We girls who grew up on Sassy magazine had a few things in common. You might remember us as the firebrands who got good grades, avoided pep rallies at all costs, and lectured our less enlightened peers on the vanity of the high school caste system. Understandably, Sassy appealed to our quirky outcast coolness. In its pages, images of smart, punky, healthy young women enabled us to see through the flimsy veneer of media-manufactured beauty. The intelligently penned content also made riot grrrl, Sonic Youth, and grass-roots activism common-use terms -- at least in our circles. Sassy was like a big sister in college who assured us that things would get better soon.
When the sovereign of girl-friendly mags went kaput in 1994, there was nothing in its wake to fill the void it left in the hearts of non-Seventeen-reading adolescent girls. Luckily, in 1996, a band of writers nostalgic for the juggernaut that introduced feminism to a new generation of young women decided to launch Bitchmagazine.
Bitch's piercing, brazen approach to women's issues puts "a lucid, balanced face on feminism for all kinds of folks, including people who aren't really aware that feminism refers to more than women who don't want to shave their legs," according to its Web site. At the same time, the publication is not about palliating its philosophy with the "We're feminists, but we're not really feminists" cop-out. Bitch isn't coy about openly impugning those who believe staying home to raise the baby is the only vital "issue" women nowadays face. Rather, the erudite troublemakers of Bitch deftly map the diversity of third-wave feminism -- creating a forum in which discussions about gender bias in sociobiology, tips on writing a protest letter, articles on porn luminaries like Candida Royale, and critiques of sexual empowerment as envisaged in Buffy the Vampire Slayerall happily coexist.
The magazine also has a legendary beef with Jane Pratt, editor of Jane Magazine and a former editor at Sassy. "We would love to flatter ourselves by thinking that it's our constant harping on her narcissism and the abundance of empty, self-referential content in Jane magazine that led to her decision to step down in September, but I'm sure that's totally not the case," quips Bitch Editorial and Creative Director Andi Zeisler.
Celebrate Bitch Magazine is a party for the Summer 2005 "Truth and Consequences" issue of the quarterly rag, which features everything from an essay on the recent media trend of outing historical figures like Abraham Lincoln to an interview with local Gay Shame activist Matt Bernstein Sycamore, aka Mattilda. The event includes gossip-dishing, tell-alls, and readings that redefine truth and lies in the context of our always questionable milieu.
To reiterate Bitch's mission, "If being an outspoken woman means being a bitch, we'll take that as a compliment, thanks."