Saturday, 23 March 2013

Woman's Outlook: a surprisingly modern magazine? publication

The publication I made to present my talk about co-operative women's journal Woman's Outlook at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum can be read online below (I made some mistakes in the original version of this booklet, like mixing up a Labour and Conservative Prime Minister, but am trying to change any mistakes I spot!). Download and print your own copy as a PDF here (NB, all pictures are for illustrative purposes only – please don't reproduce them!). It was good to meet some local Co-operative members, and people from the Rochdale branch of the Workers' Educational Association, and there were some interesting questions at the end. My talk can be listened to online as a podcast:

After presenting a history of Woman's Outlook, I finished my talk by showing some pages I had compiled from current-day women's magazine Stylist, on the basis that it is the only women's magazine I have ever really read (I read it because it is given out free on the streets each Wednesday, and I also read the male version of the magazine, Shortlist, also because it is free!). Whilst there are clear differences between the two magazines – Outlook was a political, campaigning magazine with a very defined audience, whereas Stylist is basically an advertising channel and sees itself as reflecting the 'age of coffee cup politics', where issues are something to be chatted about over a cup of coffee – I wanted to show the types of topics which are considered to be of interest and relevant to women today, from reader surveys aimed at building up a picture of what it's like to be a modern women, to quizzing readers about their sex lives, to highlighting issues like abortion, equal pay, women's continued underrepresentation in Parliament, childcare and flexible working. I find it interesting that Stylist continues to profile women with interesting careers, from an oceanologist to a reverend, and how it features articles about women's status in other countries – for example, Italy – and how the lives of women elsewhere in Europe have been affected by the financial downturn. There is also a weekly international page summarising news stories concerning women across the world, and ahead of elections Stylist profiles political parties and the ways in which their policies would affect women. Woman's Outlook ran a number of profiles of Eleanor Roosevelt, and she is still being held up in Stylist today as an exemplary first lady and woman in public life. On top of that, Stylist features the type of content you would expect to see in a woman's magazine, from recipes to beauty and fashion.

I went to see the new Ken Loach film, Spirt of 45, the evening before my talk, to get some inspiration and context about the period, and would highly recommend seeing it.

I have been invited to repeat the talk 'Woman's Outlook: a surprisingly modern magazine?' at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, which also contains volumes of Woman's Outlook, on Wednesday 26 June at 2pm as part of its Invisible Histories series.

Also related, Cazz Blase will also be revisiting the talk she did at the 2012 Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention as part of the series, on Wednesday 29 May at 2pm. 'Worlds within worlds: punk ladies, riot grrrls and fanzine culture' will discuss the role women played in the UK punk scene and the UK incarnation of the female focused, female dominated riot grrrl scene.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Really interesting read. I've always been more of a Shortlist reader myself.