From the Archives, Feb. 9, 1973: ‘Ms.’ staffer describes women’s lib

Polar Star

Jean Kizer / Staff Writer

Joanne Fairchild, circulation manager for Ms. magazine, described the women’s liberation movement a a “human movement.” About 200 people listened to her speech Tuesday night, which highlighted the week-long Women’s Festival, held in Wood Center.

Ms. Fairchild pointed out some of the muths concerning the women’s liberation movement. She said, “People think that we’re out to destroy men and to destroy the family and take every wife away from every husband.”

Instead, the basic women’s movement is concerned with “treating women as full human beings,” she explained. “We’re trying to build a movement out of the ruins of yesterday.”

Ms. Fairchild used superlatives to describe the growth and success of Ms. Magazine, which she said is the “only magazine on the news stand that assumes a woman is a full human being.”

Ms. Fairchild discussed the magazine at length, saying it is for whomen who “know there’s something else, even within their marriages, that they could be doing that would make them feel a little more fulfilled as individuals.”

600,000 Subscribers

Ms. magazine was started by a group of women, including Gloria Steinem, who were writers and editors by profession. Ms. Fairchild said they wanted to write “what they really felt,” but after writing for magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, and McCalls, they found that “everything they wrote was totally edited and became someone else’s writing.”

Ms. magazine, which was first published in January, 1971, no has about 600,000 subscribers and an estimated readership of over one million, Ms. Fairchild said.

Since, as she pointed out three-fifths of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, many women are left stranded with “nothing but the children” and a poor chance in the job market. Ms. Fairchild said the woman “sets out to make a life for herself, and doesn’t know how to.”

The speaker said this is where Ms. magazine comes in and shows women how to get help and re-training. She also said the magazine points out the alternatives to and within marriage, including the joint family system, free universal day care centers, and various types of communes.

A popular commune which has been “popping up everywhere,” according to Ms. Fairchild, is one where windows and divorcees live together.

Ms. Fairchild stressed, as did members of the audience, that any woman who called herself “just a housewife,” is putting herself down. It is not true that the movement is against housewives, Ms. Fairchild said, but that they feel each woman should have the right to choose what she wants.

Homemakers underpaid

A government survey was recently, Ms. Fairchild said, which came to the conclusion that if a homemaker with two children were paid on a government wage scale, her salary would be $13,500 per year.

A man in the audience pointed out that society is very critical of the man who chooses to stay at home with the children while his wife works.

Ms. Fairchild said the reason a man or a woman is looked down upon for not bringing home a check is because “in our society we are rated on how much we make.”

Another comment from a member of the audience elicited a humorous response from the speaker. When a woman mentioned “going out into the bush,” Ms. Fairchild replied that being Alaska, she assumed this mean “going out into the snow.” However, she said such an expression might have a different meaning in New York.

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