Busted: Feminism and Pop Culture – WORD Christchurch

In the 1980s I was very involved in feminist politics, a lot has changed since those times. We are on the cusp of the first American woman president and women are in some positions of power, but are our lives any better for this? Many women are choosing to remain single, to concentrate on their careers but still get paid less than men. Dieting and body image are the mainstay of most women's magazines, and we seem increasingly obsessed with celebrity culture. So how does a feminist of many years manage to create a magazine that remains relevant to today's feminists?

Debbie Stoller, is co-founder and editor of BUST:

the magazine was one of the founders of ‘girlie feminism,’ a third wave feminist strategy which re-evaluated and embraced traditional feminine activities.

"Girlie feminism"?? Really? My old feminist bones are creaking at such terminology, but then I find myself nearly choking when Debbie Stoller declares that Martha Stewart is her third favourite feminist! Later on she announces that her first and second are Madonna and Courtney Love. I don't get it. However what I do get is that the women's movement has always been very good at putting the boot in, we haven't been good at vigorous debate and this has been to our detriment, so with this in mind I am doing my best to remain open, the old timers in the 70s and 80s believed change would come through politic but Debbie Stoller believes that "mainstream media is where change will happen".

So what is BUST like? It is full of women comics, musicians and actors saying positive feminist things. Tina Fey is a good example, recounting being asked "isn't this an amazing time for women in comedy?" and I was like 'I don't know is it?' Do I make what Will Ferrell makes? No." Feminism via BUST now includes cooking, crafting, creating a wedding, interesting sustainable clothing, sex and travel. There is no evidence of body shaming or articles on the Kardashians.

Feminism via BUST is palatable, it means the magazine has managed to get to 100 issues and that is impressive, as Debbie Stoller says "there's not a lot of money in feminism", keeping the magazine going must have been tough at times. I came away from this session with a mind full of questions, one hour was not nearly long enough, feminism and what it stands for is a debate of unending possibilities and BUST is challenging our foundations.

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