When the first issue of Bitch magazine was published in 1996, founders Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler were fresh out of college and Paris Hilton was still in middle school. The magazine's mission--to call out the casual sexism of pop culture by running its products through the wringer of feminist theory--then seemed a vital part of a larger cultural conversation about language, representation, and the future of feminism in a postfeminist world. Nowadays it's hard to get anyone to the left of Ann Coulter that worked up about the subject. But Bitch is still around--and not just hanging in there but thriving, with a circulation of 47,000 and, now, a book, Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism From the Pages of Bitch Magazine (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). To be honest, there's only so much close textual analysis of Martha Stewart, Jane magazine, and Van Halen ("Hot for Teacher: On the Erotics of Pedagogy") anyone can take in one sitting, no matter how snappy. But individually the essays contained herein more than hold their own, and the magazine's collective voice--part smarty-pants nerd-girl, part fierce gender warrior--is as fresh and urgent as ever. Jervis and Zeisler make several appearances in town; the Hideout event doubles as a birthday party for the zine and also features DJ Mother Hubbard and the burlesque troupe Pussy Galore. a Wed 9/27, 7:30 PM, Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark, 773-769-9299; Thu 9/28, 5:30 PM, Columbia College, Ferguson Hall, 600 S. Michigan, 312-344-8829, and 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeffrey Mills.