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BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  2,979 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
In the wake of Sassy and as an alternative to the more staid reporting of Ms. Magazine, Bitch was launched in the mid-nineties as a Xerox-and-staple zine covering the landscape of popular culture from a feminist perspective. Both unabashed in its love for the guilty pleasures of consumer culture and deeply thoughtful about the way the pop landscape reflects and impacts wom ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Best Feminist Books
216th out of 1,404 books — 1,997 voters
The Happy Spinster by Karena MarieBITCHfest by Lisa JervisThe Stepford Wives by Ira LevinSex for One by Betty DodsonLive Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis
Best books for Happy Spinsters
2nd out of 19 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

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Apr 11, 2015 Carol. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Grrl-power
To be honest, I haven't read this particular compilation. I've actually been a subscriber to Bitch Magazine since I first learned about it in 2003, so I assume I've read most of these articles. I recommend this--but especially the magazine--to all my feminist friends who want to engage their brains in their cultural consumption.

What's in it?

Cultural deconstruction. Interviews with interesting people who usually have contributed some kind of outsider voice to culture/art, ranging from young arti
Dec 09, 2008 Ciara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists, lefty political types, pop culture students, "bitch" subscribers
when "bitch" magazine found itself in dire financial straits a few months ago & begged money off the feminist community at large to put toward publishing its next issue, much debate was sparked over "bitch"'s relevance to the feminist community. "there are better causes," people said. "all 'bitch' magazine does is encourage people to consume," they said. i won't deny that "bitch" isn't a perfect magazine (what is?), but i think a lot of people were confusing "bitch" with its infinitely lesse ...more
Mar 09, 2007 Christine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ladies and lady friends
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
BITCHfest is a collection of essays culled from the pages of Bitch magazine since its inception ten years ago, and through its many writers one finds an intelligent, angry and celebratory picture of how women and the media affect and influence one another.

The first thing people notice about Bitch is its title. Hard, nasty, and entrenched in decades of negativity, the word at first seems a strange title for such a radically feminist publication. As editors Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler write in th
Oct 19, 2014 Mia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I definitely didn't unequivocally agree with every opinion in this collection of essays, but every essay tacked an important issue, and did it in a way that was thought-provoking and added to the debate. These kinds of topics (gender, feminism, sex, body image, media, etc.) need to be scrutinised, and our love for certain problematic parts of pop culture need to be questioned. I'm not about to start hating Bridget Jones for not doing a good enough job of reinforcing the validity of a woman leadi ...more
Ana Maria Rînceanu
Mandatory reading for baby feminists such as myself.
Aug 20, 2009 Amber rated it it was amazing
I want to own this book. I'm afraid that once I return it to the library, I'll forget everything I know that I need to care about.

I just watched a children's cartoon where a sea-faring boy and his captain friend are on an island populated by monkeys and one woman, named Matthew (yup) whom the captain soon grows to hate due to her constant references to her time at "the University". He states plainly that he doesn't like her because she acts (and, uh, is) smarter than him. He eventually THROWS HE
Sep 07, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
Good and varied collection of essays focusing on various aspects of gender. Several of the essays also deal with homosexuality and pop culture.

Do you know there is labia plastic surgery?

May 20, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it
I first heard about the feminist magazine Bitch in 2011 when they very controversially pulled three books (Tender Morsels, Sisters Red, and Living Dead Girl) from their list of top 100 feminist YA books after they received complaints. The magazine claimed that they read/re-read the books and decided the weren't so very feminist after all. I mean, you don't have to put items on a list of feminist books if you don't think they're feminist, but if you've already published the list, I feel like you ...more
May 13, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: zines-journals
Crap. I can't believe I accidentally deleted my original review for this book. Now I will have to try to recreate it from memory.

When I took a class on writing the personal essay, one of my classmates thought that my essays would be a good fit for "Bitch."

However, when I asked, "What's Bitch Magazine?" She looked at me like, what you've never heard or read this 'zine before?!

Then she promptly recommended this book. Now that I have finished reading this anthology, I must admit I am a fan and the
Feb 08, 2013 Sadie rated it really liked it
Really really really awesome feminist anthology. Brilliantly summarized a wide range of issues/topics and each writer brings their own voice and ideas. YAY

“These days, I strive to be a bitch, because not being one sucks. Not being a bitch means not having your voice heard. Not being a bitch means you agree with all the bullshit. Not being a bitch means you don't appreciate all the other bitches who have come before you. Not being a bitch means since Eve ate that apple, we will forever have to pa
May 30, 2014 Valerie rated it liked it
This is a collection that (thankfully) shows it's age. Most of the time? Half of the time? I want to say that things have improved. Sadly, it's not something that I can say with every essay. But for every 4 pieces that are laughably outdated, there are 1 or 2 that make me pause and consider things, something I am grateful for as a well-read feminist.
Apr 11, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
This is a great collection of thought provoking social commentary. If you like Bitch Magazine you'd like this look back over the last 10 years. I didn't always agree with the author's point of view, but each essay raised interesting questions about gender and gender roles in American society.
Jan 27, 2010 Gaijinmama rated it it was amazing
A collection of some of the best articles from just about the best magazine out there!
Read this, it rocks! And subscribe to the magazine while you're at it. They are an independent, woman-owned, damn-good publication and need reader support to stay afloat.
Jan 13, 2012 Gemma is currently reading it
Shelves: 2012
I like non-fiction works that read like New Yorker articles, or other extended pieces of good journalism, and this fits the bill perfectly.
Rebecca Dobrinski
Oct 07, 2013 Rebecca Dobrinski rated it really liked it
With Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and – especially – Texas in the news recently, my feminist sensibilities have been on extra high alert. This may be why, after borrowing the book Bitchfest almost a year ago, I finally sat down to read it.

For those who are not aware, the magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture was launched in 1996 by Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler. Looking for (and not finding any) feminist commentary on pop culture, Jervis and Zeisler opted to create their own andBitc
McKenzie Richardson
Love it!

This is a very good compilation of many of Bitch magazine's articles from 1996 to 2006. There are so many things to love about this book.

Instead of throwing a bunch of articles together in an anthology, Jervis and Zeisler categorize the articles into broad groups such as Ladies and Gentlemen: Femininity, Masculinity, and Identity; The F Word; and Beauty Myths and Body Projects, just to name a few. Even within each category the articles vary greatly such as within Beauty Myths and Body Pr
Marjorie Elwood
Jul 24, 2012 Marjorie Elwood rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbt, inspiration
Pretty academic in tone and a little out-of-date, this was not an easy read, but it was an essential one. I kept finding essays that I wanted to pass along to my friends, essays that challenged what I'd long believed or thought, or ones that put into eloquent words what I'd suspected or known. Eloquent, and with a bite: "Clearly, the strong, self-actualized woman is an image that sells. It makes sense, right? You see one of these ads, you get that strange sensation of--could it be? Could it actu ...more
Sarah Menezes
Mar 11, 2013 Sarah Menezes rated it really liked it
The only good thing to come out of being stuck at the DMV over 3 hours was being able to finish BITCHfest. Because the articles are all from mid 90's to the mid 2000's, I felt a lot of nostalgia reading the articles (primarily the section titled "Hitting Puberty"), and they reminded me of how "ashamed" I was of my own inner feminist growing up, being afraid I would start to fit the stereotype that my family often clung to when mocking feminism. Only in the past couple of years have I been able t ...more
Oct 10, 2008 Stephy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women of all ages, teens, adolescents, if they have interest
Recommended to Stephy by: My BFF Greta
BITCH Magazine, from the mid 90's was the fresh new voice of the woman's movement as viewed through the eyes of a much younger, hipper crowd than Ms. Magazine. In fact BITCH started out as a Zine, A few pages of writing on a topic in this case feminism, copied and stapled and mailed to whoever is interested enough to send postage.

Today, it has grown up enough to write stories with sidebars like this:
Hard Times At the New York Times Book Review, all the misogyny is fit to print
Written by Sarah S
Jul 22, 2008 Elyssa rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, essays
I have a realy hard time with the title of this book of essays and the magazine from which they are derived. To me, even when a marginalized group "reclaims" a derogatory word, it is still a derogatory word. Often people (especially members of the dominant culture) continue to use the former (and unempowered) version of the word because they think it has been endorsed by feminists and made acceptable.

With that rant out of the way, I did enjoy these essays. I felt that they were well selected fr
Kristen Northrup
The easiest way to sum up my impression is that I'd never read the magazine when I started this book, and when I was done, I ordered a (prepaid) subscription. I've still read very little on feminism, so even the presumably standard stuff was novel. It was surprisingly not-angry, given the title. Most pieces were just wry, and unnervingly close to resigned. On the other hand, except for one bit in one chapter intro, everything was thoroughly rational and quotable. I particularly liked seeing some ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Nicki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist-lit
I've never read an actual issue of Bitch but ever since I discovered feminism, Bitch's website has been one of my favorites. I was really excited to find this compilation and it didn't let me down. Even though some of these articles are dated, they are still effective and relevant (makes you wonder about the state of third wave feminism!)
Awesome read, it covers a huge range of topics. And it's one of those books where you can start anywhere and end anywhere.
Would definitely recommend to feminis
Aug 02, 2013 Miri rated it really liked it
I expected to like this a lot more given how much I love the magazine. However, the pop cultural references were obviously very dated and lost on me (not the writers' fault) and almost every piece had essentially the same exact snarky tone despite the fact that they're all by different writers. I love snark as much as anyone, but reading a long series of pieces with the same tone got very tiresome. All the same, I learned a lot of good stuff and I'm glad to see how much better Bitch has gotten i ...more
Jun 02, 2008 Lani rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Diana and Jill
Shelves: chicklit, own, feminism
There were certainly some essays I enjoyed more than others, but in general a good read. Some laugh-out-loud stories, some interesting points, and some perspectives I hadn't considered before. It was sometimes slow going when a string of articles didn't address anything I cared about, or beat a dead horse, but it was worth slogging through to find the good stuff.

This is a book I'd like to share with a reading group - or more accurately, I'd like to photocopy chunks of this book and assign readin
Sep 27, 2007 Jack rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who are fed up
Shelves: fortheclassroom
Satiating. Good to read, like bell hooks, just after a class in which a few loud students are insisting that feminists are merely man haters, and racism is a thing of the past.

some of the articles in the magazine itself are pretty out there. like, my little ponies teach little girls how to raise their humps and bat their big, dilated eyes. i'm not saying it's bad to question the toys we hand our kids, but still. the fare in the book is a bit more selective.

these collected articles tackle some pr
Makayla Osipenko
May 17, 2014 Makayla Osipenko rated it it was amazing
I am so pleasantly surprised with this book. I got it on a whim, and wasn't sure if I would actually enjoy it. It was actually wonderfully educational and enjoyable. There is many different opinions expressed in this book, which was nice to see. This is a wonderful collaboration of work. I enjoyed so many of the articles, and the ones I didn't enjoy were still pretty good. I would recommend this to anyone who has a bit of knowledge about feminist and women's issues and were interested in learnin ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Kiri rated it really liked it
Very good stuff. I had never heard of Bitch magazine before picking up this book. I've managed to avoid reading feminist literature while simultaneously living as a feminist for all of my adult life; my feminism is my own. Some of the essays here meant less to me than others. The ones that spoke to me were about staking out some territory with a "I'll do what I want" attitude, and not so much the ones about how oppressed women are.
This book was only 400 pages long, but it took me something like eight months (or more - I can't remember the exact date I started reading the book) to finish it. But it wasn't because I didn't find the book interesting; instead, there's just a lot of information to ruminate over and digest. Most of these essays are least ten years old - some even older than that - so they can sometimes feel dated, but many are still relevant today, and nearly all of them were pretty darned interesting.
Feb 06, 2015 Sivyu rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It's a collection of articles from Bitch magazine. There were a bunch of different authors and subject that were really interesting. I love that it provided a way for younger feminists, women of color, trans, queer, and "other" to get their voices heard. Of course as always in an anthology, there are some writers that are better than others, but they did a good job of balancing it out. If you have never read Bitch, this would be a great place to start.
Jan 02, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Bitch Magazine is a quarterly publication full of smart, insightful, funny, infuriating observations about pop culture and its depiction of women and our roles. BITCHfest is a collection of essays from the first ten years of Bitch, representing some of the best writings on a diverse set of topics, from books to TV, mainstream media to the blogosphere. You'll never watch TV the same way again, guaranteed.
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Since we're reading Bitch 1 27 Jan 07, 2008 09:36AM  
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Lisa Jervis is the founding editor and publisher of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, a national nonprofit quarterly magazine offering feminist commentary on our intensely mediated world. She is also a founding board member of the media training and advocacy organization Women in Media and News. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and books, including Ms., the San Francisco Chronicl ...more
More about Lisa Jervis...

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“These days, I strive to be a bitch, because not being one sucks. Not being a bitch means not having your voice heard. Not being a bitch means you agree with all the bullshit. Not being a bitch means you don't appreciate all the other bitches who have come before you. Not being a bitch means since Eve ate that apple, we will forever have to pay for her bitchiness with complacence, obedience, acceptance, closed eyes, and opened legs.” 39 likes
“When it comes to current attitudes about surgery, the practice of dismissing the cultural context and rationalizing it as individual betterment "flattens the terrain of power relations." In other words, we can talk about doing it for us until our high-end lipstick flakes off, but we should also keep in mind that we probably wouldn't even be thinking about what life would be like with a new nose or perkier breasts or shapelier inner thighs if it weren't for a long-standing cultural ideal that rewards those who adhere to it with power that often doesn't speak its name, but is instantly recognizable to those who don't have it.” 4 likes
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