Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It was 20 years ago today...

Well, not quite today. Some time around today, maybe. Some time in April: to work out the exact date I would have to go and do a bit of tedious googling about when Easter was in 1992, but it was definitely mid-April. Mid-to-late April, maybe, when the real media storm took off.
What's the old bat on about, you might ask? Right, this is another of those posts that doesn't actually have an awful lot to do with the time I spend sticking leaflets into letterboxes but this is MY blog and therefore I will do what the fuck I like.
Roughly 20 years ago, For Women magazine was launched. This was a seriously defining moment in my life. Moment, my arse, it was a massive couple of months with echoes that still resonate today. I can look back now with a total stewpot of feelings: excitement, exhaustion, stress, more stress, more excitement, raging frustration and gleeful triumph... and the rest. Because I was there. Right there. Part of the launch team, up all night, screaming and shouting in staff meetings, fixing that fucking proof plate when they said it couldn't be done, sneakily checking the stack of copies on the shelf at Manchester station to see if it was the first print run or the second before I could really bring myself to believe the hype...
Something not many people experience happened to me 20 years ago, which was that feeling of walking down the street, any street and knowing that the whole country is talking about you and what you did. That was the best and most exciting bit. The stress bits were mostly before this amazing couple of weeks: getting the thing out there on a tiny little budget with very little spare time amid huge personal meltdowns among the people working on it (marriage-ending affair, projectile-vomiting pregnancy, suicidal housemates, wild fits of crying in the office, all sorts. At least no punches were thrown).
And the frustration? That was a bit life-changing, too. because that's the bit that stayed with me through the years more than anything else, though I relished the excitement and the thrill and all the little happy moments when they happened. Because, basically, the magazine sucked. It did. Sorry. It was nowhere near what it could and should have been. It was cheap, tame and in many ways dishonest, because the overall power of veto lay with the men. The Men - who didn't really like the idea of women making choices, having real sexual autonomy, not needing men to tell them how to do it and all that.
I'm still glad I was there. I'm still glad it happened. And I will probably rant on some more about the whole business of female sexual desire and how it's catered to and all that stuff BECAUSE IT MATTERS. Though the short version of that post would be 'The only mag that came anywhere near what should have been done was Filament.'

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