Almost 3 years in business and a year or so since I launched this website and I find that I like to spend my time designing and producing feminist merch more than writing about it on this blog’s pages. Yet there are times like now where my writer’s brain kicks in and I feel the urge to express myself in words rather than images.
I have always been a visual creative as long as I remember. As a girl I spent most of school recess time indoors drawing rather than on the monkey bars, producing my first illustrated book at the age of eight, designing and producing entire fashion collections for dolls as a tween, in art school by the age of 11, completely obsessed with art, images and representations of women. I have always drawn, illustrated, created.
At 20, after graduating from art college, I have learnt my technical graphic designs skills in the workplace at a very heavy price. My years in the graphic design industry, male-dominated like many other industries, have almost entirely broken my self-esteem and my confidence as a creative. I have been sexually harassed, financially exploited and systematically bullied by my porn-obsessed boss and male colleagues because I was a woman. As the only woman designer in the team, I was the one whose job was to systematically airbrush and photoshop women’s bodies, creating and promoting oppressive images of highly objectified women. Confronted with so much sexual violence and misogyny in my very first meaningful job, I have started to develop a feminist consciousness.
When I retired from graphic design at the early age of 24, broken by years of sexual violence and exploitation, I promised myself I would NEVER EVER again use my skills and creativity to promote anything else than feminism. Since then I have spent many years as a feminist activist creating feminist visuals, art exhibitions, memes for the internet, leaflets and banners for demos, programs for conferences and gathering, creative directions for websites, illustrations logos etc, most of them for free because I believe in feminism and I know strong visuals are an important part of a successful campaign. Disgusted by my experiences in the creative industry, I supported myself by working in retail instead of living off my creativity.
3 years ago I finally plucked up the courage to believe in my creative skills once again and set up Wild Womyn Workshop as my main professional activity. I think it was a good idea! At the time there were not that many other radical feminist merchandise businesses on the market. It is no longer the case. As a business owner, I do not resent this “competition”, I wholeheartedly welcome it as a sign of a renewed women’s culture. The emergence of many feminist businesses is a sign that radical feminism is gaining strength once more! Seeing women creative selling their craft makes me happy like nothing else! Jess de Wahls exquisite and radical embroideries, Birdy Rose’s colourful and magical gender-critical paintings, Anne Billows‘ wonderful thought-provoking and refresh illustrations and comics, Bec Wonders‘ amazing prints, the incomparable Liza Cowan creator of fine lesbian classics, Jaimi Shrive neat and cheeky feminist stationery shop, RudefemSwag’s rad badges, Make More Noise’s merch, Lizzie Yee’s colouring books, Littlest Terf Shop super-rad home-made patches, Filia, ReSisters United and Standing for women activist shops. All those shops and the ones I forgot (message me and I will gladly add it to the list) are either helping individual women to support themselves, complementing their income, are women’s main income while they do feminist activism, or have been set up to fund for specific feminist campaigns.
I feel inspired and positively challenged by other women’s work, amazed by their artistry, craftswomanship, creativity, boldness! Feminism should always have a strong and varied woman’s culture, in my opinion as important as the theory we may produce. I am so excited that women are creating radfem visual content once more and that some of us are even able to live off our art!
I do not however take lightly that men (self-proclaimed feminist allies or not) think it is appropriate to go around and sell feminist merchandise. The entitlement of such an idea is just … well to be expected I suppose as men think nothing of stealing our words, our work, our ideas, our political movement, you name it. There is nothing anyone can do but for the love of the Goddess, women please! If you are a feminist, if you have any sense of women’s oppression and systematic economic exploitation by men, if you understand the scope of women’s erasure under patriarchy, I beg you to consider carefully before you spend your hard earned pennies.
Do the feminist thing! Support woman-owned business – non-exhaustive list posted above, there is enough choice! Put your money where your mouth is: support women’s culture, support feminism!
Angela C. Wild
(A nasty lesbian)