Yours in Sisterhood

Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism

By Amy Erdman Farrell

248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 17 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4735-0
    Published: September 1998
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6667-2
    Published: November 2000

Gender and American Culture

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In the winter of 1972, the first issue of Ms. magazine hit the newsstands. For some activists in the women's movement, the birth of this new publication heralded feminism's coming of age; for others, it signaled the capitulation of the women's movement to crass commercialism. But whatever its critical reception, Ms. quickly gained national success, selling out its first issue in only eight days and becoming a popular icon of the women's movement almost immediately.

Amy Erdman Farrell traces the history of Ms. from its pathbreaking origins in 1972 to its final commercial issue in 1989. Drawing on interviews with former

editors, archival materials, and the text of Ms. itself, she examines the magazine's efforts to forge an oppositional politics within the context of commercial culture.

While its status as a feminist and mass media magazine gave Ms. the power to move in circles unavailable to smaller, more radical feminist periodicals, it also created competing and conflicting pressures, says Farrell. She examines the complicated decisions made by the Ms. staff as they negotiated the multiple--frequently incompatible--demands of advertisers, readers, and the various and changing constituencies of the feminist movement.

An engrossing and objective account, Yours in Sisterhood illuminates the significant yet difficult connections between commercial culture and social movements. It reveals a complex, often contradictory magazine that was a major force in the contemporary feminist movement.

About the Author

Amy Erdman Farrell is associate professor of American studies and coordinator of women's studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
For more information about Amy Erdman Farrell, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A compelling story. . . . Farrell’s well-researched, carefully crafted book would be an excellent textbook or supplemental reading for courses dealing with women in media, magazine journalism, advertising and women’s studies, and those interested in American history and feminism in the United States."--Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

"An interesting and valuable account."--The Journal of American History

"A pleasure to read and an important contribution to feminist history and mass communication scholarship."--Journal of Communication

"Farrell presents not only the herstory of Ms. but also puts the magazine into perspective as it explores the tension between advocacy, political movement, ideology versus business needs, techniques of mass circulation, and advertising. . . . I suspect that are lessons in it for us as booksellers and publishers as well."--Feminist Bookstore News

"Farrell looks at Ms. in its social and economic context, using both primary and secondary sources to good advantage. This readable, scholarly book . . . belongs in all academic libraries as well as public libraries with women's studies collections."--Library Journal

"Amy Farrell's lucid account of the struggles among the founders, editors, writers, advertisers, and readers of Ms. magazine is an absorbing chronicle of the attempt to create a popular feminism in the U.S. at the end of the twentieth century. By weaving together the methods of the cultural historian with the analytic strategies of textual analysis, she offers an interpretation of this important cultural institution that is at once judicious and filled with insight. Yours in Sisterhood should be read by everyone with an interest in the future of feminism."--Janice A. Radway, author of A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire