Spring 2003 Contents OAM Home Oberlin Online Home
Feature Stories
Money Matters
Family Tree, Oberlin roots
Operation Internship
[cover story] Fury and the Sound
David Rees Gets His (Bleep) On
Around Tappan Square
Alumni Profiles
The Last Word
One More Thing
Inside Oberlin
Staff Box

Alumni Notes


"It's a Noun, It's a Verb, It's a Magazine"

The title of Lisa Jervis' popular feminist magazine is meant to evoke reactions. "Bitch," says the 1994 grad, is a term of empowerment, a reclamation of a word once used against women that now celebrates their ability to speak up and fight. Bitch magazine, she says, offers a "feminist response to pop culture."

Through media critiques, investigative articles, personal essays, and a healthy dose of humor, Bitch covers politics and societal issues with the aim of changing stereotypes. Its readers are inspired to think, reflect, and act upon such issues as protecting reproductive rights, working for peace, and combating discrimination.

Bitch was launched in 1996 by Jervis and her San Francisco roommate, Andi Zeisler, now co-editor. Fresh out of college and feeling stifled by their jobs, the women had been searching for a creative outlet to express the problems they saw in popular culture. "We were tired of sitting around throwing bricks at the TV," Jervis says. Although neither of the women had much editorial experience, Jervis was aided by her Oberlin creative writing workshops and her job as a writing tutor, both of which taught her to be a careful reader of other people's work. The editors learned as they went and hired Ben Shaykin '95 as the first art director.

A self-described "longtime magazine junkie," Jervis admits to a love-hate relationship with the mainstream media and their consumerist bent; the mainstreams, she says, are slow to speak out against the status quo because advertising is essential for their survival. Bitch, on the other hand, with just a handful of ads, can be as frank as it wants. The magazine attracts writers who work practically for free and a "volunteer brigade" of proofreaders. At $4.95 a pop, its 42,000 copies are mailed to subscribers and sold at 1,500 book and record stores around the country.


--Courtney Mauk '03