Illustration © Nikki McClure

contentarea top menu

"We are following an historical line": An email interview with the Lash Back! Collective

Grassroots media in Europe
Teaser Image: 


53° 20' 38.7744" N, 6° 16' 2.9784" W

Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, we are Lash Back! Lash Back is a feminist collective and magazine based in Dublin Ireland. The group was initially set up in late 2007 by 3 women in Dublin. The group has slowly evolved and now encompasses approx 25 casual collective members, 6 organising members and an e-mail group of over 80 members.

Can you tell us about the Lash Back collective?
The Lash Back collective currently meets once every 2 months. So far, we’ve tried to provide a space for people who identify as women and feminists to come together and talk or do activities (such as making stuff or watching movies) in a safe environment. The discussions and activities are centred on gender based issues and other relevant topics. We also host meetings and events that are open to all genders. Meetings are usually hosted by a collective member and held in someone’s home, or if appropriate in a public space. We try to be as non-hierarchical as possible. We look for feed back and suggestions for the content of the meetings, and we have a safe space policy (created at the very first meeting) which we ask everyone to feed back on. Many of those who do a lot of collective organising have also been involved in the production of the first issue of our zine.

Can you tell our readers about your zines?
Issue # 1 of Lash Back Magazine was launched this May. The magazine covers a wide variety of general feminist-based topics such as ‘Why Feminism is Necessary...’, ‘The F-Word – Feminism in Ireland Today’, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Hirsute’ (an article about hair removal) and ‘Women and the Irish Constitution’. We also have interviews with the Irish singer Roisin Murphy and Choice Ireland, a pro-choice group that are active in Ireland since 2007. We cover international issues such as women workers in Columbian floriculture, and rape as a weapon of war. There are reviews of zines, art, music and books as well as some cartoons by Jacky Fleming. We promote ‘good eatin’ in our food article and give an overview of sexual health issues such as STIs and clinics in Ireland.

Since the launch of the magazine in May, we have been focusing on the distribution, and the magazine is now available in two shops in Dublin (Tower Records on Wicklow Street and Connolly Books on East Essex St) as well as through many local and international distros such as Corn Dog Distro (UK), RAG Distro (Ireland) and Stitchy Press (Ireland). We have also set up a paypal account so people can buy directly from us online by dropping us a mail at lashbackdublinATgmailDOTcom.

This first edition of the magazine was put together by 4 organising members of the collective, in order to get the magazine off its feet. Now that the magazine is printed and in circulation we are inviting anyone who wants to get involved, either in the Lash Back Magazine or the Collective (or both!) to a meeting, in which we are hoping to determine the next steps of both. We want to open both of these processes to all of our members on our e-mail group, and anyone else who is interested in getting more involved and more active.

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
The project was started by three women who wanted to DO SOMETHING! Between us, we were interested in DIY publishing, the idea of a collective and most of all the notion of doing something positive for women and creating an outlet for ourselves. There was already a grassroots pro-choice feminist group (Choice Ireland) and an Anarcha-Feminist Collective (RAG) up and running in Dublin, and we wanted to create a space alongside these groups to raise awareness, garner support and push for change. And so came about the idea to create a feminist collective and magazine. The name Lash Back was suggested, as a play on the word backlash, and so the Lash Back Collective and Magazine was born!

What do you hope to accomplish through DIY projects?
We want to create a space for people learn from each other through meeting, creating, writing and organising outside of the interests and constraints of mainstream media and education. Our own thing that we’re trying to do is communicate these ‘alternative’ ideas outside of politically-active circles to a wider audience. With the magazine, we also hope to reach out to people who may not identify with the word feminism because of the stigma that has developed around it over the years. DIY publishing is an open platform for anyone who has anything to say about anything, and we want to open our collective and magazine to people who want to get involved and do something for various feminist causes (we have many, many pressing issues in Ireland).

What do you love about zines? Are there any aspects you find challenging or limiting in the zine community?
Zines! Zines are awesome because they provide a platform to a massive variety of voices that may not otherwise be heard. With independent media, we get to say and read about stuff that affects us. They can be anything we author want them to be, because we don’t have anything to sell, which gives us an opportunity to re-shape mainstream discourses

They’re beautiful because the work, the personal effort that goes into them is so tangible. They hold potential for intimacy and learning from each other’s stories (heads up to Doris, for example), as well as sharing ideas and resources. We can feel connected in a way that we don’t normally with glossy mainstream publications. There can be a great sense of community- you can make new friends and connections everywhere. Unlike blogs and other online fora, you’re not really exposed to the same level of malignance and nastiness that we’ve seen in online feminist communities. We’ve been really lucky with the support we’ve received among zine-maker and distros in Dublin.

The biggest challenge we probably face is spreading the magazine to new and unexpected places. There are amazing people doing awesome distros, but it’s still hard work. There’s also the pressing issue of the sustainability of production… printing can be expensive, and with everyone working voluntarily off their own time in can be hard to keep things moving.

Do you consider feminist zines as part of a social movement? Do you think feminist zines can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?
We would definitely hope that our zine is part of a social movement – a very small social movement for now perhaps! Social movements start with change in individual lives and perspectives and this is why zines can be such powerful tools of reflection and communication. In the very early stages of Lash Back we realised the affects of even talking about feminist issues, let alone writing about them. We found that we were having new conversations with old friends, and learning a lot of stuff from each other. This was an amazing thing to witness – people who were never comfortable with the F word (feminism) before, were talking to strangers about getting involved in the group. Living in a small city this can have a huge affect! So just in terms of Lash Back in Dublin, we do feel that we have reached out to some people so far, and we hope to reach a lot more with the magazine and in the future. By reaching out to people and bringing up issues that may not be covered in the media otherwise, with a powerful message feminist zines can definitely effect social and political change. To achieve a large extent of change may be more difficult, but it’s a start. Sowing the seeds is something!

Do you see yourself as part of “DIY” or “Third Wave Feminism” and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or, why not?
We try hard to be as open and accessible to as many folks as possible so that means that we don’t really describe ourselves as anything but an independent feminist collective. In this regard, it is also difficult to say how Lash Back will define itself in the future. That being said, our processes to date are based around working as a collective – with as many decisions made by as many members as possible. We educate ourselves, and have published a magazine ourselves, so DIY, yes! And Third Wave Feminism… not exclusively, but in some aspects, why not! The collective and the collective meetings follow the idea that we can define feminism for ourselves, by incorporating our own identities in to the feminist belief system, and what it can become through our own perspectives, but we also align ourselves strongly with social issues that affect people in different situations and places and try to be part of a broader political movement. We are a product of our time, and as a feminist group we are following an historical line that has seen many revolutions and changes. Therefore it’s likely that we may be seen as Third Wave, but we would prefer to let the organic nature of the collective continue to define itself.

What are the most pressing issues for you in daily life?
Reproductive rights are the most prominent issue on the mainstream feminist agenda here in Ireland, and this generally means access to abortion and contraception. Certainly, this is a priority, but it’s not necessarily the most pressing issue. The endemic nature of sexual and physical violence in Ireland and against women globally, distribution of wealth and poverty and how it disproportionally affects women and other minority groups in our communities, oppression, the destructive effects of body norms (particularly for young women) and sexual health are but some of the immediate and pressing issues that affect us or that we would like to see addressed in Ireland.

What would a woman-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-thought and transformed to be a safer, better place for women, grrrls, transgender and queer folks?
The fundamental transformation in thought that could be astoundingly revolutionary would entail everyone in society attributing as much importance or significance to your gender, gender-identity or choice of lover as say… your eye-colour. For women, grrls, trans and queer folk of colour or from indigenous groups, it would be a society where one skin colour or culture does not impose upon and oppress others. For those who are ‘disabled’, women who’s bodies’ don’t fit into a particular norm it would be a world that accommodates all bodies, levels of health and means of mobility. For sisters who experience serious mental ill-health, it would be a world that supports and gives necessary space and time to be ourselves and if needed, to heal. Society would be one where we listen to each other and value each other. The work of all women would be respected, valued and honoured. The world would be a place where women have basic equity in all life opportunities, where all of us can enjoy freedom from violence/ persecution and the right to bodily integrity (and access to resources that will enable this). We would see a movement away from tokenistic political representation, where real voices of all women (not just straight/cis/white/able-bodied women) are heard at policy-making level. Also, feminism would be seen as a legitimate and necessary discourse and our ideas would be free from ridicule

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you would like to share them?
Lash Back Issue 2 and beyond!!

Lash Back Collective
Red Chidgey & Elke Zobl
Show on calendar: