Outwrite Women's Newspaper: launch flyer, 1982; Women in Print printing vacancy, 1981
Women In Print were initially known as 'Women In Print and Frank'. They were an offset litho printing collective that shared premises in both Iliffe Yard (SE11) and then Camberwell Road (SE5) with See Red Women's Workshop. They started in the early 1970s and folded in 1986.
From Rolling Our Own: Women as Printers, Publishers and Distributors (Cadman, Chester, Pivot 1981):
In the early discussions about setting up a womens press in London there were debates about whether to print things that had some sort of men's involvement or just work by women. The Women in Print collective decided that as long as the work was anti-sexist it didn't matter. Issues about whether to print a job were discussed as they arose. Mostly their customers were feminist, left, community or otherwise 'alternative' groups along with borderline commercial organisations (e.g law centres) that helped subsidise not only more political work but also wages.
The group had a range of political positions but all were committed to feminism and collective working. Running a women's press was conceived as part of their practice as feminists, understanding and having control over all aspects of production, having and facilitating women's access to the machinery which allowed them to print and therefore communicate feminist ideas. Working in a womens group enabled feminist solidarity to develop:
“There's no competition, there's no hierarchy. we put a lot of time into discussing how we work together, we all feel very aware of how we relate to each other — not in an alienated work sense, but in a way that if anyone is pissed off or freaked out, we can discuss it. And its nice to be with just women. a lot of conversations come up spontaneously about sexist things. i think our conversations would be much different if there were men around, even if the men were into anti-sexist politics.”
They learnt their skills as they went along initially being taught by Frank who was in the original group and knew how to print. Learning how to use the equipment was felt to be empowering:
“It's quite hard overcoming the mystique that surrounds the machine. It's like the first time you change a fuse on a plug, you feel a real sense of achievement, even though it's a miniscule everyday thing in the minds of so many men. I find it really exhilarating to discover that what's happening is quite mechanical and straightforward. A goes onto B and locks onto C; and that's really lovely. It makes you feel strong and good and able to tackle anything — we hope.”
Photo: Cath, WiP, c1983; Photo: The Agfa Repromaster leaves Iliffe Yard in the move to new premises near Burgess Park
- Cadman, Eileen; Chester, Gail; Pivot, Agnes (1981) Rolling Our Own: Women as Printers, Publishers and Distributors Minority Press Group