The confusion of repainting the GLF office was broken by an announcement “Does anyone want to go to the Spare Rib party”, “Yes” we chorussed; so we did: we being most of the people who were in the office that Sunday; wouldn’t it be lovely to have a chat with the people who were getting out a new womens lib magazine – even if we did think the editorial line up from Friendz, Oz, Vogue, etc. rather trendy. So off we went in our paint stained frocks.
When we got there (there being The Place, just off the Euston Road) we found we were in the midst of a full launching ceremony; friends, journalists and the stars all jostled at the bar; it was like being at a fifties celebrity occasion; the chat centred around nothing in particular – the magazine was being given away, but most people preferred to pocket it and read it later, rather than talk about it there.
We all had a quick look read bits in more detail and talked about it amongst ourselves; but weren’t we there as allies of the womens movement – if not more. So we broached the topic with some of the women in the room.
“What did they think of the glossy format -ooh and the only names on the cover were those of G.Best and R.Neville – and wasn’t that an ad for Woolies slap on the back cover”.
“Well you’ve got to sell your first issue haven’t you”.
“I mean, how do you get through to the women in the street if you don’t give her something familiar to hang on to”.
“Its really on attempt to bridge the gap between Vogue and all that womens lib sectarian dogma”.
Our reactions were that it was a sell out – and what a price 17½p; only a liberated middle class mum could afford that – not yer Enids at Dagenham working a full mans week and still having to cook the dinner.
It was admitted to be a compromise venture; and looking at the product, it was brought home to us that a compromise in the face of male dominated capitalist society will always be a cop out. We don’t object to make up – right on Mary Q – but to the way it’s sold with women being used as sex symbols, as inferior beings, as masks not people – as was happening right here in this magazine. How an you compromise on that.
For a womens paper, there seemed to be a fair sprinkling of men – well why not. The IT brigade was there in denims and sunglasses, other undy mags and more respectable rags were present; DJ’s and columnists mixed well here; we thought that a bit more honesty would help the situation.
“Trendy party isn’t it my dear”, “Yes I suppose it is really – plenty of booze though”. “What do you think of the magazine”, “Great effort isn’t it”. “Have you read it yet”, “No – just a peep”.
What sort of liberal shitty nonsense was this; were we here for a womens paper for womens liberation, or a glossy rag as a sop to the system? Rosie wouldn’t tolerate criticism as she’d spent six months living off a friend, borrowing money, and scrounging food. She’d worked bloody hard, and now all we could do was pull it to pieces – which a few people did later on.
It was obvious that this was not an attempt to bridge the gap between working women and the politicised minority; it was an attempt to salvage a conscience; little attempt was being made to find new ways of communicating with the mass of women who aren’t in the movement; rather than politicising them it was letting them know that womens lib was part of the system now folks – so lets all cash in.
In the midst of all the chatter, suddenly some dancing started – charlstons all round, and wasn’t that Alan Brien lifting his skirts up. This seemed to relieve some of the tension that resulted from a honest expression of our views.
In the midst of the jollity, some shouts arose from a gaggle of IT men and some GLF people; tempers had flamed when one man from IT, who said he was bisexual, showed his love for gay people by calling a brother “a fucking queer, you pansy, you filthy fairy” and to a sister “you fucking cunt”; they came to blows and spilled down the stairs and onto the street. This is what happens when male egos oppose each other. Hadn’t we learnt our lesson before – well not in such a plain way – no.
This incident held the key to the whole evening; here at last, in words, and unfortunately in blows, was confrontation. The magazine was fighting the chauvinist aggression of the system on their own terms – how could they win. We have realised that violence is their terms – and we aren’t doing things on their terms; we’ve realised the futility of that; their terms are the product of a male dominated uptight aggressive neurotic society; through staying to liberate ourselves, we have realised that we mustn’t get into that scene again; when we did we realised our mistake; can’t the sisters on Spare Rib see their mistakes as well. They sold out, we won’t.
This article was collectively written by The Radical Feminist faction within G’.L.F. They were also the people representing Gay Lib at the Spare Rib party.