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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,268 Ratings  ·  147 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, 372 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Grrl-power
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Nov 04, 2008 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
Chrissy Hennessey
Mar 09, 2007 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
Apr 15, 2018 added it
I have been in a major reading slump for almost two months now, so this took me FOREVER to get through. Even though this book and the articles in it are not the most up-to-date, I enjoyed reading and learning from them very much. I found many pieces very well written, educational, and thought-provoking. If you come across this book in your libary as I did, I highly recommend you pick this up. Even if you don't read through it all, the diversity of the topics covered make for a very stimulating r ...more
Ana Rînceanu
Mandatory reading for baby feminists such as myself.
Jul 02, 2014 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
Sep 04, 2008 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
May 30, 2014 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.
Sep 07, 2012 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?

Feb 15, 2013 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 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
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After picking up my first copy of Bitch magazine when I was 15 years old, it has been a long time coming for me to read the book. In a culture of "alternative facts," it is important now more than ever to think critically about the media we consume each day.

Bitch offers our society a "critical eye" on how societal norms about sex, race, sexuality and class influence the media we consume. It is hard now to watch any show again without being critical to the patriarchal themes found in our everyda
Jan 16, 2013 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
Mar 28, 2009 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.
Nov 10, 2009 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 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.
Gabrielle Moss
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I wrote an essay in this book. If you don't purchase a copy of this book, basically you are saying that you think women are terrible. Oh my god, I can't believe you think that!
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
While I have my disagreements, this collection of essays is thoughtful and thought provoking.
Rebecca Dobrinski
Feb 16, 2013 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 11, 2009 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 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
Jun 06, 2007 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 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, feminism
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
Nov 18, 2010 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
Jul 29, 2013 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
Dec 07, 2007 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
Aug 28, 2007 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
Oct 25, 2013 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
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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
“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.” 42 likes
“There's mainstream pornography--soft-core airbrushed fluff such as Penthouse and Playboy. The folks makin' this stuff do men and their range of desires a disservice; their implication is that anything outside the "big hair, fake tits, tiny waste, no pores, limited body hair" aesthetic is deviant, weird, not normal--and not something that a red-blooded American man would be interested in. The common boys-will-be-boys explanation for porn--that men get turned on visually (in contrast to "feminine" mode of arousal, which is mental and emotional)--is nothing more than an insult, making men out to be Pavlovian dogs who salivate uncontrollably and strain at their trousers upon contact with nudie pictures.
Antiporn arguments, however well-meaning, are no better. Folks like Catherine MacKinnon also believe that men are inherently drawn to porn. And to them, porn is by definition violent, suggesting that it's somehow in men's nature to be aroused by hurting others. Furthermore, antipornography activists think that porn leads men to commit violence--as if men have no self-control or capacity to separate fantasy from reality, as if an erection is a driving force that can't be stopped once it's started... The only difference is one of perspective: Antiporn folk believe that male sexuality is always threatening, while men's-magazine editors think it's always fabulous.”
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