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Shocking Pink

Title: Shocking PinkDates: 1980-2; 1987-92
Periodicity: irregularPrice: 20p (issue 2) 60p (c. 1987)
Circulation: Place of Publication: London
Shocking Pink logo


A young feminists’ magazine which posed itself as a direct challenge to commercial teenage girls’ magazines such as Jackie. Inspired by a workshop held at the Young Women’s Conference in 1979, and established with support from Spare Rib, Shocking Pink was collectively produced by a group of young women aged between 16-20 from, as the editorial to the third issue puts it,

different race and class backgrounds. None of us are members of established political parties. Some of us are lesbians, some are heterosexual (straight) and some of us are questioning our sexuality.


Shocking Pink was closely connected to its more serious older sisters, as well as often critical of second-wave values, but in its focus on a new and younger generation, it anticipated the ‘Riot Grrl’ zines of the 90s. Bringing together a uniquely ‘punk’ aesthetic and an irreverent, playful style, Shocking Pink published 15 issues over 9 years, but with a break in publishing between 1982 and 1987.

Shocking Pink is a magazine produced by a group of young women who got together over the last year. We all have one thing in common; we are enthusiastic and we know there is an immediate need for an alternative for us and other young women to read. We feel that magazines like “Jackie” “Oh Boy” “Blue Jeans” etc don’t give a realistic impression of our lives.’

Shocking Pink 1

‘In case you don’t know yet, Shocking Pink is a magazine for & by young women dedicated to the overthrow of society as we know it, since we’ve decided it’s not good enough.’

Shocking Pink 10
A Part of a Leeds Postcards deign which was re-used in an issue of Shocking Pink
A section of a Leeds Postcard image reused by Shocking Pink on one of their letters pages
  • Abortion
  • Sexuality
  • Periods
  • Violence against women
  • Racism
  • Women’s rights
  • Nuclear power and weapons
  • Education and work

Shocking Pink has a striking punk aesthetic that borrows from punk magazines of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Printed in black and white (with one or two colour covers, often pink) on cheap paper, Shocking Pink was a low budget magazine. Covers were often collaged, and typed text was punctuated by hand-drawn cartoons and handwritten text, with some cut outs from commercial newspaper and magazines. Topics ranged from the highly political (‘Marching Against the National Front’, issue 1) to the lighthearted (101 ways to subvert femininity: NO ONE: tampon earrings, issue 8) to the deliberately transgressive (see an affirmative article on masturbation, issue 2). Frequent parodies and lampoons of romantic ‘photostories’ (common to mainstream girls’ magazines), dating advice and fashion articles etc. Confrontational, joyous and irreverent in politics and style.

Artist Unknown, ‘dancing stick figures’, Shocking Pink issue [?], p29.

Shocking Pink emerged out of the harsh economic recession and high youth unemployment of late 1970s and early 1980s Britain. Its energy and brio, especially in its later issues, contrasts with what is generally characterised as the dispersal of feminist organising by the end of the 1980s.

A number of different collectives known as I, II and III.

Collective I included:

  • Sally Orson-Jones
  • Miranda
  • Lisa Bahaire

Collective II included:

  • Louise Carolin
  • Rebecca Oliver
  • Angie Brew
  • Jo Brew

Collective III included:

  • Katy Watson
  • Vanida

Printed at East End Offset; typeset at Leveller Graphics; distributed by Central Books

Artist unknown, “Don’t just stand there” Shocking Pink 2, p24.

Relied on sales, donations, small grants, fundraising events and gigs and classified advertisements. Its launch edition cost £800 to produce.

Supported by Spare Rib in its early stages; frequently ran adverts for other magazines, such as Outwrite; interviewed Red Rag in issue 6; the money left at the end of the magazine’s run went on to fund two new feminist magazines, Bad Attitude and Subversive Sister. Bad Attitude styled itself as ‘Born from the ashes of Shocking Pink’.

Melanie Waters, ‘Fashioning Feminism in Just Seventeen’, in Women’s Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain 1940s-2000s ed. Laurel Forster and Joanne Hollows, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 150-166

Anna Gough-Yates (2012) ‘”A Shock to the System”: Feminist Interventions in Youth Subculture—The Adventures of Shocking Pink‘, Contemporary British History, 26:3, 375-403

Cazz Blase, ‘A Shocking Shade of Pink’, The F Word: Contemporary UK Feminism, 13 August 2011

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Where to find Shocking Pink:
British Library;
Feminist Archive North;
Feminist Archive South;
Women’s Library
Digitised copies:
A repeated "HELP" stamp from Sappho

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