Spare Rib was an active part of the emerging Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 20th century. Running from 1972-93, this now iconic magazine challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women, while supporting collective, realistic solutions to the hurdles women faced.
Visitors to this site can explore selected highlights from the magazine; and examine how the magazine was run, why it was started and the issues it dealt with. The full run of Spare Rib magazines can be accessed via https://journalarchives.jisc.ac.uk/britishlibrary/sparerib.
Important information for researchers: some material from the Spare Rib magazines on the journals archive site has been redacted until the Library is able to secure further copyright permissions. More information on the redactions can be found here.
How did women use music to further the feminist revolution of the 1970s and 80s? Deborah Withers, co-founder of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, explores sexism in the music business and shows how feminists countered this through their music and through feminist music journalism.Read more
Spare Rib documented the evolution of the women’s movement and represented the views of feminists of various ‘strands’. What did it mean to be a radical feminist, or a social feminist in 1980s Britain? And why did feminist ideology split around this time?Read more
Sex, orgasm, birth control, self-examination, lesbians, pregnancy, monogamy, pornography, sex work, the commodification of women – Spare Rib’s articles addressed all these subjects and more. Here Sue O’Sullivan discusses the magazine’s desire to help women take control of their own experiences of sexuality.Read more
What is the impact of raising children in a nuclear family? Should domestic labour be shared equally between men and women? Does marriage and family life make women financially dependent on their husbands? This article explores Spare Rib’s examination of the politics of traditional domestic roles.Read more
From sexuality and health to childcare, the arts and legal rights, Spare Rib offers a wealth of themes to explore.
Spare Rib was at the heart of feminist campaigns. With its photography and reportage it provided a window on the feminist revolution as it unfolded. Never just the journalistic bystander, it was also there at the demonstrations and the marches, its Spare Rib banner held high.Read more
Women’s liberation was all about a re-defining of what it was to be a woman, a re-evaluation of how women saw themselves and were seen via mass media and advertising. As the movement evolved, the voices of many different women entered the debate; black women, working class women, lesbians and disabled women. Spare Rib provided the forum for the playing out of this ‘identity politics’, both in its articles and news pages and within the collective itself.Read more