Tour celebrating 50 years of Ms. Magazine comes to Valley

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 09-21-2023 3:10 PM

In 1972, a new publication, Ms. Magazine, hit newsstands during a turbulent era marked by the civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam War, changing trends in clothing and music — and the rise of the women’s movement.

Ms., co-founded by journalist and social/political activist Gloria Steinem, was the first national American feminist magazine, a forum for a range of journalism as well as fiction and other writing that centered on women and their lives.

Now the magazine’s editors have compiled some of its key work over half a century in a new book, “50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution.” And to spread the word, they’ve taken the book on tour nationally, with stops here in the Valley included.

On Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Ms. contributing editor Carrie N. Baker, who teaches at Smith College, will discuss the book and magazine with Ms. contributors Lenore Palladino and Jackson Katz.

And on Sept. 28 at Smith College, Baker and Katz will be joined by Ms. consulting digital editor Carmen Rios and magazine contributors Janell Hobson and Loretta J. Ross for a panel discussion at Weinstein Auditorium from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

A reception at the college’s Poetry Center follows from 6 to 7 p.m.

The chapters of “50 Years of Ms.” are each devoted to one decade of the publication’s existence, with short introductory essays that examine the magazine’s challenges and its accomplishments. Past articles cover a wide array of topics, including early female presidential candidates, date rape, misogyny and feminism in popular music, same-sex marriage, and most recently the end of Roe v. Wade.

As Publishers Weekly notes, the book also includes many letters from readers, both pro and con, that “help to convey how Ms. connected with ordinary people. This thorough survey makes a persuasive case for the magazine’s continued importance.”

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In the New York Times, reviewer Anna Holmes writes that the book gives little mention to #MeToo or online discussion about issues such as gender politics that have “inspired younger generations of women … and that’s a shame.”

Still, says Holmes, “the book contributes a lot more to the conversation than it ignores,” including through a rich use of photos and illustrations from past Ms. issues.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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