Coming Together to Make Media from the Margins

by | September 12, 2012
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT, Racism

Cover of Issue 1

by Jarrah Hodge

Often as feminists and social justice activists we find ourselves challenged by the mainstream media. It doesn’t seem to represent our issues. It tends to be created in a way that’s competitive, not collaborative. And while some women’s experiences get represented, others very notably do not. That’s why I was really happy to find out about a new print and online zine, Margins, started in Vancouver and written by “self-identified Indigenous women, women of color and queer women”.

Margins is a zine that puts intersectionality at its centre and exposes the links between the personal and political, the intimate and the global. It recognizes the value and purpose of emotion and experience.

Margins launched in June of this year to a packed house at the Rhizome Cafe. I got in touch with the editorial collective of Arielle Friedman, Ashley Zarbatany, Jennifer Wang, and Syahidah Ismail for an email interview and they sent back their joint responses on the zine-creation process, the reaction to Margins, and their plans for future issues..

Gender Focus: How did the collective form?

The collective formed through a series of casual hang-outs (between a few amazing and accomplished women) filled with some intense and powerful conversations about their dissatisfaction with the lack of representations available to them in both so-called “mainstream” and “alternative” media.

Not only is the mainstream media dominated by an extremely narrow range of voices, it actively supports institutions that play into our marginalization and into the marginalization of other oppressed peoples. We need a form of media that doesn’t support the Canadian state’s ongoing colonization of indigenous peoples, its racist imperial wars, and its economic enslavement of marginalized people around the globe. That doesn’t actively participate in the ongoing policing of people’s bodies and sexualities, that doesn’t apologize for the police policy of racially profiling, and that doesn’t justify and minimize hate crimes. The mainstream media fails on all these counts. It’s exclusive and elitist structure precludes the possibility of its reform, so we sought out alternatives.

Unfortunately, we found that many forms of progressive and alternative media were dominated by those who still had a lot of social privilege, and were unwilling to alter the composition, focus and structure of their publication to reflect our lived realities. From there we decided to found our own publication, one that from the get-go centered on our voices, on historically marginalized voices. We came together as racialized, trans, queer and indigenous women and produced something that we feel is quite unique. Our collective had changed and evolved with time, as for example, we no longer identify as a women-only or women-focused space, as we strive for our collective to be structured to include and center gender-queer voices. The name reflects our intent to produce a space that centers voices that have traditionally been marginalized, both from the media and from other platforms in society, drawing on the work of bell hooks.

GF: Why did you choose the zine format in particular?

The zine format was decided upon because it best reflected the spirit of what we were trying to present/accomplish – namely, something unformed, messy, DIY, in constant process, provocative, creative, speculative, and non-apologetic.

GF: How did you go about finding contributions?

Back when we first came up with the idea for Margins, we were worried that we wouldn’t get enough contributions. Happily, this ended up being the least of our concerns! As soon as we started telling people about Margins, we received an overwhelming show of support and a literal flood of contributions. Through word of mouth alone we more than filled the first issue (to the point where we had to limit each contributor to one submission). It’s been amazing to see how positively people have responded to Margins, and how eager folks are to contribute. For issue two we hope to go beyond word of mouth and promote more widely in the community, while maintaining the sense of connectedness and community that made issue one such a success.

GF: What’s the reception been like since the launch?

The reception has been overwhelmingly, unexpectedly positive and wonderful. The volume of community support we’ve received has surpassed all expectations. Many people have expressed a real need (I would go so far as to say, craving) for this kind of outlet/showcase for their talents. My main take-away from this experience has been: we did so much more than create a zine, we built a community.

GF: When can we expect your next issue?

We’re actively working hard to get the next issue out – this includes reaching out for both submissions and members to join the editorial collective. If you’re interested in contributing please email submissions to We accept artwork, poetry, stories, essays, photographs, and whatever else we can put on paper. All submissions are printed in black and white. We could totally use a few more people putting in the work to get the zine out, so if you’re interested in joining the editorial collective, email us! Feel free to check out our website at where you can find a copy of our first issue.

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