Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - FROM THE HQ -

As the year comes to a close, we say good­bye to the 2017 class of Bitch Writ­ing Fel­lows: Vanessa Bor­jon, Re­pro­duc­tive Rights and Justice; Mailee Hung, Technology; Bem­net Ge­brechirstos, Pop-cul­ture Crit­i­cism; and Aq­das Aftab, Global Fem­i­nism. You’ve read their work on­line and in Bitch mag­a­zine, but we couldn’t let them go with­out let­ting you get to know them a lit­tle bit bet­ter first.

What’s been your fa­vorite show or movie of 2017?

Vanessa Bor­jon: Def­i­nitely Girls Trip.

It spoke so much truth about deal­ing with toxic re­la­tion­ships and the im­por­tance of healthy fe­male friend­ships. It was also re­fresh­ing to have an all-black, fe­male-led cast in a com­edy.

Mailee Hung: Twin Peaks: The Re­turn! David Lynch def­i­nitely has some is­sues with women, but I think lov­ing a show in spite of its misog­yny is a skill we’ve all had to cul­ti­vate. Sigh.

Bem­net ge­brechirstos: I had high hopes fol­low­ing The Get Down’s strong start in 2016, but Part Two went above and be­yond all my ex­pec­ta­tions.

aq­das aftab: I am still in awe of last year’s Moon­light, which car­ried over for me in 2017. I have seen it around five times now.

What song or al­bum did you ob­sess over this year?

VB: To­tally been ob­sessed with Ayo, the lat­est al­bum by Bomba Estéreo!

MH: “Ax­olotl” by the Veils from their al­bum To­tal De­prav­ity. The band played the song on a Twin Peaks episode, and I fell in love with it.

Bg: Is it okay if I list two? I’m go­ing to list two. Solange’s A Seat at the Ta­ble and SZA’S Ctrl. aa: The Pak­istani song “Phool Khil Jayien.” The singer, Abida Parveen, in­spires me with how she has de­fined her an­drog­yny and trans­gres­sion of the gen­der bi­nary as in­her­ent to Su­fism.

What’s the last book or ar­ti­cle you read and loved?

VB: The Sun Is Also a Star by Ni­cola Yoon. I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be so moved, but the re­al­ness of fall­ing in love as a young per­son, and the del­i­cate yet hon­est way it han­dled im­mi­gra­tion, re­ally struck a chord with me. MH: “The First So­cial Me­dia Sui­cide” by Rana Das­gupta. It’s an ex­tract from their longer ar­ti­cle in Granta mag­a­zine, which I sub­scribed to right af­ter I fin­ished read­ing it. Lau­rie Penny’s ar­ti­cle “Life-hacks of the Poor and Aim­less” is also re­quired read­ing. Bg: Black Marx­ism: The Mak­ing of the Black Rad­i­cal Tradition by Cedric Robin­son. A well-wo­ven col­lec­tion of texts on the lega­cies of Black rad­i­cal Marx­ists, this book was ex­actly what I was look­ing for last sum­mer. aa: I read Queer­ing Sex­ual Vi­o­lence: Rad­i­cal Voices from Within the Anti-vi­o­lence Move­ment (edited by Jennifer Pat­ter­son) this year, and felt like I had been wait­ing for this book my whole life.

A clas­sic Bitch check-in ques­tion: If one of your hands was a sand­wich that was al­ways there, avail­able to eat at any time and in any weather, what would it be?? VB: Wow, the pos­si­bil­i­ties! I’d have to go with any kind of sand­wich that would taste good with Takis crum­bled on the in­side. If I’m go­ing to take ad­van­tage of a nev­erend­ing hand sand­wich, I wanna make sure I find a way to also in­clude in­fi­nite Takis.

MH: Jam­bon-beurre with cor­ni­chons and horse­rad­ish. I know, it sounds wacky, but I as­sure you it’s not!

Bg: A clas­sic grilled cheese with a bit of raw honey on brioche bread.

aa: It would be a sand­wich packed with french fries, so I could eat the fries in any weather and ig­nore the bread.

What are you proud­est of as a writer? What’s been some­thing un­ex­pect­edly dif­fi­cult or chal­leng­ing?

VB: Hon­estly, I’m most proud I com­mit­ted my­self to this fel­low­ship and found a way to in­cor­po­rate the things I’m pas­sion­ate about into the writ­ing I pro­duced.

MH: I think I’m just proud that I’m still writ­ing. Writ­ing is of­ten hard and un­com­fort­able for me. I [can] get caught up think­ing that if I don’t feel like do­ing it all the time or if it doesn’t al­ways come eas­ily, then I must not re­ally love it or be very good at it. The chal­lenge is ac­cept­ing that cre­ative work can’t be out­put 100 per­cent of the time.

Bg: End­lessly cre­at­ing and grow­ing into my­self has been a dif­fi­cult but sa­cred process. I’m proud of this ex­plo­ration of self, and the strength of the com­mu­ni­ties that guide me, as well as the an­ces­tral re­la­tion­ship I hold to nar­ra­tives of re­sis­tance.

aa: I am proud­est of, and most ter­ri­fied of, the fact that I never feel like my writ­ing is com­plete or done. I have been think­ing more about some of the ideas that I ar­gued for in my pieces, and I have been push­ing my­self to re­think and re­vise some of my frame­works.

Read the full ver­sion of this in­ter­view at bitch­me­

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