Monday, June 27, 2016

Women in the jaws of history

So I have in my diary for today to write a blog post about my new feminist poster and collaboration with One Beat Zines

Being as we are in the jaws of history this week, it feels a bit inappropriate to be writing about anything but politics. My facebook feed is full of despair, analysis, dark humour and other coping mechanisms, highlighting once again the bubbles that we live in in the age of social media. 
52% of the voting population disagreed even if some of them have switched to camp Regrexit in the last few days, and some small percentage of those people have displayed scarily violent reactions to our immigrant, and lookliketheymightbeimmigrant populations in the heady aftermath of what, for some at least, was seen as a validation of a racist agenda. 

When I hurriedly drew this cartoon at a Broken Frontier Drink and Draw night in February in response to the brief 'something topical', I remember being frustrated at the lack of information in the media about the actual arguments in the case, sadly this was not a problem that was solved in the intervening months, and if anything it got worse. 

I really don't want to write about politics very much. Only time will tell the real impacts of the referendum and its aftermath. But it does seem like a time when more than ever we need to try to understand each other. And to try to embrace our differences, the visible and the invisible ones. 

I tend to try to steer clear of making political statements on social media, partly because of the danger as a teacher of being seen as extremist, but mostly because I'm a world  champion fence sitter. I tend to believe the answer to 99% of questions is 'it's complicated'. I only feel comfortable sticking my nose past the door on issues that seem clean cut to me, as I did with the Marriage Equality comic last year. Because it just seems to me that that's a simple issue that there's a right answer to. 
But those are rare. 

So this is my 'feminist poster' that I made for One Beat Zines to go with a selection of my zines that they are selling (get yours here) , but as you'll see it's not a simple feminist message. It's more of a sort of intersectional, anti simplifying, pro individual message. 

Although I identify as broadly feminist, just as I identify as broadly a leftie, those are identifiers that feel problematic given my essentially highly privileged background, and I feel uncomfortable with the polarising implication that any label embracing philosophy has, 
creating a them by creating an us. 

But there's a core belief that has been something I've been turning round in my head virtually my whole life, and that's about people. I believe that everyone, yes, has the capacity for good and evil, wonderfullness and terribleness, but also that everyone is a bit incongruous. Everyone has the capacity to surprise you if you give them the chance. We're messed up, broken people in what feels like an increasingly messed up and broken world. Everyone has vast tracts of ignorance, because the human brain isn't big enough for that to be any other way, (I don't know what it's like to think immigration is a bad thing, also I know very little about basketball) but we also all have knowledge. 
We know what it's like to be us. 
We have to listen to each other to begin to know what it's like to not be us.

So this has all got a bit heavy for what was meant to be me talking about some work I made. 
After I made the poster, about 6 weeks ago now, I found I still wanted to draw people coming out of cookie cutter gaps in the world. As any illustrator or advertiser will know, trying to represent diversity in a group of characters has a certain ironic repetitiveness. Really you can't do it justice ever. Because of how everyone is, you know, ACTUALLY DIVERSE. So I wanted to draw some more. And I still want to. 

So I started by drawing 4 more and giving them captions.
I wanted them to be captions that could apply to anyone. So I could maybe present these in a book with the captions on separate flaps, you know like those kids books where the heads, bodies and legs are interchangeable? 

But I'm not sure if that's what I want to do with them yet. Because as much as we do all have some things in common, not every women on earth actually has an inbox, or knew their mother, so that's not really a thing. I think I might want to do something more. I think I might want to try and tell stories about them.

I'm also not sure if I just want to do them about women. I mean, Yay Feminism. But there's been a postit on my desk for over a year with an idea for a project called "7.4 billion ways it's ok to be human". It was an idea waiting for it's aesthetic. 


Apologies if you are my facebook friend waiting for me to draw you

So in conclusion, the theme of this blog post was I managed to think of a way to make my #shamelessselfpromotion relevant to the current events of the now. Sort of. But that also, lets all try to look beyond our differences, the visible and invisible ones, and find ways to see each other as beautiful idiosyncratic ignorant messes.