catch up on 21 years of feminist fight back

From today, every edition of Spare Rib magazine is available online for free.

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May 28 2015, 10:35am

Beauty, romance and housework - some of the main themes of most women's magazines in mid-century Britain. But after the Women's Liberation Conference in 1970 (a time when a woman could not buy a car or obtain a mortgage without a man's signature) and with a growing feminist movement, Spare Rib magazine was born with its intention of "finding a new language for both image and word to establish women's changing identity" according to co-founder Marsha Rowe. Until now the magazines were only available for consultation in the library's reading rooms and archives, but from today, all of the issues, from 1972 to 1993 are available to view online on the British Library's site.

Catch up on 21 years of articles and photography that challenged the stereotypes of women that existed in male-dominated media, raised awareness of inequalities and encouraged solidarity rather than competition. There are stories about sexy ads, sex lives and hairiness, and as well as contributions from ordinary women, there are pieces by big-names including Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Margaret Drabble and Alice Walker. You can also browse the British Library's site to see the archive, but also to read retrospective essays on subjects such as "Body image, advertising and the media" and "Race, place and class: who's speaking for who?"

According to Polly Russell, Curator of Politics and Public Life at the British Library said Spare Rib was, "Funny, irreverent, intelligent and passionate…a product of its time which is also somehow timeless." The new resource is part of the British Library's attempt to make feminist history more available to the masses. To discover more see Sisterhood & After, their oral archive capturing 100 voices from the Women's Liberation Movement.

Stuff this for a lark… he said he'd help! Front cover Spare Rib Issue 122, September 1982.

Karate woman, Spare Rib Front Cover Issue 55 (Feb 1977) Usage Terms: © Michael Ann Mullen Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence

Reclaiming the Night March, Spare Rib Front Cover Issue 66 January 1978 Usage terms: © Angela Phillips Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence

Marsha Rowe and Rosie Boycott in the Spare Rib offices, 1972. Photograph by David Wilkerson