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i'm not sure if this has ever been mentioned on here before, but i just thought of it because i was thinking about distros and all their guidelines. i'm not sure what to think about saying "no racist, sexist, homophobic, etc etc material will be accepted". i mean aren't zines supposed to be the one place where you can say what you want? is this just some other form of censorship? surely everything written is offensive to someone right?

i just feel really censored and uninspired right now, like i can't really say what i want to say without hurting someone's feelings and that really sucks. i mean, the distro thing doesn't really bug me, but just the fact that their are so many rules even in zines, just makes me irritated. can i really be offensive if i am talking about my own experiences? sometimes i want to write about types of people that annoy me or things they do, but then i'm racist or sexist or whatever. i'm not really sure i'm explaining how i feel properly. oh well.

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It has nothing to do with being "politically correct" it is the personal value of the distro owners. I don't read racist, homophobic crap so i am not willing to sell it... nor read it to decide if i wanted to try to sell it.

Again... you said you don't use distros... so why come down on them? Or as someone said... start your own and carry all the things you wish you saw in other distros.

p.s. Distro owners order from each others distros all the time because they don't carry the same stuff. Some may overlap because the zinesters send it to all of us and it's quality work we want to carry.

pps. are you sure it's the actual verbiage that is stopping your zine being carried by distros? Not lack of layout or good, concise writing?

CocoaPuss Zine said:
like i said already i don't use distros for a lot of reasons. the thing about distros is that they all claim to be so different and they all have the same zines in them. how many zines can there really be about feminism, childbirth, anarchy, and some chick being depressed because she isn't skinny enough. it just gets really old really fast. at the risk of offending a few people, distros all carry the same "shit".

i can write whatever i want, it's just that nobody is ever going to carry it because my values differ from what someone considers to be politically correct? nice. what is the cutoff point for being racist? like as a black woman is it racist for me to say i hate when white girls fling their hair in my face and appear to be always chasing black guys because they think brown babies are so much better and they think black guys have bigger dicks? to me that seems about right but is that racist? depends on who you ask. but can you really not say what you want simply because it might offend someone? you're missing the whole point of zines. isn't the point of them to say what other people aren't saying? except a lot of the zines are saying the same exact things.

i'm actually doing quite well without being part of a distro right now. to each their own i guess.

NicoleIntrovert said:
I don't think distros having these "rules" are censorship at all. You can still write and put out whatever you want in a zine, it's just that these particular distro owners (myself included) have personal values in that we don't want to read that shit or put it into the hands of others.
You don't HAVE to use a distro.
Who in the hell would tell you what you do isn't a zine? I have enjoyed the two issues of Syndicate Product that i have read (purchased from your Etsy shop).

Now... the other thing about overzealous distro owners popping up and closing (sometimes before opening) seems like it is about to happen again. You do take a risk if you work with a distro, so it's nice to build up a trust or ask questions.

Aj Michel said:
I gave up on working with small distros years ago. My problem is that very few would actually carry my zines because it didn't "fit" their idea of a zine. The zines I do (SYNDICATE PRODUCT) are usually compilation zines based around one theme, like packratting, or technology, or television. I've had distro owners tell me that what I do isn't a "zine", which frankly, irritated me beyond belief. Gee, the print run is 150 copies, it doesn't have a barcode, I do all the layout and editing myself, and I can't see Barnes & Nobels rushing to carry it anytime soon... if it's not a zine, what the heck is it? Sure, it's not a "perzine", but hell yes, what I do is a zine. It's more in line with what zines were like in the 80s, early 90s.

The only places that would carry some of my titles were the (now closed ) Loop and Pander. Microcosm carries a few of my zines as well (but they might be sold out by now). Parcell Press did for a while, too.

And I've gotten burned way too many times by people who thought it would be "fun to run a distro", gave up, and never paid me or returned my zines. I just don't want to deal with the drama anymore. So, I just sell through Etsy, and only deal with 4 actual brick-and-mortar stores anymore.

So yes, I totally understand wanting to avoid working with distros.

CocoaPuss Zine said:
like i said already i don't use distros for a lot of reasons.
yadda-yadda-yadda.................'rules' for some is 'bias' in others
re-read Animal Farm...1984............sophmoronism...and PC-puke

NicoleIntrovert said:
It has nothing to do with being "politically correct" it is the personal value of the distro owners. I don't read racist, homophobic crap so i am not willing to sell it... nor read it to decide if i wanted to try to sell it.

Again... you said you don't use distros... so why come down on them? Or as someone said... start your own and carry all the things you wish you saw in other distros.

p.s. Distro owners order from each others distros all the time because they don't carry the same stuff. Some may overlap because the zinesters send it to all of us and it's quality work we want to carry.

pps. are you sure it's the actual verbiage that is stopping your zine being carried by distros? Not lack of layout or good, concise writing?

CocoaPuss Zine said:
like i said already i don't use distros for a lot of reasons. the thing about distros is that they all claim to be so different and they all have the same zines in them. how many zines can there really be about feminism, childbirth, anarchy, and some chick being depressed because she isn't skinny enough. it just gets really old really fast. at the risk of offending a few people, distros all carry the same "shit".

i can write whatever i want, it's just that nobody is ever going to carry it because my values differ from what someone considers to be politically correct? nice. what is the cutoff point for being racist? like as a black woman is it racist for me to say i hate when white girls fling their hair in my face and appear to be always chasing black guys because they think brown babies are so much better and they think black guys have bigger dicks? to me that seems about right but is that racist? depends on who you ask. but can you really not say what you want simply because it might offend someone? you're missing the whole point of zines. isn't the point of them to say what other people aren't saying? except a lot of the zines are saying the same exact things.

i'm actually doing quite well without being part of a distro right now. to each their own i guess.

NicoleIntrovert said:
I don't think distros having these "rules" are censorship at all. You can still write and put out whatever you want in a zine, it's just that these particular distro owners (myself included) have personal values in that we don't want to read that shit or put it into the hands of others.
You don't HAVE to use a distro.
not all distros are the same. not all of them are run with the same level of conscientiousness & responsibility, not all of them carry the same zines, etc.

i run a distro & have one of these "no sexism, racism, homophobia, etc" caveats in my submissions info. i put it there because a) i don't want to read that shit, so i don't want people to send it to me, b) i'm never going to carry zines like that, so it's a waste of money for zinesters who write those things to mail them to me, & c) orderers come to my distro expecting a certain standard from the zines i carry--creatively & politically. letting people know that i am making a commitment to avoiding certain content in what i carry helps orderers understand what they are getting. how shitty would i feel if i was all, "i run a feminist/anarchist-y kind of personal zine distro thing," & then someone was like, "really? what's up with all the inflammatory homophobic language in this zine i got from you?" that kind of thing reflects poorly on me, because i am basically endorsing anything i pick up. so i don't pick up stuff that makes me feel shitty.

though of course, all the caveats in the world hardly matter because people are still going to (& are entitled to) write whatever they want, & they're still going to send it to distros if they want to. a year or two ago, i got a zine that contained a (fictional) story about a dude picking up a woman on an el train in chicago, taking her to an alley, raping her & beating her to death. now, the dude who wrote this story is perfectly entitled to write whatever he wants, but COME THE FUCK ON if anyone thinks i am going to be all about distributing something like that! there was another zine a while back that was all about singing the praises of rape, & especially how great it is to rape very young girls (like first graders) because it feels so great. OBVIOUSLY there is no way i would ever distribute something like that! i have read zines that employed ethnic slurs (& not in a reclamatory way, these folks made it pretty clear that they were actively racist & proud of it), zines that said that women who have abortions are sluts, zines used derogatory language to demean gay people. these are not the types of zines i want to distribute.

distros can't (& wouldn't want to) distribute every zine they receive. you have to make some choices & sometimes the choices are kind of difficult. sometimes there is something problematically oppressive about a zine, but not in the over-the-top way i have described above. i got a zine not too long ago where the author implied that her other female friends were trampy sluts because they wore skirts shorter than she did, & wore more make-up. this seemed like girl hate to me, one woman casting aspersions on another for her personal choices in the way she presents herself, & i passed on the zine. other distros picked it up. a lot of this shit is subjective & is a matter of personal taste.

& like cocoa puss said herself, you can do just fine in the zine world without ever sending your zines to distros. when i did "a renegade's handbook to love & sabotage," i don't think i ever once submitted my zine to a distro. but people picked it up--buying it from me or getting it at shops or zine fairs, & distros approached me & it was sold through maybe fifteen or twenty distros around the world. pretty much every zine has readers--admittedly, some more than others, & getting your zine into a distro definitely helps grease the wheels to a larger readership sometimes. but dismissing distros that pass on your zines as engaging in "censorship" is probably needlessly hyperbolic. i have passed on zines before, not because i had ideological issues with the content, but just because i didn't think the zinester was really polished at making zines yet. & once they found their stride, i picked their zines up. there are many reasons a distro might pass on a zine, & pretty much none of them have to do with some secret cabal of distro operators getting together to silence a particular zinester.
..."AWESOME"...well, gee whiz...that's not 'offensive'!
I've never read her zine, so i do not know the content other than it is of an overtly sexual nature... which is another reason a distro may not want to take it on. Not because of censorship, but the responsibility that comes with selling material that is sexual. I am not ready to delve into that aside from the zines on survivor support which i carry. I know some of the folks who order from me are under the age of 18 and i do not want to get into some legal shit because i sold them a graphic sexual zine. Now... do i read zines like that? Yes. I am just not ready to pick those items up for Click Clack. I don't know if i ever will.

Clementine Cannibal said:
cocoa/puss has amazing writing, sexy layouts and is consistently awesome. just saying. if this zine is not being carried, it has nothing to do with the quality. cocoa/puss is one of the best, most original, most engaging zines i've ever read.

NicoleIntrovert said:
pps. are you sure it's the actual verbiage that is stopping your zine being carried by distros? Not lack of layout or good, concise writing?
From a zine festival organising viewpoint:

We put the caveat "Brighton Zinefest is open and welcoming to all, but racism and discriminatory attitudes or material will not be tolerated" on the website front page because we were worried about the National Front or someone turning up and giving out hateful stuff.

Also, we want to make the event welcoming for everyone, and if someone was casually browsing at a stall and found writing making nasty remarks about the type of person they were, well it would probably spoil the day for them. Maybe it's censorship in some people's opinion, but as a group, us organisers decided it was more important to make the event safe and welcoming.
copyright laws are a different story, though. then someone actually CAN tell you what you can and can't put in a zine. best to obey those things, at least to a degree.

naked people are a completely different story, though. I can understand why a story might not want to distribute something containing nudity, but that doesn't mean you have to censor yourself that way! there are plenty of other ways to distribute. :)

kitty magic said:
YOU ARE LUCKY THAT YOU DONT HAVE YOUR MUM & DAD TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN & CANT PUT IN IT!!!like i do...with me its like this-to me, i can sort of understand why some store wouldnt wanna sell a racist zine...or a sexist one...or a homophobic one..........my mum said the zine store i go to wouldnt sell anythng with degrading images in it.meaning porn.naked people.but that is all i really care about u see.and then my mum started telling me how if i did that itd be breaching copyright laws and all this other bullshit.so wat i wanna say is this-anybody should be able to make a zine...and anybody should be able to put wateva the hell they like in it.
well, first of all, I'd be pretty pissed if someone took my work, so I respect fellow artists. Second, if someone gets pissed, they probably won't sue me for lots of money since I'm making no money, but they might try to get me to destroy my work, and I am NOT risking that.

I guess, to me, it's not really the whole "law" bit, but the respect for fellow artists. Plus, there's plenty of cool stuff in the public domain.

Zacery / I'm Not Lion said:
That's why I don't tell my parents everything about my zine. Fuck copyright laws though, I've been cut-and-pasting images, stickers, naked people and excerpts from other zines for a while now, why the hell are people who make zines worrying about copyright laws?!
If you're worrying about needing to be more PC to get distribution, you probably shouldn't be publishing a zine anyway.

There will always be distros that focus on a certain type of zine (say perzines or music zines), or a certain political viewpoint, but there will also always be distros that like carrying more fringe point of views. Shit, if it's your distro, you should run it how you want, right? I don't think Answer Me ever had a distribution problem and it definitely wasn't PC. So I don't see much to worry or argue about here. It's silly to call a distro with PC rules censorship. Censorship is a real deal many people face with government not letting their words and images come out, just look at what happens in Iran and China. It's just not censorship for a private business like a distro to pick and choose what zines they want to carry.
I just read this whole thread from the beginning. I am over 30 and am afraid to put any swears in my zine because my Mother would be mortified. Rediculious really. That's all I censor in my zine. I guess I don't have to cuss in my zine, but, that's the way I talk in real life though. ...in front of everyone except my Mother and Father. I think we should write what we want and just know that some people won't like it. Oh well. I stand by FREEDOM OF SPEACH though and FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. Write what you want as long as you know I might not like it.
"There will always be distros that focus on a certain type of zine (say perzines or music zines), or a certain political viewpoint, but there will also always be distros that like carrying more fringe point of views. Shit, if it's your distro, you should run it how you want, right? I don't think Answer Me ever had a distribution problem and it definitely wasn't PC."

Kind of off topic, but didn't some news stand owner get arrested for selling ANSWER ME?

Anyhow, if you do a zine at some point your writing will offend someone. There's no way around it. If you decide that politics/sex/race/whatever aren't areas you want to delve into so you tone your writing down for that reason that's one thing, but if you want to write about these topics and tone it down to appeal to distros then that's just fucking stupid. There are enough people out there telling you what to do, you don't have to deal with these people doing your hobby.

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