The “Good Guy” Male Editor of Three Women’s Magazines

World War I patriotic cover of The Ladies' Home Journal, December 1917.

World War I patriotic cover of The Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1917, long before John Mack Carter became editor.

I’ve just been reading obituaries of John Mack Carter, the man who, at various times, was the editor of McCall’s magazine (1961 to 1965), Ladies’ Home Journal (1965 to 1974), and Good Housekeeping (1975 to 1994.) [He was not yet born when this Christmas, 1917, cover appeared!]

In March, 1970, a group of feminists “occupied” Carter’s office at The Ladies’ Home Journal and staged a sit-in, demanding better working conditions for women and a change in editorial policy to reflect the realities of women’s lives. (They also wanted him to be replaced by a woman editor. ) Carter, who had already begun running “reported articles about housing costs, medical insurance and other subjects affecting women” when he edited McCall’s, listened to the demonstrators, and made some changes in his thinking and his magazines.

“ ‘Women’s magazines were badly behind the times,’ he told The New York Times in an interview in 1963. ‘They were using baby talk to communicate with their readers. They were failing to keep up with the rising educational levels in this country.’

“Still, on reflection in his later years, after he had become outspoken on issues like sexual harassment and job discrimination, he acknowledged that the turning point in his thinking did not come until the sit-in at Ladies’ Home Journal.

“ ‘There was more discrimination than I thought,’ Hearst (the publisher of Good Housekeeping) quoted him as saying in a biographical sketch. ‘I didn’t push our women readers far enough in their awareness.’ ” — From Carter’s obituary in The New York Times.

Among his many awards and honors, the National Women’s Political Caucus named him one of its “Good Guys” in 1985 for his commitment to the goal of full equality for women.

His obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, a Hearst Newspaper, has an especially charming photo of Carter surrounded by the feminists who “stormed his office and held him hostage for 11 hours.” Yes, some of the ladies wore hats, although no gloves are in evidence. Here is another view of the same sit-in. 

Ann Althouse reported on (and analyzed) the original coverage of the sit-in; read her blog here.

Thanks for listening, Mr. Carter. Rest in Peace.

1 Comment

Filed under 1960s-1970s, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

One response to “The “Good Guy” Male Editor of Three Women’s Magazines

  1. Those are some very well dressed demonstrators!

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