Resources | Periodicals Guide

Scarlet Women

Title: Scarlet WomenDates: 1976-1982
Periodicity: irregularPrice: 15p (first issue)    
Circulation: 3,500Place of Publication: North Shields
Scarlet Women magazine logo


The ‘newsletter of the Socialist Current in the Women’s Liberation Movement’. Scarlet Women was set up following a workshop at the 1976 National Women’s Liberation Conference, held in Newcastle. Produced out of North Shields in North East England, the newsletter was originally co-ordinated by the Tyneside Coast Women’s Group. Over time, the editorial collective came to include women not only from the North East but also from the North West and London. It aimed to establish a communication network for socialist feminists throughout the country, in response to the felt need for women on the left to explore the relationship between feminism and socialism. Initially distributed via a regional network of contacts, it later became available by subscription.

“Socialist Feminism is a distinct revolutionary approach, a challenge to the class structure and to patriarchy. […] What we are looking for is nothing less than a total redefinition of socialist thought and practice. We are working towards a socialism which seeks to abolish patriarchy.

What this means for Scarlet Women

We want to publish papers, letter, articles, ideas that develop the thought and effectiveness of socialist feminism. The debate about the class struggle and relating to left groups can take place in our pages only if contributions are based on the belief in an autonomous Women’s Liberation Movement and also on the belief that autonomous movements have the right to define their own oppression and the struggle against it.’

Statement reprinted in each issue from issue 8, August 1978 – Issue 13, July 1981
Artist unknown, women and children, Scarlet Women 11, p3
Artist unknown, women and children, Scarlet Women 11, p3
  • Socialist feminism
  • Anti-imperialism
  • Anti-fascism
  • Sexuality
  • Feminism and Northern Ireland
  • Women’s aid
  • Women against violence against women
  • Reproduction
  • Housework
  • Technology

The earliest issues (1-3) of Scarlet Women were very ‘newsletter’-like — typed pages reproduced on a Gestetner with no graphics. From issue 4, the collective started to incorporate graphics and handwritten text, and adopted a more ‘magazine’-like layout. The striking calligraphic logo was introduced in issue 5; by issue 8, the cover was printed in single colour (usually red or green). The front cover of issue 11 featured a graphic design for the first time – the outline of Ireland and Northern Ireland incorporating the face of a protesting woman, in deep green. This issue was produced by the Belfast Women’s Collective and the artwork was done by the Women in Media group (who pen a brief introduction discussing the process and politics of production). The issue is full of striking images and photographs in black and white, some in a ‘woodcut’-like style. The Women in Media Group used the facilities of the Print Workshop, Belfast to produce the artwork for this issue, and borrowed graphics from Dawn Magazine’s lending library. The cover of issue 12, on the theme of ‘Women’s Oppression Under Imperialism’, features a (charcoal?) drawing by feminist artist Monica Sjöö. The two-part issue 13, on the theme of sexuality, features cartoon covers and characterises itself as a ‘journal’ for the first time (as well as for ‘women only’). This issue makes inventive use of hand-drawn dividers and borders, as well as cartoons. Issue 14’s 3-D effect graphic cover, on the theme of women and technology, contrasts with the hand-drawn cartoon on the back cover featuring a messy, paper-strewn magazine office filled with women dreaming of ‘a computerised office’.

Artist Unknown, ‘Political Power Grows Out Of the Barrel of a Duplicator’, Scarlet Women 4, p. 2.

Arose out of the frustration women on the left felt towards the attitude, common in left-wing groups of the time, that the ‘woman question’ would be dealt with ‘after the revolution’. Alongside the production of Scarlet Women, members of the collective were also involved in setting up local Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid centres. Preceded by the Marxist-feminist publication Red Rag, Scarlet Women outlived its older sister. In addition to providing a North-East perspective on socialist feminist issues, founder member Penny Remfry recalls that the magazine ‘tried to have an internationalist perspective’, demonstrated by issues such as ‘Women’s Oppression Under Imperialism’ (12).

The Scarlet Women collective, including women from the North-East, North-West and London.

From issue 5, printed by Tyneside Free Press Workshop; from issue 10, printed by Moss Side Community Press, Women’s Co-Op, Manchester.

Artist unknown, ‘National Editorial Collective’, Scarlet Women 11, p. 1


Penny Remfry’s recollection of how Scarlet Women began and developed:

Artist unknown, "no revolution without women's liberation...", Scarlet Women 5
Artist unknown, “no revolution without womens liberation…”, Scarlet Women 5, p. 12.

Back to top ^

Where to find Scarlet Women:
Feminist Archive North (FAN);
Feminist Library
Digitised copies:
Fully digitised (although all issues up to issue 11 are transcribed, not scanned – making them more accessible but without reproducing the aesthetics/layout of earlier issues) 
A repeated "HELP" stamp from Sappho

Did you read Scarlet Women?

Mukti magazine logo
Outwrite women's newspaer logo
Red Rag logo
Scarlet Women magazine logo
Shocking Pink logo
SpareRib logo