Claire Black: Spare Rib struggle alienates readers

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OH COME on. Has this been dreamed up by Jeremy Clarkson? Feminist writer wants to relaunch feminist magazine and feminist founders of said magazine, after initially being supportive, decide that what they mean by lending their support is trademarking the name and calling in their lawyers. Solidarity.

Or rather, something that seems very much the exact opposite.

Truly, there is nothing more depressing than an entirely predictable stooshie to put you right off your sisters in the struggle.

Had you already heard that the magazine Spare Rib was being relaunched? Writer Charlotte Raven announced in April that she intended to relaunch the magazine that Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe founded in June 1972. She sent out an email asking those interested to sign up for more info as it emerged. I signed up. I liked Spare Rib, the publication that ran for 21-years, the same one for which my sister bought me a subscription when I was but a lass with a nascent feminist consciousness and a political commitment to mooncups. Fond memories.

The new version, to be launched by the autumn, would be more than just a magazine, according to Raven, it would be “a grassroots movement”, with local groups and user-generated content. How very 2.0. Yet, this is the bit of Raven’s plan that seems to have got the founders’ goats, since they were concerned about the “integrity and legacy of the name”, although why they didn’t mention that to Raven when they met her to talk about her plans back in May, only they can know. Instead, Rowe applied to trademark the name 20 years after the publication closed (on June 3) and both have, according to Raven, refused to meet unless in the presence of lawyers. Oh for the love of the goddess. Integrity? Legacy? Oops.

The problem with this kind of pathetic squabbling is that it alienates the women who might want to read and get involved with a rebooted feminist mag, while giving ammunition to those who carp about women being incapable of supporting each other. Groups such as UK Feminista, Object, NoMorePage3, the Fawcett Society and Feministing are enjoying a surge of support. The positive feeling about feminism and the positive actions that women are taking deserve better than what Rowe and Boycott have dished up.

SOMETIMES when my dog emerges from the undergrowth I wonder where she’s been and what she’s been up to. Sometimes, the smell of kebab meat (or worse) on her breath leaves me in no doubt. Other than that, I console myself with the thought that if no one is chasing her or shouting at me, she’s been doing what a dog does – sniffing and, erm, sniffing some more. But sales of the G-PAWS GPS are skyrocketing as pet owners seek to track furry friends. Some are mounting cameras on them. Personally, I’ll remain in blissful ignorance since I have no interest in seeing endless close-ups of other dogs’ derrieres.

A FRIEND has just got an allotment. I am an official helper. I have just purchased leather and suede gardening gloves which I am considering having monogrammed. We went for the first time last week. Under an abundance of weeds we found rhubarb, leeks and some strawberries. A bounty basically. Several fellow-allotmenteers (I’m not au fait with the lingo yet but I’ll get there) popped by to say hello including one who gave us an egg tray full of “chitted” tatties to plant. Day one and we got leeks out and put tatties in. Braw. «

Twitter: @Scottiesays

» Last week Claire... sat next to a man who not only kept her amused during a delayed flight but also explained the origin of the saying “cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”. And it’s not rude. Stuart, I thank you