"To this day, it's one of the ways I define myself: I worked at Ms. It's my badge of pride" -
We came together to celebrate our collective pride and three generations of connections as a "family." To remember the conversations we started with each other that became articles, sparked a dialogue with our readers -- with women everywhere -- and transformed our lives and theirs. To revisit the women's issues we helped shape, the writers and ideas we nurtured that were garnered from the thousands of manuscripts and letters we received, the testimonials collected at Speak Outs, and the notes that Gloria Steinem brought back from her travels.
We came together to recall the daily challenges we faced in the beginning with media, the advertising world, the bulging bags of mail, the lack of desks and sometimes a lack of understanding from our own families about our decision to be part of the women's movement and this fledgling magazine. To acknowledge our debt to Wonder Woman whose values we still cherish and to celebrate the "Ms. Kids" we watched grow up.
We came together to remind ourselves of what we have accomplished. As contributing editor Jane O'Reilly, author of "The Housewife's Moment of Truth" in the Preview Issue, wrote on the morning after the election:
Beginning with the Preview Issue, which generated 20,000 letters and hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts, we had an extraordinary and profound relationship with our readers. Letters often began with: "This is the first letter I have ever written to a magazine..." or later "Ms. is a good old friend. We've been together since her birth."
Plowing through the unsolicited manuscripts, Phyllis Rosser found a piece by M.L. Moore, English Department, Cornell University. "We didn't know if it was a man or woman. Everyone at
Ms. wanted to publish it and we did. Every time I see her name -- Lorrie Moore -- I think, maybe I discovered her." In another daunting pile of manuscripts, Donna Handly discovered Meghan Burges Collins's, The Green Woman. Published in Ms., it was nominated for a National Magazine Award and included in Ruth Sullivan's anthology of Ms. fiction, Fine Lines.
We came together the day after the Presidential election, which reminded us of our bonds with so many of our country's female leaders. Trailblazer, hero and friend, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) the longest-serving female Senator and the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress, shared these words in a recent letter to Ms.:
Along the way we popularized "Ms." as a form of address for all women, while making it commonplace for women to keep or reclaim their own names and sparked the use of hyphenated names. No small feat. And, neither was organizing the Ms. 40th Birthday Party.
The mother of the vision "to find everyone who had ever worked at the magazine" and invite them to the party was Pat Carbine, the founding publisher of Ms. "When I heard the date chosen by our committee was November 7th -- the night after the election - because Gloria would finally be free after months on the campaign trail, I thought this is either a wonderful idea or a really terrible one."
To make this happen, a small group of former staffers led by Joanne Edgar, set out to find more than 400 people, names compiled from mastheads -- by former editors in New York and the current team in Los Angeles (home of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the current owners of Ms.), social media and the small circles of friends from various Ms. departments who have dinner together.
While in the early years, many holidays were pot luck dinners at the apartment of editor Harriet Lyons; this larger event required feminist generosity usually associated with a fundraiser. Everyone who made it to the church that night -- contributed $15. Still the budget was not huge, and as name tags fell off the night of the party someone was heard to say: "Typical Ms. I guess we got a deal on name tags without adhesive on them."
"I'm flying in from Wales for this. That's what you all mean to me." - Susanne Skubik Intriligator, Ms. staffer, 1990-1995
Members of the Ms. family can now be found in several countries (Wales, Canada and Australia that we know of) and many states. Still more than 150 former staffers, grown-up Ms. kids, spouses, writers, sisters and Kumi Silver Loubet -- a third generation Ms. baby -- made it through the snow storm that followed Hurricane Sandy to a church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, led by Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt, a former Ms. editor. Among them:
In true Ms. style, our "greeters" in the church vestibule were terrific young women -- Molly Golda Pogrebin Shapiro, age 13 (daughter of Ms. Kid Abigail Pogrebin and David Shapiro), students from Fordham Law School and New York University (volunteers recruited by Pat Carbine's niece) and Andrea Malatesta's daughter Vicky. And like any family party where guests range in age from 8 months to 80-plus years -- everyone wanted to hold the baby and everyone had stories to tell.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. and proud grandmother of Molly, said she has a million memories of Ms., and shared this one:
"Reverend Rose" as she is known in her community, welcomed us to her church, The Fourth Universal Society of the City of New York, which she calls the bastion of liberal religion on the Upper West Side because they are so engaged in social justice work:
We were feeling the emotional weight of the lives lost and communities destroyed by the hurricane, when Pat introduced the woman caterer she had chosen for the party, Chef Rossi, owner of The Raging Skillet. Chef Rossi's place on Houston Street had been flooded. She said, "We were watching cars float down the block." She was without power for days and almost gave up. She found her strength she said, because:
While Gloria crisscrosses the country every year, bringing back stories from the frontlines which we count on her to do, especially during election years, Pat has always been the "Mother Superior" who calls on us at a Ms. event to "testify" -- to tell our stories. Those who couldn't attend sent emails and others spoke from the pulpit. Memories and shared laughter echoed throughout the church.
Bringing Joanne Edgar up to speak, Pat said, "where would we be without her!" Joanne, she said was the first Ms. receptionist, editor, publisher and advertising department. Not exactly, Joanne explained. The reality was that after the Preview Issue there was no one else in the office. Gloria was out raising funds for the magazine. Pat was not there yet. So when people called, "If they wanted advertising, I was advertising," she said. "If they wanted editorial, I was editorial."
For the first issue of the magazine, Gloria was hard at work on a major piece about women voters. This article, Joanne believes was probably the first to articulate the concept of the gender gap. Gloria was still focused on the women's vote when deadlines were approaching, and she hadn't even started writing the cover article about Wonder Woman. So Joanne wrote it. "I was a childhood fan of Wonder Woman," Joanne said. "But when this plum writing assignment fell into my lap, I freaked. I had never written for any magazine before, yet alone one I cared about as much as Ms. But editor Ruth Sullivan came to the rescue, calmly coaching me and helping me find a personal voice. And I did it."
Other shared memories:
Pat Carbine said that one of the goals she and Gloria set out for themselves 40 years ago was very simple: "We were going to change the publishing landscape. It was never going to be the same. Women had to be involved in every aspect of advertising because in those years it led to the publisher's office. The first person, she signed up was Cathie Black, who Pat said later went on to go higher and higher in her long career. Cathie said Pat didn't have a lot of choices at the time; 'the pickings were slim for anybody who had any experience in advertising sales.'"
Cathie's reaction to the Mad Men series was, she said "Oh My God, this is exactly what we encountered every single day. We came into their offices and they thought we came from outer space and they were terrified. They thought 'My God, my wife is going to go out to work.'" Pat coached us to say," Cathie added, "'It's really maybe not about your wife, but it is really about your daughters.' We had to explain the women's movement every single day, three-four-five times a day at agencies in New York, Chicago, Detroit, L.A., Memphis and Dallas or wherever they would have us."
It's not surprising that this group Pat called "the warriors" remain close today. As Cathie said, "We blazed new trails -- it was tough. We made mistakes. There were tears and Pat's embraces at the end of the day -- because we were obsessed with making it happen."
For the ad team, "the really big win for every one of us was being part of Ms," said Cathie. "I'm not sure we understood exactly how much it was going to fundamentally change our lives."
"Imagine," Pat said, in introducing Gloria, "she hasn't slept in three months. We'll never know how much of what happened yesterday is because of her years and years and years of tilling the ground, and still showing up. Our one and only, Gloria!"
Gloria told us she arrived from "campaign hell to a place of shared values, a friends' heaven." But she arrived at the party with a fever and cold and apologized for not being able to hug anyone.
She recalled that in the first issue of Ms., "we invented what I think was the first systematic methodology for rating a presidential campaign on women's issues. It was 'The Machismo Factor' ("Why Women Voters Can't Be Trusted," July 1972). It had no impact whatsoever on the Nixon race, he was elected anyway. But, it brought the Labor Party into power in Australia because the women picked it up there, and used it. I think so many things that we did were like that. We did something and we didn't know what would happen, but nonetheless it had some deep impact."
And, she added, "We had an impact on this election because those issues we identified didn't have names, weren't framed. Please remember how crucial, how important -- I always want to express this using my favorite word -- Fanfuckingtastic -- it was. We were a part of that, so please congratulate yourself."
So many people turned out in this election. Women made such a difference -- a 12 point difference:
Young people made up 19 percent of voters, an even higher percentage than in 2008. As one young woman said, "Apathy My Ass."
Gloria added: "Talking after the election about the long lines to vote, President Obama said, 'We have to do something about that.' I saw this in Florida -- where Ms. is literally a life-line for women -- and the state is symbolic of how broken our system is. We have a lot of work to do. But, I hope that you congratulate yourselves for the creating the understanding you can't have equality or democracy without feminism."
"Here's what I recommend to you," she said, "that you go around the world with Ms. magazine on your forehead. Because that's sort of what I do and as a result people tell me stories about what the magazine meant to them. Profound, amazing and funny, ridiculous stories:
"What I've taken away from tonight is the feeling that separately and together we did something that was extraordinary," said Pat, speaking for all of us. "For however long in your lifetime you were at Ms., you're part of that life-changing experience. So thank you for making it possible -- all of you."
A Three-Generation Ms. Family - Far L & R: Ms. staffers and sisters Mary Thom and Susan Loubet, Joan Shigekawa (Ms. Woman Alive! series) and daughter, Mariko Silver with Thom Loubet (Ms. Kid) and their daughter Kumi Silver Loubet!
Pat Carbine, Publisher, “Gloria’s idea of starting a magazine turned out to be the journey of my life.”
Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, The Fourth Universal Society of The City of New York and Ms. editor. “You all remind me of the power of women, and the power of women to organize and change and resist, and that women are allies."
Ms. Staffers. Front row, L-R: Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Gloria Jacobs, Ellen Sweet, Gloria Steinem, Harriet Lyons, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Mary Thom; Second row, L-R: Nancy Wartik, Karen FitzGerald, Mary Peacock, Ruth Sullivan, Marge duMond; Third row, L-R: Curtis Ingham Koren, Suzanne Braun Levine, Margaret Hicks, Donna Handly, Phyllis Rosser; Top row, L-R: Susan Loubet, Janet Oliver, Kathy Burkett, Joanne Edgar, Mary Kay Blakely.
Gloria Steinem, Pat Carbine with the Ms. Ad Team - L-R: Karyn Rose, Judy Kramer Stillinger, Cathie Black, Brette Popper, Valerie Salembier, Seena Harris Parker, Julie Lewit-Nirenberg, and Laura Schroff.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin (founding editor and proud grandmother), Cathie Black, at the desk Molly Golda Pogrebin Shapiro and founding editor Mary Peacock.
Chef Rossi, owner of The Raging Skillet, Gloria Steinem, Marge duMond.
Chef Rossi and her staff. “Forty Years ago I went from being a super hero who could do anything, to being told, ‘you can’t do that, because girls don’t do that.’ I raged against it. And I guess that’s where the catering business name came from.”
Joanne Edgar, founding editor “I would especially like to thank Gloria who has been a friend for more than 40 years and inspired me and so many of us to stand up for other women, and ourselves way before we had the power that we now know we have.”
<em>Women and Madness</em>, Barbara Nessim, Pen and ink, watercolor, 14X11 in. Collection of The Norman Rockwell Museum. Ms., October 1972. “In 1972, Ms. commissioned me to illustrate Dr. Phyllis Chesler’s book excerpt from <em>Women and Madness</em>. I worked with the wonderful art director Bea Feitler.”
Ms. Ad Director, Cathie Black.
Ms. friends from the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, with contributing editor Peg Simpson in the background.
Ms. editors L-R: Ruth Sullivan, Suzanne Braun Levine with journalist Jurate Kazickas.
Ms. staffers from editorial, art, production and research - L-R: Janet Oliver, Gloria Steinem (a contributing editor), Mary Peacock, Barbara Richer, Curtis Ingham Koren, Marge duMond, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
Betsy Wade and Gloria Steinem. Betsey Wade, edited the Pentagon Papers, successfully sued <em>The New York Times</em> for gender bias and retired from the paper in 2001 after 45 years.
L-R, New York City Council Member, Gale A. Brewer, Joanne Edgar and Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt.
L-R, Writer and filmmaker, Lilly Rivlin, Bert Pogrebin and Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
L-R, Bill Rosser, Contributing editor Phyllis Rosser, Barbara Nessim, Lizanne Merrill.
L-R, Karin Lippert, Suzanne Braun Levine.
L-R, Judy Kramer Stillinger, Valerie Salembier, Julie Lewit-Nirenberg.
Ms. Staffers from editorial, art, production and research - L-R: Janet Oliver, Gloria Steinem, Mary Peacock, Barbara Richer, Curtis Ingham Koren, Marge duMond and Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
Barbara Richer, Art Director, “I couldn’t resist!” she said arriving in her t-shirt from the 1st Ms. Birthday Party.
L-R: Ben Koren and Ian Richer (Ms. Kids).
L-R: Lisa Sweet-Korpivaara and Best Wohl (Ms. Kids), Center: Lisa Cronin Wohl, contributing editor.
L-R: Ms. Editors Karen FitzGerald, Nancy Wartik and Mary Thom.
Alix Matty Langer Gibson - The First Ms. Baby! - and her daughter Emma Ruth Gibson, age 5. “I know my mother’s spirit will be there with you all (Phyllis Ruth White Langer, 1943-2004), and I will think of you on this special day that honors the courage and tenacity of wonderful women.”
L-R: Georgia Routsis Savas, Publishing with Rita Malatesta Carluccio.
L-R: Editorial staffers Mary Thom and Della Rowland
L-R: “Free To Be…You And Me” producer Carole Hart, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Kumi Silver Loubet.
L-R: Ruth Sullivan, Barbara Richer, Mary Peacock.
L-R: Anne Bowen, Pamela Brandt, Helen Hooke - The Deadly Nightshade. One of the first all-female bands, they played at the first Ms. Birthday Party. Recently released a new CD: “Never, Never Gonna Stop: 2012.”
<em>Ms. Magazine</em> 40th Anniversary Issue.