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"Cultural revolution is an important weapon against all oppressions": An e-mail interview with Carla, Julie and Íris from Histérica Zine, Brazil

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"We are three brazilian girls that made a paper zine using the internet. The Riot Grrrl Movement inspires us, the radical feminists of the 60's too, our personal expirience, [and] we try to put links between what's important for us. There's a lot of other things that are mixed in what we are doing and you can feel it reading the fanzine. It's all written in portuguese, our first issue was out on March 09 and we interviewed: Allison Wolfe (lead singer of seminal riot grrrl band Bratmobile and nowadays vocal fo Partyline) and the seminal punk feminist band from the brazilian riot grrrl: Dominatrix. Texts and artwork. Soon the second issue is done and you girls will probably heard about it. "

Can you introduce yourself?

Carla: Hi! I’m Carla. I’m 20 years old and I live in a small boring city called Barra Mansa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m one of the three Histéricas.

Julie: My name’s Juliana but you can call me Julie. (in Brazil there a lot of Julianas – LOL), I’m 23 and I live in São Paulo, Brasil. I’m part of Histérica Zine, like Carla and Íris.

Íris: I’m 21 years old and I’m from Brazil. I live in a touristic city called Salvador, where I study sociology on UFBA (a public university). I’m vegan, punk and feminist.

Can you tell us about any other activism or projects you are involved in?

Carla: I did write for four years a zine called True Lies, it was all written in Portuguese and the first three issues I did with a friend of mine, the last two issues I did by myself. We talked about vegetarianism, punk gigs, reviews of stuff that friends and people sent to us, we interviewed some bands and it was all in paper. It was good to do, the process and the thinking. I met some good people because of True Lies. Through the zine I met Iris; I translated a Bruce la Bruce’s interview to a dvd+interview of him that she was doing at the time. Besides the zine I did some stencil and stickers in my city and I have a blog with Fernando that we just review zines and interview bands that we like.

Julie: I used to write a zine called Burn Don’t Freeze, which became, after three years, Pouco Viável. My zines used to bring some lines about independent alternative rock bands, especially girl bands, and some stuff about feminism, among other subjects that could be in my head while I was writing that issue. At this moment I’m writing only at Histérica. And I also do stencil in T-shirts, some images that I stencil maybe can be considered some kind of activism, I don’t know! LOL!

Íris: I think the cultural revolution is an important weapon against all the opressions. It means to build a better world with new values, knowledge and behavior. So, I participate in a self-consciounsness feminist group, where we debate our personal-collectiv herstory. I’m involved too in a group called “Dois Corpos” and we make urban art about gender question.

Can you tell us about Histérica zine? What topics do you cover? How is the zine put together and distributed?

Carla: The zine is done by three girls that live in different states: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador. We have never met, we just talk by email about everything that can or can’t be in the zine. It’s a slow interesting process that includes: trades of zines, movies, cds, texts and themes that we think can be related to the zine’s thematic.
We talk about feminism – it’s a big concept, I guess – how living in this big mess sexist world affect us, how using animals as object in our daily lives is very messed up and related to the objectification of woman, we talked about music and inspiriting women, we interviewed Allison Wolfe (huge importance to the Riot Grrrl Movement) and the seminal punk feminist brazilian band Dominatrix.
The first issue Iris printed all the stuff sent to me, I did the artwork and cut and paste of the zine, we made some copies to some friends that would distribute for us in DIY punk gigs and some vinyl stores. Using the email we spread the first issue; I guess if there were no internet we’d be doing it until now.

Julie: The zine is made basically “where we met” = “on the internet”, because we live in different states, but in fact Histérica is a “paper-made” zine! We send e-mails to each other and discuss the topics, and form that e-mail exchange we write our texts and do the interviews. The subjects are related to feminism, veganism and someculture. The first issue was printed by Íris and Carla did the artwork. We ourselves do the distribution and some friends also offered their help. At the same time we start the discussion about the second issue. Everything is made with no pressure or dates, which makes things easier and we can think a lot about, make plans and do a better job, I believe. We use technology in order to communicate to do the zine, but Histérica reflects the 90’s wave and the Riot Grrrl movement.

Íris: Histérica is a zine about feminism and punk, where we try to put the personal and the political together. In the first edition of Histérica I covered topics about heteronormativity and we interviewed Alison Wolf and Dominatrix, a classic hardcore feminist brazilian band.

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?

Carla: Iris invited me to get in this girl’s gang and we asked Julie to come in. The name was suggested by Julie and the concept is important to us: mess with the sexist view of hysterical crazy woman that the name reminds. It’s another fuck for this sexist assholes that keep trying to hurt woman through beauty contest, sexist violence, oppressive boyfriends and parents, cultures that keeping subjugating woman. I’m just trying to live my best and be aware that they’ll mess up with my body and image as frequently as they can.

Julie: Carla wrote me inviting me to join her and Íris in a feminist zine. I asked some information about the project and did a few questions, and I found that could be amazing, so I decided to get along! We decided the name by giving suggestions until we got an agreement, and it happened when I suggested “Histérica” (which means “histeric” in feminine gender in English). I had that name in my mind for a long time but nothing to be called! I used to think that I was going to end up using “Histérica” to call some one-girl-project band with music made on computer and feminist lyrics. LOL! I think the name express a lot of what the zine wants to transmit because it’s strong and has the relation with the stereotype of “crazy women” that we wanna kinda of make fun of and show that we’re screaming to avoid and change this sexist world!

Íris: I started this Project because 1) there is an exclusion of feminism and the gender question in the libertarian scene; 2) the zine for me means to have fun too.

What do you hope to accomplish through DIY projects?

Carla: Represent women in the DIY punk hardcore scene, our feelings, thoughts, music, hair. Do registration of what we see, what we listen, what’s worth and dialogue with people that are interested in diy punk feminist zines. Meet some cool people and every once and while read interesting zines and thoughts.

Julie: In DIY projects we show our likes and dislikes, and meet interesting pople, interesting ideas and learn a lot. But about accomplishing something, I, myself, don’t have great expectations to accomplish huge things. I think it’s a great deal if we be able to get a little attention and at least change the view of one girl’s life (or boy! Why not?) and make her/him make things different from what the sexist society imposes.

Íris: I hope to build interaction and exchange between girls (and boys) interested in our ideas. It’s important that these people are united because the change doesn’t come through individual actions, but collective actions, and it’s important because to resist the backlash we should be together and strong.

What do you love about zines? Are there any aspects you find challenging or limiting in the zine community?

Carla: The idea, the possibility of doing just by myself what I want to do – I guess this line we can relate best with the DIY concept, but I feel exactly this way doing zines – is the most interesting and challenging thing about zines. You can do or not, if it’s good or bad it’s just on you. You’re putting yourself out and trying to understand what’s around you. As you can see the doing zines thing to me it’s very personal, it’s very slow. It’s good when we change our habits after reading something that change us, no matter if it’s a zine or a book.

Julie: What I love about the zines is the possibility given to anyone to do that. Anyone can do a zine and talk about everything. I also love the classic shape of a zine, xerox copy of pieces of texts and images, everything in B&W. What I see as a challenge, but in a positive way, is to dialogue to the readers, how reach them and get some reaction. The negative part is the difficulty to expand your area; it’s hard to do lots of copies because people don’t give much value for a zine and in most don’t want to pay for that.

Íris: I love the democracy of zines: everyone can write a zine and we can express ours ideas freely. This is a libertarian principle that ruptures capitalist relations and the division of labour between mental and manual work. Unfortunately, as well as the society is sexist, the zine community reproduces this discrimination and it’s one aspect I find limiting in the zine community. Where I live so much people are involved in the community, and they aren’t just white or middle-class. There are people making zines in all class, and i think it’s very cool.

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?

Carla: I’ll answer the questions seven and eight together because I thought them together, because I think they’re very related.
I consider feminist zines a part of the Third Wave Feminism, I see this zines as a part of the written history of woman. After the Annales the historical concepts and objects changed very much. I see this zine's talking about people’s feelings, likes and dislikes, as a register of women voices and as a historical resource. I belive that if someone make some paper about the Third Wave Feminism or about woman doing independent art these zines will be a huge and important resource.
I guess zines have significance mainly in individual lives but you heard this before, the personal is politics and we’re a little water on this wave of feminism, and DIY and feminism are related for me, I don’t know how not to relate them. I do see the zine as a part of the diy punk feminist approach.

Julie: Yes, I consider feminist zines as part of a social movement, because it’s another kind of expression and a way to spread ideas. About the size of the change… I don’t know, it depends on who is going to read that. I think it’s easy to change individual lives, and tough to make a social or political change, but not impossible.

Íris: The feminist zines are a powerful weapon to change the society through information, so they are part of a social movement and one of yours expressions. They can effect meaningful social and political change get some groups. In a multicultural society, change get large are scarce, because social groups have different points of view and different weapon to emancipate yourselves, consequently.

Do you see yourself as part of “DIY” or “Third Wave Feminism” and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or, why not?

Julie: I see myself as part of DIY and it means that I’m kind of winner in some aspects of our society, because I can do some things on my own or with people like me, without any “major support”. I’m proud of that! About Third Wave Feminism, if I can say that I’m part, it’s such an honor! As I write for a feminist fanzine … so I think I’m part of that wave!

Íris: DIY come in my life mainly through punk- meaning the concrete possibility of anyone do any kind of activity (make gigs, workshops, zines, record your band demo) without depending on specialist or government initiative. I see myself participating of the Third Wave Feminism not just because temporally I am living this feminism phase that begin in early 80/90 but also because I identify myself with some of its pretext as the multiplicity of the feminist subject that isn't fixed to the Eurocentric subject. In this way it gives place to woman of color expressions and latin American. So I see myself participating in both and trying to make connections between them, which happens with histérica.

What are the most pressing issues for you in daily life?

Carla: Violence. It’s an aspect of life that bothers me a lot. Physical, psychological, midiatic, sexist, the ones that are hateful and concerning. I think when I’m going out of my house if some pig is going to call me names, if someone will fisic arrest me, if there’s any situation that a rape can happen. Those are possibilities just like having a good day or meeting new people. It’s not a obsessive thought, it’s the possibility. Of course we gotta protect ourselves.

Julie: What society expects from me, as woman, is very pressing. Although you don’t give a shit for what they expect from you, in one way or another you will be pressed some time. The violence is a big issue too, it makes me worried all the time about not coming home too late and not wearing a short skirt or a short dress because I can be raped.

Íris: The feminicide is an issue that worries me. In brazil the violence against women is a crime, but the law isn’t enough to finish the sexist violence. I think the violence (psychological and bodily) is inseparable of the patriarchy and it’s necessary for your operation, because it’s means to constrain the women to accept the exploration of your domestic work and the opression of your body, for example.
So, agression is an answer for feminine transgression of the gender rules. It’s a feature of the nuclear family, too. And the women should have consciousness of this.

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? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?

Carla: It would be a vegan society or a society that uses less and less animals and subjugation then, as people of color, different religions and sexual orientation. I like to think that people can change through readings and conversations. I like to think that some people are more opened to “progressist” concepts and they can try everyday look to a transgender as finest as they would do to Tim Burton and Louis Garrel.

Julie: I don’t think myself as someone better than other people to dictate how the society should be… I think it’s very serious. But I wish we could live in a fair place with equal opportunities for being ourselves, with no models. When I say “equal opportunities for being ourselves” I mean being yourself and having conscience that you mustn’t do any harm to the others just because you disagree to some aspect of their lives.

Íris: I think feminist science fiction has a function for the development of women, grrrl and queer-friendly policies, through the building of utopias. I recommend “The Fifth Sacred Thing” by Starhawk. For me, these utopias supply our mind with dreams and suggestions for the real life.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you would like to share them?

Carla: I just hope that the H1N1 virus don’t kill me tomorrow or other sort of bizarre stuff. Just day by day, as good as we can.

Julie: I really would like to keep thinking like I think now, only improving ideas and learning more. I also would like to be able to survive in this society and help in its changes. “Keep on livin’!”

Íris: Frequently people think to rebel is for youngsters. I disagree and my personal wish for the future is to keep on rioting, because i don’t separate happiness and transgression.

Carla, Julie and Íris
Affiliated organisation:,
Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl
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