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.

Sex and sexuality in Spare Rib

Sex and sexuality in Spare Rib

Article by:
Sue O'Sullivan

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
Health and Spare Rib

Health and Spare Rib

Article by:
Susan Ardill

In this article, Susan Ardill, Spare Rib collective member, explores the magazine’s coverage of women’s healthcare issues, such as childbirth, abortion, sterilisation, cancer and AIDS. She looks at sexism and racism in the healthcare system, and examines how the women’s liberation movement sought to tackle these problems.

Read more
Mental health and Spare Rib

Mental health and Spare Rib

Article by:
Melba Wilson

Feminism had an important role in challenging common assumptions about women’s mental health. In this article, mental health campaigner, Melba Wilson re-evaluates the role Spare Rib had in drawing attention to this and some quite shocking experiences of women in male-dominated psychiatric contexts.

Read more

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.