Digitally Flip Through Every Issue of 1970s Feminist Counterculture Magazine Spare Rib

Bringing second-wave feminism into the 21st century.

November 1989 cover of Spare RibApril 1979 cover of Spare RibPhoto: via Journal Archives
November 1989 cover of Spare RibApril 1979 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives
April 1979 cover of <i>Spare Rib</i><br>Photo: via Journal Archives</br>

April 1979 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives

Riot girls, rejoice: the 1970s feminist counterculture magazine Spare Rib has just been digitized. Bringing second-wave feminism into the 21st century, the UK-based Journal Archives and the British Library have made all 239 editions of the magazine flip-through-able online and for free.

Spare Rib was founded in 1973 by Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe as an alternative to the gender-biases that seeped into their media landscape and daily lives (which we have yet to completely overcome today), and was published monthly until 1993.

November 1989 cover of <i>Spare Rib</i>April 1979 cover of <i>Spare Rib</i><br>Photo: via Journal Archives</br>

November 1989 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives

“Detailed features on feminist issues such as domestic violence and abortion, and news stories about women from the UK and around the world sit side-by-side with articles about hair care (including the unwanted kind), how to put up a shelf and instructions on self-defence,” said Polly Russell, Curator of Politics and Public Life at the British Library.

February 1977 cover of <i>Spare Rib</i><br>Photo: via Journal Archives</br>

February 1977 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives

This isn’t the first piece of feminist media in recent memory to undergo a digital conservation effort (see You Can Now Play Theresa Duncan’s Feminist CD-ROM Games at Rhizome). Archives like these make pieces of cultural history accessible to a new generation that can consume, synthesize, and further the discussions and questions begun by their predecessors.

<br>Photo: via Journal Archives</br>

August 1987 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives

Sue O’Sullivan, a full time Spare Rib writer in the early 80s, said “The digitized magazines will be a wonderful resource for younger historians and feminist activists, researchers and all the women (and men) who wonder what their mothers, aunts, grannies, and older friends got up to all those years ago.”

June 1977 cover of <i>Spare Rib</i><br>Photo: via Journal Archives</br>

June 1977 cover of Spare Rib
Photo: via Journal Archives


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