Every year amazing feminist women volunteer their time and talent to WAVAW, without which we could not offer the level of services and outreach that we do. One of these women is Madison Reid, WAVAW’s graphic design volunteer. We caught up with her recently to talk to her about volunteering, challenging stereotypes, and feminist design.
What is it like to be a part of the WAVAW community?
Volunteering for WAVAW this past year has been, hands down, one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life. I’m not sure where I would be today if I wasn’t part of the WAVAW volunteer program. I moved to Vancouver to study graphic design because I have always been artistic and knew whatever I do in life will be creative but I’ve also been a feminist for many years and care deeply about women’s issues. I’m so thankful that I did go to school for design because it’s given me the tools to communicate powerful messages with better skill. When something is well designed it’s easier for your audience to receive the message and understand what you are trying to get across. I feel like the work I do for WAVAW helps make people want to pay attention to women’s issues and that is a really rewarding feeling.
What’s also an incredible feeling is the community at WAVAW. It really does banish the stereotype that feminists are angry, man-hating ball-busters. All of the women I work with are incredibly intelligent, kind and open-minded. I leave there every week feeling supported and uplifted. Volunteering there has made me a better person, thanks to what I have learned. I know there is still so much more to learn too!
What is your vision for feminism’s image?
I want to help rid the stigma of the word Feminist and bring it into the 21st century. Lots of people I meet, if I bring up feminism, they have the initial reaction of “Ugh! Feminists! I hate them!” but 99% of those people don’t personally know any feminists and don’t know what we actually believe in. I think I’ve converted a few non-believers after showing them the work I’ve done for WAVAW (Annual Report, 1 Billion Rising, 30th Anniversary, Marathon) or Slutwalk (2013 posters) and they see that we are not a movement intent on destroying men but just want women to be treated as, well, humans. Women who don’t really know what the patriarchy is just need to be reminded of all the times they’ve been harassed on the street or criticized for how they are dressed (which, honestly, has happened to pretty much all of us). Men just need to be reminded how society/media treats them as sex-hungry rapists who can’t control their urges, or how they are obligated to be muscular, athletic he-men who do not have feelings or emotions, and they see that patriarchy hurts them too.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the web searching “feminist t-shirts” and see a lot of poorly designed things (bad typography is #1) in addition to somewhat offensive and sexist stuff that isn’t actually feminist. As a designer, I appreciate nicely designed things. As a feminist, I want something with a message that resonates with me. I learned in design school about the buying power of niche markets and know that if there are people passionate about something they will buy stuff that reflects that. I felt like there was this whole market just waiting for me to saturate so I decided to start my own line of feminist tees; Only Child Apparel. I chose a brand name that wasn’t related to feminism (I’m an only child) so that it might attract a wider audience rather than immediately alienate people that aren’t sure of feminism.
The first design idea I had was to use Patrick Stewart’s face with my own hand-lettered slogan “Feminism is sexy” as he is well known in the feminist community for being an advocate of women’s rights and ending violence towards women. My second design is just the word “Feminism” in a heart, as I think that despite the misconceptions, feminism really is about love and respect for humanity. Like I’ve mentioned, all the feminists I’ve worked with are compassionate people so I want to shed a light on the warmth of the movement. The third shirt design is a style for men with the slogan “Men of quality do not fear equality.” I really do think people underestimate the power of men getting involved in feminism.
I want to do more politically charged designs if my shirts sell well. For now, I think the designs I’m selling would be considered entry-level feminism. They are easy for almost anybody to get behind without feeling like they need to take a militant stance on a particular issue and get into a debate with somebody who sees them wearing the shirts. I hope too that if the brand becomes successful I can start to donate some proceeds to WAVAW because I think they deserve it for all they’ve done for me and all they do for womankind in general. I am eternally grateful for what they have done for me because I don’t think I would have gotten where I am without them.