Every day society consumes a lot of distorted images imposed by mainstream media. Dealing with it, feminist organizations are looking for young talented writers and journalists. Evette Dionne’s activity is a great example. 

 

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Journalism + Women studies + Black environment = Evette Dionne

North Carolina, the US. 2012 academic year is coming to an end, and Bennett College’s graduates are preparing to get their deserved diplomas. The college is different from other educational institution of mixed type: among graduates there are no white and no men. Bennett College is historically black (HBCU) and this ‘black women environment’ gave birth to lots of young activists.  Mix it with a priori social-active Faculty of Journalism – and you will get a real activity bomb. In 2012 this knock-out girl’s name was Evette Dionne.

Photo: Evette Dionne.

She did not stop her academic development at Bachelor’s degree. Thus, after a lapse of two years, in 2014, Evette received her Master’s in Southern Illinois University Carbondale that considered to have a high research activity.  The Faculty was straightly related to feminist media research — Media management and women, gender, and sexuality studies. As a result, by 2014, a perfectly-educated young activist joined feminist world and devoted herself to a study of the topic.

Karma is Bitch

Now she is a successful culture writer. It takes quite a long time to just skim through all the publications made by Evette Dionne. In 2016, their numbers amounted 905 stories which is about 420K words, according to Contently.  Among others media that Evette Dionne works with, are Refinery29, Clutch Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Bustle. Earlier she made publications for the New York TimesMIC, Harper’s Bazaar, Urban Cusp, LoveBrownSugar, Uptown Magazine, and many others. Whereas the success, Evette Dionne seems to be a down to earth person with a perfect sense of humor and self-irony: “Fat Black feminist who ruins all the fun”, she writes on her Twitter account.

Photo: Evette Dionne.

Furthermore, the crucial part of her feminist activity is being independent scholar and critic. Evette’s personal site responds that in her work she uses “critical theories like Black Feminist Thought, Critical Race Theory, and Strategic Whiteness” in order to research media and cultural products like movies, music and television.

While working in Revelist, Evette made vast improvement by adding an essay section called ‘real talk’. This and other achievements have led her to a position of senior editor in a one of the most high-demand feminist media with a provocative name, Bitch, where Evette works currently.

Feminist response to pop culture

The first project of Bitch Media – a print magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture — was launched in 1996 in Oregon, and it is still considered to be the main part of the media. Being young ambitious graduates, Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler were impressed by an internship that they took in legendary teen magazine Sassy. They were looking forward to found their own fresh, sharp and showing-up magazine that would become a worthful opponent to mainstream pop culture.

The mission of Bitch Media is to break stereotype representation of a woman that no one is proof against today. Sources of the wrong values, propaganda of sexism and inequal rights are everywhere in media: in movies, blogs, TV-shows, magazines, music, advertising. The main goals stay the same through years: “to point out the insidious, everyday sexism of popular culture, propose alternatives, and celebrate pro-woman, pro-feminism pop products” and now are perceived by another generation of feminist writers like Evette Dionne, which proves that feminist problems are timeless.

Photos: covers of Bitch magazine.

Why is it essential to give an alternative image of gender role and how do pop culture images impact on us? Responding to this question asked by Hélène Biandudi Hofer, a host of Need to know, Andi Zeisler emphasizes social responsibility of media for gender models they provide, particularly relating to young women who “can really harm their self-esteem and their sense of identity” being under the sway of media images.

“Not just images of woman either, – Andi underlines, – images of men too: both are used very stereotypically in popular culture”.

Bitch is a compliment

The first question comes on everyone’s head concerning the media is why ‘Bitch’? It is not difficult to guess that the word is provocative enough to catch a reader’s interest. However, the full meaning is deeply.

It is important to understand a context of the time when the name was chosen cause nowadays its meaning is different (due to pop culture?). In 1996 a ‘bitch’ was a word for a woman who said something that others do not want to hear, something opposite to a mainstream point of view.

“”Bitch” is an epithet hurled at women who speak their minds, who have opinions and don’t shy away from expressing them, and who don’t sit by and smile uncomfortably if they’re bothered or offended. If being an outspoken woman means being a bitch, we’ll take that as a compliment.” – Beach Media writes about themselves.

 Feminism needs bitches

Feminism needs more bitches – both providing and consuming. The reason is that media world is getting all-pervading, and the field where pop culture can spread its seeds is becoming wider day by day. That is why Bitch Media is looking for more ‘Evette Dionnes’, readers and ideas for development.

Bitch Media is far not only a print magazine – its writers published daily online stories on the website. Another way to communicate with people interested in feminism is weekly programs Popaganda and Backtalk. Podcasts of the first one are presented in a form of discussions of books, movies, TV-shows while the second format is a free witty talking between two Bitch Media’s editors.

“We have more listeners for some podcasts than we do print subscribers”,Bitch’s publisher, Kate Lesniak, shared with XX Factor.

 

As Bitch is a nonprofit media, it is financed by people’s donations mostly. Kate Lesniak tells that Bitch’s members are “not expecting corporate sponsorship or angel investors. It means that we have to ask our readers for support.” The campaigns are organized four times per a year.

Finally, a target Bitch’s audiences are young people who are concerning about gender problems or just begin to ask questions about inequality, sexuality, media representation of reality. Youth policy seems to be the main tendency in Bitch Media’s expansion. Thus, the media gives an opportunity to start a career in feminist publishing sphere by becoming a participant of the fellowship. By the way, conditions of participations are not scary at all (you do not even need loads of publications).

One more educational project for students is called Bitch in Campus. Its goal is to build an efficient and engrossing conversation between Bitch’s speakers and students, to engage with potential activists and to help them to not get into a muddle with the media world.

“Pop culture is powerful, and a feminist response to pop culture has place in every campus”.

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