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.

Fiction and poetry in Spare Rib

Fiction and poetry in Spare Rib

Article by:
Jill Nicholls

Spare Rib collective member, Jill Nicholls, reflects on the significance of women’s literature during the 1970s and 80s, and recalls the process for selecting stories and poems for the magazine.

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The history of feminism and Spare Rib

The history of feminism and Spare Rib

Article by:
Amanda Sebestyen, Louise Kimpton Nye

What was the connection between the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and 80s and the earlier feminism of the 19th and early 20th centuries? This article looks at the history of feminism and how the women’s liberation movement itself made history.

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Music in Spare Rib

Music in Spare Rib

Article by:
Deborah Withers

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.

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Photography in Spare Rib

Photography in Spare Rib

Article by:
Liz Heron

Photography in Spare Rib made female experience visible in a way that was rarely seen in mainstream publications. Contributor to Spare Rib, Liz Heron, analyses the important role photography played in the magazine.

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Design and Spare Rib

Design and Spare Rib

Article by:
Marsha Rowe

The design of Spare Rib makes it instantly recognisable. With its distinctive style and format it looked like a women’s magazine while also being challenging and radical. Co-founder, Marsha Rowe, explains how the original design of the magazine was created.

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The process of designing Spare Rib

The process of designing Spare Rib, 1974-82

Article by:
Pat Kahn

How was each issue of Spare Rib designed and produced? Who was involved in that process? What equipment did they use? Pat Kahn gets down to the nitty-gritty of production and, using the magazine lexicon of the day, talks letraset, Cow Gum, layouts and pasteup.

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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.