The launch of For Women was 30 years ago this week. I think it might even actually be 30 years ago today that the first copies hit the first newsagent, but the feeding frenzy was already well under way. I wrote a bit about the 20th anniversary of the launch on my first blog (hang on, I have been blogging for over a decade now? Wut?) I have vivid memories of that Easter Sunday in 1992, a
weekend housewarming with a bunch of old friends, passing around the Sunday papers – ‘Ooh, this bit mentions you by name!’ ‘This lot don’t like it much, do they?’ I can’t see me doing anything that will ever put me in the eye of a storm like that again but, well, it was quite a lot of fun. As well as quite a lot exasperating, while it was a massive big deal when it launched, the magazine itself was really rather crap.
And it’s 10 years since 50 Shades frenzy, now you mention it. I don’t particularly recall any bouts of ‘Wow, hang on, women like sex!’ media storms in 2002, specifically: the fuss about rabbit vibrators which culminated in the apparently dire Rabbit Fever film had begun in the late 90s and just simmered away in the background for a long time. Scarlet magazine, launched in 2004, got a moderate amount of attention at the time, I suppose, and Filament, which deserved far far more attention than it got, being everything FW should have been in a better world, was later in the decade.
It’s a little difficult to imagine the launch of a magazine blowing up across every other form of media to that extent,, these days. It’s less difficult, however, to imagine some or other new product or concept dedicated to female sexual pleasure and choice being hailed as the second, er, coming, even now. And any such thing will almost certainly be breathlessly studied and critiqued or lauded by people who claim or appear to believe that, up until now, women (well, cis women) really weren’t bothered about orgasms, or choice, or recreational sex. And if they were, and if they are, it’s still more of a cause for concern than for celebration.
We may have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.