Revisit Spare Rib, the Most Irreverent Women’s Magazine

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Last week, the British Library announced that all 239 editions of Spare Rib — the U.K. women’s magazine that charted the grassroots feminist movement for over two decades — are now archived and available to read online. Co-founded by Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe in 1972, the monthly magazine was committed to representing the diverse aims of the Women’s Liberation Movement — from abortion and maternity rights to sex work. Funny, irreverent, and impressive in its scope, the publication pioneered the juxtaposition of stories about issues like domestic violence, racism, and police brutality next to features on hair removal and menstruation.

The title comes from a biblical joke about Eve having been fashioned out of Adam’s rib, and captured the magazine’s tongue-in-cheek, subversive tone. The monthly, which folded in 1993, featured articles by writers like Germaine Greer, Alice Walker, and bell hooks, and was known for its bold content and controversial covers (printed in only two colors to save money), which often featured cover lines like “Men: Some Women Do Have Them,” “The Sanitary Protection Racket,” and “Emancipated Sexuality — A Reality?” Click through the slideshow for a look back at the most iconic, provocative, and funny covers from the magazine’s 21-year-run.  

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