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. Ready to apply yourself? You can find updates and information on the writing fellowships program here.
2017 Writing Fellows
Aqdas Aftab, Writing Fellow in 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’ 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. ”
Vanessa Borjon | Writing Fellow in 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.”
Bemnet Gebrechirstos | Writing Fellow in 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. She writes both fiction and non-fiction that is always about womanism, radical love, accountability, and resistance narratives. She spends 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, she is a part of student mobilization towards decolonization and has worked with various non-profit organizations in helping high-potential youth from intersectional backgrounds. She is incredibly excited to share a number of her thoughts on pop culture criticism!
When not reading, writing, or working towards societal liberation, she’s watching Steven Universe, listening to her favorite podcast The Read, collecting existentialist memes, or exploring various forms of art.
Mailee Hung | Writing Fellow in 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 socio-biological 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.
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 Cate’s Work as a 2016 Fellow
The Year in Black Girl Magic
Male Tears for Fears: Embracing the Ironic Performace of Misandry
Bwitch, Please: An Interview with Johanna Middleton and Martine Moore
Reboot and Rally: The Revolutionary Opportunities Inherent in Reupping Franchise Favorites
Performance Anxiety: Why I’m Here to Watch Drake Worship Rihanna
On “Orange is the New Black” and the Destruction of Black Bodies
When Visibility Isn’t Enough: Abigail Mills and the Failed Promise of “Sleepy Hollow”
Sarita Santoshini | Reproductive Rights & 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
Birds, Bees, and Beyond: Toward More Inclusive Sex Ed In India
All in the Family: Men’s Crucial Role In The Fight For Reproductive Health In India
Access Denied: The Impact of Child Marriages on Healthcare for Young Girls In India
Right to Work: Sex Workers In India Organize to Fight Discrimination
Safe Passage: Access to Abortion in India
A Fate Better than Death: Communities Unite to Fight Maternal Mortality in Assam
Agents of Ishq Gives Sex Ed a Good Name
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 deci-ded to stuff her belongings into a pink suitcase and jump across the pond to the UK, 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
Breaking Out of the Brexit Binary
Debugging Bias: Busting the Myth of Neutral Technology
Access, Not Just Google: Are Infosystems Erasing Women’s Work?
Bioliteracy Sounds Awesome, But It Needs To Be Inclusive, Too.
Chariots of Feminist Fire: A New Ride Share App Aims to Serve Only Women
These Aren’t the AIs We’re Looking For: Why We Need to Be Smarter About Intelligent Design
Who Disrupts the Disruptors? We Need to Change the Way We Talk About Innovation
SXSW Interactive: The Ultimate Experience in Branded Reality
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
Black Feminist Joy: A Photo Essay
Ones to Watch: Five African Webseries Created by Black Feminists
On #Magic: The Contradictions, Resilience, and Creativity of Black Feminism in South Africa
Backtalk: White Fragility and South Africa’s Queer Femme Web Series