Shana Tova, Pussy Riot.

This happened today in London. I’m psyched someone decided to use my stencil and I hope this global day of action will have an impact. Someone asked me why I care. I’m a feminist artist supporting other feminist artists.

Pussy Riot London demo poster inc stencil image of band in balaclavas.Since I knew I was going to be performing in Nottingham this evening, I made my contribution last night in the form of a piece at the 20×20 exhibition at Access Space. I used my stencil in kind of an unusual way – you’ll have to head over to check it out, and there are some great pieces on show (best responses to mine: “You know, I’ve just realised – Pussy Riot are totally OWNING Balaclavas right now – they’ve reclaimed them from the IRA” and “Wow! Wow! I love it! Wow! Yes!” Worst response to mine: “Well you can tell what it’s meant to be…”. Overall it’s a fab exhibition. A lot of synaesthesia. A lot of puns. I love a good pun. Access Space is awesome. It’s like a library for technology. And we know how I feel about libraries.

You can use my stencil too, if it’s not for profit and if you don’t take credit for it and let me know where you used it, so I can share your event and feel a little like I helped. Urban Outfitters can’t have it (this is the polite version of that disclaimer, UO…I’ve seen too many examples of stolen art…it is very disheartening). But you are different. You can trace or print it, cut out the white sections, and spray light on dark. It’s very low res because I did it using MS Paint while I had a cold and was a bit post fringe and too tired to find better software. Here it is:

And let’s hope they get their appeal. I’m off to Nottingham (I like Nottingham. It has a vegan burger bar, a lovely zine event put on as part of a Cultural Olympiad that I got to speak at and where I met lovely people and traded so many zines my bag was STUFFED full,  and it also has my friend Steve in it, who is putting on the show and who likes dinosaurs more than I do which is difficult) but tomorrow I will post the reason my 24 hour zine thing failed abysmally this year. It’s a good reason. Don’t worry.

Choose Your Own Adventure in Menstruating

I’ve been thinking a lot about Having Adventures lately, and that always brings me back to those old Choose Your Own Adventure books. Remember those? Then I happened to be chatting to a couple of friends about it last night, and thought I’d put up a link to a post I did a few years ago about a strange and silly discovery I made:

Choose Your Own Adventure in Menstruating.

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Chella Quint – Adventures in Menstruating: Don’t Use Shame to Sell

My TEDxSheffield video is up. Please share if you’d like to continue the conversation.

-Chella x

Femcare doesn’t care, Part 2.

So, what’s the endgame, Femfresh? Are the ads still going to rely on coy euphemism to sell an unnecessary product? Or is there going to be some kind of response to the Facebook, Twitter and blog comments?

Frankly, I’m with Kermit in The Muppets Take Manhattan:

Here’s another Zonite ad from 1950. Seriously – it’s a real ad. You can check out more at the excellent Ad*Access online archive at Duke University.

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Femcare doesn’t care, Part 1.

It doesn’t. Bottom line is that femcare products are products. They’re going to be sold, and they’re going to be advertised in order to convince a target market to buy them. It’s the whole ‘by hook or by crook’ thing that’s the problem. Femcare companies usually choose to sell their products using shame, frequently by perpetuating the stigma around talking about women’s bodies openly. If we’re not buying it, they’re going to have to think again. So in the case of  the latest Femfresh ads (which are not only unnecessary but potentially harmful, says the SMCR), here is my interpretation of what’s really going on. The ad copy matches the original from their facebook page (with a few alterations, of course): “Euphemisms, euphemisms, always with the euphemisms… Did you know that any femcare company who can’t accurately name your privates could strip you of your defences, causing shame and irritation? With its aggressive marketing, specially developed for perpetuating taboos, femcare ads are one of the most pervasive ways to control the public discourse about your vulva and vagina! Whatever they call it, they’re just trying to sell you something for it.” If you agree, please share widely. -Chella

 

Edited to post the original ad, since Femfresh have now taken down their Facebook page. (And re-edited to add that as of Monday 25th June, they’ve put up their page again, but only as a placeholder –  no comments, and the following statement:

“Welcome to the official femfresh facebook page. This page is suspended until further notice. It has come to our attention that fake femfresh pages have been created and we would like to assure everyone that this has absolutely no affiliation with femfresh.
This matter has been reported to the Facebook IP Infringement team and with legal authorities for further investigation. Please note that posts to this site will not be published.”

Fear sells, huh? I don’t buy it.

Here’s one from the archive (2010) for all the new StainsTM recruits from TEDx Sheffield. 😀 Let’s continue the two way conversation with femcare companies.

Since the beginning of the feminine hygiene industry, companies have tried to sell their products to us by using the fear of leaking blood through our clothes, leaving a huge stain and even huger shame.

From ‘certain-safe’ Modess pledging to protect us from ‘striking through’ in 1935, to today’s LeakLock®, Four Walled Protection®, Clean SorbTM Cover, and the physics-defying Always Infinity®, fear has always been a factor.

Today, companies are taking it a step further from reality by giving their products names that sound like clothes to ensure that we’ve got leaking on our minds from the start. SkirtsTM, PearlsTM, BraidsTM, SilkTM? It’s as if without these products we’ll be naked, and be forced to pay attention to our bodies.

But we say: enough of the subliminal sabotage. Today, Adventures in Menstruating is gonna go one better. We’ve got a way to undermine this sort of feminine hygiene ad once and for all. We’re gonna debunk, demystify and disempower leakage fear by turning the stain into an object of desire.

An object of beauty.

High fashion.

Clot couture.

Too gross? Ok don’t panic. We don’t believe you need to use real blood to reclaim.

Let’s call it Leak Chic.

Introducing…StainsTM. A removable stain to wear on your own clothing as you see fit. A fashion statement that really says something, and that something is, ‘Screw you, Madison Avenue. I’m taking this one back. I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve and my blood on my pants. I’m gonna reclaim the stain, reclaim my blood, and reclaim my period.’ Because people, I’m telling you red is the new black.

Introducing our new fashion line (and possibly the only fashion line ever brought out by a zine) featuring the only logo no other company will try to steal.

So, doesn’t matter what gender you are or whether you menstruate or not – just for goofs. Goofs and solidarity, please join us by adding a stain to your stylings. Copy or download the pattern above, affix to your clothing in any medium you like (iron-on, felt cut-out, screen print, stencil…) and remember that the best defence against leaks and stains is a healthy dose of shamelessness.

It’s time to move on from Advertising 101.

So, TEDx Sheffield and Docfest were amazing! I had a great time, met more awesome people than I can count on both hands and feet, saw fascinating talks and outstanding films.  I really enjoyed sharing my femcare advertising  deconstructions in a new setting, and collected exactly two more of those visceral reactions to people hearing the name of the zine.  Then, last night, someone mentioned the most recent Femfresh campaign.

The latest Femfresh ad campaign (slogan: Whatever you call it, love it.) uses euphemisms for your vagina and tells you that if you know what’s good for you (it?) you’ll buy their stuff. That loving it (yourself?) means using their product.

Now, I’ve said in the zine, on here, and live: we’re self-cleaning, like ovens, so we don’t need this stuff, and if we really loved ourselves, we wouldn’t accept these messages from advertisers. But that hasn’t stopped them using the same techniques in the Femfresh campaign (which you can look up online – I’m loath to link it here and send web traffic  toward a femcare company, although their Facebook page is rife with rebuttals and is actually being rather amusingly hijacked, if you care to check it out) over sixty years after this ad…

Zonite, 1950, from the Ad*Access archive.

Now. This Zonite ad, from the Duke University Ad*Access archive in the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, is one of the first ads I deconstructed in Adventures in Menstruating #1, and the first I showed in the Pecha Kucha and TEDx talks. Same messages as the Femfresh ad: euphemisms instead of grown-up words, buy their stuff to sort it out ASAP, and creating the solution for an imaginary problem that they’ve also, conveniently, hyped up.

That was 1950. This is 2012. It’s time to move on.

New Year, New Blood.

Tonight, the amazing Chris Bobel is reading from New Blood,  her book about 3rd wave feminism and menstrual activism, at Bluestockings Books in NYC! The event details are here.  If you can possibly get yourself there, I highly recommend it. I was one of the people she interviewed for the book, and she’s a funny, inspiring writer and researcher with some amazing insights.

What I did on my summer vacation.

This has been one heck of a summer. It’s been very busy, and very exciting. I’m going to put up some photos with captions and tell you all about it. I was a speaker at a Pecha Kucha talk, we went to Edinburgh, I did two readings in New York and got stranded in a hurricane, and in between, the zines were in an exhibition at Site Gallery in Sheffield.  Come back to this post soon for more.

British Library Archive!

My blog is going to be archived by the British Library! How cool is that? They’ve asked me because it ‘represents aspects of UK documentary heritage’. The answer is yes because A: I’m a total library fangirl, B: that is one of my favourite places in England – it’s usually my first stop after I get off the train in London and I have spent inappropriate amounts of both time and money in the gift shop, and C: How cool of an honour is that? Wow! Thank you, British Library.