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Spare Rib to re-launch

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Spare Rib 4Journalist Charlotte Raven is leading work on new website and magazine.

Groundbreaking feminist magazine Spare Rib is to re-launch with original co-founder Rosie Boycott now a confirmed member of the team led by freelance journalist, Charlotte Raven.

The Guardian announced the re-launch, quoting from Raven’s email to potential supporters outlining her plans and asking for contributions.

‘We’re looking for a commitment of £100 or more from prominent supporters who are as frustrated as we are by the PR and celebrity-filled women’s magazines and long for an alternative,’ she wrote.

Having already raised the £6,000 needed for the on-line aspect of the project, Raven also recently announced that the new Spare Rib website will be formally launched on 27 May.

The team of ‘disaffected artists, activists and journalists’ that Raven has gathered will create a magazine that will sit alongside Cosmopolitan on the newsagent’s shelf, ‘instead of on those carousels in Whole Foods alongside Green Parent [and] will revive the spirited and soulful vision of feminism that SR once embodied, not the timid liberal one that dominates the mainstream media.’

The news of the re-launch has been met with general enthusiasm tempered with caution.

The caution relates to the somewhat fractured feel of today’s feminism and the role of the internet in disseminating ideas and debate.

Sophie Wilkinson wrote in the Observer recently that she hopes Spare Rib doesn’t fall victim to the internet’s ‘dissections and preference for immediate reaction instead of thought-out reasoning’, because ‘as much as it has to look out for itself in this unregulated territory, it could be a welcome guiding light’.

‘The brand’s legacy’ she continued, ‘is one of a time when women achieved change through genuine activism, not idle clicktivism.’

Writing in the Independent, Louisa Saunders said that she was ‘still slightly smarting’ from the feeling she had in the 1980s that ‘it sometimes felt less like I was fighting the enemy, more like I was the enemy,’ and that she hopes the new Spare Rib is the forum she always hoped it would be – ‘accessible, intellectual, campaigning and far-sighted.’

Raven’s email could be seen as addressing some of those types of concerns, saying that the new version will be funny and will feel like an inclusive girls’ club, rather than an old boys’ club.

Launched in 1972, the original Spare Rib magazine was considered radical, in both look and content.

Its purpose, ‘as set out in its editorial, was to investigate and present alternatives to the traditional gender roles for women of virgin, wife or mother.’

Articles were political and used as campaign material for the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Some retailers, including WHSmith, refused to stock the magazine, and some women readers felt unable to subscribe to the magazine or read it openly.

Subscriptions to the original Spare Rib numbered around 20,000 per month, although readership was probably higher as women passed the magazine around their various social groups or read it in the library.

The tagline for the 2013 version of Spare Rib is ‘Life, Not Lifestyle’, and at the moment, while the website is being built, readers can contribute financially and sign up for email announcements via the on-line holding page.

Raven says that she hopes to begin publishing the print magazine in autumn 2013.

  1. Jan Burgess says:

    It was so distressing passing on my huge collection of SR and it really wasn’t that long ago! Issues such as the NAC were paramount and they’re coming back to haunt us we must be energised to pass on what we know and knew then to those who can take the battle forward. And some of us are not slipping away quietly, simply waiting for the call to be heard again. Well done.

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