Just Add Feminism
Mariam GuessousJust Add Feminism
Check out our interview with Mariam Guessous the fabulous feminist designer and the winner of the “Feminism is for Everyone” poster competition.
Tell us about the feminist poster contest and why you wanted to get involved in the cause.
“Feminism is for Everyone” is a competition that was organized by three amazing organizations—The 3% Conference, Vitamin W, and Miss Representation. These organizations asked the creative community for help in “rebranding feminism” by making it more positive and inclusive as they believe it should be.
A friend of mine had seen the competition and sent it to me and told me, “Mariam, you need to enter this!” I first thought that rebranding feminism was very intriguing but I wasn’t sure how to begin and somehow didn’t feel that I was even qualified enter. So I put it aside.
One Sunday morning, I woke up thinking about it and I had many questions I couldn't answer. Like, why does feminism feel like a taboo subject (even to me)? So I started researching and I realized that—like myself—many people were confused about what feminism really means, and the glut stereotypes out there don’t help this situation. So, this opened my eyes about the misconceptions and I wanted to share the way I saw feminism with the world, so I got involved. Feminism, just like human rights, is something you believe in, it’s a choice. And feminism can be and is for everyone, so I wrote a manifesto and turned it into a poster then submitted it to the competition.
To my surprise, the poster resonated with the judges and ended up winning the competition.
Here at Feminist Wednesday we love the idea of rebranding feminism - to give it a new voice. Can you speak to some of your design choices and why they reflect your brand of feminism?
When I entered the competition, I didn’t think feminism needed rebranding, I thought it needed to be redefined in a way that people can understand and relate to, which is why I wrote a manifesto first. When we later launched JustAddFeminism.com we adopted the same color palette as the posters—using the three colors gradients—and left it to the people who are taking the pledge to use the color that resonated with them the most. The other design element we created was the “Plus Feminism” or as we call it, the “ADD Fem” sign. It’s essentially a plus sign and an “F” subtly combined. This represents the people—all kinds of people—who are adding feminism to the list of things they believe in. Those things can be human rights, equality or even music and peace. Everyone who takes a pledge gets to fully customize it. We want people to see that feminism can be inclusive, and we’re hoping more people can embrace feminism and add it the list of things they believe in. If only they knew that feminism simply means equality for all!
Tell us about your feminist "coming out" moment? Were you always a feminist or was it something you discovered along the way?
I never really fully thought about myself being a feminist or not, and I’m sure many people can relate to this. I believe in human rights and equality for myself and for all, and I believe in women’s rights, but like most, the word feminism came with a negative connotation to it. When I found out about the “Feminism is for Everyone” competition, I felt that I wasn’t qualified or ‘expert’ enough to enter at first. I had my feminist “AHA!” moment when I realized that feminism is not a club, and that I am an “expert”. After all I am a woman and a human, and that’s all the expertise I needed.
Tell us about any plugs final thoughts you want FW readers to know :-)
I want everyone to remember how far we have come as a society and think about how much we can and will accomplish. Feminism is experiencing a sort of rebirth and it’s up to all of us to learn, participate, and use our voices to support and embrace it. We should be challenging the status quo because that’s what leads to change and the first thing we need to do is to simply talk about it. You won’t believe how many people never fully thought about it, and all it takes is talking and sharing your perspective. Again, feminism is not a club and it’s not only for women. It is simply the belief that women and men deserve equal rights - which is essentially equality for all. I’m sure if more people saw it that way, it might help change their perspective as it did with mine. So I encourage everyone to simply talk about it.