Feminist Murals Are Popping Up All Over London and They're Amazing
A series of feminist murals have been unveiled across London to mark 100th anniversary of the first election in which a significant number of women were able to vote.
The project was led by Scarlett Curtis, whose po-up for book Feminist Don’t wear pink and other lies was torn down by Topshop in October 2018.
I live in East London and murals are part of the landscape here. Suddenly last night when I was coming back from work, I came across a massive Bell Hooks on the wall. I stopped and look at this amazing mural that says “Women don’t wear pink ” which is the tile of a book that I just finished to read.
The murals are not just an amazing marketing campaign that brings attention to women’s stories in the book but celebrate 100 years since women voted for the first time in a General Election in UK.
Fifty artworks of women have been put up in London as part of the project, many of which can be found in east London.
How everything started
“Deeds, not words, was to be our permanent motto,” wrote Emmeline Pankhurst in her memoirs.
She was recounting the ways in which the suffragettes relentlessly campaigned for women to be granted the right to vote, knowing that words fell on deaf ears, and actions spoke louder.
Back in 1872, a national movement had grown up around fighting for equal voting rights for both genders, but it wasn’t until 1918 that that the Representation of the People Act granted a portion of women the vote. Select women over 30 were able to participate in elections - it wasn’t until 1928 that women received the vote on the same terms as men - and in December 1918, women voted in their first general election.
Renowned figures including Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Queen Elizabeth I, activist Gloria Steinem and suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst can be seen on the artworks, painted in black and white with a sole pink garment.
The idea for the project came about after Herstory founder Alice Wroe wrote a piece that was included in Curtis' book, a collection of writing from extraordinary women, from Hollywood actresses to teenage activists, each telling the story of their personal relationship with feminism, and what it means to be a woman from every point of view.
Women don’t wear pink and other lies is not a book about feminism, it doesn’t want to tell anything about what it means being a feminist “this book is here to show you that at the heart of feminism is women” as Scarlet Curtis says in her introduction.
“ I realised that perhaps feminism isn’t about being morally pure or well-liked, and is more about find the damn thing. Maybe it’s about being woman in her truth, fighting for her cause, her dreams, her vision and doing exactly as she fit” As Exanna Lynch shared in the book.
The book has been around for a while now, in October 2018, an event promoting Curtis' book was due to take place at Topshop's flagship Oxford Street store.
However, the pop-up was “ torn down” hours before the shop was due to open, with many criticising the high street store over the way in which it dealt with the incident. Topshop abruptly cancelled a partnership with the publisher Penguin to promote a collection of feminist writing after the fashion retailer’s chairman, Sir Philip Green, saw an in-store pop-up.
The decision prompted the editor of the collection, Scarlett Curtis, to accuse the store of letting down the teenage girls who shop there.
Topshop later apologised and made a £25,000 donation to charity. Asked who was responsible for the display’s removal a spokesperson did not respond directly but said that the decision was taken from “a production and creative standpoint”.
The controversy first came to light when Penguin Books tweeted to say that a display set up at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store in London had been taken down hours before it was due to open.
And as Curtis reply on Twitter “ I'm not allowed to say much on this right now but let's just say I am heartbroken and the patriarchy is still alive and kicking... ”. Showing that it’s still long way to get over the existence of a societal structure of male supremacy that operates at the expense of women.
Feminists Don't Wear Pink was published in partnership with Girl Up founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010 with the goal of preparing girls for leadership positions. Which provides girls and young women around the world with leadership development training in order to make them feel confident and empowered.
Curtis will be working with Girl Up in 2019 on a number of events in addition to continuing her Feminists Don't Wear Pink podcast, where she interviews inspiring women about what feminism means to them.