Catherine Redfern tracks down the magazine that provides the feminist response to pop culture
Finally, I have managed to find myself a copy of the American feminist magazine, Bitch. Finally, finally, finally! I’ve only been looking for it for, like, months. I happened to be in Borders near Tottenham Court Road, London, and there, for the first time ever, I saw a copy of Bitch for sale on British soil. Yes! I nearly screamed with delight.
Unfortunately there were only two copies on the shelf and I bought one of them. When I went back a couple of days later there wasn’t any there. Either they’d sold out quickly, or Borders only ordered a few. Anyhoo, what I’m trying to get across is that this mag is harder to get hold of than a jellied eel. Nevertheless, I’m going to review it in case you ever see it anywhere and are wondering what it is and whether to buy it.
Bitch started out as a zine in 1996 but is now a huge wodge of a magazine with just under 100 pages, all packed with feminist influenced features about popular culture. That includes tv shows, music, other magazines, adverts, films, campaigns, even art.
This kind of thing is really necessary as popular culture is everywhere and it influences us every day. Reading some of the articles will make you feel that hey, you’re not the only one who sees things that way after all. It makes feminism relevant to the things we see and hear in our everyday lives, on tv, on the radio, on the big screen. It will especially be enjoyed by young women of the Gen X or Third Wave persuasion, and those of you who enjoy a little bit of pop culture but keep your brain in gear and aren’t afraid to look critically at it from time to time as well.
The articles are well-written and fascinating. The magazine is absolutely packed with content; you’ll be reading it for a fair while. It’s a bit more densely packed with text than say, Bust, and is in black & white not colour, but it does include pictures and artwork. And the writing sparkles.
I picked up Issue 14, which according to the editors was possibly going to be the last Bitch ever. NO! Oh cruel fate! I’ve only just found you, don’t leave me now!
…But I was relieved and gratified to discover that instead of packing it in because of financial troubles and other problems, the editors have decided to pack in their day jobs instead and work on Bitch full time, increasing it to four issues a year. Yay!
The only possible problem there might be is that Bitch is inevitably focussed on U.S. culture, and so British readers may possibly miss some of the references. But I didn’t really find that happened very often as we have many of the same things over here: Dawson’s Creek, Buffy, ‘Cosmo Girl!’, Eminem, and so on.
I really hope that Borders will continue to stock it and that more people can get their hands on it, because it’s really very good. As far as I know there is nothing else like it out there; especially not in the UK. Hopefully, now that it’s going to four issues a year, it might be easier to get hold of copies over here. We’ll just have to wait and see.