Attentive to Difference: Ms. Magazine, Coalition Building, and Sisterhood

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Women's and Gender Studies



Publication Title

Feminist Coalitions: Historical Perspectives on Second-Wave Feminism in the United States


A few weeks prior to going to press, Sian Hunter, a senior editor at University of North Carolina Press, and I went back and forth about the title of my book on the history of Ms., the first feminist, commercial magazine in the United States. The point of debate focused on punctuation: should there be a question mark after Yours in Sisterhood? Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism or should there simply be a colon, as in Yours in Sisterhood: Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism. "Yours in sisterhood" was the closing phrase, always followed by Gloria Steinem's signature, the magazine used in sending out subscription renewal letters and requests for donations. For me, the question mark signaled the attention my book gave to this question of "sisterhood." In other words, was Ms. actually speaking to a sisterhood of women? In what ways? How was that sisterhood defined? Who was included? Who was left out? How did concepts of feminist sisterhood change over the twenty years of the magazine's commercial publication, from the early 1970s to the late 1980s? How did the commercial context of Ms. shape the way that sisterhood could be defined, the ways that feminism could be represented, the voices that could be and were included in the magazine, the range of readers the magazine could and did speak to?


For more information on the published version, visit The University of Illinois Press's Website.

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