Our Top 10 Articles of 2013

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It’s that time when everyone’s saying goodbye to the previous year by listing all the things that made it great—in movies, in books, and much more. And we’re jumping in to highlight ten of the articles and blog posts that made Bitch such a vital online destination this year. From Breaking Bad to cross-racial adoption, Halloween costumes to transgender reading lists, there’s something here for everyone. Did you miss any? If so, get reading!

• It seems that there’s more and more to say about Halloween every year, so it’s no surprise that our October post “20 Feminist Halloween Costume Ideas” made 2013’s top-ten list. With suggestions including Adventure Time characters, Olivia Pope, and Women Laughing Alone with Salad, there was something on here for everyone—which, of course, didn’t stop commenters from suggestiing even more great dress-up duds.

“When I Say My Daughter is Transgender, Believe Me,” stated Gendermom, whose post about her five-year old daughter’s identity took on the spectacle of transgender visibility in the media asked why so many people have such a hard time believing that a young person can “really” know when they are born in the wrong body. “Our lack of faith is stubborn,” she writes. “We’re not really convinced. How many miracles must we witness before we come to believe?”

• “The conversation surrounding Beyoncé feels like assessing a prize thoroughbred rather than observing a human woman, and it is dismaying when so-called feminist discourse contributes to that,” wrote Tamara Winfrey Harris in “All Hail the Queen? What Our Perceptions of Beyoncé’s Feminism Say About Us.” Harris’s piece orginally appeared in 2013’s Micro/Macro issue, but was widely shared and discussed online as Mrs. Carter continued to be the most sizzling of media-thinkpiece lightning rods. “I wish Beyoncé could read this!” enthused one commenter. Who knows—maybe in between recording secret albums and selling out massive stadiums, she did? We can dream…

• One of the most exciting additions to the Bitch site in 2013 was Erika Moen’s weekly comic column “Oh Joy Sex Toy,” in which the intrepid sexual adventurer (along with her partner and friends) explores everything from fancy-schmancy sex chairs to workaday dildos. But it was Moen’s column on the humble copper IUD that was one of the year’s most-visited on the Bitch site, and it’s easy to see why: Her witty drawing style and smart, linear explanation of the IUD’s benefits, drawbacks, and coital idiosyncrasies demystified this device in a way that a doctor’s-office pamphlet just can’t match.

• Nicole Soojung Callahan’s personal piece,“Why We Need to Talk About Race in Adoption,” gave the lie to the oft-floated idea that we should strive to “not see color” in our daily lives and relationships. “Some people who plan to adopt across racial lines give me blank looks when I suggest that they closely examine their town, their neighborhood, their local schools, their social activities and community organizations before adopting outside their race,” wrote Callahan. But there were no blank looks in the comments section, where dozens of adoptees and parents thanked the author for addressing what too few are willing to say.

• Hanna White celebrated the visionary behind the animated films Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and more with “The Feminism of Hayao Miyazaki,” a piece looking at how the writer-director centers young female characters as heroines in his stories without making a big deal about it: “Of Miyazaki’s 13 movies, nine feature a female central protagonist, often as the titular character. Compare this to numbers that show women have only 30 percent of speaking roles in blockbuster films.”

• Bitch intern and Breaking Bad superfan Megan Cox had a burning question this past September: “Why Do Many Breaking Bad Fans Love Walter White But Hate Skyler?” The post came on the heels of actor Anna Gunn’s own op-ed in the New York Times, and addressed both the show’s portrayal of a deeply abusive relationship and fans’ view of the Skylar character as “either a nagging harpy or a hypocritical gold-digger.”

• Children’s books have long held especially tenaciously to gender stereotypes, but this year, the Young Adult Library Services Organization’s decision to highlight books with transgender and genderqueer characters. One of 2013’s most popular posts highlighted the list, with descriptions of each book organized by age group and subject. Short-story collections, picture books, graphic novels and more made the list, with plenty of commenters weighing in with their own favorites.

• In “Craving the Other: One Woman’s Beef with Cultural Appropriation and Food,” author Soleil Ho looks cynically—but wisely—at the way that media and pop culture turns eating the food of foreign countries into a presumptuous form of cultural tourism. Not all commenters were on board with Ho’s perspective (GOOD GOD. I JUST LIKE PHO, OKAY?” wrote one), but most recognized how food TV and superstar chefs have transformed the experience of eating the food of other cultures into a set of assumptions about those cultures. If you love food, it’s a must-read.

• And, in the spirit of lists within lists, we were thrilled when Ashley Lauren Samsa, a high-school English teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, submitted a list of eight mainstream celebrities whom she and her feminist students deemed “feminist idols.” Feautring such stars as Zoe Saldana (“she has been encouraging women to make more films and, also, to speak with their wallets and boycott movies that don’t portray women in a good light.”), Mindy Kaling (“It is so refreshing to see a young woman of color who is not ashamed to be normal-sized and who is also super funny.”), Amy Poehler, and Tavi Gevinson (whom Bitch also interviewed this year), the list, as Samsa pointed out, isn’t about who’s the best feminist but who young girls can get behind as they search for role models in the pop culture they consume.

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

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2 Comments Have Been Posted

Awesome list! But.......

This is an awesome list overall, but....... a little sad that Erica Moen is SO popular. As a young queer woman I'm worried that people will read about her background and stories and not take gay women seriously. And think about those disgusting and completely false stereotypes about how, "gay people just haven't met the right person of the opposite sex yet!" the type of sexist tropes that one hears so much of. It's very disheartening. :-(

re: Erica Moen

While the fact that there are still people who are ignorant enough to think "gay people just haven't met the right person of the opposite sex yet!" is indeed disheartening (at best), personally, that doesn't bleed into my full-hearted enjoyment of Erica Moen. She is being honest about her lived experiences as a queer woman, and certainly NOT perpetuating or contributing to that ridiculous and outmoded idea. I think it's important to embrace all our queer narratives, and not shame queer women who date or form committed relationships with men as "bad lesbians" or "traitors." (So 70s!) Certainly these neither are nor should be the only queer narratives we read, popularize, and celebrate, but Moen seems committed to drawing all kinds of queer relationships in her comic, joyously.

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