Battle Of The Indie Girl MagsS

"We've always thought we should save all our ire for corporate-controlled pap, rather than aiming it at our feminist comrades. But contentwise, these gals have recently sported some gnarly green between their teeth—er, pages," reads the introduction to an article in the Summer issue of Bitch magazine entitled "Et Tu, Bust?" Catfight alert! Wait... does saying stuff like "catfight alert" reify gender norms and undermine the possibility for serious discourse about dissent within the feminist movement? Or is it sometimes okay not to take everything feminism-related soooo damned seriously? This month, we read Bust and Bitch in search of the two independently published magazines' answers to those questions. Bitch's answers are: yes, no. Bust's answers are: no, and here is how to do your own highlights! Who will win? Hint: Not women.

The differences between Bitch and Bust are legion, of course, both in their editorial missions and the way they operate as businesses. Though it carries advertising, Bitch is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations from its readers for sustenance, while Bust has national (but seemingly carefully-vetted) advertisers like Fluevog. Bust is "for women with something to get off their chests," and the "something" is often about crafting, D.I.Y. beauty tips, or sex toys, while Bitch is "feminist response to pop culture," and the "response" is often chidey. But as you'd expect, the mags also have a bunch of stuff in common. Like:

Painfully Punny Headlines

  • "Rollin' With The Homies: The Chicks'll Cream, For Mega Ice Cream" (Bust)
  • "Komen Goes Tits Up" (Bitch)


  • Stunningly Pointless Uses of Paper:
  • Bust: "Bang A Gong, Play Mah-Johgg," an article that takes four pages to say 'Some girls like to play mah jongg.' Choice quote: "I like touching the tiles and the sounds they make. Maybe it's a little sexual."
  • Bitch: W: "Doing Its Part To Incite Class Warfare"
    Reprints a rant that originally ran on www.glossedover.com about W's article wherein rich ladies bitched about their nannies. It's ... funnier in print? No.

  • Actually Interesting Insights You'd Be Hard Pressed To Find In Another Print Magazine:

  • InBust's profile of Chloë Sevigny, written by someone who hated her in high school Chloë is quoted as saying, "When I was a senior [in high school in Darien, CT] I didn't even have any friends left. I was sitting by myself in the lunchroom." Also, "In the first season [of 'Big Love'] my character is manic all the time, and I personally went off birth control so my hormones were, like, insane."
  • From Bitch's article "Hooray for Hollywomb": "Motherhood is represented as a way for young celebrities to optimize their sex appeal and marketability, whereas media attention to everyday mothers tends to stress conflict, whether it's conflict between paid work and family responsibilities or the conflict between having kids and having a red-hot marriage."
  • Touchy, Touchy-ness:

  • "Evil Dead: Feminist Bloggers Bring The Hammer Down on Top Model Necrophilia": Hey, do you ever wonder why the stereotype of feminists as humorless, shrill binary thinkers persists? In this article, Women in Media & News director Jennifer L. Pozner congratulates herself on kickstarting a bloggy firestorm about the episode of ANTM wherein the contestants were posed as corpses, which eventually led CNN bloviator Glenn Beck to denounce the "horrible, horrible pictures" two nights running. Newsflash, Jennifer: playing right into the hands of a show that will do anything for publicity and conservatives who are desperate for something to be "enraged" about so that they can flash pictures of the "exploitative" images isn't something to brag about. And neither is being "in agreement with Glenn Beck." That might be a sign that you're doing something wrong!
  • From the Bust letter column: "A statement in "Traveling Broke" [which ran in theApril/May issue] made me do a double take ... I was encouraged to 'offer something in return: stimulating conversation, a dance partner, a blow job' ... Seriously? I just hope this isn't indicative of the thought that promiscuity is equal to women's equality." The editors' response: "When this article first came into the office, it made us laugh out loud. Unfortunately, not everyone picked up on the humor, and we truly apologize to those we offended." Know how progress is made? By saying that there are some things we can't even joke about. Wait: no.
  • Ad Copy Like You Won't Find Anywhere Else:

  • Bust: "Hellcats-LA.com, Home of the koolest in jewelry, clothing and housewares for the person who gives a damn ... featuring kustomized and classic tattoo designs"
  • Bitch: "Psyche: Not Your Mother's Therapist! Bicultural realitie, sexual outsiders, diet survivors, good-girl syndrome, alternative couples, artists, teen women, entertainment business, EMDR, harm reduction, life after trauma, dealing with patriarchy, man-friendly, money angst, fighting fat phobia."

  • We're calling this one a tie.

    Disclosure! Emily used to be a Bust intern once upon a time, like most other femiladies who went to school in New York.