In the early 1990s, despite my status as a homemaker with two small children in the burbs, I was asked to participate in brown bag luncheons with a group of high-powered women at the law offices of Ted Olson, now US Solicitor General. I was awed by the regulars-such luminaries as Ricky Silberman, the late Barbara Olson, Anita Blair, and Barbara Ledeen. These casual networking luncheons developed into a feisty new kind of women’s organization, the Independent Women’s Forum.
Around the time that the group began to get serious about providing a voice for women not comfortable with the far left or the far right, the idea was floated of founding a publication. We thought we were getting a modest newsletter, but Danielle Crittenden, then a rising star up in Canada, came up with something far more sophisticated. Because I’d worked for The New Republic and Architectural Digest, I knew the nuts and bolts of putting together a magazine and was appointed publisher. Mitzi Hamilton Pepall, a visual genius, created the look of the magazine. Our dedicated art director has never ceased to amaze us with her creativity and knack for finding just the right illustration.
For the first half of its existence, Danielle Crittenden edited The Women’s Quarterly with style and daring. Our magazine published articles that could appear nowhere else-most women’s magazines are outposts of the left or traffic in makeup and fashion advice. The Women’s Quarterly debuted in autumn 1994 with a twelve-page issue that included articles by well-known writers such as Anne Applebaum, then in London, who wrote “Getting Mary Poppins Off the Dole” and Martha Bayles who elegantly opined on gangsta rap. Our iconoclastic tone was set.
Many of the issues that would become central to the Independent Women’s Forum were first formulated in the pages of The Women’s Quarterly. It was through TWQ that we found our voice on Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, feminist follies perpetrated by the U.N., the myth of the wage gap, the war against boys (a concept that originated with IWF honcha Christina Hoff Sommers), and a host of other important matters. We also persuaded major writers to contribute masterpieces for a pittance. You can read excerpts from these gems in this special edition of The Women’s Quarterly. (Go to our website, www.womensquarterly.com, for the full texts.)
Midway through TWQ‘s spunky history, the torch was passed to a brilliant new editor, Charlotte Hays, a Mississippian with a magnolia-dripping accent and an unusual resume-a former gossip columnist who loved the world of ideas. Hays brought continuity and added new features. The issues grew in size, and we maintained visibility in the media, quite a feat for such a small magazine. There was that memorable day the phones rang off the hook after Rush Limbaugh read from a TWQ Interview with Camille Paglia.
We were never predictable. Who but The Women’s Quarterly would provide light-hearted and venom-provoking coverage of a Georgetown University Law School conference on transsexuals? Who but The Women’s Quarterly would ask the Mayflower Madam to write on table manners? And then there was Charmaine Yoest’s piece on that coterie of Pentagon gals who are gung ho for putting women in combat. Charmaine revealed the main tenet of their military preparedness: more space to breastfeed.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading us as much as we’ve enjoyed having you along for the ride. But now we are shifting gears. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer, who became president and CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum in 2001, is launching the IWF on a new trajectory. This is a time of excitement and growth for us, and we are expanding our programs and hiring new staff, especially in the legal and campus arenas.
As part of this leap into the future, TWQ is going online. We feel we can reach an even wider audience and respond to events of the day more rapidly. One of the fun aspects of TWQ Online will be a blogging corner presided over by Charlotte. For those of you uninitiated in the art of the blog, this is a fast-paced commentary on events and ideas, posted daily.
We’re launching TWQ Online later in the summer, along with our newly designed website. This collector’s edition is the last traditional hardcopy issue. It’s a testament to our rich editorial content that we have had to leave out so many splendid writers. You’ll be able to read a selection of TWQ Online offerings in Nancy’s quarterly President’s Report, another new feature, but we hope you’ll come to visit us regularly online to experience the full range of scintillating articles and other essential reading matter that will be part of our ever more provocative presence.