It was Monday and everyone at the St. Johns Status of Women Council/Womens Centre was sad. The barrage of why I dont need feminism Tumblrs, articles and memes had left us all disheartened - a dark and invasive cloud curled around the office, sticking to everything we are and everything we stand for.
Then, we got righteously angry. After all, we are a feminist organization; one steeped in rich history in this city providing support, services and a safe place just for women for over 42 years.
Other feminist organizations meet here, collaborate, create and grow, sometimes under our leadership. We were the founding sisters of the rape crisis centre, the first transition house, created the first women only housing and the first outreach advocacy program for sex workers. The names of missing and murdered women in Newfoundland and Labrador hang on our walls reminding us every day just why we need feminism.
We needed action, and a voice to move past our sadness and get back to the essential feminist work we do every day because yes, we still need Feminism.
Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is tackling the important issue of street harassment with her art project entitled, Stop Telling Women To Smile. The project features portraits of women accompanied by a clever, biting phrase, such as the projects title phrase, in various metropolitan cities.
Tatyana explains to the Huffington Post that she began the project by discussing the various experiences of women she knew personally, which eventually went on to inspire the text underneath the portraits. Many of the lines serve as direct confrontation towards the harassers. This is especially great since a lot of women do not go out of their way to address street harassment, instead choosing to ignore it and go about their day.
For many women, street harassment has become apart of a disturbing daily routine. Though Stop Telling Women to Smile, which is currently undergoing a 26-day Kickstart campaign to raise $15,000, is currently limited to women, it may later expand to include the experiences of men and LGBTQ-identified individuals in the future. Tatyanas thought-provoking street art also opens the discussion for other issues such as domestic abuse, violence, sexual harassment and rape.