Gloria Steinem created Ms. as a forum for hitherto unheard female voices. It was the first feminist magazine to enjoy immense popularity, with women across America reading it like the Bible in the 1970s.
After its first issue was published in 1972, network news anchor Harry Reasoner said, “I’ll give it six months before they run out of things to say.” Thirty-five years later Ms. continues to be a leading national magazine that boasts extensive coverage of issues effecting women internationally. For its 35th anniversary issue, Ms. decided to check in on some of the most pressing concerns of feminists by comparing women in 2007 with their cohorts in 1972.
A few of the results prove to be hopeful and give praise to the women who have fought for equality in the last 35 years:
- In 1972 there were 15 women in Congress; today there are 90.
- In 1972 women owned 4.6 percent of U.S. businesses; by 2006 women owned 40 percent.
- In 1972 women made up 1.4 percent of the military; today they make up 14.6 percent.
But the results also show that women aren’t as liberated today as many like to think:
- In 1972 women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned; today they still earn only 77 cents to the dollar.
- In the 1970s Virginia Slims tried to sell cigarettes to women by co-opting feminism; today cigarette ads in women’s magazines are directed at teenage girls and young women.
- In 1973 the word “cellulite” was popularized by Nicole Ronsard’s bestseller; today “cellulite” gets more than 2,150,000 hits on Google, though it still has no medical definition.