I try to design covers for Bitch that are somewhat timeless, since we’re a quarterly magazine that stays on shelves for at least a few months. Creating a cover for this issue, which went to press on October 18, was uniquely challenging. Here’s what I drafted then, and printed in the issue:
As we got closer to press time, it seemed out of touch to create something that didn’t acknowledge the depth of fuckery characterizing this election cycle. As I write this, we’re about to send the files to the printer. It’s my 44th birthday. I remember the first time I saw the word “bitch” in a mainstream publication: in an article about Hillary Clinton, which chastised her for declining to participate in Family Circle’s customary cookie-baking contest with then–first lady Barbara Bush. (Incidentally, Hillary did later submit a cookie recipe, which won; it won again this year, when Bill published the “Clinton Family Recipe.”) Now, 24 years later, I am still worried about what I could possibly put under the word “bitch” during this weirder-by-the-day election, suffused as it is with racism, sexism, and the aggrieved rantings of white supremacists.
Indigenous photographer Cheyenne Randall created this image as part of a series of surreal landscapes that comment on our delicate environment. The human touches on most of these landscapes contribute to a sense of tension and uneasiness; this three-headed eagle, though, perfectly embodies the sense of doom and unrest that I think will stay with us no matter who is our President elect (though TBH, one outcome seems far more apocalyptic).
Randall writes, “I find indigenous peoples long gone fascinating, which is why I chose Machu Picchu [for the setting]. The three-headed eagle looks for food at the mercy of Mother Nature, and also watches for predators. It has to keep itself in check over what appear to be tranquil waters. But we all know what lurks beneath.”
No matter where we find ourselves after November 8, a lot of sinister things have surfaced this year. I hope we have the strength to address them head on.
Since November 9, we’ve agonized over what to say to our community in both immediate responses and in our coverage. But we’ve never questioned the relevance of our content. In our year-end letter to our community, we wrote: “For the next four years, the voices we amplify, the ideas we espouse, and the platforms on which we publish will all be under constant attack. In response, we will be bolder than we ever have been before.”
I’m glad to have chosen this image for our Chaos issue, adding to the 20-year history of bold, independent art we’ve featured. I look forward to continuing in exactly that vein.