Tumblr has always been one of the most enabling and supportive of online communities, and has engaged in discussion of social injustices such as sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression. However, like every other place on the internet, it too has its share of hateful trolls, but, with its interactive interface it also makes calling out hate and bigotry much easier—which makes for some really great social activism. But what’s even more brilliant, is the outstanding variety of feminist artwork that it is home to and the diverse issues this artwork deals with. Following is a selection of our favourite feminist artwork, by some really awe-inspiring tumblr artists:
As an individual, Ambivalently Yours is an anonymous Canadian illustrator, installation artist and designer. Her work plays on the color pink as a powerful feminist emblem, through which she creates her empowering art. This particular piece is about challenging menstrual taboos, and to encourage people to normalize conversations about menstruation. In her description for the piece, she says: “ ‘Aunt Flo is visiting’, ‘riding the crimson wave’, ‘It’s that time of the month’, ‘riding the cotton pony’, ‘the circus is closed, the monkey has a nosebleed’. All these phrases are saying the same thing. Even though they aren’t. Over the years we’ve conjured up so many euphemisms to allude to menstruation without actually saying the words “I have my period.” Most of them are so hilariously unrelated to periods it’s not funny.”
French graphic artist Francee explores some really hard-hitting feminist themes in her artwork. This particular piece is all about body-positivity—about embracing and reclaiming your body from the patriarchal gaze and revelling in it. The text is actually inspired by Mary Lambert’s song ‘I Know Girls’.
Maxine Sarah is a 24-year old student from Melbourne who describes herself as ‘a work in progress’. But we sure do love her artwork, which is frequently body-positive and empowering. This particular piece, which is actually inspired by her friend’s leg hair, shows the middle finger to patriarchal standards of beauty which dictate women to shave their body hair. Maxine celebrates her body hair, and encourages all of us to do so!
Debi Hasky is a Barcelona-based graphic artist, who took to posting her artwork on the internet after she was frustrated by the endless catcalls and whistles she received from men on the streets of her hometown. This piece is her tribute to Amandla Stenberg, the inspirational 17-year old actor who is starting some important conversations about gender and sexuality. It also seeks to subvert and challenge the common patriarchal notion that women with strong opinions are ‘angry’ and ‘resentful’ and drives home the fact that women’s voices and opinions are extremely important and valid.
Portuguese artist Carol Rosetti shot to internet fame when her art series, Women—where she deals with race, body-positivity, gender identity, alternate sexualities, disability and so much more—started making the rounds of tumblr. Each drawing is accompanied by a supportive and inspiring message, urging the women she depicts to be nothing less than their best and most generous selves. The series was turned into a book earlier this year, in both English and Portuguese. Her work has also been translated into several other languages, including Hindi, and has become a feminist force to be reckoned with.
Rebecca Cohen is a comic artist and an illustrator, who is also the creator of the comics about the Social Justice League superhero Gyno-Star—a female superhero fighting the forces of male chauvinism. In this particular comic, she stresses the importance of women’s achievements, something which often goes unrecognized or is glossed over, and reinforces the need for a women’s history month.
Centipedes is an anonymous versatile tumblr graphic artist who navigates gender, bodies, mental health and the overlapping intersections of oppression through their artwork. This particular piece challenges ‘white feminism’, and makes the case for intersectionality and inclusivity of diverse oppressed identities within the feminist movement. According to their bio, centipedes uses art to ‘empower others and myself’.
Annabelle is a 17-year old artist who explores the intersections of racism and sexism intricately in her work. This particular series, which she did for a school project, is about women of colour and how their skewed perceptions and representations in mainstream culture, and has a very powerful message.
Cheyenne Federiconi is a 24-year old graphic artist who again, picks up on the colour pink and turns it into a powerful symbol. In this simple, yet profound piece, she takes on the common phrase ‘you fight like a girl’, which, in patriarchal language, is viewed as debilitating. She subverts that meaning, and shows that girls can also be capable fighters, both physically and emotionally—and encourages us to embrace our femininity and be unapologetic in its expression.
These are only 9 works of art. Every day, countless tumblr users use this platform to advocate equality and social justice through their artwork, and to bring to light powerful feminist messages such as these. Here’s hoping that this platform continues to play host to such a diverse body of artwork that is not just aesthetically beautiful, but promotes positive social change.