Field Notes: Bitch Magazine & Language

The very name of the magazine itself is certainly bold, blatant, and unapologetic. The feminist magazine could have certainly gone for a more reserved and less explicit tone, but that is just simply not the magazine’s style. The magazine is very progressive and the word “bitch” certainly indicates the magazine’s mission and ideas. The word “bitch” is certainly not meant to be taken as an offense, but is more meant to be taken as a force and a reclamation of power.


The types of headlines used in the magazine are usually rather thought-provoking and intriguing and may perhaps need a second read, or even third read over to fully even grasp the idea they are trying to convey, as they usually contain rather large ideas that cannot simply be skimmed over once. Some headlines/stories from the magazine’s latest print issues include “The Fraught Politics of Fatness Desire, and Eating Your Feelings”, “Digitizing the Dead is Capitalism’s Next Ghoulish Move”, and “Dying Indifference: Confronting the Shame of Alzheimer’s in Black Communities.” You’ll also notice that these headlines do not have deks underneath them, which is common of these kinds of headlines in the publication.


Pull quotes in the magazine definitely highlight an important idea from the story and directly pull a quote from the story. The idea, however, is always rather big and the quotes themselves can be rather lengthy at times. The pull quotes may certainly be wordy at times, but the ideas behind them are definitely ideas that need to be emphasized. Examples of such pull quotes include:


Bylines and credit lines are written in a way in which the photographers and illustrators are always explicitly indicated. Bitch magazine is, first and foremost, interesting because it not only contains photos, but for the most part, contains a great deal of art and illustrations as well; so it is important that the magazine makes this distinction between the two different attributions. Bylines and credit lines can be seen as so: “PHOTOGRAPHY BY MYCOZE” or “illustrations by Tina Maria Elena”. The writers, on the other hand, get no preface to their names like the photographers and illustrators do in the credit lines. As opposed to saying “Story by…” or “Words by…”, the credit lines in the magazine simply just state “BY s.e. smith” or “by Jourdain Searles”. Thus, the credit lines of the writers are certainly a lot less explicit than the credit lines of the photographers and illustrators, which is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but just something to note.


As discussed above, there is not much photography in the magazine, but rather a lot of art and illustrations instead, so naturally there actually is not many cutlines and captions throughout its issues. The art and illustrations simply stand alone with no explanation beside them, as the art and illustrations more or less speak for themselves.


The sections and departments are actually very unique and suitable for this publication. Very cleverly the magazine tries to incorporate its name, “bitch”, as much as possible into its sections. For example, the magazine has sections entitled “Bitch List”, “Bitch Reads”, and “bitch tapes”. “Bitch List” contains a list of feminist favorites from the magazine’s staff, while “Bitch Reads” and “bitch tapes” are exactly what they sound like; and provide the reader with recommendations for quality feminist books to read and quality feminist songs to listen to.  Furthermore, if the section head or title does not include the word “bitch” in it at all it still certainly incorporates a feminist word or tone of some sort. For example, the publication also includes sections, such as “Feminist Fill-in”, which is where the reader can get a range of advice from different feminists every season.