Uprizine, a zine that launched its first print edition on International Women’s Day (March 8) last year, is currently gearing up for a second print edition.
Starting life online back in 2017, the zine was conceived in response to the sexual assault of a student at Temple University Japan.
Hikari Hida and Tricia Euvrard discovered that the university had no support in place for students who had been a victims of sexual violence and decided to create Uprizine to help change that.
“If there was no outlet, we were going to create one,” Euvrard recalls.
The students behind Uprizine aim for a more tolerant and inclusive environment for everyone at Temple, raising awareness of the situations of people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights — all while challenging patriarchal views.
“Somewhere deep down I’ve always had a strong feeling of social justice that I didn’t know where to put,” Hida says. “Knowing your resources and understanding what you can do to help yourself, especially in Japan and at a university where not all of the students can speak Japanese, we thought it would be important to do that research and produce materials in English.”
Punchy, cool and colorful, the zine stands out. It has a clear eye for graphic design and all the content — from the articles to the artwork — is created by students at Temple. The result is a grass-roots zine that’s as bold and brave as the voices behind it. The first edition covered tough, often-undiscussed subjects in Japan, such as sexual health and abortion. It even came with a free condom attached to one of the pages.
But these aren’t just Westernized ideals of feminism being pushed. These are international thoughts for an ever increasing internationalist world.
Euvrard is half-Vietnamese and half-French, grew up partly in India, and hopes to continue her studies with a masters in international relations in gender. Hida is Japanese and Thai, attended school in China and plans to go on to study international development and human rights after she graduates.
These are international individuals, with experiences and ambitions that make them well placed to shed light on the multitude of issues that women face on a daily basis.
It was decided that Uprizine would be labeled intersectional in order to be a voice for the whole community.
“It’s important to recognize that not everybody goes through the same kinds of issues,” Euvrard explains. “Somebody who’s a person a color will go through different issues than a white woman, for example, so I think it’s important to give people a platform to voice that.”
The challenge the duo faces is how to apply this brand of feminism in a Japanese setting.
“I think that Japan can take cues from American feminists,” Hida replies. “At the same time, having a Westernized point of view and looking through that framework when dealing with feminism in Japan is not the best way to approach it.”
Uprizine has started including articles in Japanese, both online and in its upcoming print editions.
“We’re hoping to include more Japanese students,” says Hida, “and we have gotten more Japanese students who have been interested in contributing writing the past few months.”
The “thank you” section on the back page of the zine reveals the scale of the problem when it comes to facing up to and dealing with feminist issues. The cryptic “and many more” included in this section isn’t a lazy coverall: the zine simply is unable to name many of the supporters.
“A lot of the support we receive, we cannot print or state it,” Euvrard says.
Why? “Student activism in Japan is very much looked down upon, and there’s a bitter aftertaste for many people,” Hida says. “We kind of take the fall for it.”
“There’s a lot of people out there who say they want to support that don’t want to outwardly say that they support us,” says Hida. “I think it’s hard to have the courage of your convictions.”
Standing up and being the voice for many is never easy; there’s social lines to tread, old institutions to be careful of and people to try not to upset. But this is an uprising. An Uprizine.
“A large chunk of it has been emotional labor,” says Hida. “But I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
Uprizine is available for free around the Temple University Japan campus and online at upri-zine.com. In addition to the release of the second edition of Uprizine, Hikari Hida and Trica Euvrard will both take part in an Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies talk at the campus on April 1; attendance is free. You can follow Uprizine on Facebook and Instagram.