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It's a wrap! 1988-2014.

[1] When I began working on this journal as its Founding Editor in 1985, it seemed both impossible and imperative to launch it. As an equal rights feminist as well as a professor, I had worked on the unionization of clerical and technical workers at Yale University. That experience of collective organizing, rather than academic administrative models, was the basis for this journal. I envisioned a community of scholars, but one more politically minded than that phrase had traditionally evoked. Since it took three years to find a willing publisher, I was not prepared for the instant fame that occurred when the first issue was published. I had imagined a relatively small, even esoteric journal with a few loyal readers. Instead, Genders became an international success overnight that was deluged by submissions--350 unsolicited manuscripts arrived in the first year alone, for a journal that initially published only 18 essays a year. On the other hand, I was also not prepared for the waves of hostility toward the journal from people who imagined we were destroying academia as well as sexuality. The revolution in gender, sexuality, and gender roles in which this journal played a part was a cultural movement that would not be denied. That gay marriage was finally made legal in the last year of my work as Editor-in-Chief seems like a fitting conclusion, although it was not the culmination that I envisioned when this journal began. Both society and the academy have undergone major changes since 1988, and this journal has weathered many adverse moments, but its relevance to modern life is clearer than ever, and the need for this journal as a public forum seems just as important as it was at the outset.

[2] Strange as it may seem now, Genders was the first major women's studies journal to offer an interdisciplinary focus on literature, film, and the arts. It was also the first feminist journal to put men on the Editorial Board in substantial numbers as active members and contributors. Had we done only one or the other of these things, the journal would probably have garnered far less attention, and been far less controversial. Sadly, there were women who attacked this journal, and me, for allowing men to be a significant part of it. They believed that men would take over the journal, or undermine the journal, or betray women on the journal. I want to say for the record: That never happened. In closing, I would like to honor someone whose name has never appeared anywhere in these pages, but whose efforts were very important to the journal's success. That person was my cousin and close friend, James Pierce Kibbey, with whom I had the very first conversations about this journal and what it could be. He became a law professor in New York, and died of AIDS a short time later, before Genders was launched, but his compelling spirit, and especially his courage, has aided this Editor through some difficult times. As well, his friends stood by me in very important ways during a dark time in this journal's early history.

[3] This issue is my last as Editor-in-Chief. I look forward to returning to my own research full time. As I leave, I want to assure you that the authors of the essays in this journal wrote every line themselves. I insisted on presenting their essays in their own idioms. My editorial work never involved rewriting sentences, much less paragraphs. I don't believe in that kind of intervention in somebody else's writing. The Editorial Board provided fantastic reviews of manuscripts throughout the history of this journal. They share much of the responsibility for its success and longevity. I often discussed the Board's reviews with the authors, but the authors had full control of what changes were made in their own essays. That is why their distinctive voices can be heard more clearly in this journal than in many others. I always envisioned this project as egalitarian, as author to author, and I still think it's an approach that can breathe new life into an academic universe that is sorely in need of reclamation.


Contributor's Note

ANN KIBBEY is the author of two books, The Interpretation of Material Shapes in Puritanism: A Study of Rhetoric, Prejudice, and Violence, and Theory of the Image: Capitalism, Contemporary Film, and Women. She is also the author of numerous articles on law and society. She is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genders, and additionally its Executive Editor during the years of its electronic publication, from 1998 to 2014. She graduated from Cornell University and received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught at Yale University, Cornell University, University of Washington, and University of Colorado.
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Author:Kibbey, Ann
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2014
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