Social commentary

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.

Mom's the Word

Mom's the Word
Article by J.L. Scott, Illustrated by Lauren Gregg, appeared in issue Super; published in 2007; filed under Social commentary; tagged breeding, literature, motherhood, parenting, procreation.
Yummy mummies, alternadads, and other literary offspring

At the turn of the millennium, Bridget Jones and the Sex and the City girls heralded a new era of fun, fearless singledom. Chick lit, accompanied by memoirs and anthologies about single womanhood, made it whimsical for an otherwise-capable woman to be vain, proud of her missteps and mistakes, and heartbroken over her inability to find a man. Now, what happens in the next chapter after Ms. Adorably Quirky has found Mr. Right? She manifests new neuroses and fears as she enters the brave new world of motherhood.

Egos Without Borders

Egos Without Borders
Article by Summer Wood, appeared in issue Green; published in 2006; filed under Social commentary; tagged activism, Africa, celebrities, charity, philanthropy.
Mapping the New Celebrity Philanthropy

You can’t turn on the television or flip open a magazine these days without encountering an image of a star promoting his or her latest cause célèbre: Oprah handing out makeup kits at a women’s hospital in Ethiopia; Angelina Jolie visiting refugee camps (alone or with Brad Pitt); George Clooney zipping around in his tiny electric car and making speeches about Darfur; Jay-Z and Kofi Annan holding a press conference about global water issues; Madonna performing concerts against a backdrop image of aids orphans—and, more recently, bringing a motherless Malawian boy home with her after making a large donation to his orphanage.

When Tyra Met Naomi

When Tyra Met Naomi
Article by Hawa Allan, Illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald, appeared in issue Green; published in 2006; filed under Social commentary; tagged competition, fashion, fashion models, media, race, tv.
Race, Fashion, and Rivalry

One of the last places I expected to hear an engaging antiracist and feminist critique of the fashion industry was on The Tyra Banks Show. But on a January 2006 episode, there was Banks, sitting couch-to-couch with supposed arch­nemesis and fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell, discussing the forces that years ago had pitted the two women against each other on the assumption that America had room for only one black top model.

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