This week, I’m writing about two zines about having kids, and specifically, doing so in concordance with anti-oppressive politics. I’m not a parent myself, but the intersection of parenting and radical politics is something I’ve spent some time thinking about, thanks to dating a parent and to talking to my sister, whose convictions I greatly admire and who is a thoughtful, respectful, and awesome parent to two excellent kids.
Phases of the Moon #1: Resistance is Fertile
by Stacey Marie Piotrowski & Alexander
71pg. at half-letter size
This zine is co-written by the two birth parents of a child, recounting how they got together, got pregnant, gave their daughter up for adoption, and how they felt about it afterwards. Stacey Marie Piotrowski and Alexander (no surname given) switch off in serif and sans-serif text, alternating perspectives on the experience. It’s a cool way to tell a story, and an interesting tale.
The two write from their background as traveling punks, and from an anti-authoritarian perspective on childbirth, parenting, and how to make a good life. In addition to talking about pregnancy and childbirth, there’s really good writing on traveling, being down & out, feeling vulnerable, imposing on others, and doubting your values and choices. I found those parts really hit home for me, despite my lack of experience with baby creation. Pietrowski writes thoughtfully about how the experiences affected her:
“i still have travelling plans, but I’ve put down roots and stabilized myself, mentally and physically. instead of uprooting my life every time i want to go somewhere else, i’ve realized i can just branch out, stretch fingers like vines all over this world even as i’m staying still. so i guess this is growing up”.
This zine was originally published in 2006, and was re-printed in 2007 with an epilogue addressing feedback they’ve since received and explaining how some of their views have since evolved. I liked this, because the writing in this zine occasionally comes off pretty judgmental about things like veganism and what kinds of childbirth and lifestyle in general are and aren’t empowering.
That said, while I sometimes found this zine a little bit moralistic, the authors stress that they are trying above all to document their experiences, and the— often strong— feelings they had about them. The detailed, candid account of the birth of their daughter was really interesting for me, as someone who struggles to imagine what it’d be like to give birth or support a partner who was giving birth.
Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind #3
by Vikki Law & China Martens
42 pg. at 8 1/2 x 11 size
$4 from For the Birds Collective (bought at POC Zine Project)
This zine is intended as a resource for people organizing events, particularly around radical politics, who want to include parents and kids, and for parents who don’t want to relinquish their involvement in radical communities and activism. The authors of this zine describe it as:
“a collection of concrete tips, suggestions, and narratives on ways that non-parents can support parents, children, and caregivers in their communities, social movements, and collective processes”,
with the aim of building “all-ages, inclusive revolution that leaves no one behind”. The zine focusses on pragmatic advice, particularly on how to run events that will be accessible to parents and kids. If you organize events, this will be super useful, otherwise, it will still be interesting.
Diana Block is interviewed about parenting while living underground— this topic has intruiged me since I read Cathy Wilkerson’s memoir Flying Close to the Sun, where she writes about, among many other things, living underground with her daughter for many years as a result of her work with the Weathermen.
I also liked the piece by Ramsey Beyer, about being a white person living in a punk house with other white folks in an otherwise Black neighbourhood in Baltimore. She writes about bonding with the kids in her neighbourhood over bikes, reading, and basketball, and how it allowed her and her friends to become a part of their community.
The authors of this zine now also have a book, Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities. One writer in this zinequotes a friend who said, “Doing childcare is a chance to put your politics into practice”. Obviously, it’d better be a hell of a lot more than that, but it’s really neat to see people thinking about how to live out their political values as parents.
- Lily Pepper