The Activist Legacies Roundtable, hosted by the Women’s Library at the LSE on Thursday 22nd September provided a unique insight into feminist periodical culture from the early seventies right up to the present day.
Bringing together Marsha Rowe from Spare Rib (1972-93), Sally Orson-Jones from Shocking Pink (1981-92), Shaila Shah from Outwrite (1982-88) and Kemi Alemoru from gal-dem (2015- ), this discussion revealed the extent to which feminist media, whether print or digital, face many of the same challenges.
The discussion also compelled us all to think about some of the key differences. Listening to Kemi talk about the pressure of working as a journalist and editor in the digital age, with a 24-hour news cycle, captured a sense of what it’s like to work in an environment where there is a constant demand for content.
This suggested that the whole idea of a ‘periodical’, a publication that appears daily, weekly or monthly, has been replaced by a constant flow of news that organises our lives in different ways.
While it might be an obvious thing to say, the roundtable highlighted the difference that media makes; in other words, it allowed us to reflect on the ways in which media not only reflects but shapes feminist debate. We’ll be thinking about this further and we’ll also be pulling out some of the fascinating details about the magazines’ origin stories, the fraught issue of funding, conflicts within the magazine collectives and some of the campaigns and issues that continue to dominate feminist media.