Bitch Needs To Grow Up

4 Jun

Bitch, if you have never read it, is a feminist magazine. Which is about the biggest understatement since “damn those Gilmore Girls talk fast.” Billing itself as a “feminist response to pop-culture” it promised to be a respite from the obviously ridiculous Cosmo articles (Seventeen Ways To Orgasm He Won’t Expect!) but also from the less obviously misogynistic pages of magazines like Self, which while promoting better health certainly doesn’t include gays, lesbians, or trans people, nor does it do anything to diminish women basing their self worth on the male gaze.

Being one of those people who likes being called a feminist, I upped my library reading of the magazine to a full on subscription a few years ago. Which means I get to read the magazine more thoroughly, without someone wandering up and saying “heh heh heh, Bitch, huh?” So maybe it has always been the same magazine, and thorough examination has just revealed its true nature.

Which is that nothing in this world is feminist enough for Bitch Magazine.

Take the Spring 2007 “Super” issue. A critique of a NY Times article from 2006 (way to be on your game, guys) that talks about marketing to women and how those marketers want to provide products that help women who are both mother and provider. The writers complaint? That the NY Times wants women to be housewives first and doesn’t expect men to be childcare givers or women to be childless. The proof? That they wrote about women-friendly marketing. See even when the New York Times is writing about the power of women in the marketplace they failed because they were casting women as mothers and housekeepers. And we all know, men can totally give birth. They just aren’t trying hard enough.

Page 19, a critique of My Little Pony as a sexy toy that encourages girls to sexualize themselves. “Just take of the pony’s tail and add hands the front legs and what you have is a human doll that could be used in a stop-animation pedophilic porn flick.” See, even when you avoid Barbie dolls you end up fucking up your daughter because we all know that a plastic horse is a gateway drug to porn!

Page 23 “Saving Superheroines From Comic Book Violence” in which the writer worries over Kate Kane, the hot lesbian superhero that is either replacing Batwoman or is about to get caught in some sort of shower scenario with her, in the newish DC comics series. The writer frets for three pages about Kane being caught in the Women in Refrigerator scenario — the insider term for when women meet ugly ends in comic books. Yes she spends time speaking with Gail Simone who coined the phrase, but she really spends her time going over and over and over and over all the bloody ways chicks have bought it. Even when we get a powerful woman, it isn’t undoing the number of bad things that women go through. No mention of the issue numbers of the Batman comics that feature the new Batwoman, or when they came out, or what the storyline will be, or how we will see this new breed of heroine develop. Because we don’t want to support the new hero by getting feminists young and old to vote with their wallets… no we would much rather dwell on the past.

My favorite article in the magazine is one about eating disorders. Offering absolutely no new insights the writer points out that bulemics and anorexics are perfectionists but that they are people too, “We are tired of trying so hard all the time. We feel like giving up. We feel hopeless. We want love, acceptance, happy endings and the rest…” Wow, I think I might have a Cosmo article for you. This is the saddest of the bunch, in all honesty, because while I appreciate the vague insights, this isn’t any more information than I got from watching that Tracy Gold movie, which I think was called Starving For Perfection. Why not write about how the pro-ana movement is both dangerous and compelling. Prove to me that allowing for the pro-ana websites to exist strengthens the ability of our women to self determine. Hey, here is a thought… maybe write about how it is a woman’s choice to starve herself, and that while we may want her to stay alive, and hope that our sick family member gets help, changing society to protect women from making choices is anti-feminist.

So Bethblogs, what is the point of all this Bitch Bashing you ask? Bitch bills itself as a feminist response to pop culture.

Bitch does not allow for plurality. It seems to assume that women are not smart enough to navigate the world without their feminist viewfinder. A writer points out that The Bachelor is crap and points out the Girls Gone Wild culture but instead of trying to figure out how that is part of feminism — and allowing women to make decisions for themselves about the level of sexualization they want to bring on themselves — like all “good feminists” they dismiss it. The only good hot women are gay apparantly.

Where does that leave the rest of us? When Sassy is gone and Jane is barely a shadow of its former self and you want to be a feminist who has a nice ass? And you don’t feel like you should have to contextualize it? Bitch has to grow up. It needs to stop bitching about the state of pop culture, stop responding, and start shaping. Instead of articles where women complain about the history of comics or anorexia or mommy culture and how it is so hard to be a woman, give women concrete ways that they can be the women they want to be. Not the women Bitch wants them to be. Bitch has become (and maybe always was) a group of women, sitting in a circle complaining about how hard life is while the rest of us try and live it. And while that behavior has its place, a magazine that touts itself as a response to pop culture should strive to give actual responses. It is like they are being presented with an SAT problem, one of those gnarly ones where Jane lives next to Jack and they live across the street from Bob and Steve and two of the houses are purple and when asked “Who drives the blue sedan” they answer “Wow, these questions are hard. Did you ever think that Bob and Steve are buying into the suburban dream because they hate themselves for being gay.” Is that a response? Sorta. Does it help the underlying cause of making sure all of our daughters grow up in a world where they have as much self-determination as humanly possible? Absolutely not.

It is time to grow up, Bitch. I love you for trying but the whining has to stop. Responding and complaining aren’t the same thing.

9 Responses to “Bitch Needs To Grow Up”

  1. Chuck T. June 5, 2007 at 2:45 pm #

    Please tell me Bitch meant that My Little Pony as a joke…Not to be rude, but straight or gay, feminist or dick, stupid is stupid.

    My wife gets Self in the mail, and I don’t think I’ve ever flipped through it, but is it anti-gay, or just not care?

  2. bethshax June 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    Nope, Bitch meant The My Little Pony thing for real. I wish I was kidding. I’ve heard parents complain about Bratz, and they may be right, but frankly if my son or daughter wants a plastic pretend pony I think the world will survive.

    Self is more just hetero-centric, which I know a lot of people have trouble with, it uses hetero specific language. But frankly its ability to make women feel like they should take care of themselves far outshines any complaint I have on behalf of my GBLT friends. Bitch should be an alternative to that for smart people. Instead it is like a parody of feminism. I am sticking with Jane… oh and Bust!

  3. Miss Twitch June 5, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks for this post. Every time I begin to think the contributors to Bitch have waaaaaay too much free time (the My Little Pony article you cited being the latest example), I wonder whether I’m a bad feminist. I’m really glad it’s not just me.

  4. Maura June 5, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    I found your blog through When Fangirls Attack!

    I love Bitch. But I find myself complaining about it too. Often I feel like a writer comes up with a theory, picks a show, and then smashes both together. I find myself thinking: if they watched the whole season….

    That My Little Pony article–just wrong. Another example of theory smash!

    I’ll still read it though. 😉

  5. midge_ratchet June 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    i thought the “my little pony” page was pretty silly, but i keep in mind that Bitch is a magazine that has articles by many different women from lots of different scenes and viewpoint in each article. i love Bitch and i appreciate that the title of the magazine indicates that the content isn’t about “happily accepting” everything in pop culture. i love that they covered comic book issues, too! i generally have a hard time telling the difference between Jane and Cosmo, to tell the truth. Bust is okay, usually, but Bitch is my favorite.

  6. bethshax June 6, 2007 at 2:48 am #

    Midge I wish I thought Bitch was as pluralistic in its views as you do. I don’t think that a wholesale rejection of pop culture is an intellectual “reaction” — I think it is complaining and I don’t see much else in the magazine. That My Little Pony article wouldn’t have been as silly if the writer had mentioned toys that were created by women to help girls think independently.

  7. universalperson June 6, 2007 at 4:06 am #

    Gail Simone did NOT create Lesbian Batwoman.

  8. bethshax June 6, 2007 at 4:09 am #

    Fair enough UniversalPerson — I was mistaken there — Gail Kane coined the phrase Women In Refrigerators.

  9. bethshax June 6, 2007 at 4:48 am #

    Ha! I meant Gail Simone… SORRY.

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