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Fallopian Falafel:
"...bringing the Riot Grrrl culture to the Holy Land"

An interview with

Hadass S. Ben-Ari
from: Jerusalem, Israel

by Haydeé Jiménez & Elke Zobl

January 2008


"If she speaks her mind she’s a feminist."
- Hadass S. Ben-Ari


Can you tell me a little bit about your personal (age, place of birth and residence etc.) and educational background?

I’m 25. I was born in Israel and lived with my parents in Beit She’an until I was 8, when we moved to Montreal, Canada. I moved back to Israel on my own a year and a half ago, and I now live and work in Jerusalem. I studied journalism and history at Concordia University in Montreal.

What are you currently doing, or involved in, besides your zines?
I work part-time, from home, so I have a lot of free time on my hands, many hobbies and a few more pastimes planned out, including reading, writing, playing music, some art projects, researching topics of interest such as feminism and Riot Grrrl music…

Hadass s. Ben-Ari

Can you tell our readers about Fallopian Falafel?
What topics do you discuss in your zines most often? What language are they written in?
Fallopian Falafel is a feminist zine based in Jerusalem. It deals with feminism from the Israeli perspective, but it also offers feminist points of view from America and Europe as many of the contributors are foreigners or have lived in other places in the world and have been influenced by the more radical aspect of the movement, such as myself.

Riot Grrrl, for example, is a topic I address in every issue in the form of a regular editorial column, called “Riot Grrrl Corner.” In every issue, this column showcases a different Riot Grrrl band, describes their style and the message in their songs, and also includes lyrics to one of their songs. I also try and choose the band and the song in relation to the specific topic of the zine. For example, the latest issue is about women in religion, so the band I chose is an all-girl Israeli trio, Habanot Nechama, who have a song about being surrounded by angels and protected by the presence of God.

I focus a lot on Riot Grrrl because this music genre never reached Israel and as a result, there really aren’t any well-known hardcore girl bands.

Other than that, the zine has dealt with homosexuality and feminism in general. In later issues it will deal with sex, abortion, rape and sexual violence, the period, music, love and relationships, pop culture, beauty, International Women’s Day, Israeli Independence Day – and with each topic, I will take the feminist stand-point.

Another thing that should be emphasized is that the zine is secular and mostly leftist, but it is not anti-religious or anti-Zionist.

The main language is English, but there have been articles in Hebrew (which are a terrible pain in the ass to lay out because of the right-to-left font), and I also accept articles in French but I didn’t get any yet.

How long has this zine been running?
Not long. I started it in May of 2007 and it comes out four times a year, so there have been only three issues up to now.

Where/how are your zines distributed? Who are your readers?
What kind of responses do you get from your zines’ audience?

I publicize it mostly on the internet. The PDF version of the zine can be downloaded for free from the official site. I print only 100 copies of every issue because I work on it by myself and I don’t solicit anyone for ads or do any bake sales to finance my publishing expenses. I distribute the zine in Center City Jerusalem, mostly around coffee shops, bookstores, music stores… but sometimes I get orders from Europe, the US and Australia, so I send out some copies overseas.

My audience is made up mostly of girls aged around 16 to 25, but I do have some older women reading the zine as well and the responses have been very positive so far. Younger women seem to love the more animated and flamboyant articles, whereas the older women like the more reasonable articles that are not ridden with profanity. Hehe.

Fallopian Falafel Issue 1

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?
It started with my introduction to the Riot Grrrl movement really. Although the first zine I ever read was an art zine in French in Montreal, called Kerozen. I only got one copy of it but I absolutely loved it! It had twisted sick drawings, cartoons, short comics that made absolutely no sense, and it was the absurdity of it that fascinated me.

As I got more into feminism and Riot Grrrl, I browsed various zines on these topics on the internet and read a book I highly recommend called “A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World,” which gives excerpts from many feminist zines across America.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing Fallopian Falafel?
I started the zine in a very selfish mindset. It was a means for me to create something related to both journalism and feminism. You don’t see much feminism in mainstream magazines and newspapers, so my initial goal with this zine was for me to express my ideas on the movement without being restricted or censored, aside from the enormous satisfaction I get with the act of creation!

But now, the zine is no longer restricted to personal rants on the patriarchic order, but it also aims to spread the message of feminism and Riot Grrrl to the Israeli public, and I also try very hard to get Israeli girls to express themselves and break out of their shell through writing for the zine, but it’s going very slowly…

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
Getting people to contribute their material and getting feedback is probably the most challenging part of it, but the most gratifying once you do get it. I know many Israeli girls who are extremely intelligent, strong and independent and I know they can contribute much to the zine, they just need that extra push.

What I love most about it is, as I mentioned earlier, the whole act of creation, seeing the zine coming together, and the “climax” of getting it published, holding it in your hands and saying “I created this.” Just like having a baby – it’s hard but extremely gratifying.

Which role does the Internet play for you?
I don’t think the zine would even exist if I didn’t have the internet. I use it for everything. Even choosing the name of the zine. I had many ideas for names but couldn’t make up my mind, so I had a little poll on Facebook asking my friends which name they like best.

Aside from that, my graphic designer who designs the covers for the issues, lives in Montreal, so I get in touch with him through the internet. I send him the photos I want on the cover and he puts it into a beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing and professional-looking cover.

And most importantly, I distribute the zine by internet in PDF format to reach the widest audience possible.

Name some of your favorite zines and the reasons why you like them.
I would have to say that my favorite is “Danger! Hole” zine by Lucy in the Sky. You can find it on MySpace. I love the look of it, the way it’s laid out, it really looks like she puts an enormous amount of effort into it. I especially love the sarcasm and exaggeration in her writing too, it’s reminiscent of Kerozen, the zine I mentioned earlier, which is my all-time favorite, but unfortunately have no access to anymore, considering I’m on the other side of the planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
You need to be patient and absolutely love and be passionate about it. It’s a long and difficult process, but very satisfying. You also need a lot of support. The more people you get to take part in it, the better and easier it will be on you.

Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you? What is the zine scene like in Jerusalem? How has your experience been with bringing in the “riot grrrl culture to the holy land”?
I trade zines with other zinesters abroad, so maybe I’m part of that community, but aside from that, I feel very independent. I haven’t met other active zinesters in Israel, so I try to make the most of my niche market. The zine scene in Jerusalem is close to non-existent. There’s one zine I know of about philosophy in Hebrew, but that’s not one of my interests so I didn’t get much into it. Bringing the Riot Grrrl culture to the Holy Land is something I’m still in the process of doing. It’s difficult, but I think I’m getting there. I found some very underground all-girl rock bands, one of which is actually influenced by L7. The upcoming music issue will focus on these bands and other powerful women in music, so watch out for it!

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Absolutely. I went through many things in my life that I would have never been able to deal with had I not been a feminist. And honestly, I believe that every girl and woman in this world is a feminist from conception. If she speaks her mind she’s a feminist. Even anti-feminist women are feminists because they express their opinions, and it’s a significant power they have in society. It’s sad they don’t realize it and think that feminism is only about not shaving your legs and burning bras.

What do you think about feminism today? How would you explain what feminism is to someone who has no idea what it is?
Feminism today is as important as it was 50 years ago. The majority of women today live in societies that oppress them. Even Western societies are still oppressing women. Not as much in politics, but it’s obvious in society. A majority of men are still stuck in their superiority complex, and women are still being abused, raped, harassed, silenced, used and pushed around. Even women still feel the need to adapt themselves to the status-quo, which is the reason why there are still girls today who starve themselves to death.

I have a hard time explaining feminism, especially to my family, because the minute they hear the word, they recoil like it’s an insult or something negative and violent. They automatically think “Fascist, Nazi, guy-bashing, hairy lesbians.” So it’s difficult to make them break out of these stereotypes attached to feminism and be more open minded about it. And also feminism is not something that can be described in one sentence. Many people give it different meanings. Feminism is something very subjective and needs to remain subjective in order for women to take significant advantage from it. If it becomes objective, the movement will automatically have to adapt itself to the status quo and thus become obsolete.

What would a “grrrl”-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-envisioned and transformed in order to become an “ideal” world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
I’m no politician so I won’t get into any policies, but I think that the change should begin from within (forgive the cliche). Like I said before, feminism is a subjective matter. Women first need to detach themselves from the inferiority complex that they internalized over time and realize their power through self-expression. Women could and should use democracy to their advantage. They need to learn to love themselves, they way they are inside and out, and perhaps stop reading beauty-magazines.

Whereas men need to detach themselves from their superiority complex and use their overwhelming power in the upper echelons of society to allow women to rise to their level, instead of repressing them.

But again, this is all very subjective, and this is where self-expression comes in, and feminist zines, I think, are an excellent way to transmit those ideas and express those opinions.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
I would hope to get more people to collaborate with me on Fallopian Falafel – regarding mostly writing, zine production, distribution and also some financial help.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You don’t have to be a woman, or Jewish or Israeli to contribute to Fallopian Falafel. Think of it a discussion forum on feminism, and everyone has an opinion on it, and is more than welcome to express it.

Fallopian Falafel Web Site

fallopian.falafel [AT]


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