Sisterhood Blog

Ladyblogs Are Here to Stay

By Sarah Seltzer

The Slant has a revelatory interview with Ms. Magazine founder (and Forward contributor) Letty Cottin Pogrebin on the fortieth anniversary of the magazine.

One of the biggest questions asked of Pogrebin was about Ms.’s role in shaping the coverage of other women’s magazines, inspiring the glossies’ inclusion of issue-oriented, reported features that stand out amongst the makeup and style pieces. Another question addressed? Whether Ms., which began as an offshoot of New York magazine, after all, has had an influence in today’s online media culture. She says:

That cutting edge role is now largely filled by thousands, if not millions, of bloggers and online publications. As a result, no single source functions as a “clearinghouse” or authoritative voice in the way that Ms. did in the 70s and 80s. Today’s alternative media have drastically changed the landscape both for good and for ill. For good, because it’s healthy to have many different points of view in the mix. For ill, because most of us are suffering from information overload and the impact of an important story can get lost in the online noise. These days, it’s rare for an event affecting women to enter the collective consciousness and to engage millions in a shared, simultaneous national conversation. But when it does happen, it makes a difference — witness how the rape remarks of two Republican candidates’ comments outraged women all over the country and lost the men their election.

Indeed in many ways, Ms., a fine magazine to which I’ve been proud to contribute, is a godmother of sorts for the thriving “ladyblog” universe to which the Sisterhood belongs.

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Remembering the Artist Behind Ms. Magazine's First Cover

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Ms. Magazine
The first issue of Ms., illustration by Miriam Wosk (click to enlarge)

“In her art she was a perfectionist and in her life she was a realist,” wrote Sheila Balshine Romalis, of the illustrator and multimedia artist Miraim Wosk, in a letter to Wosk’s son. The letter was one of condolence, following Wosk’s recent death from breast cancer at the age of 63.

Romalis knew Wosk from their years growing up together in Vancouver’s Jewish community in the 1950s and 1960s. The two women went on to be roommates in New York in 1967, while they were both attending design school.

That was the period in which Wosk’s career took off. She began as a fashion illustrator — working for Vogue, Mademoiselle, Esquire, New York magazine, and The New York Times. Wosk is known in feminist circles for having created the cover art for the first issue of Ms. Magazine in late 1971. That colorful illustration featured a pregnant woman with eight arms, symbolizing the many roles that the modern woman juggles. Other subsequent covers she designed for the magazine showed similar multi-limbed, multi-tasking women.

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Jewish Women's Archive on 'Women's Pages' the Success of The Sisterhood

By Leah Berkenwald

Recently, Ruth Rosen wrote in the Ms. Magazine blog that the “women’s pages” of the 1950s and 60s have been reincarnated on the Internet. While she acknowledges the differences in content between those women’s pages (society, cooking, and fashion) and today’s “women’s pages” (analytical coverage of events, trends or stories overlooked by mainstream news), she argues that the designation of separate women’s sections keeps us tied to the assumption that women’s stories don’t belong on the front page.

In response to Rosen, Kim Voss wrote in to remind us that the “women’s pages” of the 1950s and 60s were more than just “society, cooking, and fashion” fluff. She argues that by mixing bits of the progressive in with the traditional, women’s page editors were able to get their serious content about women’s liberation published and reach women previously unexposed to feminism. I would add that The American Jewess was taking this approach way back in 1896. Its editor, Rosa Sonneschein, was mixing progressive feminist content with homemaking, health, and beauty tips.

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Leah Berkenwald is the online communications specialist at the Jewish Women’s Archive, and a contributor to its Jewesses With Attitude blog, which cross-posts weekly with the Sisterhood.

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