I first picked up an issue of Bitch in 2000 during a visit to the Borders at Providence Place Mall. I was browsing what I call the “outcast” section of magazines—independent publications for GLBT readers, writers, left-leaning politicos, artists, photographers, and women who don’t want to read Cosmo. I admit that the name of the magazine caught my eye, but it was the tag line that had me really excited—“Feminist Response to Pop Culture.” At the time I was a sophomore in college studying media theory and women’s studies. I was beginning to identify myself as a feminist and starting to question the misogynistic messages I was finding on television, in movies and music. I devoured my first issue, page by page, and I haven’t stopped in over 8 years.
As a magazine junkie, I can easily blow through a publication and place it in the recycling bin before you can bat an eye. But Bitch is different. I have honestly enjoyed reading (and re-reading) every article. Even the advertisements make me think. I have recycled hundreds, possibly thousands, of magazines over the years but I have never discarded an issue of Bitch. I can’t imagine ever finding a more suitable publication for me, unless there’s a magazine out there for gluten-free feminist freelance writers from New England who love artichoke hearts and higher education…anyone? Bueller?
Bitch has opened up an entire world to me, fully of like-minded people who have smart things to say about our culture. Although the magazine is a quarterly publication, their articles are often timely and provide me with media analysis about pop culture trends I have missed. I first learned about the Center for New Words and their fabulous annual conference through Bitch. I even had the chance to meet the co-founders at a Center for New Words event. I have discovered dozens of my favorite musicians (Girlyman!), authors (Liza Featherstone!) and products through Bitch. Most importantly, Bitch confirmed to me that it is possible to create an entire career out of studying popular culture and its messages in regards to class, gender, race, and sexuality…and that this work is important and valuable. I started my Masters Degree in 2006 in Gender/Cultural Studies and made a point to take courses and writer papers exclusively about these issues. My writing has the same focus.
My first professionally published work, about the thankfully short-lived imaginary girlfriends trend, appeared in Bitch’s Fall 2004 Fake Issue. When I received my acceptance e-mail from Andi Zeisler, the Editorial Director and Bitch Co-Founder, I danced around my apartment a la Risky Business (but with my pants on). I called everyone I knew with the good news, and fielded many uneasy questions from my family (“is Bitch some sort of sex magazine?!”). As the publication date grew nearer, I scoured every corner of Rhode Island in search of the Fake Issue until I found it at a Newbury Comics in Massachusetts. Then I bought every copy they had in stock…whoops. As a gift, my partner had the article professionally framed and mounted above my desk. During times of extreme writers block or lack of schoolwork motivation, I look at the article and it puts me back on track.
Two years later, after more of my writing was published in other media, I wrote another Love It/Shove It article for Bitch and you know what? It felt just as uplifting as the first time. There is an enormous difference between writing for a publication for the purpose of getting paid and writing for a publication because you truly believe in the mission.
I beg all of you to please visit Bitch online to donate towards their goal of raising $40,000. Please don’t let yet another independent publication go under. Please don’t let our culture continue down the path of conglomeration to the point where only a few companies control the message across all media. Please support this vibrant, intelligent voice that stands a head above 99% of the magazines on the market.