Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Media, declared social media and pop culture the modern avenues for feminist activism in a speech to a crowd of 20 at the McCormick Tribune Forum on Thursday.
Zeisler, a longtime freelance writer and illustrator, was the second of three speakers who spoke at the College Feminists Fall Speaker Series. Zeisler’s work has been featured in newspapers and periodicals such as Ms. Magazine,Mother Jones, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is the co-editor of BitchFest, a compilation of works published in Bitch Magazine, which is published by Bitch Media.
In her speech, Zeisler described Bitch Media’s approach to activism. She said activism was often “intimidating” to people. She offered examples ranging from Vanity Fair to the 1968 protest of the Miss America pageant, to show how media influenced her desire to add a feminist perspective to pop culture.
“We took on the project of really honoring what is great about popular culture while still trying to hold it accountable for how it represented men, women, gender, race and sexuality,” Zeisler said.
Zeisler said Bitch Media emphasizes aesthetics as much as its written content.
“The most successful activism is always going to have that visual component,” Zeisler said.
Humor is an effective way to break down language and the media, Zeisler said. In a weekly online post “Douchebag Decree,” Bitch Media integrates comedy and criticism to discuss media and pop culture.
“I really liked when she went into how images and humor are tools to convey feminist messages,” said Communication sophomore Sanjana Chetia. "It really is as easy as creating a cool image or posting something funny.”
Zeisler urged the audience to think critically about popular culture since “on a macro level, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you can’t escape pop culture by closing a book or changing the channel,” Zeisler said.