why the web is a woman’s world
The day after Trump's inauguration, in 20 countries across the globe millions of people took to the streets and shut down their cities to say 'Enough! Women deserve better'. Organised through Facebook event pages, this was the biggest political demonstration to happen in the history of the United States. What has accelerated the women's liberation into its new phase? And what will today's feminism teach the next generation who are growing up in such divisive times?
The feminist movement takes speed, swelling against a backward moving regime, because of a tool that is liberating us from being unheard simply for being women. Women make up the greater portion of those active on social media, for this is an arena where we can choose to put our work ahead of our appearance because - if we're not thriving on the selfie-phenomenon - we spend our online efforts connecting, cooperating, inspiring and supporting others globally. Ultimately, overcoming a huge obstacle of the patriarchal agenda.
While the true rise of feminine power is happening through the wires, we have our own iconography for this generation's feminism. The launch of Femojis stands supreme. Feminist emojis created by the same artist who illustrated the official poster for the Women's march in Washington, Jo Ratcliffe. Her why and what for reveal so much about how women's liberation is moving into new territory.
Jo has created an app that has animated stickers and emojis designed to celebrate the bodies of both men and women. There's a bouncing bean saying 'flick me', a stilettoed leg growing hair, a willy in a love heart and another shooting a rainbow from it's tip. "The idea wasn't to titillate," she says, "it was to balance out feelings towards bodies."
The plan had been to create feminine emojis but they came out as feminist. She didn't want to isolate men from using the app but at the same time she knew that women were far more likely to download a new emoji deck anyway, for women use emojis far more than men. "Perhaps men find it too feminine to send an image that is emoting but my female friends don't think twice about emoting through a drawing.
"One of the theories that inspired this was from a book, called The Alphabet and the Goddess by Leonard Schlain, which talks about a patriarchal society stemming from a left brain way of learning through sequential alphabetic reading. It seems that the rise in importance of the image and image-making is parallel with the resurgence of momentum with feminism in the mainstream."
There is also an icon for a woman free-bleeding into her knickers. A true emblem of the new language we share in this virtual space where we don't just reveal how excellent our life is but we share our pain too. Communities are being built on the web for women to heal, ache, grieve, celebrate and rise together. Moon Club, set up by editor of The Numinous Ruby Warrington and filmmaker Alexandra Roxo brings women together across the global regularly to ask each other questions and share stories.
Many of these communities have an IRL arm to their movement too. Jayne Goldheart, founder of Sisters of the Wild, a gathering that happens for women in nature who in turn form an online community of ongoing support, agrees "we are empowered by knowing other people are in pain too. Being vulnerable is one of the biggest strengths there is". It awakens the feminine characteristic of compassion and our openness reminds every female that they are not alone in the overwhelming cyclical nature of their hormones either.
We watch those we admire stand up daily through the web and so we are inspired ourselves to stand up again and again. We share our process and post every quaver too which becomes a part of our narrative. Jo says, "I used to think if a woman changed her mind about a strong opinion she'd made then she wasn't a well-rounded person but actually the fact we're in so many wars is perhaps because the men in charge find it hard to say 'maybe we were wrong'".
Jo wanted the Femoji deck to be funny because as she says "humour is the most powerful way to get a message across". The sanitary towel emoji she designed is flying. "They don't have wings, we can't fly but that's how it's sold to us and I wish to make drawings that mock our world". Each woman is bringing her own characteristics to the great discussion. After the women's march the internet is alive with debates, which is so valuable for us understanding one another's experiences of living thus far as the second sex.
Industries that were difficult to penetrate by those who weren't white men are now being re-defined. Gal-dem is the independent magazine by women of colour for everyone to read. How important it is to hear from women who have had their story (inaccurately) told for them for so long! Also, Make Love Not Porn from sex educator Cyndi Gallop is a porn site that takes sex back into the hands of pleasure. After decades of pornography run by men this is an exciting development for all genders who love porn but hate how it dictates patriarchally prescribed sex. Jo also tells me about the music video from Saudi Arabia for Hwages, which comments on the 'House of Men' and sees Saudi women skateboard and playing basketball. The video went viral and gave us a taste of how women in Saudi are feeling while also making us laugh.
At the women's march in Washington, a choir of women from different states who had never met before sang an incredible harmony of a song called I Can't Keep Quiet which went viral. They had been practising together online prior to the march. Speaking of harmonies, hundreds of women also commented on how their periods came early for the first time in years the week of the march. More than ever we can see each other, feel each other and send hilarious Femoji's to say exactly that in a language that suits our feminine brain.
Text Lisa Luxx
Photography Holly Falconer