This is a Woman’s World!

Content Warning: This post discusses issues related to sexual assault, abortion, and homophobia.

I just feel like women, they have minds and they have souls, as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty.

Jo March, Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019)

Mother nature. Lady Liberty. The Divine Feminine. Womanhood and femininity are intertwined with our vocabulary, inherently linked with our everyday interactions, with the way we speak, the way we think, and the way we see the world around us. Maryland and Historical Collections (MDHC) here at SCUA wants to emphasize that intertwining and uplift women and femme-identifying individuals by highlighting one of our collections that centers their voices.

Specifically, this post will highlight MDHC’s off our backs records. off our backs, or oob for short, was a non-profit feminist journal by, for, and about women, published from 1970 until 2008 in Washington, D.C. The journal covered a wide range of radical and difficult topics, moving seamlessly from local to national to international women’s rights issues, extending its broad reach to ensure everyone who opened the journal’s pages felt seen and included. 

Description of the "Thumb Poke," a self-defense tactic that involves poking an attacker in the eye. A black-and-white illustration depicts one person's thumb overlaying another person's eye.

The journal gave readers a uniquely diverse knowledge of where women stood in the midst of worldwide issues, such as highlighting the plight and fight of Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War (Vol. 3, No. 7), while also providing local information to women in the DMV area, such as a full-page spread listing out the pros and cons of different abortion clinics and gynecological offices in the D.C. Metro area, published directly after Roe v. Wade (Vol. 3, No. 10). In addition, the journal included general survival tips that were useful for women everywhere, with one issue laying out different tactics for physically fighting off would-be rapists (a finger in the eye socket seems to do the trick).

off our backs balanced these necessary but sometimes upsetting facts and stories with the inclusion of beautiful art, prose, and poetry, all created by a diverse group of women. Issues of off our backs are easily recognizable, thanks in part to their bold cover art and unique illustrations.

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