Et tu, Jessica? “BUST not feminist?” Really?

by Debbie Stoller

Here at BUST, we’ve always been supportive of other feminists. Always. We don’t hold a narrow view of what feminism means, and understand that there are different ways of being feminist. We helped promote Bitch magazine in it’s earliest days. We’ve never trashed Ms. We’ve always  thought  was a cool and important website. Alas, our other sisters in crime are not nearly as generous.

In this weekend’s New York Times, Jessica Valenti, editor of, took the opportunity to sucker punch us in the face. When asked by the notorious Deborah Solomon, “What publications are you comparing yourself with?” Jessica answered, “There’s Ms. magazine and there’s Bitch. Bust used to be a feminist magazine, but now it’s more crafty and about making things out of yarn. I’m not a D.I.Y. feminist. I once tried knitting a scarf but threw it away after 15 minutes”

For fuck’s sake, Jessica, so you don’t enjoy knitting, and that makes BUST not a feminist magazine? We embrace all of those feminine crafts and skills that have long been trashed by the patriarchy, and you’re jumping right onto that bandwagon as well? Don’t you realize that the female-led DIY revolution (you know that the vast majority of sellers on are women, right? Something like 99%, I believe), is an important and positive movement?

Aside from that, sure, we publish crafting and DIY articles because we think our readership enjoys it and we feel that it’s high time that these lady skills got the props they deserve. But that’s just a small portion of the articles we publish in BUST – in fact, it’s in the minority of what we print.

Here are some of the most recent articles in BUST that Jessica, apparantly, deems “Un-feminist”:

Bjork helps woman-run investment firm in Iceland starts fund to help female-run companies

China’s new Barbie Store Raises Questions

The Secret Feminist History of Home-Ec

Interview with Diablo Cody discussing – what else? – feminism

The Vagina Dialogues: Why are women altering their lady parts?

Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat discuss their latest film and, oh yeah: feminism

Smells Like Teen Spirit: Article about the challenges faced by teen feminists

We can dance if we want to: the new feminist go-go dance troupes

Angry in Pink: India’s Gulabi Gang vigilante group protects village women

This is just a sampling, a smattering, if you will, of stories from the past 3 issues — we don’t put all of our articles online. True, there aren’t any stories there about abortion ‘n rape, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a feminist magazine. We are cultural feminists over here at BUST, just like Simone de Beauvoir and so many others, who believe that it is our culture that does the most to propagate and promote sexism, and so we fight that by creating a cultural project that does the opposite; turns the world on it’s head and puts women and women’s interest at the center of our content, with a couple of cute boys on the side.

It’s a fun, if challenging task, but there has been no greater disappointment to me, in all my years since creating BUST, than having narrow-minded feminists declare our point of view to be “not feminist,” and having to defend our approach. I’d never criticize Jessica’s approach to covering feminist issues. Never. But really, this kind of girl-on-girl crime? Not feminist. At all.

BUST not feminist? In the immortal words of  blogger Angie Tempura, “Bitch, pleeze!”

[photo of Jessica Valenti from The New York Times]

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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