What 35 Years of Coverage Leads Us To

A staple of Minnesota Women’s Press since the very first issue on April 16, 1985, has been its focus on profiles about powerful, everyday women. 

That is a lot of stories about Minnesota’s feminists, some of whom you see pictured on the mosaic cover of our retrospective book, from among the hundreds taken over the years by long-time Minnesota Women’s Press photographer (and current managing editor) Sarah Whiting.

As co-founder Glenda Martin wrote in the 10-year anniversary issue in 1996, “What is a feminist anyway? Many writers are defining, describing, honoring, refuting, disparaging the word, the idea, the concept. It’s difficult to find a consensus of what feminist means and equally difficult to find those who would claim the word for themselves without adding personal modifiers. 

“Certainly, I’ve known feminism for 20 years, but what led me there? Perhaps growing up with a strong mom, a sweet dad, and a sister I took care of for many years. Perhaps having three women mentors at different points in my professional career during the ‘60s — each of whom was the first woman in her position. Perhaps it was teaching a full graduate load in the ‘70s at the University of Minnesota, where only men were the professors, and the women were paid one-third of what the men were.

“At Minnesota Women’s Press, we believe every woman has a story and that these stories combine to make the news of our time.”

“Hearing the stories of the many women, and men, who claim the word feminist for themselves can teach us about the range of meanings that word has and the strength it conveys in individual lives. These are good news stories we can all celebrate.”

glenda Martin, co-founder, Minnesota Women’s Press

Some of the stories in “35 Years of Minnesota Women” are excerpted stories about Anne Bancroft, Winona LaDuke, Louise Erdrich, Patty Wetterling, Vednita Carter, Pakou Hang, Carolyn Holbrook, Ann DeGroot, Peggy Flanagan, Sheila Wellstone, Mary McEvoy.

A few women in our “Feminisms” chapter include:

  • Toni Stone (1988), who in 1953 became the first woman in professional baseball, playing second base for the top-ranked team in the Negro American Baseball League. 
  • Amal Yusuf (2002), president and CEO of the Somalian Women’s Association, who told our reporter, “Our lives here have definitely gotten harder since 9/11.”
  • Hyon Kim (2008), who was separated from her mother and siblings for 40 years, and became a businesswoman who offered high-income employment to a workforce that included Hmong, Cambodians, Koreans, Filipinos, and Blacks.
  • Lou Ann Kling (2016), who was President Bill Clinton’s national administrator of farm loan programs.

Our “Gender-based Violence” chapter includes a look back at what the Anita Hill testimony to Congress taught us about the need for a #MeToo movement, and reminders about how much effort women have had to invest in order to change a few attitudes about sexual violence since the 1980s.

In related stories to come we will highlight some pieces from the “Political Leadership,” “Ecofeminism,” “Pro-Choice,” and “Equity & Justice” chapters. Is it any wonder we had 162 pages to fill?

We also will highlight in full stories that did not make it into the book. Find one of them, about LGBTQ+ rights, here. Some of our past cover artists are featured here.

Examining Our Mission

Glenda Martin and Mollie Hoben

Co-founder Mollie Hoben came up with the concept of creating a publication that focused on women, because we tended to be invisible otherwise in traditional media.

Today — although the value of women, and those with more fluid identities, might be generally recognized more so than it was in 1985 — the mission of our publication has not changed.

During the past three years we have especially prioritized stories from women of color, as voices that continue being overlooked — perhaps until the last few months — in traditional venues.

In 2021, we also begin a concentrated effort on two new ventures:

  • featuring particular Perspectives columnists from around the state, chosen for their unique viewpoints;
  • creating intergenerational conversations that showcase the voices of both youth and elders on long-standing issues.

Our intention, as always, is to lift up the insights we need to understand if we are to truly create a healthier society than we have ever had.

As I wrote in my Publisher’s Note for the book, when we started to compile the stories from the 35 years, “it was simultaneously heartening and disheartening to realize how many people have been fighting for the same things for decades.”

At the end of the book, previous co-publishers Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson write about what women still want:

  • Worth to be recognized and to be paid equitably
  • Affordable childcare
  • To be able to walk alone at night without being poised for self-defense
  • To make our own healthcare decisions and have access to the full range of reproductive health care services
  • Equal representation. “In 2020, several qualified and electable women candidates emerged, but still our next president was destined to be an older, white man. Do we really believe that in over 200 years, there has not been a woman who was good enough to be president?”
  • The work of female artists, musicians, actors, and writers to be featured as much or more than the work of males. And for women athletes to be recognized and compensated equally to their male counterparts.

After more than 35 years of asking for and seeking change, in 2022 the Minnesota Women’s Press community will be making change happen together through the new Changemakers Alliance, based off of the annual Changemakers we have been recognized in every December issue for decades.

Please become a Changemakers Alliance member and support the change our statewide community can do together. Buy the “35 Years of Minnesota Women” to celebrate who we are.