Writer Angella D’Avignon interviews six Society6 artists whose work speaks volumes about gender equality in our modern society.

Politically speaking, we live in tense and chaotic times. Across social media, words like “feminism” or “patriarchy” for example, are thrown around and mis-framed as buzzwords rather than the potent terms they are. Feminism in the mainstream is fine, but it’s just that—mainstream. It tends to focus on white, able-bodied women rather than women of color, queer folks, the trans community, gender nonconforming individuals, women under the poverty line, and those with disabilities.

At its core, feminism is about equality. Our system of power, however, is seriously imbalanced. Feminism’s main objective is to fight for the rights of those who suffer oppression and to hold space for anyone pushed to the margins. In contrast, patriarchy describes a sociopolitical and cultural system that values masculinity over femininity. Patriarchy hurts everyone, including men, and the only way to divest is to dismantle it from the inside out.

We talked to six Society6 artists who consider themselves feminists and asked them how they use their art to smash the patriarchy.

Intersect

Ambivalently Yours

Artist

Preferred pronouns: She/Her

Feminist Ambivalence theory says that our ability to feel ambivalent (mixed or contradictory feelings) keeps us from communicating with each other and organizing for social change. It’s a concept Ambivalently Yours uses as inspiration in her artwork and it’s also the idea behind her online persona. As we go, we grow and Ambivalently Yours embraces that as an active state, rather than a passive one. She says, “I prefer to smash the patriarchy through the online sharing of feminist rants, pink drawings and ambivalent advice.”

Don't Apologize

Be Patient

Melody Hansen

Artist

Preferred pronouns: Her/she

Melody Hansen is a graphic designer whose artwork takes on a confessional tone. Taking time alone to center herself is a major part of her practice. “With vulnerability, I find power,” Hansen says. “And with honesty, I find strength to break through the lies inside my mind and in culture, society, and religion.”

Afternoon Nap

Amber Vittoria

illustrator

Preferred pronouns: She/Her
Patriarchy runs deep in our society and Amber Vittoria understands this. The male gaze just ruins everything. Amber Vittoria’s aesthetic leans toward the colorful and grotesque and challenges the notion that all images of women should fall in line with homogenous ideals of Western beauty. She says, “to change the deep patriarchal roots within art history, I aim to create and promote art of women by women.”

Dreamer

Robin Eisenberg

Artist and illustrator

Preferred pronouns: she/her

Robin Eisenberg’s prints have a graphic, alien-punk style that depict women in repose, whether that’s in the bathtub with a slice of pizza, chilling with their friends at the spa, or Netflix and chilling with themselves. In using bright tones like green and purple that aren’t associated with any particular flesh tone or ethnicity (à la Maira Kalman or Jim Jinkins), Eisenberg leaves representation open to interpretation, allowing for inclusivity. “I try everyday to create art that resonates with other women and makes them feel seen, understood, and empowered,” Eisenberg says. “I hope my art inspires other women to feel confident expressing themselves in their own way.”

What If

Timestamp

Sarah Maxwell

Illustrator

Preferred pronouns: She/Her
In a patriarchal system such as ours, hetero-masculinity is favored, which diminishes the volume of visual representations of queer women. Illustrator Sarah Maxwell makes simple, romantic monochromatic prints that center queerness. “Growing up, I struggled to find representation in the media that I corresponded with—whether that was in movies, or TV series, books, art, etc. It wasn’t until I decided for myself that I was going to help with that.” Maxwell says. “It’s been incredible so far to hear that my illustrations have made a difference to others. It’s so important to be able to see one’s representation, normalized and so easy to view. To be able to do this has been so rewarding, and I’m so thrilled to see these communities grow and for women especially to gain such confidence in their lives.”

Wesley Bird

Art Director, Illustrator

Preferred pronouns: She/Her

Some folks falsely conflate feminism with hatred of men—and that’s the patriarchy doing it’s work. Make no mistake, only allowing men to be in charge or to enjoy freedoms unknown to other genders hasn’t done anyone any favors for the last, oh I don’t know, couple thousand years? With that said, feminism is all about equitable relationships. And that starts with the one on one. Wesley Bird, who has the kitschy California vibe on lock, believes assertive kindness is the most effective way to convey feminism’s message. “I simply want feminism to win so that women are paid equally, treated equally, and respected equally. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I can’t believe that we are even sitting here in 2017 trying to figure out how to solve this problem!” She says (girl, same.) “When it comes to smashing the patriarchy I prefer to approach it with all the kindness and positivity I can muster. Treat others as you would like to be treated, whether they are men, women, gay, straight, black, white, I don’t care. Speak your mind, ask for what you deserve, demand respect…and do it with kindness.”

Header image by Leah Goren

Stephanie Dixon

Society6 Editor

Comments