Inside MS

Mary Thom, Author MIS: Press $25 (244p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3732-6
Insider Thom, who has worked at Ms. magazine since its first issue, gives this history a cheerful and self-important slant. Any problems and all dissension are quickly wiped away. For example, Ellen Willis, who joined the magazine in 1973 as ""house radical,"" believed that the magazine condescended to readers by shaping writers to the magazine's agenda. Thom quickly trumps Willis by stating, ""If there was a problem with the early editing style at Ms., it was not one of condescending to readers."" Likewise, in the story of Alice Walker's 1986 resignation over the absence of women of color in its pages, Thom lists a couple of other African American staffers, then notes that Walker's letter of resignation was not printed because the editors felt that any response to it would come across as defensive. Surprisingly, some of the most interesting material here derives from the business end, beginning with the struggles of the founders to find funds to start the magazine in the first place and leading up to the decision to make it advertising-free in 1990. Gloria Steinem is the sacred cow of this volume, with any criticism of her promptly dismissed. This is understandable with regard to the rumor circulating at one time that Steinem had been a CIA agent, but the criticism that Steinem ought to have arranged for a working-class woman to appear on talk shows rather than always serving as mouthpiece herself deserves more consideration. Ultimately, everything Thom writes is skewed by her view that the magazine formed the movement and not the other way around. (July)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-8050-5845-1
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