Ms. magazine was founded by Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes in 1971 as the first national feminist magazine. More than just covering the hot-button topics of the feminist movement, Ms. published celebrity interviews, fiction, children’s interest, health news, and more. The magazine was instrumental in legitimizing Wonder Woman as a feminist icon, which in the 70s was not an easy feat when comic book heroes were stil associated with Saturday morning cartoons. Amazingly, the honorific “Ms.” was not widely used before the magazine’s founding – it was the product of an activist named Sheila Michaels, who felt that “Ms.” was an honorific that put unmarried women at equal status with married women on paper. Ms. is still going today, now a quarterly, and is published by the nonprofit Feminist Majority Foundation.
This issue really feels like a balm for all the rampant institutional sexism that we’ve observed in the other magazines from the past, and as I find myself increasingly saying, I wish it still wasn’t relevant. Yes, we have made a lot of progress in society that makes looking over these magazines fun and absurd, but this issue from 1974 still hits a lot of sore spots.
I decided not to include the story about domestic violence because I try to keep this feature light in tone. Ms. had a much more famous piece on the subject in 1976 called Battered Wives: Help For The Secret Victim Next Door that was the first mainstream magazine article to address domestic violence, and was so revolutionary that it is still being cited in scholarly papers today.
Having a great summer at Camp Crystal Lake!
GOODBYE, WE HATE YOU!
I love, and always have loved, this art style. I don’t know what it’s called, or if there’s one artist in particular who made it popular (I call it the “spaghetti hair” school of illustration).
Some arguments over the agency of children.
Helpful advice on navigating personal addresses on business letters.
While she likes a long cigarette, and she’s had plenty, what she really wants is an exciting one. WINK.
I guess people had a lot more time before the invention of the internet, so they read ads like this that have more words than a doctoral thesis. I love you guys so much that I read this whole thing just so you wouldn’t miss out on something good. Highlights: toxic society has ingrained an association in women between intellectualism and loss of feminine identity; adolescent girls from single mother households may be “clumsily erotic” with men; The Pill turns women into man-hating lesbians; and black career women are going to be ok – should white people be concerned about this?
I don’t know which illustration I like better: the woman with the huge hair calmly stitching FAIL into her embroidery project, or the little girl from the broken home with the Ken doll, presumably sitting in for her deadbeat dad, perched on her knee.
The Gordon’s Vodka fairies are going through a tennis phase.
Like love, venereal disease is a shared experience.
This all feels so depressingly relevant to today.
“This will be great for casing their house at the key party next Saturday!”
I didn’t find much on them, but it seems that the Uniroyal Tire company had a team of stunt drivers (“Uni”, “Roy”, and “Al”) who did commercials and promotional events. I like that Uni here uses only Uniroyal tires when doing her stunts for Uniroyal, damn that sure is some steadfast brand loyalty. If you want to chat woman-to-woman about tires and receive a book that I’m sure is not at all condescending to the hilt, drop Uni a line at her own fanmail address.
Here’s Uniroyal team in action:
Many, many giffable moments here.
A lot of these girls make me think of my mom, who would have been about 15 in 1974. This is the kind of stuff she would have had to deal with growing up, so I feel like it’s something of a look into that world. SO MUCH here is defined by the girl’s self-perception as someone pretty or someone ugly.
“It was I and not the fat girl who was most discriminated against”. Oh, Wanda. I so wanted to be on your side here. Your very go-to of identifying “the fat girl” and pitting yourself against her in the Insecurity Olympics is not helping your case.
I like Debby’s very unfeminine sailor mouth.
I love Marianne and Jane’s adherence to the phrase “16 year old woman”.
“Feminism is a personal thing. Like alcoholism!” — Marge Simpson
Poor, poor Figgy.
I’m a fan of Meredith’s consciousness-raising group and her awareness of what she calls “the shit games”.
“The Click”, or what Oprah rebranded in the late 90s as “The ‘Ah-ha!’ Moment”, is something that Gloria Steinem came up with to define the moment when feminism finally makes sense to you.
Determined Sheria is my hero and I hope she’s having a good life.
Do you have a mental idea of “70s teen girl” voice? I hear all of these letters in the voice of Laurie Partridge.
Wow, a cocktail that appeals directly to children!
Studs Terkel had yet to win a Pulitzer at this point in time, so he was kind of a Larry King-type of radio guy who interviewed everyone and who everyone knew. He did lots of celebrity interviews, but a lot of his focus was on everyday people as well. I imagine it was quite a big deal to have a work by him in this issue.
Ooookay, the 70s were a much different place.
This doesn’t seem like a feminist piece so much as it’s a 1974 “I’m a woman who works at a bank. AMA!” and honestly that’s all pretty fascinating too. Blach! Ech!
Jill Torrance is totally owning this modeling gig.
INCOMING STYLIZED ARTISTIC NUDITY IN AN UNAPOLOGETIC FEMINIST STYLE, SCROLL PAST QUICKLY IF YOU CAN’T LOOK AT ARMPIT HAIR AND VERY VERY FAINT WOMAN-NIPPLES.
Gotta say that the accompanying piece doesn’t really live up to the illustration.
“You don’t have to be a mechanic (because women can’t be mechanics) to own one. And you don’t have to be a lawyer (imagine a woman lawyer!) to understand our guarantee.”
Alternatively, they’re selling the hell out of the “car as chair” concept, because thanks to the 1973 oil crisis no one in 1974 had any gas.
For being free children, they sure have to follow a lot of rules.
I knew Adrienne Rich! Well, sort of. Not really. She was a frequent customer at the art supply store I once worked at. Ok, occasional customer. Anyway, she used to buy greeting cards from me (she liked the pretty ones with watercolor flowers). Very revealing, I know. Anyway, this article is Alice Walker talking about her favorite poems by Florence Anthony, which I think is pretty special.
Sadly for us Internet armchair historians, Woman Alive! debuted the same year as a horror movie called It’s Alive!, which sucks up all the attention when trying to find information. No easily found digitized footage, from what I could tell, which is a bummer because Woman Alive! sounds like a lot of fun.
This month in Double Standard Watch.
Do you want your daughter to be attractive and thin without putting her on Slimfast? Put her on the swim team!
I see what they’re going for here, but…cringe.
And yes, the president at this time, for the next few months at least, was Nixon.
This is what they should have been going for, which mentions things like self confidence and having fun over charm and beauty.
womenSports ran in some iteration or another until 2000, when it was folded into Self magazine. I’m really beginning to hate Conde Nast.
That applicator does not look pleasant.
Everyone I know is getting one of these for Christmas.
Try to remember an era when getting a superhero logo on a t-shirt was hailed as a feminist triumph.
Among the ads for pewter ♀️ symbol pendants is an ad for something to detect if you’re being bugged. That’s unnerving.
We’ll move your furniture, we’ll move forward progress and awareness of women’s rights. We’ve got it all!
Where’s my Nancy Drew and the Dark Meadow Feminist Teen Summer Camp Mystery?
I want to know more about Frisco and Slug.
They really liked their cigarettes long in the 70s, didn’t they? Note that the color palette and composition seems to be precisely calculated to draw your eye away from the mandatory Surgeon General’s warning in the bottom corner.
And that’s it for this week! Thanks for reading. Next week LibraryLass will be filling in for me with a review of Dragon magazine!
And then I gotta figure out something to do to celebrate a year of doing this. Whatcha want? 1980s Vanity Fair? More 90s Rolling Stone? 1920s Modern Priscilla? 1940s Fortune? Something from the 2000s? Click this link and tell me!