The Press: Woman-Power

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Newsweek's cover story on "Women in Revolt" was scarcely on the stands when 46 women researchers, reporters and the magazine's one woman writer staged a revolt of their own. They complained to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they are "systematically discriminated against in both hiring and promotion and are forced to assume a subsidiary role simply because they are women." Newsweek's women were particularly incensed because the magazine had commissioned a freelance woman writer to do the Women's Liberation cover story. Osborn Elliott, Newsweek's editor in chief, said that most of his researchers are women because of a "newsmagazine tradition going back almost 50 years." He was quick to add, however, that he was not unwilling to alter tradition.

Immediate Stop. Until recently, the rebellious restlessness of women in journalism had rarely surfaced. Last summer a female sportswriter sued to gain access to the press box at a professional football game; a feature writer won the right to withhold her byline from "wives-of-famous-men" assignments. And three months ago, women staffers ousted the male hierarchy of the underground and pornographic newspaper, Rat.

But last week the movement scaled new piques when more than 100 mod-and trouser-clad feminists marched into the fifth floor Manhattan headquarters of Downe Communications, publishers of the Ladies' Home Journal. The women (who represented a variety of Liberation groups) demanded "an immediate stop to the publication of articles that are irrelevant, unstimulating and demeaning to the women of America."

They presented Journal editors with plans for an issue of the magazine they wanted turned over to them. The cover showed an obviously pregnant woman carrying a sign reading UNPAID LABOR; the suggested articles included "How to Get an Abortion," "Must Your Child Keep You from a Career?" "Prostitution and the Law." The Journal had been chosen for attack, said a liberated spokeswoman, "because for six months we had suggested they do an article on women's liberation," and because the magazine depicts women as "totally passive, ever-suffering second-class citizens."

One male on the scene, Downe's Family Weekly research director, Eli Belil, was moved to retort: "Turn yourself off, baby. If you don't like the magazine, don't read it." Undaunted, an obstinate group of 30 hunkered down to a day-long vigil in Editor John Mack Carter's office. Although he had learned of the visitation a day in advance, the only precaution the editor had taken was to wear a TV-blue shirt for the occasion. He also demonstrated extraordinary patience by hearing the suffragettes out for some eleven hours.

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