With the rise of the Internet came a resurgence of ‘90s riot-grrl culture, particularly through the establishment of underground, alternative magazines. In her article “I’ll Resist with Every Inch and Every Breath,” Kristen Schilt defines ‘girl zines’ as “do-it-yourself publications” both created by and targeting girls and women (2003). One of the primary benefits of these zines is their ability to give women a forum for discussing their ideas, stories, and struggles. While anyone can use the Internet to create a blog, post writing, and practice poetry, the existence of the publications facilitates the emergence of a feminist writing community that affirms its members, supports their work, and distributes their art. Schilt (2003) adds that the writing community also serves as a safe environment in which women can explore more serious, often taboo issues such as sexual abuse, harassment, and self-mutilation.
Because the zines are self-published, the creator has complete control over its content, compilation, and distribution. As such, the content can be made available to a wide audience while simultaneously remaining ‘underground’, avoiding the intervention and censure of authority or opposition. For example, Gabby Gabby, a poet and popular Internet figure, personally selects each piece to be included in her zine, Illuminati Girl Gang. Through this level of input, Gabby can effectively control the aesthetic of the content.
Gabby originally founded Illuminati Girl Gang as a website for female artistic expression. The website eventually extended outside the realm of the Internet, transforming into a regularly printed publication. Unlike many existing girl zines, Illuminati Girl Gang does not use ‘cuteness’ or cliches to reinforce traditional female stereotypes. The simple, artistic, and generally serious nature of the layout allows the content to outshine possible connotations of an all-female publication. Additionally, the combination of web-based solicitation and submission of content contributes to the accessibility of the zine. Relying on a resource available to a large audience supports the idea that anyone, even novice writers, can submit work to Illuminati Girl Gang.
Though the Internet can often be a truly terrifying place for females, the existence of web-based girl zines demonstrates a manner in which the Internet can contribute to the feminist movement.