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.

Body image, advertising and the media

Body image, advertising and the media

Article by:
Angela Phillips

Professor of Journalism and contributor to Spare Rib, Angela Phillips, analyses the relationship between women's perceptions of themselves and the way they are seen by others, exploring the tension between the private and the public.

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Race, place and class whos speaking for who

Race, place and class: who’s speaking for who?

Article by:
Roisin Boyd

Here broadcaster, writer and Spare Rib collective member, Roisin Boyd, explores how the magazine dealt with aspects of identity, difference, ethnicity and imperialism.

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The limitations of identity politics

The limitations of identity politics

Article by:
Linda Bellos

What feminism? Whose feminism? In this article, black lesbian activist Linda Bellos recounts her experiences on the Spare Rib collective and critiques the notion of a ‘hierarchy of oppressions’.

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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.