As no doubt the editors hoped, this cover for Ms. Magazine’s Special Inaugural Issue has generated a lot of controversy. Many feminists feel that Obama’s feminist credentials are not nearly as strong as they could be, while the cover has generated an escalation in panic-mongering and shrill we-told-you-so’s from the religious right plus a great deal more snark about Obamessianic visions and rainbow unicorns from the neocon right. As the magazine hits newstands this week, Ms. have issued a press release which casts the cover art in the role of pressuring the new administration to live up to the high expectations for feminist reforms that campaign rhetoric has created.
It’s not every day Ms. puts a man on the cover.
But in choosing the cover for our special Winter 2009 Inaugural issue—on newsstands January 27th–Ms. wanted to capture both the national and feminist mood of high expectations as the 44th President of the United States took the oath of office.
In the cover story, “Visions for Change,” feminist leaders, experts, activists and Ms. readers share their visions of how we can move forward at this extraordinary time. Eleanor Smeal, publisher of Ms., warns, “For our hopes to be achieved, we must speak out and organize, organize, organize. 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.”
Several of the other features and columns explore key policy issues anticipated for early action under the Obama administration.
· Obama has promised to invest substantial dollars in early childhood education programs. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Cornelia Grumman, in the feature piece “Beyond Babysitting,” explains why children need better education before kindergarten.
· Comprehensive immigration reform is high on the president’s agenda. In the feature “Ana’s Choice,” University of California, Santa Cruz Latino/a studies professor Patricia Zavella examines the pressing need for humane immigration reform, as she takes us behind the scenes with Mexican immigrants trying to keep their families safe and intact.
· Also promised is stronger action in Afghanistan. Alisa Tang’s on-the-ground report from Kabul, “Lives on The Line,” illustrates how Afghan women’s lives have been increasingly threatened by a resurgent Taliban.
· President Obama should not overlook jobs for women in the economic recovery package, writes Ms. Money editor Martha Burk in her column “Rescue Remedy.”
Those four bolded points are issues that women in all countries, not just the USA, could get behind as policies they’d like their governments to pursue. So what are your thoughts on the cover and the controversy? Just a publicity stunt and a storm in a teacup? Or fundamentally more disturbing?