Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ms. Magazine

If you haven't been reading or subscribing to Ms Magazine lately, you should give it another try. Since being taken under the Feminist Majority umbrella, it has developed into a women's news magazine with sharp reporting and layout. I actually read it now. For quite some time I subscribed or bought it on the newsstand out of loyalty to the movement, but then when I'd look at it my eyes would just glaze over. After the heady days of its debut years in the early 1970s, its editorial content was reportedly held in check by, at various times: the will of advertisers, being purchased by a male publisher, and being really short of dough. For years it also had a boring and hard-to-read layout. And also perhaps there was an editorial board somewhere that kept saying "let's not step on anybody's toes in the women's movement." Often there was a bit of a hagiographic feel.

The Feminist Majority < >, a major US feminist group headed by former NOW President Ellie Smeal, has been a long time building a broad-based constituency with a lot of emphasis on enrolling youth, and has also worked very hard to raise money to support a substantial operation. Their foregrounded agenda has been a funny patchwork of issues, which I suppose were the ones they could best raise money around, including getting the US to legalize RU-486 (the French abortion pill), support for women in Afghanistan, analyzing the gender gap in US elections, feminist internships for college women, and, curiously, women and policing. They also have long had an online news section of their website. Smeal really throws herself and her organization wholeheartedly behind their major activities, and they have a good track record. They were the creators of the very successful Feminist Expo '96 for Women's Empowerment and the followup Feminist Expo 2000, events that showcased the variety and activity of the US women's movement.

Another thing about FemMaj is that they are based in the Washington DC area instead of New York where Ms was started, and because of that placement they are very active in the National Council of Women's Organizations. NCWO is a coalition of both membership organizations and research groups that specialize in women's issues. < >

FemMaj also has links to wealthy Hollywood feminists.

Apparently FemMaj can now afford to support this slick quarterly print publication whose only ads are for nonprofit organizations, and can pay reporters and editors for current analytical stuff. Adopting the well-known Ms. instead of starting a new publication was a stroke of genius, and after a hesitant beginning, they are really putting a new and I think more exciting spin on it. I'm sure they are counting on subscriptions to help pay for it of course, and I do plan to renew. They also now involve Ms. in political actions, like delivering a "We Had Abortions" petition to the US Congress.

For more on Ms try this link (which includes daily news updates):


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