. I
think I am getting to many people and a few are even not
involved in the punk/anarchist scene! I don't think women are
especially unconcerned about feminism although most people have
fallen for the bad press feminism gets. People have told me that
things I have written have changed their views on gender issues
so I think I am doing a bit of good. Best of all for me is when
a girl who has not been active in gender politics before gets
inspired by what I have written. We girls need to empower each
Can you introduce yourself name, age, political persuasion & favourite French emoscreamo band please! As many people here in Australia may not be familiar with Synthesis, it would be good if you could also tell us about you and your zine and maybe a little bit about your childrens
Laura, 26 years, radical radical and its probably still Alcatraz! My zine incorporates some musical stuff I am interested in, the punk stuff is mostly infused with my feminist, anarchist, vegan, straight edge bl@ bl@ politics and the sociology Ive been studying formally for the past 4 years. Right now Im at the University of London for an MPhil on the contemporary childrens rights movement in Western Europe but after years doing this Im not keen on going into it in detail!
2. From the point where you first discover punk, there can be quite a gap of time until you become an active participant and contributor to the scene and what Im interested in is the process you go through in acquiring that self-confidence to become more involved. Were you ever an observer on the outside of punk, wanting to contribute more, but not quite sure how to go about making the transition?
I never felt like I was outside of punk, but I did always want to get more active and I probably still feel that way. I started just by keeping punk penpals and feeling more a part of the scene that way. The social network interests me more than the musical superstructure. Finally I saw doing a zine as a relevant way of interacting socially so I did one.
3. What is the discography of Synthesis releases (cos we know we have to make zines sound like records in order to improve their place in the punkrock hierarchy!)?
Synthesis issue 1 was my first ever zine and that came out in the summer of 1995. It was very, very poor and certainly unrelated to where I am now apart from the references to being straight edge. Issue 2 came out a year later and was a progression in that style and content was a bit more thought-out but it was still somewhat a mess. With issue 3 Synthesis had become pretty much what it is now, better quality writing, a much more sensible layout and decent content that people could really respond to. Issue 4 is the only back issue still available. I made a much bigger print run and really knew what I was doing the zine for, considerable feminist content, resources, comedy bits, reviews and a bit of personal stuff thrown in because that is what people like. Between 4 and 5 I improved my website to make it equivalent to a zine as far as people finding out what I am all about and also getting to the resources I think are important more easily. I am very satisfied with issue 4, Ive learned a lot from the various reviews and critiques Ive had of past issues and I knew that I had produced something worth reading. Also this issue comes with a free patch and the cover is available in 3 different colours.
4. Do you often find the pro-zine distribution network is quite distinct and separate from the general hardcore music distribution network, or is there some overlap?
No, I do not see two separate scenes going on between music and zines. There are people and distros that are non-zine and distros that are not into music, but there is a lot of overlap actually.
5. Once you have a relatively large print-run for your zine, bulk-trading and/or doing a distro is basically the natural extension of your zine, the logical next step in distributing your publication far and wide. With Synthesis, do you find that trading multiple copies with other kids who do zines is the best way to get distribution in other parts of the world particularly in developing countries? What else would you recommend to kids who are wanting to distribute their zine throughout the worldwide punk community?
So far the bulk trading has worked very well for me. I have had a lot of pleasure from distroing zines and my zine has gotten absolutely everywhere. The zine trading happens in conjunction with building friendships though, you support each other because you like and respect each other. As well as each others zines. I do special things to make my zines affordable for distributors and kids in developing countries such as discounts subsidised by higher prices for the rich countries. It takes awhile and a fair amount of research and work to build up a good network with good people around the world. This is why in issue#5 I included a list of cool distros and the review pages in the good zines are also useful for finding people.
6. As a punk feminist sxe sociologist, what are you thoughts on the limitations of the dominant masculine construct on mens behaviour? Like, there seems to be a real tendency for men who possess traits like softness, vulnerability and empathy to regard this as embracing their feminine side whereas I think that men should be willing to create versions of masculinity that include these traits, rather than ascribing them as feminine. What do you think? Who are some men that you consider to be living real, positive alternatives to the dominant version of masculinity ie. guys who have found more empowering, fulfilling, non-oppressive ways of being male in this world?
It would be good for men to realise that they are as limited by gender roles as are women and that it is in everybodys interest to fight gender roles. Gender is constructed, if men believe that being empathetic is not for men, that is because they learned this idea from a sexist society. I know several men who are relatively non-sexist. My father is the best male role model I know of, totally anti-sexist and has all the good traits ascribed to either gender. Also there is this bisexual guy I know who seems really actively challenging to all gender divisions and stuff. There is another lad I know who is involved in lots of cool activism as well as some riot-grrrl type stuff. Those might be the only positive examples I know of unfortunately. That is sad, I know. Probably tomorrow Ill think of someone else really obvious, but really men are so much more conformist to gender roles and so much more dependent on sexist standards. Men are so conservative, even the anarchists and even the ones who would always share the housework etc. Even most of the men I know still hate women on some level even though they may not be aware of it. I dont let that get me down; I just accept it and accept that it will always be women who are fully trustworthy.
7. As someone who is involved in organizing DIY hardcorepunk gigs in London, what do you consider the current state of squatting to be, in terms of spaces that are suitable for holding shows? Have there been any attempts to set up a post-121 Centre squat venue that would achieve similar goals in the community?
Funny you should ask about that. After the 121 got evicted, weve seen so many quick evictions all over town and weve resigned to sorting out a fully legit diy venue. A collective of anarchists has formed and the organisation will be called Emmaz Club. Right now we are shopping for the appropriate building to buy which will be a venue, (non-subsidized) bar, vegan caff, community centre, and possibly also an info shop and wholefoods shop. Were getting money from various sources and Im hoping to be up and running before the end of 2002. Info available on www.emmaz.org.uk/
8. Well this is the last interview question, and the end of my first attempt at doing a non-band interview so thanks for being part of it Laura! But first, tell us your:
(a) favourite way to manipulate tofu into something tasty;
(b) favourite songs to motivate you for the day ahead;
(c) favourite non-chemical ways expanding your mind/bringing about your own personal little straightedge revolution?
Laura: (a) Freeze the tofu and then let it thaw, it will have gotten a nice chewy texture. Squeeze all the water out, cut it into cubes/strips/whatever and marinade in soya sauce and garlic granules or powder. Shallow fry, turning over until all sides are golden and crispy. Eat on its own / with rice / add to Chinese or chili or curry / serve with a chili or peanut sauce whatever. People will say Is this tofu?!
(b) I warn you, Im at a kitsch phase of my life! Pillow Talk Doris Day, Lover Come Back Doris Day, anything by Burt Bacharach, I am Woman Helen Reddy, The Eagle and the Hawk John Denver, anything Bossa Nova, the soundtrack to the Monkees film Head, Listen to the Band the Monkees, For Petes Sake the Monkees.
(c) Cycling and orange juice.
follow this link...
Interview 14 1) Has the anarchist movement become more powerful and massive
globally since the events in Seattle?
Yes, although of course not usually under the label 'anarchist'.What changes do you find?
More diversity. We feel like there is more anarcho-activism
around and so instead of working for solidarity we are assuming
general solidarity and just working in ways that interest us
individually with people we feel strong connections with.
Is there a strong component of 'lifestyling' in the contemporary
To what degree are todays anarchists engaged with theory (follow
new developments, read, write) or does anarchism just revolve
around activism (joining to organize, protest, actions and
similar events)? Do we, as anarchists, have enough contemporary
The old anarchists obsessed with political theory are dying out
and being replaced by people working on practical and more
involved anarchism. This is not just protests but also things
like co-operatives and social centres. There is enough relevant
theory around for those who want it. THe best anarchist theory
and approaches are the simple ones such as co-operation rather
than competition. 2) Where's the economy base of anarchism? Do anarchist work on
decentralisation of global economy during the fighting against
No, there is generally not a very sophisticated analysis of
global economic alternatives. Where it does exist it tends to be
based on the principle of 'think globally, act locally'. Most of
the thinking and work in this area seems to be happening in
People's Global Action and the like. 3) To what degree is violence present in contemporary anarchist
activities since Seattle?
Not very. I see 'violence' as attacks on the living rather than
on property. There are attacks on property pretty regularly by
the ALF and on days of action but it is impossible to say to
what extent this is the result of state agents provocateurs and
all such acts have to be seen in the context of media coverage.
How much is calculated to get us in the news? 4) Has anarchism gotten beyond the frame of narrow politics
(antiauthoritarian ideology and critique of state)? If so, what
are the new forms?
Yes, particularly from anarcha-feminism and animal rights.
Co-operative projects are re-merging in the scene now as well
and child liberation may be next.
How much of different interests are in anarchist groups; how
successful is co-operation with other (non-anarchist) groups;
what does the decision process looks like on that level?
I have not seen much successful co-operation with non-anarchists
outside of the feminist movement in which we exchange ideas and
expertise very effectively. 5) How present is anarchism in recent art and cultural
praxis, especially since Seattle? Are these parts of society
well connected with anarchism?
No, but some anarchist artists get rather a lot done in this
country although not to a mass audience or even a mass art
Is there enough contemporary anarchist theory?
Art theory you mean? I don't know.
6) Could recent anarchism in the form we know it be an
inspiration for the majority of people in 21st century?
The emerging eco-co-operative anarchism could, yes.
7) Does anarchism offer answers to questions about how to organise
life for a better future (housing, public transport, facilities,
8) Does it offer practical alternatives in the fields of law,
courts, police and other state institutions) as it seems
unlikely that people will want to accept something new if isn't
clear what the consequences of changes may be?
This is a new development, but the only examples I know are
again from anarcha-feminism within activist groups who are
confronting rape and sexual harassment within the activist
community without resorting to state bodies.
9) How much do today’s anarchists accept, use and work with modern
Pretty well. Indymedia is the most useful example I can think of
and that also brings together many types of new technology. I am
not very enthusiastic about online discussion forums but
activist egroups are wonderful and enable us to organise much
more better and much more quickly.
1) What would you email Morrissey?
When are you going to go vegan for the animals?
films in your life
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders)
A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
I Know Where I'm Going! (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
The Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills!)
bike is stolen-how do you feel?I have insurance for it so I would have a conflict about what
should do with the insurance money - get the same bike, get a
cheaper bike or get a new recumbent instead!
Carmina Burana (Carl Orff)
The Waters of March (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
Lily (Kate Bush)
Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush)
Tallis Fantasia (Vaughn Williams)
Your Going to Need Someone on Your Side (Morrissey)
feminist are you?
I gender critique most things so I guess I am always in active
feminist mode. I think feminism is about a fundamental critique
of and challenge to power hierarchies in society. I want to see
hierarchies and oppression eliminated which is probably about as
radical as feminsm gets.
there any point preaching to the converted?
Not preaching, but edifying through positive reinforcement,
community-building, and new progressive projects.
british indie-pop bands
I don't like any at the moment; not even any old ones. There are
no good or interesting ones right now.
thing since chocolate mint crunch biscuits
Peach & pear smoothies
I am interested in reading the new issue of Inside Front when I
get it. The previous one was meant to be the last but I am not
surprised he changed his mind.
hang out place
The riverside near my flat. I live across the street from the
Thames and cycle to work alongside the river. It is pretty
expensive item of clothing bought
A pair of Doc Marten's shoes just a few months before I went
veggie 11 years ago and no longer wanted to wear leather. Oops.
I still have those things somewhere. I should sell them on Ebay;
they are in perfect condition.
do you think of Tony Blair?
He is not a sane man. Even before he went obviously mad I never
understood his motivations.
I'll say that 'seminal' is a patriarchal word and that I love
old school emo. Laughable is a good thing and I think the best
emo has a self-aware irony going on.
Vladimir Nabokov, T.S. Eliot, Phillip Larkin
No women at the moment I'm afraid
you like to be beside the lake?
I am very fond of Lake Konstanz but most bodies of water freak
me out; something to do with not knowing what is lurking below
the surface. I much prefer rivers and streams. I guess I prefer
when things keep moving.
Anyone with an inner light shining outwards.
And Dirk Bogarde circa 1963 phwoar.
In no particlar order...
are you reading?
I just got the new Harry Potter book (Order of the Phoenix) and
I'm tearing through that very quickly. Reading that has
interrupted my reading of the Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie).
At work while I shelve books I have been listening to the book
on tape of The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy). Reading two
Indian novels at once has been rather confusing actually.
19) Fave drink
do you say to those who read synthesis but remain
unconvinced by anything you say in it?
Probably that we have to agree to disagree but secretly I will
be thinking that the feminist ideas may germinate in their minds
and influence them in the future.
1. When did you get involved in doing zines? And why did you get
My first zine was Synthesis 1 and that came out in 1995. I did a
zine because I was not musical but wanted to be more involved in
the scene. With a zine to trade and express myself with I
figured I could get to know more punks and feel like I was
making a contribution.
do you hope to achieve by being involved in zines? Does
the zine you write have any particular aims?
Through my zine i have met many great folks around the world so
my initial goal has certainly been reached. After the first
couple of issues I realised I could also affect other people's
outlooks with what I write and how I write it so that is a newer
goal for Synthesis; to influence readers and maybe even inspire.
The sorts of ideas that Synthesis now represents are things like
veganism, anarchism and feminism. I try to put these across in a
very accessible way so people can understand what I am saying
and hopefully feel sympathetic towards the politics even if the
ideas are new to them.
you think it's still important to address feminism? Is
this something that you do in the zine you work on?
Feminism fundamentally challenges all hierarchy and oppression
and particularly in the areas of gender and sexuality.
Patriarchy oppresses everybody and these challenges can benefit
everybody. Sexism never went away and the worst forms of sexism
are certainly not in decline - sexual violence, domestic
violence and trafficking are few examples.
Only feminism challenges the double standards imposed on women
and only feminism encourages positive alternatives to
you experienced sexism within the punk/ zine community?
Very little has been directed at me personally although I know
women in the scene who have experienced much worse. I have been
touched at gigs and have seen and heard enough to know that the
punk scene is not that different from mainstream society as far
as sexist attitudes go. Sexism is far more tolerated than, say,
homophobia or racism. It is the sexism of ignorance rather than
conscious hatred though; I think a lot of these boys just have
never been presented with alternatives to the attitudes of their
The early punks deliberately challenged gender roles but that
has disappeared from most of the hardcore scene that instead
tends to be a playground for boys to give public display to
dodgy masculine stereotypes. This tuffguy macho scene is pretty
alienating for people who don't worship these outdated gender
you see a problem if only women tackle feminism, queers
homophobia, blacks racism etc. etc.?
Of course, feminism has failed because it always addressed women
and ignored men. Now many of us see that the only way to end
patriarchy is if men are making as much effort as women to
challenge their own gender roles.
All these social categories are a form of divide and rule that
harms everybody. Sexism, racism etc. harm our whole society and
they are totally artificial stratifications that have been
created to preserve power relations.
do you think more guys are involved in the 'scene' than
How do you think this can be changed?
For a start, groups reproduce themselves by example. We join
people who we think are like ourselves. Most hardcore kids are
white and male. Most are also brought into the scene by someone
else and since young people usually have single-sex friendship
groups that keeps the line of influence pretty male.
As I wrote above, the scene is now largely about displays of
masculinity so that makes it more likely to attract boys who are
into that sort of thing. Unfortunately the masculinity of the
scene is what makes it so exclusive. The character of hardcore
is somewhat similar to other mostly-male cultures like science
fiction fans for example. Involvement in this scene often hinges
on a nerdy extent of knowledge of and interest in a specific and
limited strand of music and if you have little interest in
record-collecting and discussing the family trees of bands and
labels you can get bored pretty fast. Most of the hardcore
scenes I have come across have been pretty unwelcoming in the
first place - cliquey.
One does not have to look very far to find women just outside
the hardcore scene - riot grrrl, animal rights and other
activist scenes are largely female. These scenes also tend to be
more holistic and relevant to real life than hardcore is - there
is more going on than music and empty slogans.
The main way the scene can be more attractive to a diversity of
people is if it becomes more fun. Go to an event organised by
radical queers or road protesters and you will find out what I
mean by fun. Hardcore has very little celebratory spirit,
limited creative expression and absolutely no colour.
you think other people see zines as a valid part of the
Sure, even the most ignorant macho prat wants to see his
opinions in print and to read what his favourite Christian metal
band has to say in an interview. On the bright side, many folks
have had their lives transformed by a good zine or even an
inspiring column in MRR.
writing a zine helped you find a voice?
I think I had one already, but the zine gave me a great focus
and discipline. I am very grateful for that and for the
excellent feedback I have had from people I respect.
1. what is your name? your age? where are you from? how are you
involved in hc/punk/politix/whatever?
Laura, 29 and living in London, UK.
On my own I sometimes do a zine called Synthesis and
consequently a zine&book distro. With other folks I co-run a
squatted social centre, am trying to set up a permanent social
centre and do things for the London Social Centres Network. I
take part in various information and action campaigns such as
feminist self-defence, animal rights, anti-capitalism etc.
how long have you been straight edge?
I first heard of sxe 13 years ago but was drugfree etc before
what was your motivation for your decision?
Drinking and drugs were obviously a mainstream thing and I
always resisted doing what everybody else does. Also the kids I
knew who did like that stuff were very boring about it and most
boring of all when they were under the influence. I did not want
to be another pretentious loser obsessed with getting off my
4. what does living sxe mean for you now? did it change your
life in a way?
It was a bit like seeing through the Matrix. When I realised
drinking was all about false consciousness I began to see how
other fake desires and escapes were also rubbish. I still have a
critical view of society and I continuously face conflicts with
drinkers and users as much as I ever did, for example when I was
recently present for a discussion about whether hard drugs would
be welcome in our social centre.
do you consider sxe as a political thing too or "only" as a
As we feminists have been saying for years; the personal is
political. I believe we can achieve more when we are sober and
that alcohol in particular ensures that the majority of people
tolerate the intolerable.6. how do you define sxe? how do you interpret Ian MacKayes
(Minor Threat) "I don't fuck!" in Out of Step?
I do not drink, smoke or take recreational drugs and I generally
avoid caffeine as well. I think the 'don't fuck' message is
extremely important but not primarily because people use sex for
escapism. I don't believe in using people for sex or for
anything else. Most straightedgers don't bother to challenge
mainstream sexual behaviour. I know a lot of sxe folks just use
people's bodies for mechanical and exploitative sex. Sex without
intimacy and an honest connection between partners can degrade
both people's humanity. Respect your partner.
1. Could you give me a bit of background info on your zine? When did you
start? What were your motivations? Do you see it as a political zine?
I started the zine in 1996 because I wanted to be more involved in the punk scene and I wanted an excuse to do lots of political ranting in the areas of feminism, cycling, animal rights, anarchism etc.
Have you seen any increase in the number of political zines in recent
years? Or are more people writing about their views on websites?
I lost track of new zines about 2 years ago so I am not certain what is going on at the moment. I don't look for hc websites much but I notice more activism being documented and information spread on the internet rather than online zines.
3. Do you think that the act of writing any form of zine away from mainstream
networks is political?
4. How effective are zines at building activist communities?
They can inform and point people in the right direction for taking more action & finding other activists so I would say they can be part of an equation.