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De Tweede Sekse Blog: An interview with Evie.

LGBT and queer issues
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Evie, please could you shortly introduce yourself?
My name is Evie. I have been a feminist for several years and an antiracist, gender and transgender activist before that as well. I've studied computer science before, and right now I'm studying psychology. I'm a member of several feminist groups in Belgium; I'm writing for a magazine and doing activist work in Ghent and I started the De Tweede Sekse feminist blog at the end of 2008.

How did you come to feminism?
That's actually partly because I was influenced by several women around me who explained a lot of things to me, partly because I saw the effects in the world around me. I think I first read a number of gender activist texts and I noticed a lot of things in my personal life about how gender is a social construction and that we are all being told that it is completely natural and that the way things are is just natural, too. I noticed a lot of problems that we now describe as porn culture and the beauty and fashion industry; at first I didn't really connect the dots but then I read the book Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy, and some other works by Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer, and I started to get it [laughing]. Yes, I needed a feminist click.

Please could you tell us in which feminist groups your are involved?
Oh yes, I am a writer for the Scumgrrrls Magazine ( It's a trilingual magazine mostly written and developed in Brussels, so we write in French, English and Dutch. I like that team a lot. My main activism is in Ghent in the FEL-feminism organisation, which translates into "fierce", so we are the fierce group of feminists ( leaning more towards the left and towards radical feminism, not liberal feminism. We've been active for two years now and it is actually working quite well so far. Then I am also a member of a national group which is called the Women's Discussion Committee ( which is organising a yearly Women's Day and that's also very interesting actually.

How did you become involved in writing and publishing media?
I think I have always been and I've always considered myself a writer, I just didn't know how and where to publish. And then I think I've been a human rights activist for about ten years now, so at first I did anti-racist work and we had a website and we wrote things for that. And then later on the blog phenomenon took off, so it was much easier to publish things digitally. And then a friend of mine introduced me to some zines. She really helped me to get the concept that to self-publish is an interesting phenomenon - and now of course there's the feminist magazine as well. I try to get published in some other newsletters but that's mostly small things and informal.

When you say you were also involved in an anti-racist group this means when you talk about oppression you always see it's not only gender and sex oppression but it's also connected to other social categories?
Yes, that is really my point. So I have an intersectional perspective on things, or how do you call it? Intersectionality, which means that I see multiple forms of oppression as combining. Like a lot of what feminists did already in & around the second wave of feminism, black feminists for example who really got the idea across. I really believe in that, but I also believe that women's oppression is often forgotten or ignored in many circles, so that's a problem.

Where did you learn the skills for producing media?
Mostly self taught actually. I've always been writing and then got a lot of feedback and hoped to improve in that way. And the publishing is mostly… either I do it badly myself or other people are doing it. I'm pretty bad at layout or design. But fortunately, for example at the Scumgrrrls magazine there are other people doing the layout, so it works.

Do you read feminist media like other blogs, or do you listen to feminist radio, or do you read feminist magazines?
Yes a lot actually. So it's good that you mention it, I think that's where a lot of my ideas and ways of writing perhaps come from. Of course you learn first by imitating. So I read a lot of feminist blogs. And that was where the idea for the De Tweede Sekse came from, because there was, as far as we were aware, not a single Dutch feminist blog so we decided to start one.

Is there any feminist media where you would say: Yes this inspired me really a lot?
I think it's a combination of very radical second wave feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon that helped to get across to me the concept, the theory behind women's oppression very well. And then a lot of blogs with a more third wave perspective. I like it if things are radical, I don't like to waste my time with liberal improve-your-wage-feminism or whatever. I think initially I read a lot of funny blogs like I blame the patriarchy and Rage against the Manchine, which is an ironic title, and they were both humorous and very insightful and I think that that is a really nice combination.

You are actually the founder of De Tweede Sekse?
Yes that's correct. Initially we planned to start it with three feminists here, but the other two didn't find any time to write. So I started in 2008 and then I think very soon after that I met Nina and convinced her to write for the blog as well. And then I got in touch with more feminists, and now we are a team of four writers at the core of the blog.
First of all, this blog, The second Sex, is of course a reference to Simone de Beauvoir's book and the idea about the blog was to “restart feminism”. I didn't actually find much feminism in Belgium and I thought this was a huge problem and with a group of people we tried to rectify the situation. First of all we needed to have some visibility to say that feminism is still alive and kicking. So that was why the blog was started actually, to reproduce feminism and feminist ideas. And the blog is very radical actually, so we really are the fierce feminists from that group I spoke about. We write about a lot of things, mostly we write about things that take a longer time. We analyse masculinity, evolutionary psychology, porn culture, things that we consider dangerous. But many of the texts are actually written when we are very angry about something that is racist or sexist or somebody telling that women are inferior for this or that reason, and we get really angry. The fun thing about having several writers on one blog is that you have a multitude of views and much more topics than you could cover by yourself. We have a few basics texts about: What is oppression? What is paternalism? What is intersectionality? A little bit about history and patriarchy and then we write for example about gender-queer feminism and how is it to live as a queer person between the genders. We write about anti-feminism, evolutionary psychology, or racist's abuse of feminism, or masculinism, we write about violence, art and culture, music, diy … and we write a lot about porn-culture as well.

Would you say that the blog is a mixture of academic texts and personal ones?
There is a lot of personal and there is a lot of theory but I have a problem with the word "academic" because I usually don't like academic writing. I think it is sometimes intentionally unclear. For example I don't really like a lot of postmodernist writers because I think that they write in such an unclear way that ideas which are sometimes actually quite simple are so hard to understand, not because I don't get them but because they don't write well, in my own opinion of course. So we try to write as clearly as we can. I think it is also quite possible to convey theory in a clear way and not obfuscate it with too many difficult words. We try to reach a broad audience because my not so secret goal actually is to have a new feminist mass movement. And from that dream follows much of the other activities that I do.

Is or was the Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s for your dream to have a new feminist mass movement an influence?
Initially it wasn't. The first texts I encountered were mostly second wave and then I got to know the Riot Grrrl phenomenon, first mostly from a critical perspective, and then from a more positive perspective as I got to know some third wavers first hand and I got to learn the more positive aspects. It is really a feminism that simply developed from very different circumstances: We don't have a mass movement, we have very different cultures and intersectional perspectives. What can you do in the world that we are living now, which is sometimes not that much, but there is something and that something was then of course the Riot Grrrl movement for a lot of people.
I think from the Riot Grrrl movement the "doing things yourself" idea is probably one important thing that got really more popular with Riot Grrrl within feminist circles.
For DIY idea I really agree because it's very liberating. My main critic is that sometimes it's a bit too individual, but on the other hand it is very nice to read that anybody can write, anybody can learn how to draw something or paint something, or activism, so that you don't have to study for years, you don't have to pay for expensive painting courses – so that is actually a very nice concept.

I think the DIY-idea connects somehow to the anti-capitalist movement. Would you agree?
Yes, it really does and to zines. At first I didn't get zines, I thought they are just a really throw back to the 70s way of doing things. Then I started reading zines and I was convinced because of course without searching for a publishing, now you can really publish anything you want which is very often much more radical than a text you can find in mainstream magazines.

You also publish parts of the texts from the De Tweede Sekse blog as a fanzine?
Yes, we do that actually since very recently. We just made our first collection of articles in the zine and we are planning a second one as well. I think we have enough material to fill about five zines now.

As we were talking about DIY, how would you think about the term "DIY-feminism"?
I haven't actually thought about feminism in that way. I think feminism should always be DIY, we should never have to listen to someone in a superior position, telling us how to do feminism. So in that sense feminism should always be DIY, for example you see that in older waves that feminists just stood up and said: Let's start a printing press, let's start printing some books or small pamphlets and you see in the second wave there were already concerts and demonstrations. I think the DIY aspect has always been fundamental to feminism but the term seems new to me.

For a "new" or „third wave“ or „DIY feminism“, however we want to call it, I guess queer theory and the queer movements have been a very important. This actually made feminism a much more inclusive movement. How you think about this?
I agree about this, but I see in practice a lot of problems still here in Belgium. The connection between the feminist movement and the gay and lesbian movement and queer movement isn't as good as it should be actually. We see a lot of misunderstanding like some transgender activists think that feminists are old-fashioned and some feminists think that the others are not feminists, etc. We need to do a lot more bridge-building in that area. For example feminists here in this country haven't really done much until very recently to support transgender-laws, for example for changing passports. It's only very recently that the Women's Committee took a transfeminist perspective into account and that the gay and lesbian groups included the transgender part of their work. Things are looking better now, but this is a very recent situation.

Would you say that De Tweede Sekse blog tries to build bridges between feminist, transgender, queer, antiracist groups in Belgium?
Partially. The blog is quite a success in terms of "hits per day", and you see that there are a lot of people being informed by it, which is a good thing because there wasn't that much before. In that way it works to get a lot of messages across. As for co-operating we still need to do more. We are trying to get our blog integrated into two other websites, one of them is an antiracist website and the other one is a more general leftist news-site. If that works out, we're going to have a better connection than we do now.

How often do you upload content on the blog?
Every fourth or fifth days, sometimes every week. It depends. In some weeks we have three or four articles and in other weeks just one. It's perhaps a slow moving blog and our articles tend to be quite long as well. We take usually some time to write our articles.

Do you get any funding for the blog or do have any advertising on your blog?
No we do not accept advertising. We have been asked for it but we rejected. And we do not have any funding right now, but I think if we are bit more popular I would like some funding actually because it would help us to grow – as long as we do not have to adjust our texts this would be good.

How do you promote the blog? Do you have some kind of mailing lists?
We've promoted the blog through our feminist groups. I think in the last Scumgrrrls magazine there was an article about feminist groups in Flanders / Belgium. And we had some mailings, for example the Women's Committee has a large mailing list and we sent information about the blog through that way. And we also always publish our articles on facebook which seems to help quite a lot for visibility.

Do you also use Myspace or Twitter?
No. I have facebook, Nina uses Myspace, and none of us uses twitter. I really dislike it. I want to express myself in full sentences. I don't think that twitter… maybe you can do a lot of activism on twitter and I'm just wrong…, but I really dislike the idea that I have to express ideas, thoughts and theories that are a little bit complex in so few words. It reminds me of the way how politicians are interviewed these days on TV. They have to explain the general idea of their party in eighteen seconds. I don't think you can because if you really try to have political parties that can express themselves in eighteen seconds there's something wrong.

How would you describe the readership of your blog?
I have no idea, so actually we are very interested in who reads our texts. There are a lot of friends of course, but we get some negative reactions, so some anti-feminists read it as well, but not that many so far. We don't have to delete a lot of comments, which is actually nice. We've always agreed to keep the blog friendly, to have discussions but not hate words by anti-feminists. We don't tolerate racist or sexist remarks on our blog. But I think that I've only deleted like fifteen comments so far. We warn people and then it usually doesn't happen again.

Would you say that there are any challenges of producing a blog or a fanzine?
Yes. First of all, blogs are only read by a certain subsection of people with regular access to Internet, people who have the time to actually read these things. We made the zine also because we don't want to limit ourselves just to people who have a broad Internet connection. A zine is easier to distribute and read anywhere on the train or in your home, even if you don't have Internet.

Thank you for the interview.

Rosa Reitsamer
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