There was a time, not too long ago, when any conversation about independent, feminist media would begin with the announcement that another near-and-dear magazine, bookstore, or publishing concern had recently shuttered its doors. Remember? We sure do. Every time Bitch dodged a spot on that doomed list—and there were a few close calls—we’d thank our readers, count our lucky stars, and keep on cranking out witty, timely feminist pop culture critique and analysis.
Over the last two years, things have taken a decidedly sharp turn. Now, when we’re meeting new friends or mingling at a media conference, small talk quickly explodes into excitement about the new feminist media outlets that have not only launched, but launched with considerable cash-in-hand. Suddenly, there’s a rapidly growing number of millionaire and billionaire venture capitalists who believe that feminist media is worth investing in.
Take a second and think about it: If you can’t name at least two new podcasts, websites, advice columnists, or TV shows that celebrate feminist subjects and perspectives, we’d be shocked. Netflix and HBO stream characters that drop feminist theory with blithe confidence at a jaw-dropping rate. Even women’s glossies like Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire have changed their top-10-beauty-secrets and find-a-mate tunes to make room for notes of politically aware, tech-savvy, ladies-first empowerment.
Yep, it’s happened: Feminism has gone mainstream.
But here’s the thing: There’s a difference between media and pop culture becoming inherently more feminist and monetizing feminism to sell media and pop culture. And though the line between the two is often fuzzy, we’re pretty certain we know who draws it: the hand that delivers the cash.
So, 19 years after Bitch was founded, we find ourselves in a situation that’s both exciting and complicated. We’re happily surprised that feminism has found its way to the center of pop-culture discourse: After all, since the beginning, Bitch’s mission has been to highlight pop culture as a crucial conduit for ideas and beliefs about gender, power, and representation. And while we celebrate the many new media outlets that share our values, we steadfastly believe in these three statements:
- Pop culture has the power to change the world.
- Feminist media has the power to change pop culture.
- Venture capitalists shouldn’t have more say in what makes feminist media than the rest of us.
Thanks to reader support, we’ve come through nearly two decades of media-industry instability as a nonprofit, feminist media organization, with our independence clearly intact and our voice as loud as ever, and we’re not about to bend to the whims of venture capital just because, suddenly, feminism looks like a hot new investment.
In the rising tide of feminist media, our job has been and continues to be to discover and mentor new writers, amplify diverse voices, and most of all, create opportunities for leadership and growth for those who have been systemically excluded from the conversation. And when it comes to doing our part to move feminism forward, it’s been a banner year.
We’ve arrived at the threshold of our 20th-anniversary year with a spiffy new website, a recently redesigned magazine, two stellar podcasts, a well-regarded campus program, and a spanking-new set of writing fellowships. As we push to raise $50,000 during Bitch Media’s 19th annual funding drive, we’re asking you to make a meaningful contribution to help us reach our goal by December 31, 2015. Your tax-deductible gift will make an immediate impact. Whether that means a $10 monthly membership, a $25 one-time gift, or a $500 annual contribution, we thank you for your support.
Julie Falk, Executive Director
Andi Zeisler, Cofounder