On April 12, Bitch Media, the digital enterprise born out of the Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture zine, announced it would be ceasing operations this June. Founded in 1996 by Lisa Jervis, Andi Zeisler and Benjamin Shaykin in the back of a station wagon, Bitch was not only one of the longest-running zines but one of the most successful in adapting to a digital landscape. “It is with very heavy hearts that we tell you that Bitch Media will cease all operations,” the publication stated. “Recent years have brought a multitude of challenges to our organization, and despite incredible effort, we have concluded that we are unable to sustainably continue creating the quality content that our readers and supporters expect.” Jervis, Zeisler and Shaykin stapled together their first Bitch in late 1996. Its debut issue aimed feminist crit at MTV, Esquire Magazine and Larry Clark’s forever controversial film Kids.
As its scope and popularity grew, the zine evolved from essays and criticism to firsthand celebrations of feminism and art, running interviews with the likes of Lynda Barry, bell hooks and Margaret Cho. In 2001, Jervis and Zeisler successfully made Bitch their full-time jobs. By the time it changed its name to Bitch Media in 2006, the publication had already shown what a feminist voice in the digital world could look like. The internet was, and continues to be, an extremely hostile space for feminist voices, especially those taking grievances with popular culture. In its footsteps came influential sites like Jezebel and The Mary Sue. Sadly the landscape for independent publishing has only grown more difficult in recent years. Just before the pandemic in 2019, the long-running Maximum Rocknroll zine also ended circulation. After over 25 years, Bitch has come to a close. It is not as if there is any lack of pop culture or political developments to, for lack of a better term, k’vetch about.