Sunday, August 06, 2006

If It's Sunday, I Must be Pissed off About Something in the NYT Sunday Magazine Again

It takes so little to set me off: All you have to do is send Deborah Solomon to interview Andi Zeisler, founder of Bitch magazine, and let the stupid roll forth in great waves from La Deborah:

Q: I see that your magazine, a feminist quarterly based in Oakland, Calif., and devoted to critiquing the sexist slant of pop culture, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the publication this week of a thick anthology called “BitchFest.” Why would you choose to glamorize the unappealing female stereotype of the bitch?

Yeah, why would you do a thing like that, bitch? How unappealing! I'll bet you don't shave, either.

I can almost forgive this question, though, because it gives Zeisler an opportunity to state the obvious, and in a "meet so-and-so" style interview such as this one, there's nothing wrong with starting from the basics:

When we chose the name, we were thinking, well, it would be great to reclaim the word “bitch” for strong, outspoken women, much the same way that “queer” has been reclaimed by the gay community. That was very much on our minds, the positive power of language reclamation.

Ding, ding, ding. I have such a hard time believing Solomon couldn't figure this out on her own that I would like to assume she asked the "duh" question up front simply to generate this excellent response and get the ball rolling.

I would like to, that is, but I can't, because of the very next question:

But is the goal to rouse an entire generation of women to become bitches?

Well, Deborah, you're too smart for Andi! You got her all figured out. That is exactly the goal. It's right up there with acquiring an island in the South Pacific, moving 20,000 angry lesbians onto it, and birthing a bitchy matriarchal culture. Listen, it's going to be great. Any male visitors to the island will be kidnapped, drained of their precious bodily fluids, and ritually sacrificed. All conception will take place via these unwilling sperm donors and The Most Holy Turkey Baster of the Goddess. All male babies will be aborted in group ceremonies, and the flesh thrown to packs of wild dogs. Let's see, we'll need a name for this place. Oh, here we go! Perfect.

It would be nice if news outlets would get over this notion that sending an interviewer hostile to the interview subject makes for good, confrontational, controversial reporting. It doesn't. It makes for a headache.

In fact, if anyone's coming off as a crabby-assed bitch here, it's Deb. Challenging Zeisler's statement that "feminism is very much alive," Deb asks:

Is it really? It seems as if its original vision of social equality has been undermined by third-wave feminists like yourself, who limit your critiques to, say, Tori Spelling’s breasts. Doesn’t the obsession with pop culture risk trivializing feminism?

Quit using Tori Spelling's ta-tas to kill feminism, Zeisler!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS INTERVIEW:

Deborah Solomon hates third-wave feminists. Also, Tori Spelling. Especially Tori's breasts.

Andi Zeisler believes in language reclamation, thinks discussing pop culture is worthwhile, and used to intern at the now-defunct Sassy.

Bitches are unappealing and unfeminine.

Bitch magazine should have been called Kvetch magazine because Deborah likes that word better.

Any money put into this interview by the magazine was plumb wasted. I can get better interviews, better commentary, and better discussion on the feminist web.

UPDATE: I am not the only detecting a bitchy vibe from Ms. Solomon:

Honestly, the title of the magazine fits the magazine. It’s a dig at people exactly like Solomon who think that women engaging in cultural criticism are just bitching for the hell of it. The magazine is a breath of fresh air for a lot of women my age—from the cheeky title to the music reviews, it signals loud and clear that feminism is completely compatible with the ironic self-awareness that, for good or bad, plagues our generation. What’s funny to me is that for all that Solomon thinks that 3rd wavers are full of shit, I have to say that at least we’re not sitting around wringing our hands about whether or not this is a “post-feminist” era.

Yes, exactly. "Isn't all that oppression and sexism and stuff so, you know, 70s? Doesn't the fact that you talk about pop culture mean feminism has accomplished its more serious goals? Shouldn't you go away now and quit tormenting with me Tori's boobs? Why isn't your magazine called something less bitchy, like 'Kvetch'?"

This, in a magazine whose chief article today is a 7-page love letter to a fashion designer who's lost his job because it turns out rich bitches want something more than ball gowns to swan around in. Something useful, like daywear and purses. The fucking nerve! THIS MAN IS SUFFERING FOR HIS ART AND LOOK HOW YOU'VE REPAID HIM, BITCHES.

5 comments:

Bryan said...

I usually like the NYTimes Magazine style and fashion pieces, but even I had to stop reading today's article halfway through. Aww, people don't want to "invest in beauty" any more. Poor baby.

I'm glad to see other people getting righteous about Solomon's comments in the interview. I wouldn't have been quite as friendly with her as Andi Zeisler managed to be.

Mark H. Foxwell said...

Hey, Ilyka, I found you via Pandagon.

Witchy-Woo observed some weeks ago the prospect of using stem cells (presumably not fetal ones, as that would be kind of pointless) to generate artificial sperm:

http://witchy-woo.blogspot.com/2006/07/wonder-of-modern-science.html

So I suppose the Paradise Island project would not actually require the capture of hapless seamen (heh heh) to reproduce.

Though I'm sure it would remain a a fun national sport.

wolfa said...

Even his very good collection, simple, with small stuffed canaries on the shoes, didn't sell well. Imagine that.

I wonder what his clothes look like. I hear them described as beautiful, but, oddly, I do not trust the writer of the article.

belledame222 said...

augh. they pay this woman how much? "so, tell me all about this novel, edgy concept of the title which is the ENTIRE GODDAM POINT OF THE MAGAZINE, YOU MOLLUSK.

sheesh.

belledame222 said...

...i dunno. is the fact that Bitch made the radar of the NYT at all supposed to be some sort of signal that We've Arrived, Again, Sort Of?