Cindy Crabb is in her late thirties, early forties. Tattoos dress her body, her demeanor is sweet and inviting. Crabb grew up in the punk scenes of the 80s and got involved in self-publishing, radical politics and community organizing. She is known for her perzine Doris and the sexual assault and support zine Support. Currently she is a graduate student at Ohio University, co-founder of Athens Girl’s Rock Camp and runs Doris, a press distro.
What was your first zine about?
I’m trying to remember. The first zine I made was with my roommates. Actually–before I knew about zines I did underground newspapers. I did some stuff in high school that was just inside jokes and things that were going on around town. We also did one that was affiliated with menstrual product ads and stuff like that. The first real zine I did was with my roommates, it was winter, and it was a collection of stories and drawings. Traveling we’d done or pretty things we’d seen.
I came up with these questions while I was reading Doris 26, a zine about hope, language, shyness, and social ecology. Where do you see “the movement” today? When I say “movement,” I mean the larger picture that self-publishing and activism is trying to achieve.
I think zines really influenced the feminist movement because they took some of the ideas that were stuck in academia and translated them into language that normal humans could understand. They combined personal experiences and outrage with academic language; it created a poetic combination between the two. When people talk about the third wave feminism it is usually really influenced by the work of zine writers. A lot of fat activism originated in zines. I can’t say for sure, but I know the first time I had ever heard about it was through zines. There is definitely more mainstream feminism now that came out of an underground zine framework where we didn’t have access to mainstream media, but we could create our own media and distribute it through our own networks.
How have you learned to be human?
I love talking about being human, people are always like, “what do you mean by that.” When I talk about being human, I mean the sort of humans without all of our defense mechanisms that keep us really boxed in. Both from each other and our true selves. I love the humanity behind humans and thinking about how human they are when they’re annoying or something, you know? As a writer, one of they ways I would manage my days when I was younger and I was so affected by the brutality of the world around me was that I would watch people and focus on the details of what made a person human. How they stood, what they talked about, and what their voices were. When wiring a zine it helped start to slowly shed the secrets of my life that kept me boxed in or afraid to connect with people. I have this idea that not only do we hide the dark things that have happened to us; that we are afraid people will find out, but we also hide the excitement and love. If we’re too excited then they’ll reject us. I use the zine to bring both sides of those into who I was, and use it as an opportunity to extrapolate both sides of my experience in the world and focus more on those parts of my life, because when I hung out with people I didn’t want to show those parts of myself because I wanted to be cool and accepted.
Any reading suggestions?
Ah, see this where being in school ruins my brain. I read this book and I love it so much. How to slowly kill yourself and others in America. It’s really beautiful, a bunch of short little essays. I could see that in zine format kinda. A friend of mine who was one of the first zine writers I knew just came out with a new book, Streetopia. This was like a week long anti-gentrification, let’s imagine San Francisco as a utopia event, and the book is really cool. There a lot of cool zines on doris (Crabb’s zine distributor.)
Do you have hope?
I’m not optimistic necessarily, but I’m hopeful because I see the ways people have been capable of embracing change in ways that I would not expect. A lot has changed in my lifetime in terms of black liberation politics and queer and trans politics and the way radical politics is expressed or understood; intersectional feminism. They hold so much more complexity than they did 20 years ago. Finding intersections betweens movements is very normal now and it didn’t used to be. I see this striving for freedom that people have. This is so hopeful. I think people want to be connected and part of something bigger, and they go about it in psychopathic ways and in beautiful ways.
Can you explain intersectional politics to me?
So in the 80s when I was a feminist. Well, first of all you were either gay or straight. You were white or black. If you were one you didn’t fight for other rights or you thought about who was the most oppressed. Things were very segmented. Middle class white women fought to break the glass ceiling. Models of feminism that were developed in the US could be taken and applied to other countries and other places. My understanding of intersectional feminism is that it holds feminism as its core belief, and connects to all other forms of oppression and domination as essential and as part of the feminist movement. Intersectional feminism is having a much broader perspective or link between different forms of oppression and organizing in the communities they are based in.
Are you the person you want to be the most?
No, but I’m closer now than I was. People always think that teens and 20s are the best time of your life, and I just think it gets so much better. So much easier. You just have more capabilities of dealing with all the bullshit and you know yourself better.