- Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies Turns Forty!Reflections from Former Editors
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. To help us commemorate this impressive achievement, we invited former editors of Frontiers to share their experiences in creating and reinventing the journal. We asked about their favorite memories as well as their views of how the field of women’s studies has evolved over the past forty years.
Every movement for social change needs some expendable people. People willing to give up financial gain and/or professional advancement for the cause. As a founding member of the Frontiers Editorial Collective, I was expendable because the University of Colorado, our first home, had no way to punish me for my actions. In the spring of 1974, I was not a graduate student, a faculty member, an adjunct faculty member, a tenure-track professor, a staff secretary, or a faculty wife at cu. Of all the members of the Frontiers founding editorial board, I was the only one with nothing to lose: an independent, self-supporting feminist willing to work for free for thirteen years. Along with a total lack of respect for authority, this nothing-to-lose status and a sense of “situational ethics” served me well as one of the first Frontiers editors and as her first publisher.
Lyin’, cheatin’, and stealin’—these are among my favorite memories during the early years at Frontiers. With a touch of humor and a wave at country-western song lyrics, I write from the perspective of forty years about the risks I was willing to take and the lengths I was willing to go to in order to help launch a journal with a unique purpose—to try to bridge the gap between academia and the real world. [End Page 194]
I was the only member of the founding committee for the Women Studies Program and Frontiers who had been a staff secretary at cu. As such, I knew how the University’s financial system functioned from the inside. I knew what a Code 3 account was and how to open one, so I did that for Frontiers. A Code 3 account was an independent, self-funded account that operated outside the supervision of the dean or the chancellor or the budget office. Our self-funding at the journal was to come from subscriptions, ads, and/or grants. If you had a Code 3 account at cu, you were not allowed to have an outside business account at a commercial bank in Boulder. I cheerfully opened one of those, too, using my own social security number this time. Technically, this was “illegal.”
Frontiers never had any money. Our subscriptions barely paid for printing and postage for three issues a year. And since we were not an official part of the Women Studies Program, we got no funding from them. Eventually, the Code 3 account slipped into the red. This went on undetected for quite a while. Years. The deficit was small, but still …
The cheatin’ continued. To save money on postage, we used a special library rate that was restricted to use by nonprofit libraries to send books back and forth to each other. My friend Robbie in the vast cu Mail Services Room winked at me as he processed trays of outgoing issues of Frontiers. I had a rubber stamp made (“library rate”) and used the correct postage. As long as the trays arrived in zip-coded order, Robbie sent the issues out and on their way to individual subscribers.
So that leaves stealin’—my personal favorite. In the beginning, Women Studies and Frontiers were friends. The two entities were founded almost simultaneously and by many of the same women. Faculty in Women Studies served on the editorial board of Frontiers, including the first two chairwomen. But when they left, a cabal of women sociologists took control of the Program. Carpetbaggers, these women were not feminists and had been no help during the establishment of the...