Blog / 2021 / A Lesson in Marketing from the Road
July 19, 2021
“What does ‘feminist’ mean? I know I studied it in school, but I’m not sure I could define it.”
I considered my answer carefully. The question came from E, who was about my age and traveling with her two children: one aching to get his driver’s permit and the other a tween who won my heart by never removing her face mask even though we were outside and physically distanced, standing in our respective campsites.
Feminism means you can take a road trip alone with your kids. Feminism means you don’t have to chat with every campground neighbor as a safety precaution—a way to ensure that, in case you or your kids are interfered with, there are people who feel connected to you and might stand up for you. Feminism means smashing the patriarchy along with its harmful influence on every aspect of our lives. Finally I settled on:
“Feminism means working to make a world in which people of every gender have the same rights and freedoms.”
To be fair, I was the one who’d brought it up. When E’s tween asked what kind of art I made, I’d handed my business card to her mom, and, as of a few months ago, it reads:
Boldly painted. Joyfully feminist.
When I’d had the cards printed, “feminist” felt like a compromise. “Joyfully queer” more accurately reflects who I am as well as what my art is, but, imagining the way that descriptor might land with potential members of my audience, I hadn’t been able to claim it.
I reasoned that it’s one thing to make content and paintings that engage with your identity in order to help people learn about themselves and each other. And it’s something else again to make that into the way you introduce yourself to every new person.
“Feminist” felt like the safer bet. It was off-putting to those it was meant to turn away and comforting to those who admire artists who unapologetically strive to make the world a better place.
I was glad E had asked me to define the word—thankful that she had the courage to be curious and grateful to be given a better understanding of how I occur in the world. But the glad was still tinged with sad. For E, for myself, and for the still-too-far-away world in which every human knows their worth and, consequently, the worth of every other human as well.
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