"Feminism is not a one size fits all movement"

Activist and author Scarlett Curtis on the feminist movement in 2018

By Google Arts & Culture

The Future is Female The Future is Female (2017-01-21) by Jill LawrenceLatah County Historical Society

Published in October 2018, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies): Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them is a book of essays curated by Scarlett Curtis, co-founder of feminist activist group The Pink Protest.

Contributors include teenage period poverty activist Amika George, trans activist Charlie Craggs, anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali, and gal-dem founder Liv Little, as well as actresses Keira Knightley, Jameela Jamil, Emma Watson, and Jodie Whittaker.

Votes for Women (1911) by Bertha Margaret BoyéSmithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink is a collection of women’s writing that aims to inspire and empower. Proceeds from every sale go to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up initiative, which supports 80,000 girls worldwide through its leadership training programs and investments in UN programming for girls.

Here the book’s curator Scarlett Curtis explains more about the motivations behind the book, and what she’s learned along the way.

Woman Suffrage Postcard - Votes For Women by The National American Woman Suffrage AssociationLemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

How did the book come about?

When I started working with Penguin I knew I wanted to create a book that expressed the feminist movement in 2018 and made the idea of being a feminist seem approachable. I also knew I definitely didn’t think it should be just my voice!

We decided to make a collection that shows the various different ways you can be a feminist and all the different voices that contribute to this amazing movement and hopefully encourage young girls to become feminists. Someone once asked me how I could be a feminist activist and still wear so much pink, and so the title was born from that!

Votes for Women poster (1911-03-10)Original Source: LSE Library

What are the biggest misconceptions about feminism today?

I think a lot of women feel they don’t ‘know enough’ or haven’t read enough to be a feminist and this holds them back from exploring the movement more. All you need to know to be a feminist is that you believe that men and women should be equal, and the rest will come!

Together for Yes Badge (21st Century) by Together for YesGlasgow Women's Library

What did you learn while curating the essays?

I really learned something different from every single essay. I was particularly shocked by how incredible the young feminists in the book are, like 18-year-old Amika George, who founded #FreePeriods to campaign against period poverty in the UK. We have a lot to learn from teenage girls!

Votes for Women Newspaper advertising poster (1909) by Dallas, HildaMuseum of London

What can we learn from the campaigns over the last century?

I think we can learn a lot from how early groups within the women’s movement transformed personal stories, trauma and suffering into genuine political change.

Women Break the Mould Poster (20th Century) by Campaign for Real PeopleGlasgow Women's Library

What are the biggest challenges facing feminists today?

I think one problem within the feminist movement is when we think that equality looks the same for everyone. Muslim women’s equality looks very different from trans women's equality, which looks very different from white women’s equality.

We wanted the book to reflect all of the different ways that someone can be subject to discrimination and the fight to overcome those specific intersections of what it means to be a woman. We also need to figure out how to get men involved with the movement in a way that keeps women and minorities at the centre but allows them to help.

Votes for Women rosette (c. 1913)Original Source: LSE Library

What is the key message you hope readers will take away?

I hope that readers see that feminism is not a one size fits all movement! And hopefully if anyone reading this didn’t know they were a feminist we might be able to change that by the time they’ve finished the book.

Birth Project: The Crowning Needlepoint 3 (1983) by Judy ChicagoFlorida State University Museum of Fine Arts

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