Ends on

Plastic (#91)

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Open: Dec 10, 2020 to February 22, 2021

Plastic: One word, a thousand meanings. It’s a euphemism for credit cards and grocery bags, an umbrella description for the fake and inauthentic. When it’s applied to women—as it often is—it denotes a surface with no substance, a bland conformity (there’s a reason one of the most iconic cliques in teen-movie history bears the name), a sad sameness. The material that once brought advancements in everything from medicine to clothing to building materials is now at the center of a cultural firestorm over capitalism, climate change, and what we will and won’t sacrifice for the greater good.  

And though no one associates the word with depth, plastic is deeply connected to our daily lives, the central material in a material world. Plastic represents the American dream: Wages may be stagnant while the cost of living continues to rise, but many of us take on ever-growing debt in order to sustain a performance of middle-class success. Silicon Valley, the shining land of optimism and innovation, peddles the myth of meritocracy while gliding past the financial, political, and interpersonal wreckage wrought by big tech. When we say plastic, that’s what we mean: the ways in which our society remains as polished, shallow, and unbearably flexible as the material itself? What are they? What do they tell us about what we are—and what we could be?

This issue seeks to examine plastic as both a generative material and a societal condition,  interpreting this theme through an assortment of lenses. So whether your idea revolves around Instagram models, Barbie dolls, or sex toys; whether it takes the form of an interview, cultural analysis, or critical read, consider questions as well as answers: How can we ethically approach consumerism in ways that aren’t exploitative? What does it look like to create friendships built on a sturdy foundation rather than shallow connections? What happens when you’re devoted to a cause but not to the well-being of the people in your movement? Who dictates high-fashion trends and who benefits from the resurgence of age-old fashion ideas? We want stories that don’t take a common approach to Plastic. Give us something out of the box that takes this issue in a new direction that prioritizes depth.

KEY WORDS: environment, debt, pools, cosmetic surgery, credit cards, Silicon Valley, frenemies, Instagram, sex toys, sustainability, cliques, girlbosses, Barbies, shopping, activism, cliques, imposter syndrome, brands

SECTIONS: Features, Culture, Front-of-Book

Front-of-Book

Dispatches (1200 words) are missives from the frontlines. We’re looking for underreported and fascinating stories from across the country, the globe, and the realms of fiction that introduce Bitch readers to stories and topics they might not have encountered before. A great dispatch could be from Argentina or Tennessee just as easily as San Junipero or Panem.

Features

Features are deep dives into the intersection of feminism and culture. Everything is culture to Bitch, including pop culture, social-justice movements, and technology. Longform and essay writers examine, ruminate, and push boundaries. The writing is tight, top-notch, and original. We are looking for pieces that not only dive deep, but dive where no one else is looking.

Investigative Essay (2300 words): You smell a buried story and want to tell the world what’s going on. Complete with research, reporting, and clear, concise writing, this piece braids information and intrigue and takes the readers on a journey through something underreported, unknown, or in need of a spotlight.

Cultural Feature (2200): Nonfiction feminist critical essays are not about the “I” statements—a Bitch essay critiques a larger systematic or cultural problem by centering a marginal community and exploring the impact of that issue for a particular demographic.  At its heart, it's a soaring cultural critique. This feature establishes your chops as a writer who is unafraid to go there. It’s an essay that demonstrates that you have cultivated your own distinct voice and your work unapologetically expresses an unforgettable message that centers your community, resistance, and establishes new ground with unchartered possibilities for how to live free.

Culture

This section is where Bitch brands and solidifies its cultural authority. From celebrating significant pieces of pop culture that are turning 20 to analyzing the Impact Of directors, producers, and screenwriters (600 words), Culture examines elements of our lives that show up in books, on screens, in music, and all over the internet.

Culture features three essays (800 words) that look at themes springing up in books, screen, and music, and explore the cultural context for that theme and why it’s significant. Are multiple TV shows depicting abortions? How is YA literature handling sexual assault? We want to know.

Culture wants to know the people behind-the-scenes who are making television and movie magic (1000 words). Who’s the next Ava DuVernay or Joi McMillon or Shonda Rhimes? These interviews highlight voices that are rarely tapped into.

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