About Spare Rib

The feminist magazine Spare Rib ran from 1972 to 1993. It set out to re-define what it was to be a woman in 20th century Britain. So how did it get started and what, exactly was it all about?

Introduction to Spare Ribe the first nine years

Introduction: Spare Rib - the first nine years

Article by:
Louise Kimpton Nye

So what was women’s liberation and why was it needed? How did Spare Rib differ from other women’s magazines of the 1970s? This article looks at the first nine years of Spare Rib; how it began, its readership and the topics it covered.

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Spare Rib and the underground press

Spare Rib and the underground press

Article by:
Marsha Rowe

Ground-breaking and subversive, Spare Rib sprang out of the counterculture movements that were active during the 1960s. In this article, co-founder of the magazine, Marsha Rowe talks about Spare Rib’s links with the underground press.

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A day in the life of Spare Rib

A day in the life of Spare Rib

Article by:
Ruthie Petrie

Editing, proofing, designing, cutting, pasting, arguing – Spare Rib collective member, Ruthie Petrie, describes life behind the scenes in the production offices of Spare Rib.

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Changing perspectives and new ideologies

Changing perspectives and new ideologies

Article by:
Louise Kimpton Nye

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?

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Feminist collectives

Feminist collectives

Article by:
Louise Kimpton Nye

Spare Rib lived and breathed its feminist politics. Eschewing hierarchical working practices which it saw as patriarchal, the magazine organised itself as a collective. This article explores what this meant in practice and some of the pros and cons of working collectively.

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Spare Rib the business

Spare Rib, the business

Article by:
Angela Phillips

So how do you run a feminist magazine without selling out to the very industries that are the cause of so much exploitation of women? Photographer and writer at Spare Rib, Angela Phillips unpicks the business side of running the magazine.

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The latter years of Spare Rib

The latter years of Spare Rib 1980-1992

Article by:
Louise Kimpton Nye

Spare Rib always gave its unique feminist take on what was happening in the news and in society generally. This article looks at how the magazine adapted to cultural changes during the 1980s and at the magazine’s struggles and demise in the early 1990s.

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Spare Rib looking back from 2015

Spare Rib: Looking back from 2015

Article by:
Zoe Williams

What is the relevance and significance of Spare Rib today? Haven’t feminists won all the debates and campaigns, at least in theory and in law, anyway? Zoe Williams looks at the legacy of Spare Rib for today’s women and men.

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Further themes

About Spare Rib

The feminist magazine Spare Rib ran from 1972 to 1993. It set out to re-define what it was to be a woman in 20th century Britain. So how did it get started and what, exactly was it all about?

Arts and culture

Women’s creativity and self-expression was at the heart of Spare Rib. Not only did the magazine include a rich and diverse range of fiction and poetry alongside reviews of books, films, dance, theatre, art and photography, but it was also a work of art in its own right.

Family, housework and childcare

Feminists have debated the role of the family and domestic life for decades. Where mainstream women’s magazines focused on cleaning methods, recipes and activities to do with the children, Spare Rib challenged the domestic status quo and exploded the myth of ‘women’s work’.

Representation and identity

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.

Rights and justice

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.

Sex, sexuality and health

Women’s sexual self-determination, control over their reproductive capacity, and the end of discrimination towards lesbians was of primary importance to the women’s liberation movement. Spare Rib covered these issues and challenged the patriarchal make-up and attitudes of the health service in what was no less than a revolution in women’s healthcare.

Work and education

Feminists thought that fundamental change was needed in the worlds of work and education in order to end the oppression of women in society. Spare Rib was committed to ending sexism in the workplace and in schools and ran a series of articles and news items about this.