Reni
(Ching Shih)
01/08/04 06:29 PM
Bitch magazine

I know we've been talking about this a little in the Announcements area, but I didn't see a thread in Pixels and Periodicals. Is anyone else reluctantly disappointed by Bitch magazine? I'd only read it a few times until I was hooked by the subscription drive this summer, and though I really want to like it I kind of don't.

It's not that I disagree with them, usually, or that I don't think it's useful for people to point out how sexist pop culture is. But it gets repetitive fairly quickly, and somehow it just doesn't seem smart enough. I think when I was buying it on the newstand I could wait until I was in the mood for some bitching about the dominant paradigm, and now that I read it when it comes in the mail its more likely to fall flat.

Anyone agree? Any Bitch defenders? I'm still not totally sure why it is that I'm so not into this magazine.


Marya
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 10:29 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I have always enjoyed Bitch magazine, myself. It is a feminist response to pop culture, after all, and not a magazine with a focus on global feminist concerns or politics that are not "personal." That would be Ms. magazine, I would think. It certainly has more substance than Bust, which I faithfully bought for years until it became glossy and rather like a Maxim magazine.

I have always liked how the magazine has a theme for each issue such as The Friendship issue, the Maturity issue, the Religion issue. There are times I don't pick up an issue if it looks like the over-all theme may not be something I am interested in.

Bitch consistently interviews good authors, which I respect and look forward to. I was introduced to Ruth Ozeki and Sandra Tsing Loh through this magazine, two authors whose works I adore.

I am sure Bitch blunders every now and again, but to me the ranting appears to be even-tempered, sensible, yet humorous and sharp. I don't feel so alone when I read this magazine. I feel like there are women out there who feel the same as I do on certain issues.

Edited for stupid spelling mistakes.


AltoidsAddict
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 01:53 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I've always looked at Bitch's ranting as not so much that they're angry about everything (or, as one letter this issue put it, raving feminazi lesbians who prove that we need Rush Limbaughs in this world), but that, flipping through the magazine, you're probably going to find someone who's as annoyed by x as you are. I think The Man Show is making fun of the very people some think they're lauding, going so far into sexist territory that it's a parody (like the petition to "End Women's Suffrage"). Others think it's actually sexist, that there's an earnestness and hatred in last night's Wheel of Destiny where a female audience member had to powder and diaper a 500-pound grown man. Some people like Ally McBeal and Carnie Wilson, but I can't stand either and how they use feminism to justify being neurotic about losing weight and trying to trap a man. Purely personal interpretation, of course. So it's not that you have to agree with everything in Bitch, and you don't always see yourself in the magazine. (Or, as one letter this issue put it, women who are resentful against stay-at-home moms and nuclear families because there are so many lesbian families profiled, and for Pete's sake when are married straight people with children and the traditional family structure ever going to get a break in this harsh world?) At least they question what they see and what they're told, and encourage me to do the same.

listersgirl
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 02:14 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I've found that I like it more with each issue. I love the themes, and enjoy seeing how they stretch those themes, and the articles always make me think. No, I don't always agree with everything that is said, but I don't ever feel that it's just someone spouting off without thinking.

And I particularly love the book reviews. I get wonderful stuff from there, especially in the area of non-fiction, where I don't read much.


kari
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 02:55 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I have been thinking about bitch lately - I like the premise and I read most of the magazine cover to cover, but I end up skimming a lot of the longer articles. They remind me of high school thesis papers. I don't know why, they're certainly well written, but I just can't seem to plough through them.

TraceyB
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 03:45 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I enjoy Bitch, too, although I don't agree with everything. I got pretty annoyed with the new issue when one of the articles seemed to imply that it's anti-feminist to consider Jessica Simpson an idiot. I understand that MTV doesn't exactly have feminist credentials, and that all reality shows are edited, but that doesn't make JS any less of a moron.

I still like seeing the magazine's take on things, though. Sometimes I get a "where did that come from?" reaction, and sometimes a "thank the deity, I'm not the only one who thought that!" one.


xenopi
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 04:44 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I like it every now and then, but to me, Bitch is stimulating but not necessarily entertaining (except the letters section), and I kinda want both in a magazine, so I usually pick up Bust. I know I'm silly but I like to read about how some random girl makes her own clothes out of thrift-shop pillowcases and about new breakthroughs in vegan lipgloss. I have my own feminist responses to pop-culture, and a lot of the articles in Bitch leave me thinking either A) well, ok, you're entitled to your opinion or B) yeah! I noticed that, too. Which gets boring after a while.

AltoidsAddict
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 08:42 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

xenopi, what I like to do is switch off. I didn't renew Bust because I got a little tired of the whole Hello Kitty vibrator feel of the mag, and felt it was a little too sex-obsessed. Perhaps I'm getting too old and curmudgeonly. I stopped Ms. because I felt it too stodgy, besides which I noticed an immediate change in content once they started accepting ads again. (From worthwhile organizations, to be sure, but they'd touted their triumphant return to ad-free for so long that I felt it was a) hypocritical no matter how necessary, and b) certain articles were immediately less inclusive of feminist viewpoints which might be contrary to an advertiser's viewpoint.)

At some point I may, well, not exactly tire of Bitch, but I might add Bust back again. Or I might give a gift subscription to my husband, since he's been making noise about missing it and he always did like it more.


Marya
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 09:53 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

[QUOTE]I didn't renew Bust because I got a little tired of the whole Hello Kitty vibrator feel of the mag, and felt it was a little too sex-obsessed. Perhaps I'm getting too old and curmudgeonly

Super. Thanks so much for saying what I wasn't sure how to say. I certainly feel sexuality is an integral part of my life, but it is not the ONLY part of my life and not always the one I am most interested in reading or thinking about. I felt reduced to a receptacle for a vibrator with BUST. It was too sex-obsessed for me as well. It sometimes made me feel like I was looking at a dildo catalog, and that is not necessarily what I meant to purchase.

At least with BITCH there is sex, but also some mention of spirituality, aging, parenting, etc. I need spirit and flesh to feel whole. BUST felt like too much of one but not the other.

I also don't like how BUST has "stars" on the cover of their magazines such as Juliet Lewis.

I am not making the claim that Bitch is a perfect read - its far from it - but I feel more comfortable with it than I do with BUST or Ms.

If I could design the perfect magazine for me, I would take elements of Bitch, Sojourners (is that still around? It was sort of a political/theological magazine?) Poets and Writers, and Magnet. That way I get spirit, flesh, and art to nourish my soul.


zinemama
(Ching Shih)
01/09/04 09:57 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I've always really liked Bitch, had a sub for a while, but lately...I've been feeling a little less enthusiasm somehow. I know that it's feminist response to pop culture, and it's absolutely unreasonable of me therefore to complain about this, but it I find there is way too much criticism about TV shows. I don't own a tv, and while I know it's a huge part of our culture, must so many pages be devoted to it?Aren't there other aspects of pop culture to criticise as strenuously?

Bear
(Ching Shih)
01/10/04 08:01 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I really like Bitch, and only didn't renew my sub because the international sub service is so bad, which isn't really their fault. I do read it from cover to cover, and while I don't always agree with everything - especially one recent article which criticised the casting of non-white actors playing "white" roles, saying that the roles should be "written as non-white," which unwittingly veered scarily close to espousing ethnic stereotypes - I do find a lot to interest me. I like the tone, and the mixture between the more academic articles and the more light-hearted stuff. I really look forward to each issue.

I really like Bust as well, although I think it's not been as good since the relaunch. I like all the fluffy stuff, I love the fashion stuff, and I don't think it's too sex-obsessed. What I don't like is the move from reader-contributions to inviting celebrity interviewers, and there have been a few articles in recent issues which wouldn't have been out of place in a much more mainstream mag, which disappointed me.


senlin
(Ching Shih)
01/11/04 09:19 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I still like both Bitch and Bust, for different reasons. I agree that some articles in Bitch don't hold my interest, but if I am interested in an issue, I can easily get through the whole article. Overall, I read more of the articles in each issue of Bitch than I don't read, which is why I don't regret subscribing to it. If I had to choose, though, I prefer Bust, just because it is the best alternative to the myriad shallow, annoying-as-hell women's magazines. Bitch is more scholarly. But anyway, I definitely still like them both for being accessible and down-to-earth, but still really smart, witty, and hip. Maybe it's all relative -- when I compare Bitch and Bust to the other crap that's out there, it makes me appreciate them even more.

anna_karina
(Ching Shih)
04/27/04 12:17 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I really did not like the interview with Carol Lee Flinders. She came off as snotty and condecending in her declarations of everybody in America watching reality shows and being lazy, and acting "above" watching TV or listening to the radio or reading the newspaper, and said that her guilty pleasure is going to see "big-budget action films that are like visual comfort food." Bitch, please. I cannot stand highly edcuated people who act superior to others because they have the privileges and advantages to being "sequestered" from the rest of American media. I hate it when people go, "I never watch TV, I read." I love to read too, but I also like watching television and listening to pop music, and I'm not ashamed of either. Bitch magazine filling their pages with this holier-than-thou literary snob was just a waste of time and showing that somebody with a high degree feels like they have the authority to tell everybody else how "uncouth" they are. My mother works as a occupational therapist, working with handicapped children all day, and at the end of the day, after dinner (which she made), she watches TV and does paperwork. Not because she's lazy or "doesn't think for herself," but because she doesn't feel like straining her eyes for two hours to read "classical literature." If Flinders didn't have the privilege to hang out in a hippie Northern California town and the money to buy all natural gourmet food, I bet she would be sitting on her ass watching Survivor as well.

Exxie
(Ching Shih)
04/28/04 03:34 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I'm a big fan of Bitch, for reasons several of you named above. There is a definite lack of academic scrutiny of pop culture in magazine journalism and, for me, Bitch fills that void a bit. Feminism exists in more than the political world and, not having much interest in politics, the merge of feminism and pop culture is perfect for me. The majority of their articles are well written and researched and, even if I don't agree with their points, I'm forced to consider the topics at hand. In fact, I don't always agree with their articles and sometimes think they've gone a bit too far in what they consider feminist and anti-feminist (as TraceyB notes, Jessica Simpson is a moron no matter how you slice it), but there will always be differing ideas on what feminism is. Bitch displays this. Additionally, the academic tone of the magazine supports the belief that pop culture matters - something most magazines don't do, choosing instead to publish celebrity fluff.

I read Bust, as well, and while I agree that it's a bit less studious than Bitch, I don't think that's a bad thing. The magazines have different objectives in mind and it's up to the reader to pull from them what they find useful.


zinemama
(Ching Shih)
04/29/04 12:33 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Originally posted by anna_karina:
I cannot stand highly edcuated people who act superior to others because they have the privileges and advantages to being "sequestered" from the rest of American media. I hate it when people go, "I never watch TV, I read."
Wow, anna_karina, that's a bit harsh! The very fact that Bitch covers tv as much as they do acknowledges that most people watch it, that it's a part of life. I have never gotten the impression that Bitch thinks its readers are anything but intelligent, or felt it considered them uncouth.

And by the way. I don't watch tv. I read. But the corollary of that statement is certainly not that anyone who watches tv should be ashamed of it!When I said upthread that I don't own a tv, it was a simple statement of fact, not an attempt to act "superior." I suppose I am highly educated, too, but I'm not sure what "privileges and advantages" you think not watching tv confers on someone, or why you should care if a person voluntarily doesn't own a tv and has another way of relaxing after a day at a difficult job (and believe me, I have one).


Bear
(Ching Shih)
04/29/04 05:53 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

And actually, Bitch often print letters from people saying they give too much space to articles about TV!

But I thought anna_karina was refering to the interviewee, not the magazine as a whole. Were you, anna_karina?


anna_karina
(Ching Shih)
04/29/04 11:36 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

That's right, Bear. I have had English professors and the like who would talk about the books they have read, and speak in condescending tones to the students, making fun of them for watching something like American Idol and having this smug look on their face. That I always hated about those type of people, not to attack anyone on the boards. I do like to watch TV because it's fun and entertaining, but I also love to read as well, carrying a book with me everywhere and catching up on some reading late at night when I don't feel like watching television. I like Bitch magazine, I just grew irritated with the woman who they chose to interview, as she came off rather full of herself.

Kivrin
(Ching Shih)
04/29/04 12:13 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I have to disagree here about Ms. Flinders. I quite enjoyed the interview and I think she made some real good points about our culture. My perception of her views seems to be a lot different than anna_karina's, and although I'm not sure about this, I think the way we related to Flinders interview has to do with our respective ages/situations. I think your words were a bit harsh, anna_karina. I'm sorry that the article made you feel so bitter, but I think you may have missed the point of it somewhat.

I'm in the group of women Flinders talks about when she says, "You know, it's become clear to a lot of women who've been fighting feminist battles for these 30-plus years that we're up against something much deeper than we imagined at the outset."

All she wants for you to know is that we need to acknowledge our sacred selves, and make sure our young girls grow up with a strong sense of their own spirit.

I am 46, and when Flinders first published her cookbook, Laurel's Kitchen back when I was in college (1976-) there was nothing like it out there. We loved that cookbook! We shared those values--Flinder's spiritual ideas of simplicity, peaceful coexistence and community. That was how we lived then. I know it sounds very "Utne Readerish", but I think they are good, strong values for today.

I don't think Flinders is dissing popular culture, people who watch Survivor, etc...She is aware of what the possibilities are. She likes Dave Eggers. She reads The Onion.

I think, ultimately, what she is saying is that there needs to be a balance. To evolve, as feminists, as human beings, we need to find our own sense of what is sacred.

I was glad to see Bitch include this type of article in their magazine. I do read it cover to cover, and I quite enjoy the bitchlist, the books and music sections at the end of each issue.


JetGirl
(Ching Shih)
04/29/04 07:42 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I think anna_karina is just complaining about intellectual snobbery, which is a peeve of mine as well. It's not about whether or not you own a tv and eat McDonald's, it's about whether you look down on people who feel differently. People here complain sometimes about anti-intellectual snobbery. I guess we all want everyone else to mirror our own interests to some degree or another.

I went to an engineering school, so I know a lot of brilliant doctors and scientists, some who are researching revolutionary cancer treatments, or working in community hospitals. Many of them feel that their brains get more than enough exercise at work, and they enjoy beer, television, and sloth once they get home.


GingerCat
(Ching Shih)
05/02/04 02:53 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I can't help but feel that the way a person responds to "snobbery" (intellectual, anti-intellectual, or whatever) depends on how she personally feels about her own TV-watching/reading/etc. habits. For example, I watch some TV (there are a couple of shows I can't miss), but I've made an effort to cut down on my TV viewing because there are other things I'd rather do. Basically, I'm very comfortable with my level of TV viewing, so I didn't take offense at anything Flinders said. I guess, on some level, I didn't feel like she was talking about me.

By the same token, I'm not bothered by "anti-intellectual snobbery" either. Again, I'm comfortable with my level of "intellectualism," so if anyone mocks it, it just rolls off my back.

I think articles like the Flinders interview are useful, though. Americans, in general, do watch a lot of TV--isn't 3 or 4 hours a day the average? There are probably a lot of people out there who have thought about cutting back on their TV viewing. An article like this one might inspire them to actually do so. Basically, if the article makes a reader become more of the person she wants to be, then it's a good thing. If the reader is already pretty much the person she wants to be, at least in this area, then it's just food for thought. It isn't as if Flinders is going around banging on people's doors and shooting out their televisions, after all.

I do agree that if a person has basically spent her entire life in an "ivory tower" and speaks condescendingly about the viewing habits of people she knows nothing about, it can be exasperating. But based on Flinders' background, I honestly didn't get the sense that she was one of those people.

One of the great things about Bitch is their wide range of viewpoints. I certainly don't agree with every word in the magazine (the Jessica Simpson article someone mentioned upthread, for example), but it's always smart and interesting, and I've certainly learned more from it than any other magazine.
 Quote:
If Flinders didn't have the privilege to hang out in a hippie Northern California town and the money to buy all natural gourmet food, I bet she would be sitting on her ass watching Survivor as well.
For the record, I live in a blue-collar Pennsylvania town and don't have the money to buy gourmet food, but I've never watched an episode of Survivor in my life. The one honestly has nothing to do with the other.


anna_karina
(Ching Shih)
05/02/04 06:47 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I agree with the statements that Flinders was a lot more skilled in her arguments than I took her for initially. It was just that while reading her interview, she reminded me so much of certain people who I've been taught by or had to sit and listen to for long periods of time (for example, an uncle who was practically a member of the N.R.A. and would lecture us about everything, saying he was in a band in high school, was in Vietnam, was a bodyguard, gave a "tough talking-to" to Flavor Flav, etc.), and a couple of aunts I have who are very intelligent and worldly, but can cut off people's sentences and feel that their experiences and intelligence makes them more superior to others. Maybe Flinders isn't exactly like this in her personal life, but she still bothered me on a personal level.

I am only 21, so I may not have been around in the second wave era of feminism. And I know what I said was harsh and quickly said, but I still felt uncomfortable reading the interview. Maybe it is a fact of "If the reader is already pretty much the person she wants to be, at least in this area, then it's just food for thought." I can't explain everything that bothered me about the piece, but thank you for all of your oppositions to what I said intitally, as it made for a great argument.


jadeskirt
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
05/03/04 12:07 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I'm another one who enjoys reading Bitch. Like Marya said, when I read it I don't feel so alone. Bitch has introduced me to many artists, writers and points of view that I don't often hear about anywhere else. It's not perfect, but it's far superior to most of the stuff out there. I found the Flinders interview very interesting and thought-provoking. I share your irritation with the type of attitude you described, anna_karina, but I didn't really get that impression from Flinders. After reading your comments, I'd like to read it again.

Marla Singer
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
05/05/04 07:49 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I still buy Bitch but like others here, I don't expect to agree with everything in the magazine. Like jadeskirt wrote, it's just better than the other similarly themed stuff out there.

I was a longtime Bust subscriber but I'm afraid the Kelly Osbourne issue was the final straw. I've moved past it.


miercoles
(Ching Shih)
05/05/04 11:08 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I just read the Flinders interview, and I wasn't crazy about it. I think it was the emphasis on religion and spirituality, and right now those aren't working for me. Oh well.

I do love Bitch, though, because there have been many issues where I've flipped through and thought, "If I ran a magazine, these are the sorts of things it would talk about!" And today on the bus, when I pulled it out of my bag, the woman next to me said it was one of her favorite magazines.


betso26
(Ching Shih)
06/11/04 01:50 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Originally posted by kari:
I like the premise and I read most of the magazine cover to cover, but I end up skimming a lot of the longer articles. They remind me of high school thesis papers. I don't know why, they're certainly well written, but I just can't seem to plough through them.


betso26
(Ching Shih)
06/11/04 02:04 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I agree mostly with this statement. (sorry about the 2 seperate posts - had a technical hiccup) My sister gave me a subscription to Bitch a few years ago and while I do enjoy it, it sometimes feels like an assignment for me to read the whole thing. A lot of times it ends up half read or even unread - kind of like the Atlantic Monthly, and it kind of makes me feel a little guilty.

It's not that I don't want to read it or don't like it, it is just sometimes too much of a commitment, especally when I have 5 books in progress and at least 15 or 20 other subscriptions - not to mention the time spent in online forums like this. Oh yeah, and working full time.

I would welcome more short features or sections like the Bitch List to break it up, but I know it is ultimately up to the editor, and coming from the world of journalism and publishing myself, I can appreciate staying true to the form.

I was wondering, though, has anybody else had any problems delivery-wise with Bitch? It seems like for a while it stopped coming, or I missed months - very sporadic. Maybe it's just me.


FishDreamerAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
06/11/04 02:22 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I think Bitch is a quarterly magazine, so it only comes every three months. I miss issues sometimes, same as I do for Bust. I don't think it's their fault though, I believe we have a fundie in the post office who is tossing the issues. No, really. It's been a problem for a long time, and the post office is apparently unwilling to pursue this (it's a felony to tamper with mail). They don't seem to care if a bunch of left-wing radical bitch feminists don't get their evil magazines. (Which is another rant entirely...)

I continue to subscribe because I always get something out of it. It may not speak to me all the time, but there's always food for good thought. It's still better than most of what's out there. And yes, sometimes the articles get a bit long. But there aren't very many other places where I can get anything that in depth on these subjects, so as long as I can read them in my commute (twenty minutes on the bus, usually), I don't mind.


CheshireCat
(Ching Shih)
06/24/04 02:06 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I love Bitch, though sometimes I get irritated at how negative it can sometimes be, but then I remember the title of the magazine, and quite often that's just what they're doing, and so I try to keep it in its own context. They are not trying to be an all-around feminist magazine with all sorts of topics, like Bust, which I also enjoy immensely; their premise is very specific and I can certainly support the need for such a forum. I like the way they point things out to me, always in this serious yet funny and witty way, and I don't always agree but that's alright.
I also agree that the articles sometimes sound like someone's thesis, which is commendable for quality but it is the reason I have not yet submitted an article- I'm afraid I can't be so academic in my (nonexistent) spare time.

PS Edited to add that I have given up on trying to subscribe- I live in a largely conservative "Bible Belt" area and so I hardly ever actually got my magazines. I just rely on the stores.


naomism
(Ching Shih)
06/25/04 07:29 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I don't have any problems with getting Bitch in the mail (I live in New York at the moment), but I've had people freak out when they see it on my desk at work (I work in an English department; one would think that the word "liberal" goes with the territory). Some people who see the magazine though are just overcome with curiosity and start looking through it and a few of those have gotten hooked--not enough to get their own subscription but they keep borrowing my issue when I finish with it.

betso26
(Ching Shih)
06/25/04 08:34 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Originally posted by naomism:
I don't have any problems with getting Bitch in the mail (I live in New York at the moment), but I've had people freak out when they see it on my desk at work (I work in an English department; one would think that the word "liberal" goes with the territory).
I once left an issue at work when I was waitressing and didn't come back to work for a few days. When I did, my biggot, sexist boss - who I actually got along with - made all kinds of off the cuff 'feminazi' type remarks about it - until I reminded him that I wasn't shy about filing a harassment claim. It's really not even that extreme, though, it's just the name that gets people's attention.


zinemama
(Ching Shih)
07/09/04 09:57 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

Ok, re the new issue, specifically Amy Richards' "To Whom it May Concern" on p. 27. Please, oh intelligent chicklit women, help me deconstruct this. Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, but I'm having a hard time with this article. Is she really saying that it "glorifies" motherhood to call it work? Is a feminist actually saying this?

Richards is home part-time with a 10-month-old and doesn't think that raising him qualifies as work. Maybe she's got one of those easy babies; I don't know. But what else are you going to call it? It's work when you pay someone else to do it, right? I'm just having a hard time with this, and as an at-home mama of two who works hard at what I do, I feel like it's a slap in the face for a feminist to dismiss my choice of job as simply "following a little munchkin around."

Am I reading this right?? Please tell me what you think, or


beastiegirl
(Ching Shih)
07/09/04 05:37 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I haven't got the new issue yet but I'll keep an eye out for that piece.

 Quote:
My sister gave me a subscription to Bitch a few years ago and while I do enjoy it, it sometimes feels like an assignment for me to read the whole thing. A lot of times it ends up half read or even unread - kind of like the Atlantic Monthly, and it kind of makes me feel a little guilty.
I'd agree with this except I actually find Atlantic Monthly to be more entertaining. I too got a subscription on the basis of the plea posted here, and I've largely been disappointed with it, to tell you the truth. I never thought it was possible to make pop culture writing so boring! It's not that I disagree very often with the positions being taken, but where's the wit? If I wanted an academic treatise, I'd go read a textbook. Basically, Reni, I agree with your entire post. I want to like it, but I kind of don't.


Doppelganger
(Ching Shih)
07/10/04 12:28 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Originally posted by zinemama:
Ok, re the new issue, specifically Amy Richards' "To Whom it May Concern" on p. 27. Please, oh intelligent chicklit women, help me deconstruct this.
I wish I could help, zinemama, but that article is so meandering and poorly written that I read it twice and still don't have a clear idea what she's talking about. Here's my stab at it.

Richards starts her piece with the fairly inflammatory declaration, "I've been a mother for only 10 months... but I don't think this is work, and I realize that it doesn't serve me - or feminism - well if I mouth the slogan [of "working mother"] without honestly believing it." Without backing this statement up at all, she then takes a side trip and says that, of the women she sees who are stay-at-home mothers, "what [she] see[s] women doing isn't so much choosing parenting over their professional lives as choosing parenting because they don't have the professional lives they wanted." Again, she doesn't substantiate this at all, and it's a statement I find extremely offensive. She's basically saying that women are retreating to parenting like crybabies because they can't all be mega-career women. Boohoo.

But why should Richards waste time backing that statement up when she can instead go on to muddy the waters further by mentioning the (statistically tiny) percentage of stay-at-home mothers who have nannies? But then she retreats even from developing that idea and falls back on scolding:

 Quote:
If taking care of your child is really the most important job you can do, do it. The stigma of stay-at-home motherhood won't wear away until more people proudly - and non-defensively - answer the question "What do you do?" with "I am a parent."
Sounds great, except this is coming from the same person who, several paragraphs earlier said that parenting isn't work. And that women who parent full-time are hiding from their careers. Nope, no stigma there at all.

Richards then brings up one of the few sensible points that appear in this article: "Part of what would remedy this conflict between working and mothering, feminists have argued, is giving value to the work done by mothers." She provides a grocery list of the many parenting tasks she performs every way, but she prefaces it by saying, "I still don't think that I would describe it as work." WTF?

Okay, here's where things get really annoying. Next, Richards announces the epiphany that motherhood has brought her: "it has shown me how overrated our work lives are." Again, WTF? So, basically, according to Richards, other women who choose to be parents are fleeing from their careers, while she, on the other hand, has devalued her career because she's realized how "overrated" it is. That is the most hypocritical, sanctimonious bunch of hooey I've read in quite a while.

Richards goes on to list her own career accomplishments, though why she does this mystifies me, if in fact work is as overrated as she says it is. She gets in a few more kickers, such as "in many ways, I feel that women have regressed in their thinking on parenting and work." At first, I assumed this to mean that she was sympathetic with how difficult it is to work outside the home and be a parent (in a time when women still shoulder the greater burden of domestic chores and childrearing, even if they work full-time outside the home). But no. What Richards really seems to mean is that women are being crybabies again; they "feel like they are superwoman, when in fact bearing children is one of the most human things you can do." I'd like to know how Richards came by the belief that these two things are mutually exclusive. It goes without saying that bearing children is a "human" endeavour (duh), but that doesn't mean that, given the above-mentioned difficulties of parenting and working outside the home (quadruple that if you're a single parent or if you have several children, which Richards never once considers; caring for a 10-month-old has its own challenges, but I'd like to see how Richards's tune changes when her critter is three years old and has a baby brother or sister), I think many women are entitled to feel like they're expected to be "superwoman".

And just when you thought it couldn't get much more condescending, Richards says that women "use" their pregnancies and babies "to demand attention and respect" (I kid you not - she says this). She then reprimands stay-at-home mothers with the statement that

 Quote:
Ducking important questions - what's wrong with our work lives, why our self-definitions are so tied to work, and how to transform societal attitudes toward work - in the name of parenting will never be the solution.
Granted, those are all interesting, debate-worthy topics for a discussion about our attitudes toward work, but the fact is that Richards doesn't address any of them in her piece. Sheesh. All she does is make this massive leap in stating that, if you're a stay-at-home parent (unless you're her, because she's perfect), you aren't just being a coward about your career, you're also being a coward about discussing heavy social issues. Oh, and don't forget: parenting isn't work, so you can't use that as an "excuse".

Kee-rist. I'm flabbergasted that Bitch even published this. I don't always agree with their writers, but at least the writing is consistently good. I don't even have kids, and I'm POed. I can only imagine how you must feel, zinemama.

I'm interested in finding out what the rest of you think of the article. And please tell me if I'm the one full of hooey. For all I know, I've read Richards completely wrong... which wouldn't have happened if she knew how to construct an argument, but still.


zinemama
(Ching Shih)
07/10/04 06:59 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

Ooh, thanks Doppelganger for that cogent reply!

Yeah, the way she mentioned the sahms with nannies really burned my biscuits. I mean, does anyone actually know a sahm with full-ime child care? (Outside the pages of The Nanny Diaries, that is?) What a way to divert attention from the very real issues facing the vast majority of us. (Social Security credit for the years we put in raising the next generation? Hello legislators?)

I'm so glad to know that someone else thinks this was actually as poorly written, disorganized, and just plain wrong as it appeared on first reading. I've learned to function fairly well with the sleep-deprivation, but I was going to be willing to accept that maybe it was clouding my powers of reason in this case, especially as I expect so much better of Bitch. I feel a letter to the editor coming on...


Doppelganger
(Ching Shih)
07/12/04 12:35 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Originally posted by zinemama:
What a way to divert attention from the very real issues facing the vast majority of us. (Social Security credit for the years we put in raising the next generation? Hello legislators?)
Exactly! Have you read The Mommy Myth? I'm reviewing it for another site, and one of the many interesting facts the book cites is that being a mother is the single greatest factor that puts women at risk of living below the povery line when they're seniors. Grrr. Is it terrible that part of me just wants to give Richards a shake?


zinemama
(Ching Shih)
07/12/04 01:54 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

Yes, I have read The Mommy Myth (which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the authors' sense of humor).

I'm a Quaker and I want to give her a shake, too. So don't feel terrible.


Exxie
(Ching Shih)
07/12/04 06:46 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I just read the Amy Richards piece and I would reply with my thoughts on it, but Doppelganger has said everything I think about it. And quite clearly, too. I'm in total agreement with your interpretation of the piece. As much as I love Bitch, there are always those articles that make me think, just because you present your argument under the guise of feminism doesn't mean you can say whatever crap you want. A little intelligence is always appreciated.

portuguesa_nova
(Ching Shih)
07/24/04 07:50 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

My quest for a favorite magazine continues...

The summer issue of Bitch was the first I've ever read. I was pretty disappointed. Reading it was vaguely reminiscent of hanging out with my old college roommate who is smart, quite left of the mainstream, a lesbian, interesting, a bit nutty....yet takes life and herself so excessively seriously that when I'm with her, I do a lot of eye rolling.

The Love It/Shove It Section which is, unfortunately, located toward the beginning of the magazine was a major source of eye rolling for me...

I feel like I've got better ways to spend $5 than to pay to read articles telling me that of the new reality shows, Wife Swap is bad because it is "predicated upon the notion of the domesitc sphere as women's realm" or The Swan should be hated because it perpetuates the notion that only beautiful women are loveable.

Huh?

I had to wonder if we were both thinking of the same stupid shows on the same stupid network t.v. stations.

If any of you were enlightened by anything in that particular section of the magazine, at least, please send me $5 and I'll send you my brilliant new scathing critique on the Hershey's Chocolate Bar and how it makes a morally reprehensible lunch as it does not represent any one of the four major food groups and has not redesigned its packaging or advertising to reflect progressions in women's suffrage, improved access to health care or increased presence in university classrooms throughout recent history.

I do remain slightly worried that I didn't like it. I was a women's studies major in college and used to love the "X is bad because it represses women.." conversations. Has the real world and my 8-hours-in-a-cubicle per day lifestyle softened me (and my brain) up a bit?

The message is well intentioned, the point of it all just seemed a little too fuzzy around the edges. It's not a "fun" or, I don't know, irreverantly entertaining magazine to read like Bust or Heeb (not a women's magazine, but always located next to those two on the rack), but its not the white coat, intellectual trade magazine of feminism. I get the feeling they are aiming to be a hybrid of the two, and I don't think it works.

Whatever demographic of feminists they are speaking to, they belong to a world that is a bit too uptight for my tastes.


Peppermint
(Ching Shih)
07/27/04 12:34 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I really enjoyed reading the interview with Diane DiMassa in the new issue. Seven or eight years ago I read tons of comics by women, like Diane, Alison Bechdel, and Roberta Gregory. (I hope I'm remembering all of these names correctly. . .) It was really entertaining to see what Diane DiMassa is up to lately, and it made me a little nostalgic for that time in my life. I wouldn't say the interview contained anything earth-shaking, but Diane was so straightforward in it, and I thought that was refreshing.

I also liked the pieces on chick lit and lad lit; I think I'll write a little more about that in the appropriate thread.


Kivrin
(Ching Shih)
08/01/04 01:02 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
I'm interested in finding out what the rest of you think of the article. And please tell me if I'm the one full of hooey. For all I know, I've read Richards completely wrong... which wouldn't have happened if she knew how to construct an argument, but still.
 Quote:
I'm so glad to know that someone else thinks this was actually as poorly written, disorganized, and just plain wrong as it appeared on first reading.
Doppelganger and zinemama--Chiming in to agree with both of your interpretations. It was like reading a poorly written term paper. Here's the thing: Life is work. Whether you hang out with the kidlets, or are the CEO of a corporation. I disagree with Richards viewpoint that parenting is not work. "Following the little munchkin around" certainly isn't physically difficult. But it also isn't the crux of parenting. Which is incredibly hard (mental) work. It is the raising of humans beings, and encompasses way more than the daily maintenance required duties.

I'm not sure exactly what Ms. Richards was trying to say. I think maybe she is grappling with her own feelings of staying-at-home motherhood. But, she hasn't even been through one year of parenthood. Her creds are lacking in this department, and for that reason, I found it hard to take the entire article seriously.

Edited to add:

Portuguesa--I'm not sure what it is about this paticular issue of Bitch, but I don't think it was a good representation of the magazine on the whole. I'd give it one more try. But I think you are right about this issue. It was pretty disappointing.

I did like the DiMassa interiew though! And, I didn't realize she was the artist who painted that hysterical portrait of my girl, Patti. I love that! I enjoyed some of the stories in The Book of Job article too. Some were really quite poignant (Susannah Anderson-Minshall). Others were very sweet and funny (Ayun Halliday).


GingerCat
(Ching Shih)
08/01/04 02:11 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

Amy Richards has been a feminist activist and author for many years, and her pregnancy (according to her recent essay in the New York Times magazine) was unplanned, so I can understand that she might have a lot of different feelings and ideas about being a stay-at-home mom, some of them conflicting. I did think she made a few interesting statements in the article, but as you all have already said, she didn't actually back up any of her statements, and the whole thing was a disorganized mess. I have liked Richards' work in the past, so I was looking forward to reading the article, but, like the rest of you, when I finished all I thought was, "Huh?" I'm very surprised because usually Bitch is so well edited. I'm sure they'll get plenty of letters about this article.

I also enjoyed the Diane DiMassa interview and the chick lit article. Regarding the article on The Swan, I agree it's obvious that the show is making the claim that only beautiful women are loveable. However, the show was so inexplicably, depressingly popular that I was happy to see criticism of it, obvious or not. I wish more people would boycott these shows on principle, although I guess that's a topic for another thread.


JetGirl
(Ching Shih)
08/01/04 07:08 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
Here's the thing: Life is work.
This really struck me for some reason. So true!

portuguesa_nova, I agree with everything you wrote, so at least yours isn't the only brain that's getting soft. I thought The Swan looked appalling, and not in a fun way, so I went all subversive and . . . didn't ever watch it! I know lots of television isn't tasteful. How is this shocking news?


portuguesa_nova
(Ching Shih)
08/01/04 08:31 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

I'm glad to hear I'm not alone, JetGirl.

I did like the article on chick lit, and was utterly shocked that they didn't attack it completely.


megancita
(Ching Shih)
08/02/04 11:39 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I'm believe the Amy Richards discussed above recently caused some controversy by disclosing her decision to abort two of the triplets she was carrying. See the article here: When One Is Enough

Exxie
(Ching Shih)
08/02/04 08:17 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

And that's very interesting when you consider that her entire Bitch article is based upon the idea that raising children isn't much work - that her friends only choose to have children when their careers aren't fulfilling. If having children is so easy, why was she scared of having three? Something about this just doesn't feel right to me. I'm not posing an argument on abortion itself, but the idea of selecting which children you carry to term, after you've made the decision that should you become pregnant you would have the children, and then belittling stay at home mothers? It doesn't jive.

wordie
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
08/03/04 12:31 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

It's fascinating to see the different reactions to Bitch, to which I've subscribed for a couple of years. I'm consistently excited by the idea, but disappointed by the execution, of Bitch. I think a feminist response to pop culture is vital to understanding how pop culture is entwined with the political zeitgeist, but I think that the writing in Bitch is rarely rigorous or insightful. Entertaining, yes, and sometimes cogent--but I guess I'm in the minority in that I don't think it's academic enough. If the magazine's purpose is essentially an analytical one, then its use of rhetoric should be fine and accurate. Articles like Richards' are poorly argued and undermine the magazine's goals. I always look forward to Bitch, but after reading an issue I often feel like I've read a lot of dashed off term papers. I do usually enjoy the shorter pieces, such as some of the profiles of different occupations in the current issue.

I do love me some Bust, though! It has a totally different aim, but I think it's far more successful at achieving it.


F E Mae
(Ching Shih)
08/03/04 01:00 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I eagerly read the article about weddings in Bitch, and found it rather disappointing, too. Yeh, celebrity weddings are over the top--I guess I felt that was all she was saying. And then she admits to wanting just such a wedding herself, poor gal. However, I do agree that some of the celeb wedding nonsense has filtered down into the middle class in the form of things that were just not done a generation ago. I recall the simple little wedding of my youth...one or two attendants, coffee and cake afterwards at tables hung with crepe paper bells and dotted with pastel pillow mints...ah, those were the days, never to return. My advice: Just elope, OK? That would solve lots of problems.

But, in general, I like Bitch and other than the baby article mentioned earlier and the wedding one, I enjoyed this month's issue and read it from cover to cover. And I get a kick out of the reaction of the males in my family, too! And am always hoping that my evangelical neighbor will come over sometime and see it on my coffee table...LOL!


dazey
(Ching Shih)
08/03/04 07:10 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

Exxie, to be fair to Richards, if you read the NY Times article, most of her concerns about having triplets were about having a high-risk pregnancy, losing earnings through enforced bedrest, and the risks of disability in the babies. It wasn't all about how difficult raising the children would have been.

GingerCat
(Ching Shih)
08/03/04 08:13 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

In her book Manifesta and her subsequent work, Amy Richards has always been a big supporter of the idea that women should share their stories. She thinks too many women live under a cloak of shame and secrecy, and that sharing their experiences can help them as well as other women who are experiencing something similar. In Manifesta she talked about being sexually assaulted as a junior high school student, and (if my memory serves) about an abortion she once had. I looked at the NY Times article as being in the same vein--I'm sure there are other women in her position, and she's broken the silence about what they go through.

Bringing this back around to Bitch, maybe that's what she was trying to do with the motherhood article--be honest about what she's feeling rather than just accepting whatever received wisdom exists on the subject, in order to help women who may be having some of the same feelings. But, as has been said before, that goal was undermined by the shoddiness of the piece itself.


Masha
(Ching Shih)
08/03/04 11:01 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

It took me a while to pick up this issue, and I've still only read bits of it, but what struck me in reading Richards's article was that it wasn't really about motherhood--it was about how we evaluate work in a culture that's still struggling to make sense of products that don't come from getting one's hands dirty. The discussion of parenting was just a way in to beginning to talk about why some of us cover the guilt of a flexible, creative life by calling ourselves "lucky."

This topic isn't sustained, however, and the argument that surrounds it is, indeed, awkward and poorly framed. But it's one that I would have like to have seen pursued, because it reminded me that when I've been asked what I'm doing this summer, I make a little self-deprecating move and sheepishly admit that I've been watching baseball and napping, because my feeling is that the work I do (I'm a graduate student in English) is so non-work-like normally that taking a break from it is a ridiculous indulgence. This phenomenon seems to be a worthwhile topic for a Work issue, and I'm sad that none of the articles seems to address it.

I did, however, like the reply to the letter that snottily implied that the Bitchlist is paid ad space. I get really frustrated with those who write in complaining that because some writers like things different than some readers that someone's not properly feminist.


Meaux
(Ching Shih)
08/23/04 12:28 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

 Quote:
I do remain slightly worried that I didn't like it. I was a women's studies major in college and used to love the "X is bad because it represses women.." conversations. Has the real world and my 8-hours-in-a-cubicle per day lifestyle softened me (and my brain) up a bit?
I wouldn't worry about your brain softening. I think that by now your brain has schooled itself so well to identify chick-toxic images, words, and other representations that you no longer need to discuss or analyze it. I started getting pissed off about such things when I read The Beauty Myth at 22. Now, at 35, I automatically reject any words or images that are anti-chick. I'm too busy with my kid, house, and job to get all riled up any more.

I still love Bitch, though. It makes for a great little grrrr moments, so refreshing amid the child-rearing and dog-walking and house-cleaning and job-retaining duties.


GingerCat
(Ching Shih)
10/06/04 12:50 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

Yay! My new issue has arrived, and it contains "The Jane Petty Criticism Corner," an interview with the (female) director of The Corporation, and (double yay!) an interview with Janeane Garofalo.

For those of you who especially hated the Amy Richards essay in the last issue, there are several letters to the editor criticizing it, as well as Amy's (not entirely satisfactory, IMO) response.


portuguesa_nova
(Ching Shih)
11/01/04 12:00 AM
Re: Bitch magazine

I found this issue waaaaaaay less irritating than the last one...I too loved both interviews you mention above, GingerCat.

I was very, very surprised by the soap opera article--I thought that one would be a surefire target for the all-too-common brilliant analysis with the thesis "X is bad because it subjugates women". They did, however, seem to hit the nail right on the head with that thesis in the porn article.

The only real "WTF?" moment I had during the whole reading is the criticism of t.v., movies and blogs for promoting unrealistically close female friendships. Bleh. If she's as self-referential as her writing, I can only imagine what a joy it must be to hang out with that girl.


Kivrin
(Ching Shih)
09/18/08 10:03 PM
Re: Bitch magazine

Bumping this up to link to Andi and Debbie's You Tube plea for financial help to keep Bitch going:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpteWcREVVA

I wish I could help them out. I will be sad if issue #41 is the last issue. There isn't another magazine like it. Sigh.