What is Media Activism?

When we talk about ‘media’ we tend to think of social media or radio and television but magazines are also a form of media.

A drawing of a clenched fist holding a pen and pencil
‘A drawing of a raised clenched fist holding a pen and a pencil’, Outwrite, 3 (1982), p. 14.

We refer to magazines as print media. Women’s movement magazines are, therefore, a form of media activism. Feminist activists used magazines to put into circulation feminist ideas just as contemporary feminist activists use social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Even though most of these magazines had a small circulation, they were part of a wider periodical network that shared stories and information with higher circulation publications. 

This project is interested in the difference media makes to feminist debate. What is the difference, for instance, between reading a magazine and following a feminist campaign on social media? To what extent is social media shaping debate in the same way that women’s movement magazines shaped debate in the 1970s and 1980s? We trace the development of key issues (including reproductive rights and gender-based violence) and campaigns (including Greenham Common and #MeToo) across multiple platforms to compare the ways in which political feelings are mobilised and mediated in print and digital formats.

Drawings of a woman dancing with a big pen and a bottle of ink from Red Rag 12
Artist Unknown, ‘Dancing Women’, Red Rag, 12 (1977), pp. 2-4.

Want to tell us your story?…

Part of this project is collating stories of the women, like you, who read magazines like Spare Rib, Red Rag, Outwrite, Mukti, Scarlet Women etc. and the impact they had on their lives and attitudes.

If you would like us to include your story in our archive, check out this page to find out how to get involved…