|For Immediate Release
January 12 , 2009
Contact: 310 556 2500
Ms . magazine's new special inaugural issue has stirred up a lot of excitement-and some controversy.
The striking cover by illustrator Tim O'Brien shows President-elect Obama opening his suit, Superman-style, to reveal the iconic "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-Shirt. Playing on the existing superhero imagery around the president-elect-who has himself joked "I was actually born on Krypton"--the cover reflects both the national and feminist mood of high expectations and hope as the 44th President of the United States takes the oath of office.
"This cover speaks for itself-we're proud the president-elect identifies as a feminist," says Ms. Executive Editor Katherine Spillar.
The cover has drawn acclaim on feminist blogs such as Feministe and Jezebel, where posted comments call it "awesome," "inspirational" and "fantastic," and one feminist says, " It shows pride in using the word feminist instead of derision that we've had for years ." And feminist author Naomi Wolf went on CNN to defend the cover, saying, " Ms. sensibly [and] very obviously points out that this is what a feminist looks like."
But it's also stirred up a firestorm from PUMA PAC, a group that pledges to watchdog the Obama administration. They've launched an email and phone campaign to tell us "how laughable and insulting it is for [ Ms. ] to claim that Obama is a feminist."
We at Ms. stand by our cover and embrace the opportunity to affirm that men can be feminists, too. Obama-who ran on the strongest platform for women's rights of any major party in U.S. history-self-identifies a feminist.
Of course, we're not wearing rose-colored glasses. As Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal says in a Huffington Post editorial:
"We are not giving President-Elect Obama a blank check. For our hopes to be achieved, we must speak out and organize, organize, organize to enable our new president's team to achieve our common goals. Ultimately, we must hold our leaders' feet to the fire, or to put it more positively, uplift them when they are caught in the crosscurrents of competing interests." (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eleanor-smeal/this-is-what-a-feminist-l_b_157531.html )
In this spirit, the editors of Ms . asked feminist leaders, experts, and activists-along with our readers-to share their visions of what must be done to move forward at this extraordinary time. Statements from Kim Gandy, bell hooks, Margaret Cho, Alice Walker, Ani DiFranco, Cynthia Enloe, Dolores Huerta, the editors of Feministing.com, and many others are in the current issue of Ms. and at http://msmagazine.com/winter2009/VisionOfChange_quotes.asp .
Note to editors : Ms. Executive Editor Katherine Spillar and Ms. Publisher Eleanor Smeal are available for interviews.