Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #710 - The Bustle Hustle - Bitch Magazine B-Hive Stolen! Just say NO!

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #710 - The Bustle Hustle - Bitch Magazine B-Hive Stolen! Just say NO!

Hey Mom, As you know, I have been a reader of Bitch Magazine nearly since its beginnings.

I have been a member of its non profit "B-Hive" for several years and donate a monthly stipend. One of many loyal Bitch followers, this is what keeps the media entity that is Bitch going.

I have also given Bitch as a gift.

This is good stuff.

When I first posted, I forgot to add my link to the T-shirt blog with my love for Bitch Magazine. Here it is:


For ten years, in teaching my Media and the Sexes class, I was teaching Bitch content even before I discovered Bitch. My class was a feminist response to popular culture. So there. I have even submitted some articles to Bitch, and though I did not get published, I am about TO MOVE to the city right next to Portland, home of Bitch Magazine.

So, I was distressed to learn that BUSTLE, which also starts with the letter B, created a BHive -- sans hyphen -- because it's a big media giant that doesn't give a shit about who it steps on. It either checked if the name was taken and used it anyway, or didn't give enough fucks about the name to care if it was already taken.

Now, if you read on, you will learn that Bustle is trying to strong arm Bitch to take down its derogatory post about the issue and stop its harmful campaign against their company, Bustle that is, and in exchange for avoiding further legal action as Bustle has clearly threatened even without using those words, it will stop using the name BHive.

Hey, BUSTLE, how about you just stop using the name BHive because it's the right thing to do as it was not your name to poach?

Now Bustle may trademark the name and then sue Bitch for infringement just because it can and because Bitch doesn't have the resources to win the fight.

And then there's people like us.

Hey, I hope I can include you in the "us."

Because you can SO GET IN on this "us."

And by you, I mean you, reader, and not you, Mom, because, you, Mom, cannot get in on this fight, not physically at least. Spiritually you're all about it.

Following are the two recent messages, the most recent first, followed by the original, and then finally the posting on the Bitch site that has BUSTLE twisting.

Twist, Bustle, twist. You suck, and I want to tell other people that you suck and warn them away from using your services.

Bustle, you're not worthy.

Dear Bitch Media Community Member,

By now we know you’ve heard: Bustle took the B-Hive name from us and reappropriated it for their own data-mining program.

We called them out

Then Bustle told us they’d stop using the name of our nearly decade-old program—but only if we remove our “unnecessary” and “damaging” post.
The message containing this generous offer came from a corporate law office, with two MORE lawyers copied on the email. Was this a way to intimidate us—like, hey little ladies, did you know that WE HAVE MANY, MANY LAWYERS?  Maybe. Probably! But we’re not going to be scared off that easily. We believe that we’re in the right. And we’re not going to be quiet.

Being able to resist and persist when corporate media puffs out its chest and attempts to silence its smaller, lower-profile, and less moneyed competition is exactly why we’ve worked so hard, for so long, to fund our work independently. When it matters the most, we want to be able to speak out unhindered by ownership.
And this BHive–vs.–B-Hive debacle may just be another tiny blip on the radar for a multimillion-dollar, venture-backed site like Bustle—a PR problem to be quashed quickly and quietly—but it really, really matters to us.

The Bitch B-Hive (the original B-Hive!) is the reason this independent feminist media organization is around. We don’t accept advertising dollars. We don’t have a parent company that foots the bills. We don’t have investors waiting to see if they get a good return. We’re not in the business of empowertising. We’re in the business of making feminist media that helps change the world.

And largely because of these values, we also don’t just have readers whom we sell out for clicks. We have a living, breathing, evolving community, and this is what it looks like.

On Monday our executive director, Julie Falk, replied to the gaggle of corporate attorneys to let them know that we absolutely, definitely, 100 percent would not be removing the post. At this point, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. Judging by the response from our community, calling out Bustle for their corporate media shenanigans was more necessary than ever:

k just one more because Prince…
Bustle is still promoting its BHive, and probably won’t stop unless we make them. In fact, it’s been suggested to us that they may attempt to trademark the name and then sue us for infringement. Honestly, we wouldn’t be surprised.

These are the kind of fights that we have to win if we’re going to be the bold, fierce, witty-as-fucking-fuck feminist community that we say we are. These are the kinds of little things that add up to be big things.

So… let’s make Bustle stop using our B-Hive name! Who’s ready to take on corporate media with us? Are you? Cause it’s going to take some money. (No, we have no idea how much. If we had to estimate, though, we’d say “a lot.”)

Join the real B-HiveMake a real, tax-deductible donation (because we’re a real nonprofit) of whatever size matches your desire to show Bustle that they can’t push us around just because Bryan Goldberg has a zillion dollars and DGAF about ripping off independent feminist media. If you're already a B-Hive member, can you snap some pics of your member swag and share them on social? Plz include #GetInTheHive and tag us @bitchmedia so we definitely see your post!

Let’s go all out to protect the very thing that makes Bitch Media independent: Our B-Hive.

Just as we don’t want to see vital, still-necessary feminist movements watered down by consumer feminism, we don’t want to let the feminist community we’ve helped build be confused with soulless, cynical data mining. Or worse, ended altogether.

We’ll keep our integrity. We’ll keep our post. We MIGHT be able to keep our B-Hive with your help.


In case you missed it, last week, corporate-owned media giant Bustle launched a new program. Normally, we’d just cast a side-eye and ignore the circus. But this time, things hit a little too close to home.

Because this new program sounded a little too familiar to us, and might sound familiar to you too:

It’s called the BHive.

Yeah. You read that correctly.

Unlike our B-Hive, the Bustle BHive has nothing to do with readers having a stake in Bustle’s content and sustainability, and everything to do with “fully exploit[ing]”—their words, not ours—users so Bustle can sell their data to advertisers. We weren’t too thrilled about this blatant biting of our own B-Hive name, and we had a few things to say.

If you haven’t already read our post, “You’re Getting Hustled By Bustle,” please do. The piece immediately went viral, and we want to be absolutely sure that our current B-Hive members—the real B-Hive, as some lovely supporters have called it —know what’s up.
We want to emphasize that this isn’t petty feminist infighting. Bustle shamelessly jacked a name we’ve been using since 2009, and in doing so has created some confusion in our community and among current B-Hive members as to whether or not we’d somehow partnered with Bustle (which was maybe their intention *cough cough* but anyway).

To be crystal clear: Bitch Media is not partnering or collaborating with Bustle and had no idea that they would be using the BHive name. Maybe we should have—after all, corporate entities with millions of dollars at their disposal often find that it’s easier to copy other people’s work than to create their own.  

The Bitch B-Hive is a real community, made up of real people (like you!) who take a stand for independent feminist media. Bustle’s BHive? It’s a barely-veiled market-research listserv that calls itself “exclusively inclusive” (don’t even get us started on what the hell that means), that is mining readers for data that will enrich the other corporations that advertise with them. 

But let’s get back to how our response to Bustle went viral, because that’s the really important part in all of this. Usually, million-dollar companies like Bustle step all over nonprofits like Bitch without a care in the world, because they know we don’t have the resources to do anything about it, and even if we do have the time and money to call them out, we won’t actually be able to stop them. The only reason this time was different is because tens of thousands of folks in the Bitch community and beyond read, shared, and responded to “You’re Getting Hustled By Bustle”—and by Friday afternoon, our executive director Julie Falk received an email from a team of Bustle’s corporate attorneys.

These attorneys told Julie that Bustle would be willing to stop using the name BHive. The catch? We’d have to remove the “unnecessary” and “damaging” article we’d published that called out its theft.

That’s what happens when you speak truth to power. The incredibly patronizing “We’ll give you what’s yours if you just pretend this whole thing never happened” approach doesn’t sit well with us. We’re not taking the article down. And judging from the tens of thousands of people who have read and shared the piece, we aren’t alone in distrusting Bustle and other companies who have co-opted feminism as a cool way to sell the same old shit to women.

So what’s next? We’re not sure yet: We haven’t heard back from Bustle’s gaggle of attorneys, and the site is still promoting its BHive. But one thing’s for sure: We’re not accepting their bargain if it depends on our silence. In fact, it’s time to get even louder.

Here’s what you can do to help defend Bitch’s B-Hive and make your voice heard:

We’ve never backed down from calling out corporate media for co-opting feminism in order to sell you useless shit, and we’re not starting now. This time, it’s personal. 

Let’s show Bustle how the real Bitches get shit done.





When we say—and we often do—that corporate media is interested in publishing feminist perspectives only when those perspectives make them money, we’re often purposely vague. Why? Well, we don’t want to be accused of snarking or infighting or sour graping, for one thing; we also don’t want to suggest that only one kind of feminist outlet can make a difference. But today we’re ready to be a little clearer, so here’s what we mean.
Corporate-owned media, especially in the past several years, is interested in publishing feminist content first and foremost to make money for advertisers and investors on a group of consumers who have historically been difficult to sell to. That feminist content itself may be informative and fun and activist-minded, but ultimately, it’s just a tool used to bring both the eyeballs and the user data of those tough-to-reach consumers to one convenient place (#squadgoals).  
Still not sure what we mean? Let’s be even clearer. And yes, here’s where we name names:

In 2013, Bryan Goldberg started Bustle as a new women’s vertical buttressed by 6.5 million dollars of venture capital and primed to be, in his words, “[T]he largest website in the Female 18-34 category” and “a billion-dollar company.” Goldberg used a thin veneer of feminism (oh, word, women can care about politics and religion?) to justify his quest for “many wealthy advertisers.” Not surprisingly, we weren’t exactly fans then. But now, Bustle has launched a new tool to help collect the sweet, sweet user data of Bustle readers in an “exclusively inclusive” way. But that’s not the best part. Seriously, you thought it couldn’t get better than “exclusively inclusive”? Oh, it can.
Because guess what Bustle is calling this group of readers who will be mined for user data that’s sold to advertisers? Just take a guess!  
The BHive.
screen shot of phone screen with message from Bustle BHive

Not to be That Guy, but Bitch began our B-Hive—the monthly membership program that quite literally is the reason that Bitch is still around—back in 2009, when even BeyoncĂ©’s biggest fans hadn’t started buzzing under the formal BeyHive umbrella. We designed giving levels with cute bee mascots, even! Thanks to B-Hive members who give, on average, $10 each month, Bitch Media has been able to expand our programs, deliver sharp daily and weekly content, increase pay for contributors, and support a community of media-savvy feminists who care deeply about editorial independence. And not the kind of editorial independence that depends on partnerships with LUNA Bars to fund content explaining things like the wage gap. The kind that depends on whether or not the story matters and needs to be discussed in order to keep the transformative work of feminism moving forward.
But we’re not here to talk about our B-Hive, we’re here to talk about Bustle’s, which just happens to extremely coincidentally have an identical name that someone there probably Googled at some point just for due diligence. (I mean, we don’t know! That is something one should do, though) and a bee-motif logo. To apply for acceptance to Bustle’s BHive, all a person has to do is take a short, probing demographic survey that tells you not to worry because all your info is totally confidential. So one of us did.
screen shot of Bustle Bhive survey listing areas of reader interest
Kate, Bitch Media’s publisher, answered the preliminary questions, disclosing that she’s 64 years old and “Other,” as opposed to “Male” or “Female.” (Kate would like it on record that she’s actually 31, but always enters a much older birth date when taking corporate surveys.) Shortly after that, she got this response that denied her AARP-eligible self access to Bustle’s “‘exclusively inclusive” BHive.

screen shot of Bustle BHive rejection letter
Julie, our executive director, was next to take the survey. After letting Big Brother Bustle know that she’s in her early 40s, identifies as female, and has two children ages 11 and 8, Julie was offered entrĂ©e to the BHive—well, as soon as she signed an 8-page Terms of Service contract that allowed Bustle access to her Facebook data and included phrases that made it pretty clear that the “confidential” data she shared as part of her membership was definitely going to be exploited. (To wit: “By submitting User Content through the Services, you hereby do and shall grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free, fully paid, sublicensable and transferable license to use, edit, modify, truncate, aggregate, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, perform, and otherwise fully exploit the User Content…” [Italics ours])

When Bustle enthuses that it wants you to join its BHive so “we can inform the entire universe about what’s important to Bustlers and all the millennial ladies that are driving public opinion and trends,” what it’s really saying is this: The “universe” is advertisers, those advertisers want to move as many units as possible, and Bustle is going to flatter you by telling you that your voice matters while it serves you up on a silver platter so a multinational corporation can sell more “empowering” body lotion. (And all those targeted surveys and quizzes they’re trying to sell as a perk of your membership to this special club? That’s called market research, and it usually requires paid compensation for a volunteer’s insights and opinions. We see you, Bustle.)
This is not feminism. This is corporate media doing what corporate media has always done and trying to fool you into thinking there’s some cooler, nobler angle. Spoiler: There isn’t.
What Bustle is doing isn’t about working toward equality, or liberating women from circumscribed gender roles, or even about making media and pop culture better reflect people’s real lives and identities. It’s about using women to sell shit to other women in order to further benefit wealthy people who literally do not care what they’re selling as long as it makes them more money. At a time when media outlets are being held accountable for tokenizing marginalized people for buzzy content while failing to include them in their leadership—or failing to even pay those writers at all—Bustle ought to know that its listicle-driven, SEO-superfriendly content isn’t fooling anyone anymore.
This kind of marketplace-feminist spin is just one reason why Bitch Media is and has always been independently funded. Not only are we definitely not in the business of 1. Using mysterious qualifications to determine whether or not you as a reader are a worthy set of eyeballs to sell back to some corporate advertiser, but 2. We only serve our mission, which is to 3. Provide and encourage an engaged feminist response to pop culture and mainstream media.

And here’s our response to Bustle’s mainstream media move: If you’re going to say that you were founded with a “very simple maxim” that “every woman should have a voice, and that voice should be heard,” then be clear about who you want to hear it. And if you’re going to shamelessly bite the title “B-Hive,” don’t be surprised when it bites back. Because at this point, it seems like your target audience is advertisers. That’s not some bold, groundbreaking move for feminist communities or women’s voices. That’s capitalism as usual, and dressing it up as feminist is an insult to feminism—and to your readers.  
You’re reading a post from the Bitch Media HQ Crew!


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 712 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1706.16 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

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