Bitch Media’s Fellowships for Writers program offers a series of three-month intensive writing fellowships whose goal is to develop, support, and amplify emerging, diverse voices in feminist, activist, and pop-culture media. The program is directed by Bitch cofounder Andi Zeisler.
We couldn’t be more proud to introduce you to our cohort of amazing past fellows below. Visit our staff page to learn about our current fellows. Ready to apply yourself? You can find updates and information on the writing fellowships program here.
2018 Writing Fellows
Jamila Brown | Global Feminism
Jamila Aisha Brown is an Afro-Latina womanist and mujercista who is a child of the Americas and a global citizen of the African diaspora. She is a writer, albeit reluctant, who is passionate about amplifying voices from the global South and challenging white supremacy and imperialism. Jamila is a digital strategist by day, an Assistant Adjunct professor at NYU by night, and radical fashionista 24/7/365… and sometimes 366.
Read Jamila’s Work as a 2018 Fellow
Naseem Jamnia | Technology
A former scientist, Naseem Jamnia is a current MFA fiction student at the University of Nevada, Reno. They’ve written for The Rumpus, Cosmopolitan, the Washington Post, and other sites, and they’re the coauthor of Positive Interactions with At-Risk Children (Routledge, 2019). You can follow their misadventures on Twitter and find out more on their website.
Read Naseem’s Work as a 2018 Fellow
Jourdain Searles | Pop Culture Criticism
Jourdain Natasha Searles hails from Augusta, Georgia. She has a B.A. in Communications: TV & Cinema from Augusta University and an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She writes cultural criticism, screenplays, plays and creative nonfiction. She cohosts the weekly Bad Romance podcast with fellow comedian and writer Bronwyn Isaac. Each week, they analyze a bad romantic film as well as provide criticism for the genre as a whole.
Jourdain is a life-long student of film. She created the media criticism website, fishnet cinema. Jourdain is the primary contributor, with guest pieces written exclusively by women and femmes. She performs stand-up comedy all over New York City. Her monthly stand-up show Madams of the Universe has been at QED Astoria since 2016. She has also performed at Union Hall, Broadway Comedy Club, the PIT, Under St. Marks, the Creek and the Cave and the Footlight among many other venues.
Jourdain is a queer feminist and leftist. She is also visually disabled, which is a subject she discusses frequently within her work. With her writing and comedy, she strives to represent women of color in all their complexities.
Read Jourdain’s Work as a 2018 Fellow
Abby Minor | Sexual Politics
Abby Minor works on poems, essays, quilts, and community art projects in Pennsylvania’s ridge-and-valley region, occupied Lenape territory, where she was raised and lives still. She is the founding director of Being Heard, a creative writing program that honors the voices and imaginations of her region’s elders, and also serves on the Board of Abortion Conversation Projects. In 2016 she was awarded first place in the Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by The Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock. She’s the author of the poetry chapbook Plant Light, Dress Light, published in 2016 by dancing girl press, as well as an alumna of Smith College, the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Penn State, The Penland School of Crafts, and The Rensing Center’s Artist-in-Residence Program. Abby writes, teaches, and collaborates around issues of environment, gender, race, region, beauty, and reproductive freedom.
Read Abby’s Work as a 2018 Fellow
2017 Writing Fellows
Aqdas Aftab | Global Feminism
Aqdas was born in Lahore, and grew up in Islamabad, two cities where she first learned different—and at times conflicting—forms of feminisms from her mother, grandmothers, aunts, and teachers. She came to the United States to study literature at Smith College, where she continued to be around many conflicting feminisms, ranging from liberal white feminism to women-of-color feminism with ideologies inspired by Audre Lorde. After participating in activist groups in Pakistan and feminist PoC spaces in the United States, Aqdas’s gender politics became strongly intersectional and anti-colonial.
Interested in decolonizing mainstream gender movements, Aqdas believes in centering the voices of trans and queer people of color in global feminist movements. She also believes in the importance of critically exploring how feminism gets co-opted for imperialistic, islamophobic, and racist purposes. Aqdas is currently a graduate student in English Literature at the University of Maryland, where she is working on representations of non-normative bodies in postcolonial fiction. When she is not reading or writing, Aqdas can be found biking, listening to old Urdu ghazals, and cooking experimentally.
Read Aqdas’s Work as a 2017 Fellow
Vanessa Borjon | Reproductive Rights and Justice
Vanessa Borjon is the daughter of a Zacatecano immigrant and a southwest side of Chicago Chicana. She received her BA in Creative Writing-Poetry from Columbia College Chicago in 2015. Her writing explores themes of sexuality, xicanisma, and growing up in rural Illinois. Since 2015 she has been working as a teaching artist in various alternative high schools in Chicago where she facilitates youth dialogue around poetry and literature to build social-emotional skills. Her poetry has been previously published in the Columbia Poetry Review, Corazónland Review, Quaint Magazine, Nepantla, and the Shade Journal, among others.
Read Vanessa’s Work as a 2017 Fellow
Bemnet Gebrechirstos | Pop Culture Criticism
Bemnet Gebrechirstos was born in Ethiopia, raised in D.C., sometimes lives in Maryland, and is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree from Scripps College in California. They write both fiction and nonfiction that is always about womanism, radical love, accountability, and resistance narratives. They spend most of her time involved in community organizing, doing activist work and zine making as an editor for Our Sound (based out of Scripps). As a community organizer, they are a part of student mobilization towards decolonization and has worked with various nonprofit organizations in helping high-potential youth from intersectional backgrounds. They are incredibly excited to share a number of her thoughts on pop culture criticism!
When not reading, writing, or working towards societal liberation, they are watching Steven Universe, listening to their favorite podcast The Read, collecting existentialist memes, or exploring various forms of art.
Read Bemnet’s Work as a 2017 Fellow
Mailee Hung | Technology
Mailee Hung is a writer, editor, and cultural critic based out of San Francisco, California. She earned her MA in Visual and Critical Studies at California College of the Arts in 2016, where she wrote her thesis on prosthetics in Western contemporary pop culture. Her work focuses on the discursive and material intersections of technology and the human body. She is especially interested in the ways in which technologies define sociobiological norms and render only certain bodies culturally and scientifically intelligible.
An avid outdoor enthusiast, Mailee also writes about environmental conservation, rock climbing, and reclaiming adventure narratives and mountain literature for marginalized perspectives. When she’s not reading or watching sci-fi, she can usually be found somewhere in or near the Sierras, chuffing up trad routes or heckling other boulderers from a crashpad. She is easily bribed with dumplings or gummy candy.
Read Mailee’s Work as a 2017 Fellow
Biopower to the People: Fitness Trackers Are Redefining What It Means to Be a Human Subject
2016 Writing Fellows
Catherine Young | Pop Culture Criticism
Catherine Young is a Trinidadian writer currently based in Tobago, and the creator of the feminist pop culture blog BattyMamzelle. After graduating from Boston University in 2012 with a BA in Photojournalism, she returned home, abandoned her camera, and focused on writing with a focus on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and media representation. In 2013, her essay “Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of her VMA Performance” (originally published on Jezebel’s Groupthink) went viral, garnering more than one million unique views. Another essay, “This Is What I Mean When I Say White Feminism,” continues to be cited as an explainer on intersectionality. Her work has also appeared on Persephone Magazine and Bitch Flicks. She is currently pursuing her MA in Mass Communications at the University of Leicester (by distance learning), and hopes to continue writing about media representation, its effects on larger culture, and its power to change social attitudes.
Read Catherine’s Work as a 2016 Fellow
Sarita Santoshini | Reproductive Rights and Justice
Sarita Santoshini was born in the state of Assam in Northeast India and spent the first 10 years of her life waking up to see monkeys and elephants in her backyard and cycling through the lanes of a former British tea garden that she called home. School and college took her to different parts of India, and she studied Mass Media in the Hogwarts-like compounds of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Her work has combined her passion for travel and writing: She wrote for Travel Secrets magazine, interned with Condé Nast Traveller India, and was the content editor for the travel startup SaffronStays. In June 2015, she moved back to Assam to focus her writing on the Northeast region, where she reports on human rights, including child trafficking and witch hunting. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera, Roads & Kingdoms, and National Geographic Traveller India. When not traveling or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and 20-year-old pet parrot.
Read Sarita’s Work as a 2016 Fellow
Felicia L. Montalvo | Technology
Felicia L. Montalvo is excited to have the opportunity to write about how humans interact—and co-evolve—with technology. After graduating with a degree in Sociology from Barnard College, Felicia began her post-college journey into the digital marketing world, where she wrote ad copy for clients ranging from cable TV networks to software companies. In between copywriting and mastering the art of PowerPoint formatting, she trained in improv at the UCB and Magnet theaters in New York, performing in several shows around the city. In 2013, she decided to stuff her belongings into a pink suitcase and jump across the pond to the United Kingdom, where she worked at a synthetic biology company, creating software to edit the human genome and contemplating the ways next-gen tech will affect our collective values and ethics.
When she’s not pondering the fate of humanity, Felicia enjoys subjecting her roommates to impromptu puppet shows and lecturing Londoners on the merits of New York bagels.
Read Felicia’s Work as a 2016 Fellow
Maneo Refiloe | Global Feminism
Maneo Refiloe Mohale is a queer, Black feminist writer, poet, and performer born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She writes about race, media, queerness, survivorship, language, history, and silliness, and her work has appeared in print and online publications including Jalada, the Beautiful Project, From the Root Zine, Ignite!, and Expound. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in History and International Relations from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where her undergraduate thesis was on race, resistance, and media in early-apartheid South Africa—a great excuse to watch as many 1950s South African films and listen to as many old jazz recordings of Dolly Rathebe as she could find.
When she’s not writing, Maneo is either baking, learning how to play the mbira (a traditional Zimbabwean thumb piano), hanging out with her amazing family, or generally flourishing among all the Black-womxn, non-binary magic around her.
Read Maneo’s Work as a 2016 Fellow