Last week, I met with a designer friend to talk about a new banner for Rosie Says (the original having been made with Paint and my slim-to-non-existent design skills.) The conversation went like this:
Him: So who’s the Rosie?
Me: Rosie the Riveter…. the WWII icon? With the biceps and the bandana?
Him: (blank stare)
Me: Sigh… (showing uber famous picture)… this one?
Him: Oh… right. Her. So what’s the site about?
Me: You know…sex (his face lit up), gender, the media, politics (he yawned), feminism (he slumped), a mishmash of things like that.
Him: So… like all about hating men and stuff?
* * * * *
I rearranged my bookshelves this weekend, moving some collections out into public space, and leaving others comparatively more private behind my bedroom door. The feminist collection is out front. Manifesta next to Female Chauvinist Pigs, Public Vows next to The Feminine Mystique. Even a cursory glance would make the most casual observer aware of my position on most things gender-related.
Feminism isn’t easy to own. It’s a label that is frequently misunderstood, and shunned by even the most obvious wearers (Sandra Day O’Connor, for one). It’s typically interpreted, as it was by my designer friend, as an affront to men and all things masculine. It’s a label that gets one attacked on internet comment boards, or ridiculed by the far-right in the same breath as “liberal,” or “NPR-listener” (HA).
Sometimes I want a broader platform, if only because I, too, am self-conscious about the limiting connotations of the label. But feminism is the primary lens through which I view the world. Not the only lens, by any means, but the one I use first when reading the news, watching TV, meeting new people.
I was wary of Rosie’s headlining spot in the new banner. The designer asked me why, and I admitted to enjoying the ambiguity of “Rosie Says” minus Rosie herself. Maybe I could speak more broadly with slightly less obvious feminist allegiances. “See?” I said to him, “Before, without the picture, you didn’t immediately know what I was talking about it!” thinking that this was somehow a good thing. He laughed at me, “But I’m not your audience! And you don’t want me to be!”
For a guy who thinks feminism is man-hating bitchery, he can be pretty smart. Ambiguity doesn’t get me anywhere. I picked Rosie because I think her image hits the core of what I like to think about, what I want to write about. She is a complex media representation of gender, politics, labor and government.
So I guess what I’m saying is, I hope you like the new banner.
Related Post: Comic Rob Delaney decides “feminist” is a badge he’d like to own.
Related Post: Two interviews about the current state of feminism. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… mostly cry.
Related Post: Speaking of feminist bookshelves…