Social commentary

Hitting the Small Time

Hitting the Small Time
Article by Mindy Hung, Illustrated by Tanya Lam, appeared in issue Old; published in 2010; filed under Social commentary; tagged Alec Greven, children, hype, media, Tavi Gevinson, wunderkind.
Perhaps you've heard of 10-year-old Alec Greven, the author of a series of self-help tomes like How to Talk to Dads and How to Talk to Santa. The wee guru has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Today show, CNN, The Tonight Show, and Good Morning America. In December 2008, Twentieth Century Fox announced that it had optioned How to Talk to Girls, Greven's first book and the one that launched his brand. It's easy to see why the media has glommed on to Greven: He's adorable, nonthreatening, and he doesn't yet have any frown lines to show up in HD. He's bright, but he stumbles charmingly over his words. He's not going to freak out Meredith Vieira by talking about string theory, or intimidate viewers by solving complex math equations on air. And he's hardly the only boy wonder out there.

Control Womb

Control Womb
Article by Bree Kessler, Illustrated by Dani Crosby, appeared in issue Old; published in 2010; filed under Social commentary; tagged apps, fertility, fertility industry, iPhone, pregnancy, technology.
Want to get pregnant? There's an app for that. Want to not get pregnant? There's an app for that, too (and no, it's not condoms). Want to know why you're so damn moody? There's—yep—an app for that. They could be considered the Our Bodies, Ourselves for the tech-savvy women of the 21st century: iPhone applications that inform women about the workings of their bodies without actually engaging with flesh and blood.

Is Meghan McCain the new heartbeat of the GOP or the new headache?

Is Meghan McCain the new heartbeat of the GOP or the new headache?
You may know her as John McCain's cute, blonde, 24-year-old daughter, whose site, McCain Blogette, may have been the first campaign-trail travelogue to dish about its author's favorite cosmetics and love of Tupac. You may have seen her appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show or Politically Incorrect. And you may have heard about her kerfuffle with conservative columnist Laura Ingraham, who made fat jokes about the young McCain, to which she responded in a Daily Beast column titled "Quit Talking About My Weight, Laura Ingraham." What you may not know is that Meghan McCain is currently being shined up as the new face of Republican politics in a time when that party is grasping wildly at relevance. She's pro-God, pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-military—but, as she's constantly pointing out, pro-sex and pro-gay as well. Two writers ponder the polarizing upstart.

The Ambition Condition

The Ambition Condition
Article by Anna Clark, Illustrated by Meg Hunt, appeared in issue Loud; published in 2008; filed under Social commentary; tagged alternative literary culture, ambitous women, devaluing women's voices, female writers, literary sexism.
Women, Writing, and the Problem of Success

Perhaps you know about Emily Gould’s cover story, “Exposed,” in the New York Times Magazine last May. Even if you didn’t take in all 8,002 words on the former Gawker editor’s gains and losses from blogging about her personal life, it would be hard to miss the criticism of the piece elsewhere. From the Huffington Post to the Philadelphia Weekly to an untold number of blogs and listservs, the backlash challenged the magazine for peddling narcissistic Dear-Diary diatribes as a worthy journalistic cover story.


Mad Science

Mad Science
Article by Beth Skwarecki, Illustrated by Meg Hunt, appeared in issue Wired; published in 2008; filed under Social commentary; tagged biological determinism, gender, gender roles, mainstream media, media, media critique, media sexism, science, stereotypes.
Deconstructing Bunk Reporting in 5 Easy Steps

British scientists have uncovered the truth behind one of modern culture’s greatest mysteries: why little girls play with pink toys. Is it because toy companies flood whole store aisles with the color? Or because well-meaning relatives shower girl babies with pink blankets and clothing? Nope. According to the men in lab coats, it’s purely biological.

Big Trouble

Big Trouble
Article by Lily-Rygh Glen, Illustrated by Mia Nolting, appeared in issue Lost & Found; published in 2008; filed under Social commentary; tagged body image, eating disorders, fat acceptance, fat phobia.
Are eating disorders the Lavender Menace of the fat acceptance movement?

BeckyAll names have been changed. has been active in the fat acceptance movement for a good half-dozen years. She attends and organizes awareness-raising events, takes part in her local fat social scene, and fights to end discrimination against fat people with a powerful combination of weary sadness and righteous anger. She wears her weight like well-adorned armor, betraying no sense of regret or shame in her 480-pound body.

Becky also has an eating disorder.

Learning Curve

Learning Curve
Article by Maya Schenwar, Illustrated by Aya Kakeda, appeared in issue Lost & Found; published in 2008; filed under Social commentary; tagged children, education, homeschooling, radical parenting.
Radical “unschooling” moms are changing the stay-at-home landscape

Not long ago, homeschooling was thought of as the domain of hippie earth mothers letting their kids “do their own thing” or creationist Christians shielding their kids from monkey science and premarital sex. As recently as 1980, homeschooling was illegal in 30 states. Despite the fact that such figures as Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Atwood, Sandra Day O’Connor, and, um, Jennifer Love Hewitt were products of a home education, the practice is still often seen as strange and even detrimental.

Pop Goes the World

Article by Erin Keating, Skarlet Fever, Kate Baggott, Claudine Zap, published in 2007; filed under Social commentary.
Looking at pop culture in the wake of 9-11

It's been almost three months since September 11, and while the onslaught of the holidays (and for those of us around the Bitch HQ , the onslaught of production on a new issue) has provided a bit of distraction, it's still almost impossible not to feel that our jobs, our ambitions, and our daily dramas have been permanently dwarfed by the sadness and horror of everything that happened that day and everything that's happened since. Without a news editor or an investigative reporting staff, Bitch is at something of a loss for words.

Multiply & Conquer

Multiply & Conquer
Article by Kate Dixon, Illustrated by Kris Chau, appeared in issue Singular + Plural; published in 2007; filed under Social commentary; tagged children, jesus, procreation, tv.
How to Have 17 Children and Still Believe in Jesus

When she was presented with the state of Arkansas’s Young Mother of the Year award in April 2004, Michelle Duggar was 37 years old and seven months pregnant. A USA Today profile on the award ceremony noted her current reproductive status by describing with notable amusement how she “waddled” into the Capitol building to accept the honor.

Hold on—a USA Today profile? Of a stay-at-home mother receiving an award in Little Rock? No offense to the great state of Arkansas, but surely there must be more to the story. And there is: 14 other children, to be precise.

Feminine Protection

Feminine Protection
An interview with Julia Serano by Debbie Rasmussen, appeared in issue Risk; published in 2007; filed under Social commentary; tagged gender, julia serano, trans identity, transgender, whipping girl.

The rising visibility of trans, intersex, and genderqueer movements has led feminists—and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the world—to an increasing awareness that m and f are only the beginning of the story of gender identity. With the release of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Julia Serano offers a perspective sorely needed, but up until now rarely heard: a transfeminine critique of both feminist and mainstream understandings of gender.

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