“We are not superwomen”: Navigating Finances, Identity Politics, and Vision of a Feminist Press

Introduction to Documents 1 and 2: “Unbusinesslike” Conduct   |   Document 1      |     Document 2
Introduction to Documents 3 and 4    |     Document 3: Feminist Publishing Ethics    |     Document 4: Women in Print Publishing Accords
Document 5: Feminist Publishing Proposal From Ruth to Barbara
Introduction to Documents 6, 7, and 8: Seal Books   |    Document 6     |    Document 7     |     Document 8
Document 9: Women Who Dared    |     Document 10: “Cheat to Eat”
Introduction to Documents 11 and 12: Hate Mail      |     Document 11       |    Document 12
Document 13: Outreach to Women of Color        |       Document 14: Letter to Angela Davis      |     Document 15: Letter from Audre Lorde      |    Document 16: “No More ‘Social Problems’ Projects”

Document 11

Author: Name Redacted

Recipient: Seal Press

Date: 5 June 1979

Location: Series VIII, Box 1, Folder 1: Scrapbook I, 1976-1980; Part 1 of 2, Seal Press, Oberlin College Special Collections

Document Type: Typed Document, Signed by Author


Original                       Both                    Transcription




June 5, 1979

Seal Press

  1. O. Box 13,

Seattle, WA 98111

Dear “Backbone 2” Editors,

About a week ago I submitted a 30 page short story entitled ‘Mister Roger’s Cul-de-sac’ [Handwritten arrow pointing to sticker reading “This is a crime against women!”][1] to you for consideration for your magazine (I was careful to send it off before the coveted July 31st deadline).

I consider it to be a well written, and very amusing piece of literature, and well worth an editor’s time to read it. Today it was returned to me without a single remark about why it was rejected. This leads me to believe one of four things:

  1. You detested it so much that you felt your sharpest critique would be no critique at all (which it was). [Handwritten: Backbone II is a collection of short fiction by Northwest women. We are not accepting stories by men.][2]
  2. It was just too good for your ‘little’ publication (entirely possible).
  3. You can’t read.
  4. You can’t write.

I have found the vast majority of Northwest publications to be extremely narrow minded, a decade behind the times, and gutless; I’m sure “Backbone 2” will be no exception.

[name and address redacted]

Transcribed by Natalia Shevin

[1] This sticker was likely added to the author’s submission when it was sent back to him, as a provocative statement that his insensitivity and chauvinism was part of what the feminist movement addressed.

[2] This handwritten addition was written by staff at Seal Press, making it clear that the author’s submission was not rejected on a literary basis, but rather because Seal Press clearly states it accepts submissions only from women.