“This Oppresses Women” Stickers Go Viral

By Jenny Brown

 Photo: Katya Powder/Instagram

The feminist groups National Women’s Liberation and Redstockings have been getting lots of press—as far away as India—for vintage stickers they’re distributing that keep appearing on sexist ads in New York.  Photos of altered ads are popping up all over the internet with the hashtag #thisoppresseswomen.

“Women are sick of being bombarded with advertisements that depict women only as sexual objects," Erin Mahoney of National Women's Liberation told The Huffington Post. "That use our bodies to sell products. That embolden men to disrespect us. That tell us we are not worthy unless we conform to unrealistic, sexist, racist, and unhealthy beauty standards.”

 

The campaign has its roots in some Gainesville history: During the founding years of the Women’s Liberation movement in the late 1960s, there was a close collaboration between Gainesville Women’s Liberation and Redstockings. The two groups started working together again in the 1980s to distribute the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action.

The sticker campaign started in a class that the groups taught last fall in New York.  In a consciousness-raising session in the class, women reported being bombarded on the street by sexist comments from men and by sexist ads from corporations.  The students drew a connection between these, and organized a protest at American Apparel, a clothing store notorious for its sexist ads, passing out stickers and a flier that said:

Men harass women—at work, at home, on the street. Creators of sexist advertising—in addition to oppressing women by using sexualized and objectifying images of us to sell their products—encourage men to harass women by making it appear that we invite and enjoy harassment. Corporate interests give men a false feeling of superiority over women and amplify men's belief that they are entitled to harass women. Men are being bought off —bribed —and distracted from working with women to fight the 1%.

MEN: Stop harassing women. Speak up and stop other men. Do not buy in to sexist advertising. WOMEN: Join us.

The sticker itself is a gem from the Redstockings archives, and was first used in the 1960s.  Besides the archive, Redstockings today is a grass roots women's liberation think tank working on developing theory and strategy for the movement—“building on what’s been won by knowing what’s been done.” (For more on Redstockings, go to Redstockings.org or follow Redstockings on Facebook.)
In response to the flurry of press, men’s comments have tended to scoff at the problem, while women have mostly asked “Where can I get some of those stickers?”

This article originally appeared in The Gainesville Iguana.

 

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