CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Open: May 28, 2021 to July 5, 2021
Born to be wild. That’s wild. The Wild West. Wild Kingdom. Wild card. Wild out. Wildest dreams. “Wild” is a small word denoting big ideas, big feelings, and big fears, a butterfly net trying to catch eagles. It holds the unsettling awareness of all that we don’t know and can’t control—nature, opportunity, freedom, unpredictability, daring, chaos.
It’s also, historically, a word frequently used to describe the “other”—those who were seen as a danger to established societies, beliefs, and cultures ordered and dictated by the most powerful. To them, wildness was an affliction to be healed, an unruliness to be tamed, a sensuality that threatened their imaginations. Much of what we know as the story of civilization is the product of suspicion that anything unfamiliar to the ruling classes must also be dangerous, morally if not physically. Thus it’s not surprising that “wild” in its most potent form exists as a social construction, the word often wielded to police the respectability, modesty, imagination, and ambition of those who live, love, and simply exist outside what’s classified as “normal.”
But wildness also denotes the generative potential of exploration and opportunity. With this issue, we hope to consider wildness as both a fertile space of possibility and a shorthand for what others fear about what may exist there. Whether you associate wildness with the debauched, over-the-top excess of celebrity culture; with the mysteries of outer space or the ocean floor; or with upending of status-quo beliefs about activism or ambition, we want to explore it with you. How do gender, race, education, and other identities and backgrounds challenge status-quo portrayals of the wildness we embrace, the wildness we reject, and the wilderness of our own imaginations? What do climate change, gentrification, and bespoke global tourism tell us about the packaging and selling of wildness as a global commodity? Who gets to decide what beliefs and behaviors are out of bounds, and what drives us to push—or, alternately, police—the boundaries set for us by culture, media, and politics? We want a range of essays, analysis, and interviews on what wild means and how it drives our lives, work, imaginations, relationships, and histories.
KEY WORDS: wilderness, exploration, primal, the Wild West, Girls Gone Wild, exoticism, hunting, drugs, food, ecofeminism, witchcraft, Little House on the Prairie, control, vision, paternalism, veganism, foraging, cottagecore, purity, sexuality, fearlessness, adventure, the outdoors, innovation, self-sufficiency, off the grid, nomads
SECTIONS: Features, Culture, 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 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 words): 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.
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.