spring 2005
table of contents
Letter from the Editor
Articles Online

A State Treasure(r)
Wells Goes Coed
Gregoire Takes Charge
Frye's Amazing Race
Judicial Worst
Stats Do Lie
Feldt Leaves PPFA


Ukraine's Female Prime Minister
Indian Policewomen
Mexican Journal Debate

Soap Operas in Africa
Networking Corner

Cover Story
Housewife Wars | Catherine Orenstein
Desperately Debating Housewives
| Jessica Seigel and Jennifer L. Pozner

More Features

Secrets of the Bonobo Sisterhood | Jessica Seigel
Baghdad Burning | Riverbend
"Not Women Anymore ..." | Stephanie Nolen
A Gallery of Dreaming | Carey Lovelace
La Femme a la Mèche Blonde | Eve Pell


A Bad Spell | Bia Lowe

Creepy World | Marianne Taylor
Pastries at the Bus Stop | Alice Mattison
Crépe de Chine | Richard McCann

Hide and Seek | Kay Ryan
The Germans
| Dorianne Laux
The Spell (in memory, Elise Ascher) | Marie Howe

Touching History
Encounters with Women of Renown:
Kamala Das, Carole King, Bernarda Bryson-Shahn

Book Reviews

Valerie Miner on Alice Hoffman's The Ice Queen
Barbara Pepe on the National Council of Women's Organizations' 50 Ways to Improve Women's Lives: The Essential Women's Guide for Achieving Health, Equality
and Success

Plus: Spring Must-Read List

Why Choice Matters | Donna Brazile

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Letter From The Editor | spring 2005

A Farewell and a Hope for the Future

'Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind

-Emily Dickinson

I've been thinking a good bit about that poem lately. I've also been re-reading Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a 1969 book by Irish revolutionary Bernadette Devlin McAlisky called The Price of My Soul. She explains the phrase, often uttered by her grandmother, as referring not to the price at which she would sell out, but as the price we must all pay in life to maintain our integrity.

Two years ago I walked into the Beverly Hills offices of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) to begin this job. There wasn't a single staff member in place, and no "inventory" as the magazine business calls stories in the pipeline that are ready to be published. A 96-page magazine needed to be produced in eight weeks for Summer 2003.

Talk about a challenge! But we soon had a terrific team assembled, and we did it, debuting with Janeane Garofalo on our cover. This amazing group of editors and writers and artists and illustrators has been responsible for the last 8 issues of the magazine.

In the last two years, I believe Ms. has been lively, provocative, thoughtful, and a fierce feminist example of advocacy journalism at its best. With no-nonsense fiscal management, we also helped steer this magazine back twoard the financial stability that would ensure its survival and growth. Our vision was clear, if only partically realized.

We aimed to promote an intrepid, energetic, forward-looking feminism, positive and empowering for every woman. I am simply not a dour person, and while I believe protest is important, I also believe that martyrs make ineffective activists, unstimulating debate partners, lousy lovers, and boring dinner guests. And that was what we aimed to make this new Ms. ... a stimulating conversation around the global dinner table that would include all of us.

Readers have responded resoundingly. We now get hundreds of letters and emails, applauding what they like, castigating us (Yes!) for what they don't, most of them committed to being part of the journey no matter what. Judging by increased circulation and thousands of new subscribers, readers have embraced both the new voices in the magazine and the seasoned ones.

We have worked hard to keep Ms. as a respected member of the journalism community, adherent to the ethical standards that are recognized by organizations such as the American Society of Managing Editors (ASME) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Among other things, that means stringent fact checking, and never publishing anything false, even if it stems from a passionately held point of view.

As I leave the editor in chief job -- this is my last letter -- I wish the magazine's owners all the best as they move forward with the kind of publication they envision. Ms. has been through many incarnations, and I join the family of readers and supporters who will always stand with the ideals upon which this magazine was founded.

Most of all, I want to thank the readers, from women in Nebraska who write to say "Thank God you're there!" to urban hipsters who reach across so many divides to connect, to women in Saudi Arabia who silently pass this magazine around the souk. Thank you to our sisters in prison for writing to say this magazine is a lifeline. Thank you to the wonderful men who so carefully read this magazine and have written for us.

As a journalist, I have reported from the Balkans, the Middle East, and the war torn mountains of Afghanistan. But it was the FMF who gave me the extraordinary gift of truly learning a little bit more about what I'm made of. Thank you for that. I also want to thank several women's movement leaders who have been so consistently supportive in private. Your efforts are so appreciated. You give me hope for the future.

Keep in touch with e-mails to ElaineLafferty05@aol.com. There are some terrific stories in this issue, and I urge you to savor all of them, from Stephanie Nolen's heart wrenching tale of rape in the Congo, to Jessica Seigel and Jenn Pozner's hilarious exchange about Desperate Housewives.

And I can think of no more apt phrase to close on that the festive one offered on Page 9 by Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem, and former editors Suzanne Braun Levine and Robin Morgan ... "We can't wait to see what happens next!"

-- Elaine Lafferty

Copyright © Ms. Magazine 2009