Strong women do it themselves.
Started by 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, Rookie is an online magazine for teenage girls that covers music, DIY, style, pop culture, feminism and art, among other things. Launched in September 2011, Rookie has gained a cult following all over the world. This past summer, Gevinson and others on the Rookie staff traveled across the country for the Rookie Road Trip, a tour that featured Rookie reader meet-ups complete with ice cream, flower crowns, poetry readings, and Rookie prom in cities like Brooklyn, Ann Harbor, Chicago, Omaha, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Though the trip’s actual meet-ups were accepted with great enthusiasm, disappointed Rookie readers in cities skipped by the tour organized their own meet-ups.
One of the cities neglected by the tour was Boston, and this Saturday, October 13, Lesley College freshman Nishat Khan and Brandeis alum Hanna Negami held a Rookie meet-up for fans in the Boston area. On the Facebook-event page that advertised the event, Boston-area Rookies were told to expect “witchcraft, flower crowns, girl power, zine-making, patriarchy-smashing, Rookie playlists, snacks, friend crushes, [and] DIY jacket-embellishing.”
The event was held on the first floor of the Democracy Center, a volunteer-run space on Mt. Auburn St., after Facebook responses to the event ruled a small restaurant meet-up insufficient. A heart-shaped tin placed at the entrance of the center collected donations to help pay for the space, which, according to Negami, would require a $75-$100 donation.
The space in the Democracy Center gave off a casual vibe; humble wooden floors and walls lightened the mood, as did the songs playing in one of the rooms. A colorful Rookie banner was visible as visitors walked in, and Dum-Dum lollipops were plentiful. Girls with pink and blue hair, dressed in vintage skirts and quirky jewelry, laughed while gluing glitter all over flowers and headbands, talking about Adele as they made and shared zines.
According to Khan, the goal of the event was “just to meet other people in the area who read [Rookie]. I also just moved to Boston from Luxembourg, so I wanted to meet people.” Khan continued, “I went to a private school: diverse in the sense that people came from different places, but everyone was rich. . . . They didn’t come from backgrounds where they got into simple things like crafts or music that isn’t mainstream.” Several of the other girls at the event also shared the desire to connect with like-minded readers, especially those who had not found a community for themselves in their schools.
Attendees of the actual Rookie Road Trip and the unofficial reader-initiated meet-ups have something other than interest in DIY in common: participants share a strong interest in and knowledge of feminism. An attendee of the Boston meet-up, Margaret Gill, a high school freshman at a Concord, MA high school, admitted that while she has “a really awesome group of friends, there’s not really anyone else at school [interested in feminism.]” As she gave her reply, she and her friend from school, also at the meet-up, exchanged a look, and the two suggested that they start a feminism club at school.
When asked about the importance of feminism, Negami replied, “For me it’s survival. It’s about opposing patriarchy. It’s [patriarchy] that’s so pervasive. It’s dangerous for women, from the little things to extreme violence.” She explained that finding feminism’s presence in college is difficult too. “It’s hard to find other feminists at school when so much of college life is frats or sororities or the opposite of feminist culture,” Negami said. “I mean, frats perpetuate rape culture.” Deidre Coughlin, another attendee of the meet-up, echoed Negami’s comments on the importance of feminism: “I think it’s just about women’s equality. People think equality exists, but there’s a lot left to do. Feminism is still necessary.”
When asked what advice she would give to others trying to organize events like this, Negami said to “find community spaces in their cities. The way we did it was just on Facebook. Put yourself out there.”
Terilyn Chen ’16 (firstname.lastname@example.org) has, since attending the Rookie meet-up, lavished her dorm room with glitter paraphernalia.