Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Sharon Lewis

Committee Member

Sally McWilliams

Committee Member

Paul Butler


Where does feminism fall in contemporary American culture? Has it lost its relevance as a result of waning interest in feminist politics? In today’s feminist troupe, a culture of inheritance has stepped into many of the advantages the Second Wave pushed so hard to acquire. What becomes the point of contention is the approach these inheritors now take to feminism or, more so, the perception of the Third Wave by its predecessors, as well as the persistent misrepresentation of feminism by mass culture. A great amount of speculation exists about the movement of feminism since the heyday of the Second Wave. While the tension between Second Wave and Backlash seems to stem from two conflicting opinions, the tension between Second and Third Wave takes on a parent-child relationship. What seems to have been handed over to the Third Wave is in actuality being dealt with simultaneously by both groups. The difference that seems to create friction is the approach each group takes to these issues, each with differing historical contexts.

The subjects of this discussion of the Third Wave agenda are Bust and Bitch Magazine. While Bust Magazine is a feminist parody of more conventional, mass- media magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, and, for younger women, Seventeen, Bitch Magazine is a self-titled critique of popular culture that physically stays close to its zine roots. The significance of these two choices is their proximity to both mainstream publications and small press zines. As it blurs the lines between magazine genres, this duality helps to establish a space for feminist growth.

This paper will show that both magazines function within a Third Wave perspective, embody the goals and ideals of the Third Wave, and work as politically empowering sources for contemporary Third Wave Feminists. They also embody the basic concept of zine feminism in their construction and content. In doing so, these two magazines are in the process of creating an alternative female visual representation through a postmodern fracturing of imagery and also work to create a Third Wave Feminist terminology that, despite existing in the space of media, is actively resisting restrictive patriarchal language.

Linguistically, though Bust and Bitch Magazine may not necessarily offer up new academic terminology in their wordplay, they are resisting the assumed writing standards for magazines. Although, both magazines provide visual aid for their readers, thus perpetuating the process of learning how to “gaze” at oneself, it also functions as a forum for female agency. Women see fragments of the female body and, by virtue of this fragmentation, are forced to put the picture together, hence their own interpretation. They begin to read visualization more actively, engaging in the process of their own bodily socialization.

The feminist significance of these magazines and in this analysis is the attention paid to how each group continues to function as a feminist entity; however, more important is the ultimate discussion of where the feminist movement as a whole needs to go. What seems to continue to be a point of contention for feminists and non feminists alike is the connotation of "feminism" both linguistically and conceptually. For this reason, the greater issue is not whether these publications are truly feminist or if the Third Wave is fulfilling feminist ideals, but how feminism is being presented, where it diverges from Second Wave ideas and the significance of this divergence.

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