by Martha Allen
SPECIAL IDENTITY WOMEN'S PERIODICALS: 1963-1983
In addition to multi-issue and single-issue women's periodicals,
scores of others arose that derived from a particular perspective.
Women with special identities founded these periodicals. We will
examine the periodicals of the three most significant of women's
special identities -- those relating to their origin, to their
beliefs and to their sexual preference: black and ethnic women,
religious women, and lesbian women.
Women in each of these areas have, by building communication networks within their special identities, made major contributions to the women's movement.
While special identity periodicals have a chosen focus, we will frequently notice that they shared -- sometimes even to a greater extent -- the same eight characteristics of other women's media. These women most clearly were speaking for themselves, not reporting for others. They also showed a preference for collective rather than hierarchical structures, had a sharing and noncompetitive approach, analyzed with a clear understanding mass media's role relative to women of their particular identity, believed in a non-attack approach, sought to provide an "open forum," revealed new information not found in the mass media, and played an activist role to improve the quality of life.
The unique contribution of these special identity periodicals was the addition of perspectives long missing from public understanding. The public and many women in the movement itself did not know how these individuals perceived issues nor what had been their experience that had given them such perspectives. Their experience was not to be found in any media; on the contrary, the vast majority of all Americans had mistaken notions about them caused by mass media stereotypes. Without this knowledge, women and society as a whole have not been able to adequately assess priorities and strategies either in public life or in their personal lives.
The multi-issue women's periodicals and the ethnic and religious press expressed some of the information and experiences of these women. But all women with special identities knew that they needed a much deeper exploration of issues and concerns. They felt the necessity to communicate first of all among themselves where many things could be taken for granted and where each point did not always have to be put in other people's terms. In articulating their common experiences they would give each other mutual support. They understood the need to include all women sharing their identities, and their members included poor and working class women.
These special identity periodicals were numerous: although undoubtedly there were more, 237 are on record as having arisen in this period through 1983.
Ethnic Women, Women of Color/Third World Women
Thirty six of these special identity periodicals were devoted to women of a particular ethnic origin and women of color.
Several of them dealt comprehensively with all of these concerns. The first of these was Triple Jeopardy, published on an irregular basis between 1971 and1975 by the Third World Women's Alliance in New York and edited by Frances M. Beal. Triple Jeopardy discussed racism, imperialism, sexism, news of women of color around the world, health, radicalism, politics, and international relations, often in Spanish. In 1974, for instance, a special edition in Spanish on women in the struggle for liberation [Edicion Especial: La Mujer En La Lucha de Liberación] appeared with one section in English on Puerto Rico.
Harriet McCombs and Erlene Stetson edited another of the comprehensive periodicals, Sojourner: A Third World Women's Research Newsletter, published at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 1977.
The third also appeared in 1977 when Thelma Dailey began publishing The Ethnic Woman. "The need for a communications vehicle for 'third world' women has long existed," she wrote in its first issue. "We are women of African, Latin, American Indian, and Asian heritage." Dailey knew these women had much to communicate. "There are many messages that need to be communicated, many stories to be told, many plans to make, many minds to shape and reshape," she noted, setting out an activist orientation for the periodical.
The Ethnic Woman was a place where these women could speak for themselves and communicate their information and ideas. "It will be your drum, your smoke signal," she stressed. "It will be what you want and need it to be." By providing a communication network among these women, she wrote, "The Ethnic Woman will be your link to the sisterhood." The periodical had an international focus: "The Ethnic Woman is here to act as a medium of exchange among ethnic women throughout the world."
Thelma Dailey saw the lack of a communications network among ethnic women as a serious hindrance to progress. "We have been handicapped by our lack of communication with and knowledge of each other." As a black woman, she saw the importance to maintaining unity with other women of color and ethnicity. "We have too long allowed ourselves to be divided by persons, races, and institutions that are not acting in our best interests." She saw the role of the periodical as a way to be part of the growing "sisterhood," and told the women in her first issue: "You, the ethnic woman -- the propagator of great races, the protector of our heritages -- are now in touch with the Sisterhood."
Each issue of The Ethnic Woman, handsomely put together with artistic sophistication, maintained a high standard of content which reflected input from women of various ethnicities. The periodical's consulting editor was Pauline Hayes, a 33-year old Cherokee Indian active in Native American affairs. Goldie Chu wrote in the first issue about the activities of the Asian Women's Caucus at the First National Women's Conference held in Houston, Texas in November 1977, to which eighty-four Asian and Pacific women had been elected or appointed as delegates from around the U.S. and from U.S. territories. Ana Ortiz wrote in the second issue of The Ethnic Woman an article entitled "El Grito De Mujer Latin" [The Cry of Latin Women] which discussed media stereotyping of women.
Black women's periodicals constituted half (17) of the 37 special identity periodicals that came from ethnic women, women of color and Third World women. In 1974, Barbara J. Hudson published and edited Black Women's Log, An Independent Monthly Magazine For and By Black Women, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Lenore Gourley served as associate editor and ten women made up a local Advisory Board. In "An Open Letter to Black Women" the editors wrote that the new monthly magazine was dedicated to "freeing ourselves from passed-down myths which hold us back."
"It is the purpose of this magazine to summon our strength
and talent, and move forward as a powerful unit. Through the magazine,
we hope to facilitate the sharing of thoughts, needs, problems,
possible solutions, and goals of Black women. Our magazine is
offered as a resource to increase our strength and solidarity,
and to develop a new and richer appreciation of ourselves and
The editors urged the support of black women to make the periodical effective and useful, stating "This is your magazine." They wanted the women of their community to speak for themselves, not just be a one-way communication from the editors.
"It is time for us to begin to develop our own self image and make definitions as to our own identities and lifestyles," a woman wrote in Black Women's Log. "We can no longer allow anyone else to do this for us."
Reflecting the characteristic recognition of the importance of understanding mass media's role, black women, even more than did those in other women's media, published many insightful articles concerning mass media. In one issue Black Women's Log had articles on movies, books and recordings, the arts, and television -- including the description of a program put together by Lena Horne aimed at the black woman, called "Lena's Grapevine." A commentary discussed the effect of television: "We are living in an age in which television has been confused in a crazy way with reality. If an event is not on television it hasn't happened. If you -- or those with whom you identify -- are not on television, you don't exist. Traditionally, women on television, if they are not ignored, are often presented in an insulting or stereotyped manner." The editors urged women to make use of a television show locally produced in Hartford, Connecticut called "What About Women" which was open to all women.
The first concern of black women's media, however, was always to build through their periodicals a communication network for support among themselves. Even a crossword puzzle was "designed to aid our sisters with their Black awareness" and information was published on higher education opportunities available to black women.
When Margaret Sloan of the National Black Feminist Organization spoke in Hartford, Connecticut, Black Women's Log reported the gathering of the 50 to 60 black women. These black women subsequently continued to meet as Black Women for Progress and set up two consciousness raising groups. "The women, all Black, and whose ideas and opinions vary as much as their personalities," Black Women's Log wrote, "all come together under one mutually shared umbrella, their blackness and their womaness [sic]." Black Women for Progress formed, said the paper, as "an organization designed by and for Black women to include all economic, social, political, and cultural backgrounds: with the intent to respond to the needs of Black women as manifested on both the local and national level." The creation of networks among them was stressed by the new organization. "Recognizing that we live in a society that is both racist and sexist," it stated, "we feel the need to develop an organization which creates a humanistic vehicle for addressing ourselves to both of these conditions."
Black women's periodicals, as did all of the special identity periodicals, published the strategies and approaches that the women felt would contribute to their progress. For example, The American Negro Woman of Cleveland, Ohio, wrote in its first issue March, 1974, "The fight for women's rights parallels the fight of Negroes for their rights; thus, Negro women who have fought for the civil rights of Negroes should be in the front lines, fighting for the passage of ERA since Negro women are, and always have been, at the very bottom of the economic, educational and employment ladders." The National Council of Negro Women, Inc., founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune, published the quarterly Black Woman's Voice in New York. In the Fall 1979 issue Dorothy I. Height, the national president, stressed their determination to strengthen communication.
The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) published newsletters in several cities, including Chicago and New York. The Chicago Chapter newsletter reported their monthly general meetings, the first part of which consisted of a business meeting open to black women only -- non-members welcome -- and the second part consisting of a speaker and panel, open to individuals other than black women as panelists, members of the press, or observers in the audience closely allied to the topic under discussion. Information on the organization's activities to improve the media image of black women appeared in the first issue, and a subsequent issue reported a coalition meeting with the Citizens Committee on the Media. In addition to activities of the organization, the newsletter covered broader issues and events, such as for example, in a February 1975 article, Angela Davis' coming to Chicago. Like all women's media, this newsletter, too, was action-oriented. It not only reported in depth on the Joanne Little case, it strongly urged support of her right to defend herself against the sexual attack by her white jailer whom she had killed.
The New York NBFO chapter newsletter began publishing in January 1975, reporting, as again characteristic of women's press, information rarely found in the mass media or not reported from a woman's perspective, as, for example, information varying from the Dalkon Shield to "no fault" divorce. Its reports on the conferences of the National Black Feminist Organization provided valuable information. "We have to deal with issues that directly affect us in this racist, sexist society," stated Sylvia Witts Vitale, co-founder and first Vice-Chairwoman of the National Black Feminist Organization. Reflecting the open-forum characteristic of all women's media, Vitale expressed the need to include all black women. "We must be about having communications with our poor sisters, incarcerated sisters, household technicians, welfare mothers and other Black Women who comprise over 51% of our Black population."
Radicalized by their bad experience with mass media, black women were conscious of, and frequently mentioned, the need to create networks of communication among all segments of black women, whatever their interests. For example, the Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers began publishing their Newsletter in 1975 in New York with this goal in mind. Founded by Daphne Busby and edited by Diann Ellis, this newsletter provided warnings to women about the dangers of the Dalkon Shield, told of the importance of self defense and nutritional information, and provided extensive information about representatives of black women's organizations across the country who were "planning to hook-up an informal but effective line of communication to strengthen their ability to speak out on significant public issues."
In the activist mode, the editor described concerns about the heavy sex themes in the lyrics of songs. Calling some of these lyrics "outright pornographic in their explicitness," the paper urged women to listen to songs on popular "black stations" and to protest when they felt the "sex mania craze" of the record industry was harmful.
Elsewhere in the country other periodicals by, for, and about black women appeared. In 1979, the Black Women's Network, a "support system for black women," began publishing Connections, an eight-page periodical in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Aché, A Black Lesbian Journal, appeared in Oakland, California and published interviews, political analyses, reviews, essay, and poetry. AMA: Women in African and American Worlds was published in Washington, D.C. as a resource periodical and carried articles of concern to black women. Truth was the newsletter of the Association of Black Women Historians.
In 1981 Patricia Bell Scott began the Black Women's Educational Policy and Research Network Newsletter at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The newsletter editor, Joyce Everett, then a Brandeis University doctoral student, stated that the response to the publication had far exceeded their original expectation and had become a widely distributed resource and instrument for the creation of a network of individuals and groups interested in educational equity. The Network included a media focus, monitoring the development of cable television franchises in inner city areas and lobbying to change policies that were not considered in the best interest of black women.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall began a similar periodical, Women's Research and Resource Center Newsletter, at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. One issue provided a history of black feminism, mentioning the women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who brought up the issue of sexual inequality in the summer of 1964, the formation almost ten years later in 1973 of the National Black Feminist Organization, and the writings of various black women as individuals and in groups, analyzing the pervasiveness of sexual politics in the lives of black women. In 1983 Patricia Bell-Scott and Beverly Guy-Sheftall together founded Sage: A Scholarly Journal About Black Women, a national periodical to be published in Atlanta, Georgia.
Onyx Newsletter, a bimonthly by and about black women in Kansas City, Missouri, began publication to provide a forum for communication on relevant news, issues, and events. Onyx was published by a group of black women who met as a support group -- teachers, nurses, social workers, artists, mothers, wives -- representing a wide spectrum of experiences and lifestyles. "We are ordinary women leading everyday, ordinary lives," they stated. "Yet, like the black onyx, a strong, beautiful and precious stone, we Black sisters, are quite extraordinary indeed.
Out of Kansas City, Missouri, also came Network, A National Newsletter for Black Women, edited and published by Lorene Lake. "Mass media, whether it be newspapers, magazines, radio, or TV, reflects a reality which is distorted by the attitudes and biases of the people who control it," she wrote in the premier edition. "Therein lies its power and its danger," she warned. Analyzing mass media, Network exhibited a clear understanding of mass media's role relative to women. Lake stressed the relevancy to black women: "Black women don't control any media in America. It's unrealistic to expect well-informed, non-stereotypical, intelligent representations of black women from a media whose ownership is predominantly wealthy, white and male. It is wrong that black voices must depend almost exclusively on that media for a forum and for recognition."
Black women need their own communication network, she said. "Black women have to begin to provide their own forums for the discussion of issues that relate to their interests. That's why Network came to be." Expressing the need for black women to speak for themselves, Lake described the purpose of the newsletter as being, "to provide a forum for black women and other interested people to share and express their thoughts on a variety of issues. She stated: "You are invited and welcomed to become part of this supportive informational network of black and other Third World women. Black women are the only ones who can define themselves for their daughters and for the world."
By the end of this period, unlike 20 years earlier when few such periodicals existed, black women were now very much in communication with each other, articulating their perspectives, shaping their future and their actions, and making their unique contributions to the movement as a whole, many of whose participants had come to learn of black women's perspectives through these periodicals and could begin to relate constructively to their efforts and actions on common problems.
Latin American Women
The same phenomenon was happening in the Latin American women's community. Examination shows that Latina women published more than fifteen periodicals to create a communications network among them for disseminating information of their special concerns. In 1971, the Comisión Femenil Mexicana put out the CFM Report in Los Angeles, one of the first of the Chicana feminist publications.
Hijas de Cuantemoc also appeared in 1971 in California. An impressive publication with comprehensive articles, such as "La Mexicana," containing historical information and analysis, this periodical included unusual historical photographs, news and information concerning Chicanas, their graphics and their poetry. Perhaps ten percent of the periodical was in Spanish. Three women constituted the Editorial Group with nine more women serving as the staff. They wrote that the purpose of the newspaper "is to encourage all Chicanas to begin to express their ideas in as many ways as possible." Characteristic of women's media, they included all Chicana women, and they were speaking for themselves. They were also an activist media, publicizing and working with conferences of Chicanas.
"Chicanas all over the U.S. are realizing the need for a closer communication between themselves," the editors wrote in their story on the purpose of the National Chicana Conference to be held in Houston, Texas. "They are finding that in their own evolution, they have many unique ideas." The agenda of the Conference and a detailed description of the workshops were reproduced, including a workshop entitled "Chicana and Communication" which planned to seek support for a newspaper, dissemination of Chicana literature, and dissemination of ideas of and about the Chicana.
La Razón Mestiza was another important periodical by and for Latinas. Its first issue appeared in San Francisco in March 1974, published by the organization Concilio Mujeres, founded and edited by poet Dorinda Moreno of San Francisco State University. She and her co-editor Yolanda Miranda wrote in their Summer 1975 issue about the formation of their periodical: "with limited experience some 40-50 mujeres [women], poor, average, non-professional women from Santa Rosa, California, began to meet with Dorinda Moreno y [and] Yolanda Miranda and a host of others to begin a crash course in media to put together this newspaper." La Razón Mestiza obtained 200 subscribers after sending out 3,000 copies of their first issue. This paper reported meetings of Concilio Mujeres and other information, such as the struggles of Native American women, the Chicana Welfare Rights Organization, the Mexican-American Business and Professional Women's Club, Lolita Lebron and her fellow Puerto Ricans in jail since 1954, and the defense of Inez Garcia, a Latina who killed her attacker after being violently raped in 1974. "We have so much to say, nosotros mujeres del movimiento [our sisters of the movement]," they stated, mixing English with Spanish. In addition to the newspaper, Concilio Mujeres had two other media forms: a performing arts group and a monthly educational television show.
Al Dia was the quarterly newsletter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW) based on the East Coast. NACOPRW also published Ecos Nacionales, co-edited by Cecilia Núñez and Paquito Vivó, writers and editors who were among the founders of NACOPRW. The Mexican American Women's National Association published their MANA Newsletter in Washington, DC, which they described as a Chicana perspective to national news and which provided resource information to affiliates across the country, with the stated goal to be a national communication network. The National Network of Hispanic Women published the quarterly Intercambios Femeniles. The Hispanic Women's Center in New York City, founded in 1979, published Network Newsletter.
Creating a communications network was also the aim of Malintzin: Chicana Newsletter/Carta Informante Chicana, which appeared on an irregular basis out of San Antonio, Texas in 1981 in both Spanish and English. The women described the mission of their periodical to be building a communication and support network for Chicanas and providing a forum to stimulate discussion with Chicanos on the nature of relations between men and women.
Two academic periodicals dealt with literary concerns of Hispanic women. Letras Femeninas was a journal of contemporary Hispanic literature by women, edited by Dr. Victoria Urbano, and published by the Asociatión Femenina Hispánica at Lamar University in Texas. Members of the Association published in Spanish and English essays, narrative, poetry and news. Third Woman, a journal of literature and the arts, focused on the creative work by, about and on behalf of Hispanic women in and outside of the United States. The periodical, edited by Norma Alarcón, began publishing in 1981 at the Chicano-Riqueño Studies Department in Bloomington, Indiana.
Marla Wonn edited Noticias De Mujeres in Albuquerque, published by the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women. And Latinas also published periodicals with particular focuses, such as El Faro, the journal of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, edited by Janie Menchaca-Wilson in San Antonio, Texas.
Native American Women
The concerns of Native American women were unique and not adequately served by either their ethnic presses nor the mass media which presented negative stereotypes of them. Their need for their own communication was particularly acute.
Two Native American Women's periodicals arose in Wisconsin. Between 1974 and 1976 Wisconsin Tribal Women's News, Najinakwe was published irregularly in Madison. Later in the decade the North American Indian Women's Council on Chemical Dependency published Shenabe Quai in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, also on an irregular basis, focusing primarily on the issue of alcoholism and drug abuse as they related to Native Americans.
The Northwest Indian Women's Circle published Moccasin Line. They expressed an activist perspective, for example, in coverage and calls for support for women sentenced to jail for killing men in self-defense, as in the case of Rita Silk-Nauni. OHOYO ["woman" in Choctaw], was a bi-monthly news bulletin "for, about and by American Indian Women," edited by Sedelta Verble and published by Owarah Anderson. It "focused on activities of American Indian--Alaskan Native Women, and public policy impacting on their lives."
Asian-American women were also in need of their own communications. An Asian American Women's Caucus made up of women of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese and Korean origin, in a workshop held June 2-5, 1977 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said, "In sharing our information and experiences with each other, we began the task of dispelling stereotypes, myths and misinformation." "As a poor Asian-American woman, I see the need for us to break the image that has been created for us," wrote Milan Chong of New York Working Women in "Asian-Americans: The Model Minority" in The Ethnic Woman, "and to show our real lives. Otherwise we'll stay in poverty tenements garment sweatshops and the restaurants. We can join with other poor and working women to break this stereotype." Partly because they, too, were badly treated in mass media stereotypes or not mentioned at all, Asian American women's papers brought another important dimension to the developing women's communication networks. In at least three early periodicals Asian American women discussed their concerns and perspectives. First, a group in 1971 called Asian Women of University of California began publishing Asian Women. Two years later Asian-American women at the YWCA of Los Angeles published Asian Women's Center Newsletter, issuing it on an irregular basis for just over a year. In New York Asian Women United published a monthly entitled In Touch, which exchanged information covering the concerns of Asian women. It also monitored legislation of interest to Asian women.
The Organization of Chinese American Women published OCAW SPEAKS in the Washington DC area to provide a communication network among Chinese American women. The logo, with its horizontal parallel lines symbolized the parallel heritage, Chinese and American, a dual heritage which they saw as complementing each other.
Religious and Spiritual Women
The second principal area of special identity periodicals consisted of those published by women with religious and spiritual perspectives and concerns. Religious and spiritual women communicated their particular perspectives among themselves and to other interested women in more than sixty periodicals. These periodicals were predominantly those of women in traditional religions who wished to eradicate the sexism within their denominations or within religion as a whole and to help religious women make their contributions to society by enabling them to network together through exchange of information. Some of these periodicals cut across denominations to include all religious women, while others came from specific religions, such as Episcopal, Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian, Mormon, Quaker, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Methodist.
Still another kind of periodical provided a forum for women to develop their own spirituality. A dozen or so focused on "women's religion," which some identified as a feminist religion, including witchcraft, pagan and neo-pagan spirituality, and Goddess worship. Other spiritual publications included a journal of women and Zen, and a journal of self-empowerment and transformation leading to harmony and integrity.
A-CROSS, a quarterly tabloid of Christian feminism begun in Iowa City in the fall of 1976, edited by Ann Knight, and delved into questions about the roles of women in religion. In 1977 the periodical reported on a presentation by Georgia Fuller, coordinator of the National Organization for Women's Task Force on Women and Religion, where she charged church hierarchy with being sexist, racist and classist in its values. The question of whether it was better for a woman to leave the church or stay within to make changes was raised during the workshop. Fuller posited that the answer lay with each individual woman as she evaluated her energy level and her spiritual development. She said that the decision might be a tactical one which might be expected to change over time. A-CROSS reported a workshop participant as responding to Fuller's comment with "I'm not leaving the church! I'm taking a sabbatical." Beginning around 1975 Ann Knight also edited De-Liberation which carried articles on women priesthood. Her editorial stated that the word de-liberation suggests the debate was "to-be or not-to-be liberated." By the fourth issue, subscribers reached 700.
Christian feminists published Come Forth in Washington, DC, edited by Gertrude Kramer, to promote the Christian dimension of the feminist movement. Daughters of Sarah, a bi-monthly Christian feminist newsletter, appeared in Chicago in 1974. That same year, in Seattle, Jo Haugerud edited The Flame, the monthly publication of the Coalition on Women and Religion. "The purpose of the newsletter is to provide information on a wide range of religious/feminist issues and events," it wrote. "Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Goddesses, witches, and Independents are all part of our constituency." The newsletter was a forum for these women to share their experiences and their spirituality. "Over the years and with contacts across the nation and around the world, we have found that our members share a dissatisfaction with the roles assigned to women by traditional religions, and that, as we tell our reality, we have more common ground than differences no matter which tradition we come from, or go to."
Christian feminists published periodicals not only in large cities. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, Diane Jepsen and Jan Abramsen put out a bi-monthly magazine entitled Free Indeed. In Satellite Beach, Florida, Mother Church Bulletin, later entitled Bulletin of the Feminist Religion, was published between 1977 and 1979; it proposed "to encourage communication among women everywhere in order to develop a philosophy/religion that satisfies feminists' needs and beliefs."
Sistersharing, published bi-monthly 1976-1977 by the National Sisters Communications Service in Los Angeles provided women opportunity for discussion of practical issues in religious communications. The second issue of Sistersharing discussed the role of mass media at the 1974 convention of the National Assembly of Women Religious in St. Louis. Two communicators, Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, founder of the National Sisters Communications Service and of Sistersharing, and co-worker Shirley Koritnik, SCL, were elated that television had come to cover what they considered an important event, "but they were soon frustrated by the quality of coverage they witnessed." The cameras focused on women in the pews, rather than women taking active roles and speaking from the pulpit, for instance. The women raised questions about the role of mass media in stereotyping them, in focusing on superficialities rather than on the deeper issues, and coming at the last minute, getting only part of the story. The National Sisters Communications Service then turned in 1977 to publishing an interfaith media magazine entitled Media & Values, A Quarterly Resource for Media Awareness. Sister Elizabeth Thoman, executive editor, who held a masters degree in communication management, was well aware of the importance of presenting not only a full variety of information, but information from various perspectives. She wrote of national news: "When Walter Cronkite signs off each night with 'that's the way it is,' one might realistically request another half-hour of the very same news stories, but presented from another point of view. [T]he reported 'facts' may differ depending on the class, race or sex of the reporter."
Catholic women had begun periodicals as early as 1970, publishing The Deaconess Movement, in Des Moines, Iowa, on a quarterly basis at that time. Around 1975 the National Coalition of American Nuns Newsletter appeared in Chicago. Lilith's Rib, published by the North American Jewish Feminists Organization, arose in 1973 in Chicago. Quaker women published The Friendly Woman, covering topics such as spirituality, violence, mothers and daughters, and sexuality, from a feminist perspective. Update, a quarterly published by Evangelical Women's Caucus International in San Francisco, focused on the concerns of Christian feminists. Jewish women issued the quarterly Lilith, beginning in 1976 in New York. Mormon Sisters, Inc. began the quarterly Exponent II in Arlington, Massachusetts in 1974. United Presbyterian Women in New York put out Concern. Around 1980 Lois Roden edited and published a quarterly in Waco, Texas, entitled Shekinah, which argued that the Holy Spirit is a feminine image of God. She was the president of the Branch Church, a breakaway of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Sisters United appeared in Galena, Kansas, around 1979 to provide "spiritual teachings offering an alternative to man's religion and Goddess worship."
Several periodicals indicate a new direction toward a feminist religion for women and provided a spiritual perspective to the developing communication network of women. A major one of these was, and still is, Thesmophoria, Voice of the New Women's Religion, began in 1979 as Themis, The Voice of the Feminist Witch. Editor Z. Budapest, born in Hungary to a psychic-artist mother, was educated in classical mythology and witchcraft as a child and later attended the University of Vienna and the University of Chicago. She founded the Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1 in 1971 and produced the periodical with other women.
Another periodical specifically directed to feminist religion was The Wise Woman, a newsletter of feminist witchcraft and Goddess lore, published by The Temple of the Goddess Within, and edited by Ann Forfreedom and Julie Ann. It appeared four times a year, out of Sacramento, California, beginning in February 1980.
The increasing numbers of women seeking to build a spiritual dimension to women's communication produced still other papers. Harvest, for example, describing itself as a "national neo-pagan journal and publishing eight times a year, focused on Nature religion, Goddess worship, spirituality, politics, and more." Homebrew, published quarterly in Berkeley by Deborah Bender and Levanah Bdolak, was a journal of women's witchcraft, covering ceremonies, chants, women's pagan news, songs, and a contact column. Lady-Unique-Inclination-of-the-Night emerged in 1976 as a yearly of new mythologies for feminists, integrating a vision of politics, herstory, art, and ritual. The Shadow's Edge, a quarterly out of Escondido, California, considered itself "a publication of ancient feminist mysteries, witchcraft, and their role in modern Patriarchy." In 1979 editor Janice Scot Reeder began the monthly Which Way/Witch Way, in Pompano Beach, FL, dealing with the subjects of witches and neo-paganism.
In 1978 Kahawai, Journal of Women and Zen, which was begun as a quarterly by Deborah Hopkinson and Susan Murcott in Honolulu, devoted its coverage to women in contemporary Buddhist practics, including topics on feminism and Buddhism, abortion and social action. The Artemis Path: A Journal of Self Transformation, published by Dana Densmore, was a collection of essays and analysis of the self-empowerment process, providing a path for women leading to harmony and integrity.
Women who identified themselves as lesbian by sexual preference were among the most prolific communicators. Over 92 periodicals arose in this period with the goal of providing the lesbian perspective.
The Ladder, periodical of Daughters of Bilitis, and pioneering communication forum for lesbian women which had begun in October 1956, became decidedly feminist by 1970. When The Ladder ceased after its August/September 1972 issue, it had a circulation of 3,500, marking it as a major early network among lesbian women. Other newsletters of Daughters of Bilitis chapters continued to appear during the 1960's, such as one in New York in 1967, and thereafter.
Other early lesbian periodicals were Focus: A Journal for Gay Women [The Maiden Voyage], in 1970 in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Sisters: By and For Gay Women in San Francisco; The Lesbian Letter, in New York, and Purple Star: Journal of Radicalesbians, published by Women's Liberation of Ann Arbor in Michigan.
In 1971 Lavender Woman appeared in Chicago, begun "because we felt there was no line of communication anywhere," stated Betty Peters Sutton, a collective member. "There was no way for new women to find out about what we were doing." Stutton stressed the characteristic desire of women's media to avoid attacks on other women, "We knew we did not want women attacking other women," she said. "That was the first no-no." Another collective member, Susan Edwards related, for example, that the collective withheld the printing of a letter that disparaged another woman. Sutton stated that the women intentionally had their newspaper appear at the same time as the first issue of Ms. magazine in order to present a different perspective. It eventually reached between 1,500 and 2,000 readers.
In 1971 Siren: A Journal of Anarcho-Feminism and Killer Dyke, also arose in Chicago; Lavender Vision in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Lesbian Tide in Los Angeles; Proud Woman in Stanford, California; Reach Out in Detroit and Spectre in Ann Arbor; Scarlet Letter in Madison, Wisconsin; Purple Rage and Sisterhood in New York; and Lazette in Fanwood, New Jersey.
In 1972 The Amazon Nation Newsletter appeared in Chicago; The Furies in Washington, DC; Atalanta: Newsletter of the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance in Georgia; Echo of Sappho in Brooklyn, New York; Gay Women's Newsletter in Champaign, Illinois; the National Lesbian Information Service Newsletter in San Francisco; and Lesbians Fight Back in Philadelphia.
In 1973 more journals appeared throughout the country, such as Moonstorm in St. Louis; Mother Jones Gazette in Knoxville, Tennessee; So's Your Old Lady in Minneapolis; WICCE in Philadelphia, and One-to-One, A Lesbian/Feminist Journal of Communication in New York.
The year 1974 saw Lesbian Connection started by Ambitious Amazons in East Lansing, Michigan, as a free publication with news and ideas by, for, and about lesbians, expressing the goal of establishing a national communication network. This same year the Lesbian Mother's National Defense Fund in Seattle, began their quarterly newsletter, Mom's Apple Pie.
The rapid increase each year in the number of lesbian perspective periodicals necessitated many new archives developing country-wide. In1975 the Lesbian Herstory Archives started a tri-annual newsletter to report archive activities, new acquisitions, research queries, bibliographies, and announcements.
Ms. Atlas Press published its quarterly Lesbian Voices in San Jose, CA, "to present a dignified format and positive and constructive sense of life, in our belief that lesbianism can be wholesome and joyful." Conditions emerged in 1976 to cover women's writings with an emphasis on writing by lesbians. Its fifth issue, in 1979, which was devoted to black women, guest edited by Barbara Smith and Lorraine Bethel, reflected the characteristics of women's media. It encouraged women to speak for themselves and to provide an open forum so all women would have a means of communication, in this case making it possible for black women to share their writings directly with others. This same year Sinister Wisdom began in Lincoln, Nebraska as a lesbian literary journal. The Wishing Well, a quarterly in Santa Rosa, CA, provided lesbian feminists with a network to confidentially contact other women having similar interests. The Leaping Lesbian, begun in 1978, stressed that it included first-person reports from the Ann Arbor lesbian community.
The pace of new lesbian periodicals continued into the 1980's, from one end of the country to the other. Big Apple Dyke News, a monthly published by Susan Cavin and Rhonda Gotlieb, began in 1981 in New York City to cover national and international lesbian news, politics and culture. The quarterly Common Lives/Lesbian Lives also began in 1981 in Iowa City, to document the experiences and thoughts of lesbians. In Pleasant Hill, California, Telewoman appeared that same year as a monthly to connect women through their writing, art, and spiritual vision.
Other aspects of the sexuality issue also yielded periodicals that provided women with networks. These included The Celibate Woman, A Journal for Women Who Are Celibate or Considering this Liberating Way of Relating to Others, in Washington, D.C.; Coyote Howls, in San Francisco, published by prostitutes and dealing with prostitution and other related issues, subsequently published as National Task Force on Prostitution News; Moonshadow, in Miami Beach, about transsexuals, sex change surgery, and sexism; and, in New York,WISE, Women for the Inclusion of Sexual Expression with a focus on sexuality but also including some articles on birth control and abortion rights.
The periodicals founded by women with special identities contributed
perspectives often not found in other media. These women built
communication networks within their special identities, exploring
issues and formulating analysis in a way that was not possible
in the multi-issue periodicals. They thus contributed insights
to the overall women's movement, which was struggling to counter
the mass media's false stereotype of the women's movement as being
a white movement, and at the same time tackling the issue of racism
among movement women. The development of communication networks
among black and ethnic women were extremely important for the
entire women's movement. The strengthening of networks among black
and ethnic women provided white women with leadership and insights
in areas where they were trying to confront racism. This undoubtedly
enabled more white women to learn that eradicating racism meant
not only eradicating it from their personal life, but working
on a program to eradicate it from the women's movement and from
society. These steps were necessary for coalitions were to be
more effective and the input from the networks among black and
ethnic women were vital.
The networks among lesbian women were also important, not only for defending their rights and utilizing their insights, but because divisiveness on the issue of lesbianism had indeed hurt the women's movement. Mass media "lesbian-bated" women's organizations, and some women, particularly in the early years, discriminated against lesbians in fear of being called lesbians themselves. Lesbian periodicals helped them to see the intense hostility and discrimination that many lesbians faced. The contributions of lesbian perspectives clarified many issues for heterosexual women, as well as minimizing the isolation experienced by many lesbians. By 1983 the major women's periodicals showed lesbian input.
Religious women, while not playing the same type of influential role in the women's movement, nevertheless were very much a part of the communication networks, due in large degree to the male dominance they experienced in religious institutions. From this perspective, the periodicals of religious and spiritual women, both within the traditional male-dominated religions and outside of them, contributed special insights to the women's movement.
Hardly an area of life was without some periodical voice of women adding new facets of their lives to the collective understanding that both broadened and deepened the women's movement. The immensely more accurate, more extensive and intricate communication networks were beginning to reveal the complexity of the real lives of women.
By now, at the end of this period, women had well documented the reality that mass media was not a possible communication system for any of them. They saw, instead, an antagonism toward their goals and ideologies, and realized repeatedly the need for ever stronger communication networks. This radicalizing process carried political overtones for the future. Nowhere was this clearer than in the creation of communication networks in forms of media other than periodicals.
Chapter Six Footnotes
Thelma Dailey, "Editorial," The Ethnic Woman,
December 1977, p. 2.
2 The Ethnic Woman, Spring/Summer 1978, pp. 6, 15-17, 19.
3 "An Open Letter to Black Women," Black Women's Log, An Independent Monthly Magazine For and By Black Women, August 1974, p.1.
4 Beth Rawles, "A Consciousness Raiser," Black Women's Log, May 1974, p. 7.
5 Black Women's Log, August 1974.
6 "Black Women Unite To Form Organization," Black Women's Log, May/June 1974, p. 3; "Black Women for Progress; Statement of Purpose," Black Women's Log, May/June 1974, p. 4.
7 The American Negro Woman, March 1974, p. 1.
8 "President's Message," Black Woman's Voice, Fall 1979, p.2.
9 National Black Feminist Organization Newsletter (Chicago, Illinois), November 1974, pp. 1, 5-7; February 1975, pp. 7; March 1975, p. 13.
10 "Black Sisterhood," flier by Sylvia Witts Vitale included in National Black Feminist Organization Newsletter (New York, NY), September 1975.
11 Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers Newsletter, April 1975, p.2.
12 Diann Ellis, "Personality Speaking," Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers Newsletter, February 1976, p. 2.
13 "Editor's Note," Black Women's Educational Policy And Research Network Newsletter, August/September 1982, p. 1.
14 Black Women's Educational Policy And Research Network Newsletter, August/September 1982, p. 14.
15 Beverly Guy-Sheftall, "Remembering Sojourner Truth: On Black Feminism," Women's Research and Resource Center Newsletter, May 1983, p. 3.
16 Lorene Lake, "Positive Note," Onyx, 1 July 1982, p. 8.
17 "Editor's Note Welcome!," Network, A National Newsletter For Black Women, 1 June 1982, p. 1.
18 Hijas De Cuantemoc (San Diego/Long Beach, California), 1971, p, 12.
19 La Razon Mestiza, February 1975, pp. 7, 8; and Special Edition, Summer 1975, pp. 1-2.
20 "150 Year Sentence for Self - Defense. Lost Her Appeal!," Moccasin Line, Northwest Indian Women's Circle, Spring 1984.
21 "Asian Women Work on Media Stereotypes," Media Report to Women, August 1977, p. 2.
22 Milan Chong, "Asian Americans: The Model Minority," The Ethnic Woman, Spring/Summer 1978, p. 17.
23 OCAW SPEAKS, December 1980, p. 1.
24 Lilly Ann Edmonson, A-CROSS, Summer 1977. P. 13.
25 Editorial, De Liberation, Fall 1975.
26 The flame, July 1982. P.2.
27 1979 Index/Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1979).
28 "The NAWR Convention Publicity Project: How it was Done," Sistersharing, A newsletter for religious communicators, May /June 1976, p.1.
29 Sister Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, "Filling The Gaps in the News," Media and Values, A Quarterly Resource for Media Awareness, Summer 1981, p.1; Sister Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, " No, Walter, That's Not the Way It Is," Media and Values, Fall 1979, p.1.
30 1984 Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1984), P.12.
31 1984 Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1984), P.3.
32 1984 Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1984), P.12.
33 1984 Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1984), P.13.
34 Letter From Deborah Hopkinson, editor of Kahawai (September 10, 1980) to Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press, Washington, D.C..
35 Gene Damon, " Women's Liberation Catches up to The Ladder, " The Ladder, August / September 1970, p. 4.
36 Ann Mather, " Ahistory of Feminist Periodicals," p. 86.
37 Michal Brody, ed., Are We There Yet? A Continuing History of Lavender Woman (Iowa City: Aunt Lute Book Company, 1985), pp.26, 27,31,170-171.
38 1975Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1975), P. 16.
39 1976Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1976), P. 25.
40 1978Index/ Directory of Women's Media, (Washington, D.C.: Women's Institute for the Freedom of the Press, 1978), P. 22.
41 Margo St. James, "Coyote Howls," Coyote Howls, Spring 1979, p. 15.