Features

A Spare Rib for Tickling?

The rebirth and publication of Spare Rib looks set to pit online feminism's 'clicktivism' against, I don't know what magazine based feminist activism is. Flicktivism? When Charlotte Raven announced that she would be reviving the magazine, defunct since 1993, the comparison between today's online feminism with its retweets and the idea of a magazine being passed around a women's group was made. However, the sharing aspect whether online or physical is one of many demonstrations of how Spare Rib enabled and inspired the current landscape of online feminism.

Spare Rib kick started an accessibility to feminism that people didn't have prior to its publication. Founded in 1972 and edited by a collective from 1973, Raven is hoping to continue what the publication started, telling MediaGuardian: "I want that continuity with the past…I want to reimagine Spare Rib rather than rebrand it."

There has been much speculation over what Spare Rib's reawakening will mean. With founding member Rosie Boycott on board will the original second wave idealism of the original publication could be kept alive and well? Or with many people new to feminism on the writing staff will the original ideals have developed?

Once the Borders chain closed down in 2009, access to feminist publications such as Bust, Bitch and Ms. was reduced to subscription only and those hungry for more UK-based feminist material turned to the internet. The feminist 'zine world found a new place in online with a far wider audience to share, organise and mobilise with and no established brands to tussle with and blogs such as The F-Word and Pamflet  popped up.

One of the most thought-provoking challenges for Spare Rib will be re-launching a print magazine in a digital age. Considering the changes in the landscape of the print industry since 1993, it will be interesting to see how the Spare Rib team engage both their core demographic and the new ‘fourth wave’ of younger tech-savvy feminists.

The feminist blog style of today – with one blog often having many parents – reflects what Spare Rib's collective editing style began and how it is, today, being funded. The first 2013 publication of Spare Rib will “run as a members' organisation” according to Charlotte Raven. The first 300 who donate £100 get a year's subscription and the honour of being Spare Rib founder members with access to a founders' event in the summer. 

Putting Spare Rib on the newsagents' shelves demonstrates an authenticity to feminism that can only add weight to the work that has been put in online to raise women's issues to the forefront. We think there's definitely room for more feminism on our shelves and on our computer screens.

On its 1972 launch WHSmith refused to stock Spare Rib, 2013's launch party promises penitent appearances from George Galloway and Roy Liddle, although it's unclear whether Galloway or Liddle of agreed to appear. Or be penitent.

Squeamish Kate is the editor of another feminist blog called SqueamishBikini.com you can follow her on twitter @SqueamishBikini