Zines: Women’s Self Defense

A Zine is “a short for fanzine or magazine, is a DIY subculture self-publication, usually made on paper and reproduced with photocopier or printer” (Zines). Zines are used to share knowledge or experience with “people in marginalized or otherwise less-empowered communities” (Zines). Zines can also be used to agitate, smear, or celebrate. Thomas Paine, who is believed to have originated the concept in 1776.  He self-published the pamphlet, Common Sense. In Common Sense, Thomas Paine “argued for the independence from Great Britain and the ability of the young country to prosper unfettered by the oppressive and economically draining English” (Bartleby.com).

The Zine I picked was Women’s Self Defense by Ariel; which she dedicated to her mother. Ariel is a survivor of abuse. Women’s Self Defense is made up of stories and strategies of survival. The focus of the zine is “how women have kept themselves safe during and after sexual harassment and assault” (Women’s Self Defense). Readers could write or draw about different situations. Some situations they could write about are, “stranger assault, sexual harassment on the streets and at work, multiple assailants, assailants with weapons known assailant, date rape, and domestic abuse (Women’s Self Defense). 

Ariel’s had a few goals in mind for her Zine. One of her goals was to give “women more options to choose from when using self-defense by sharing a diverse range of strategies successfully used by women in real-life situations” (Women’s Self Defense). The second goal was to “help women overcome isolation after an assault and begin to heal” (Women’s Self Defense). The next goal was to expand the notion of what “successful self-defense is and help women appreciate all of the ways we keep ourselves safe every day” (Women’s Self Defense). The last goal was to “break the stigma around sexual harassment and assault so that we can talk about it” (Women’s Self Defense).

One of the reasons I picked this zine was because the goals that Ariel made for it. I believe that all four of her goals are important. I believe all four of her goals are not only to help women who have been assaulted but everyone else. This zine could help inform everyone on sexual harassment, assault, and self-defense. Another reason I picked this zine, was because women saw this as a safe space to share their stories. I know for some women; it can be hard to open up about what happened to them. I think it’s great that women felt open and comfortable enough to tell their stories. The last reason I picked this Zine was because of the look of it. To me, it looked more like a journal or diary, with all the drawings and handwritten headings. This gave it a more personal feel.

Work Cited:

Halliday, Ayun. “Download 834 Radical Zines From a Revolutionary Online Archive: Globalization, Punk Music, the Industrial Prison Complex & More.” Open Culture, Permalink, http://www.openculture.com/2016/04/download-834-radical-zines-from-a-new-online-archive.html.

Paine, Thomas. 1776. Common Sense, https://www.bartleby.com/133/.

“Women’s Self-Defense #1 : Ariel : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library, 17 Mar. 2012, https://archive.org/details/WomensSelf-defense1.

“Zine Basics.” Barnard Zine Library, https://zines.barnard.edu/zine-basics.

1 thought on “Zines: Women’s Self Defense”

  1. I liked that you picked a zine with significance. While many of the zines I have seen address large-scale issues, I like that this zine includes information about a problem that people can identify and try to prevent on a more local level. Seeing as zines are often distributed locally, an issue such as catcalling seems to be a good fit.


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