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When Feminists Confronted the Men In Charge of Ladies' Home Journal

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John Mack Carter’s corner office on the fifth floor of the Curtis Publishing building had become something of a fire hazard. Meant to accommodate his desk and a few employees, it now held between 100 and 200 women. Many stood with signs, read from prepared statements, and heckled Carter; those that couldn't squeeze in trickled into the hallway. A few jumped on furniture and smoked cigars to mock his attempts to remain cool in what was quickly becoming the most eventful morning in the history of Ladies’ Home Journal.

And this was before he was nearly pushed out a window.

The women had congregated on March 18, 1970 at the Journal’s editorial offices in New York City to protest the fact that Carter, the magazine's editor-in-chief since 1965, was leading a mostly-male editorial staff. It was, in the eyes of activists, a gender-distorted control room producing content that encouraged readers to embrace a subservient domestic life and an underpaid role in the workforce.   

The Journal protest was conceived at the Greenwich Village apartment of Susan Brownmiller, member of a feminist group called Media Women. A successful journalist, Brownmiller knew that a “sit-in” would attract newspapers and television crews. It would be, in her words, a “woman bites magazine” story. When one of her fellow organizers mentioned she used to work at the Journal and could help draw up a floor plan, plans were quickly made. Flush with members from the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Redstockings liberation group and other women’s rights activists, the protestors would demand higher salaries and more substantial assignments for female staff—and that Carter vacate his position.

Wearing business attire in order to blend in, the women entered the Journal offices around 9 a.m. in small groups so their growing numbers wouldn’t be immediately noticed. Some went directly to Carter’s office; others headed for the secretarial area, where female employees were spoken to about their low pay and the dangers of a passive attitude in the workplace. A few of the protestors lingered in the lobby, wondering if the police might show up. One of the women carried a large sign featuring a mock-up of their Women’s Liberated Journal: a pregnant woman posed near a cover line that read, “Unpaid Labor.”

John Mack Carter under siege. Courtesy

Carter may have been tipped off by media contacts, but there was little he could do to prepare for the occupied state of his office. As he sat behind his desk, wondering how to proceed with news cameras pointed at him, managing editor Lenore Hershey—the only female senior editor on staff—tried to address the women.

“Behave like ladies,” she admonished.

The women ignored Hershey, and instead took aim at Carter. In a Village Voice account of the scene written by demonstrator Minda Bikman, the Journal tried to present a united, and traditionally ladylike, front:

At this point, they brought in Geraldine Carro, a woman in her mid-20s. Hershey introduced her with a grand wave of her arm, remarking that Carro wrote half the magazine. "Then why isn't she an editor?" was the spontaneous response.

The women began offering story ideas for future issues. Instead of cooking tips, they argued, women would be better served by insightful pieces on abortion, the draft, and divorce. The magazine should offer day care services for employees and hire more women of color. Sexist advertisements should be eliminated.

When Hershey pressed them on the latter, the women produced a recent issue featuring a Jell-O ad that implied a housewife wouldn’t know what an “assistant vice president” is.

Carter tried negotiating, insisting he would only speak to 12 of the women in a separate meeting space. They refused: protestor Karla Jay joked that they should just write “conference room” on his office door. Carter also offered to placate them by writing an article on the women’s rights movement. That, too, was insufficient. Throughout the day, he insisted he would not be giving up his position as editor.  

As the afternoon wore on, the parties began to get impatient. News crews wanted footage for the 6 p.m. broadcasts; some of the women began discussing overturning filing cabinets or setting fires. Rumors began to swirl that the police would intervene if the matter wasn't resolved soon.

The situation became so tense that one of the women, Shulamith Firestone, lunged at Carter, who had been standing near a large window. Jay stopped her before she could make contact and potentially propel both of them through the glass. But the attempt seemed to motivate the editor, who at that point appeared to be listening to what the protestors had to say.

After roughly 11 hours, Brownmiller, Jay, and the rest of their group emerged with a promise of editorial control over an eight-page section in an upcoming issue. They were paid $10,000 to create content, which Brownmiller distributed to women's groups in the city. But not all of the women were happy: their demands for salary increases and changes to advertising policies weren’t met. And Carter was still behind his desk—though not for much longer.

In 1973, Carter left his post. Hershey, who later said the protest made her rethink her own views about feminism, petitioned to take his spot and soon became the Journal’s editor-in-chief. Women have continued to occupy Carter's former office ever since.

Additional Sources: Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation; Mass Media and the Shaping of American Feminism, 1963-1975.

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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images
The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images

After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Warner Bros./iStock
The Bizarre Reason Burger King Wants to Keep It Out of Russia
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Warner Bros./iStock

For decades, Burger King and McDonald’s have been engaged in one of the most competitive corporate rivalries in fast food history. In the 1980s, the two actually went to court over accusations about Burger King's sourcing and preparation of meats. In 2016, a BK restaurant in Queens, New York, was draped in sheets and made to look like the ghost of McDonald’s.

The sniping continues, but this time McDonald’s isn’t really involved. According to The Hollywood Reporter and coming our way via Eater, the Russian branch of Burger King has filed a complaint with the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) over the recent horror blockbuster It. The reason? They claim the movie’s evil clown, Pennywise, is so reminiscent of Ronald McDonald that the release will constitute an unfair advertising opportunity for their competitor.

While this sounds like either a prank or publicity stunt hatched by Burger King’s marketing arm, the FAS confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the burger chain did indeed request the movie be banned. That doesn’t mean it’s not a marketing ploy—there must be economic advantages to comparing a chief competitor’s mascot to a child-murdering clown—but it does offer some substance to the claim. The FAS told the outlet that it “can’t be concerned” with a fictional character in a movie that has nothing to do with hamburgers, but hasn’t made any final decision.

Owing to the recent scary-clown hysteria, McDonald’s has actually dialed down Ronald’s appearances in public over the past two years, which does raise suspicion over what he’s been doing with his downtime. It: Chapter Two is scheduled to infuriate Burger King even more when it’s released in 2019.

[h/t Eater]  


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