Gloria Steinem on the trailblazing Ms Magazine

The cover featured a picture of the Hindu goddess Kali, pregnant and using all eight of her arms to juggle a surfeit of chores – cooking, cleaning, typing, driving – and one arm holding a hand mirror to signify the pressure to look good while doing it all. The accompanying article “Click: The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” by co-founder Jane O’Reilly detailed the moment of clarity that comes to women when they recognise biases within society.

It also featured a groundbreaking “We Have Had Abortions” petition which listed more than 50 prominent women, including Nora Ephron, Billie Jean King, Susan Sontag and Gloria Steinem herself, who signed their name to a public manifesto demanding the legalisation of abortion.

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That issue, with a print run of 300,000 copies, was dated “Spring 1972” so it would be able to stay on newsstands for months without looking out of date. It sold out in just eight days, generating 26,000 subscription orders.

“And that was put out nationwide, and it was enormously successful – and that in turn enabled us to raise money for the total magazine,” said Steinem.

In 1972, Ms started regular circulation as a stand-alone magazine, the first in the US to be owned, run and written by women. Steinem would remain an editor and writer on it for the next 15 years.

Pivotal role

In the years that followed, Ms Magazine would play a pivotal role in bringing feminism into public discourse. Known for its bold covers, many of which featured Wonder Woman, a childhood hero of Steinem, it covered the myriad of issues that affected women’s lives.

It featured the works of writers like Alice Walker, Doris Lessing, Maya Angelou and Angela Davis, providing a platform for women to share their experiences and opinions, and challenging narrowly defined expectations of how women should look, feel and act. 

Its journalism would regularly tackle head-on subjects that were often ignored by other publications or seen as taboo by wider society – domestic violence, workplace discrimination, lesbianism, date rape and abortion

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