Consider these posters (above as a montage and below) from the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. They were made by a women’s graphics collective and replicas are available for purchase from the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union website.
These posters are about women’s outspoken resistance to war and oppression. They are strident, they are uncompromising, they are militant: “We Do Not Consent to War,” “Women Are People, Not Property,” “Passivity is the dragon that each woman must slay in her quest for independence.” “Nos Duele Chili!” meaning, “Chili Hurts Us!” (following the coup in which Salvadore Allende was slain and the brutal and murderous Augustus Pinochet installed.)
You’ll notice that there isn’t any pink anywhere on these posters. There isn’t even any color close to pink, like, say, mauve or rose or lavender. If you go to the CWLU graphics collective pages, not a one of the probably 30-40 posters reproduced there is pink or includes imagery which is stereotypically or traditionally feminine. There are no high heels in evidence, no skirts, no lipstick (other than in the bottom poster, compared with blood on the lips of a Vietnamese woman), there is nothing cutesy and girly, although the posters are very much female-centered.
By way of contrast, compare the posters above with graphics and imagery created for the Code Pink site, a women’s anti-war/anti-racist/feminist site:
Instead of comparing lipstick with blood on the lips of Vietnamese women during the war in Vietnam, Code Pink sells lipstick and pink panties, emblazoned with, for example, “No peace, no pussy.”
Consider this imagery from another women’s peace/environmentalist/anti-racist/feminist group, The Raging Grannies:
Above is the emblem for all of the Raging Grannies chapters in the U.S. and Canada, the little old lady in a purple coat, holding an umbrella.
Can anyone envision a men’s anti-war/anti-racist/pro-feminist group calling itself “Raging Grampies”? Or “Raging Gramps”?
Why do the raging grannies appear to be so singularly not raging? Why are they dressed this way? What are they communicating?
There’s also the Granny Peace Brigade:
At least it isn’t pink, and I like it that the slogan is, “We will not be silent.” But why the little lady in the dress and the white curly hair? In fact, the women of the Granny Peace Brigade are serious militants:
I have four grandchildren, but I am not a “granny,” with its connotations of harmlessness and frailty. I am not a granny or a grandmother by identification, either, even though these words accurately describe one aspect of my life. When I am old, I will not be an old lady, or a lady at all. I will not be wearing purple, red hats, or any of those funny clothes the women in some of the Raging Grannies photos are wearing. I will be wearing black, I will be wearing gray, I will be wearing face paint, I will be wearing warpaint, because my time will be short, and I do not intend to stop fighting until it’s my time to pass over and to join all of the woman warriors who have preceded me.
I have deep respect and admiration for the work that Code Pink, Raging Grannies, Granny Peace Brigade, and similar groups do, and it’s for that reason that I can only wonder about the names and imagery and merchandise they’ve selected for their work. Are they attempting to distance themselves from radicalism and from feminism, even though these are central to their lives? Do they want to be viewed, understood, as harmless? Do they see themselves as frail and powerless? Are they afraid people will be afraid of them, will view them as a threat? Are they afraid they will be taken seriously?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then why? If yes, then why would any of these be a bad thing? How have women come so far from the militance of these early posters in less than 40 years?
And why would old women not instead choose imagery like the following?