The movement did not wait for the Forum on Domestic Violence to put the names of feminicide victims on the walls of some twenty French cities. These collages impose themselves on us through a graphic system as simple as it is powerful, while the messages are designed to highlight these dramas and awaken consciences.
This long article will cover many aspects related to this social movement. We will obviously talk about feminism and patriarchy, then we will look at how this movement managed to impose its messages in the public space and the role of its "graphic charter". Then, after a short detour through May 68, we will try to understand how the "branding of a social movement" differs from the "classic branding of brands".
Make yourself comfortable and start Fip radio so you won't be bothered by the commercials while you're reading!
Bref, installez-vous bien confortablement et lancez Fip radio pour ne pas être dérangé par la publicité pendant votre lecture ! (Public radio deserves a little publicity!)
Translating : "What do you want for Christmas ? Mum alive ! "
Christmas is a garbage
Let's start the article with this picture taken next to the desk last December. Street feminicide vs. Boulevard theater? When political and commercial messages unintentionally (or not!) collide. The anti-feminicide punch-line seems specially designed to resonate with the poster of the play "Le Père Noël est une ordure" a very famous French play. We believe that relying on the surrounding messages to reinforce its purpose is a genius of communication.
This image allows us to introduce, through the figure of " Father
Christmas ", the notion of patriarchy, an inescapable notion in this subject of feminicidal collages!
The absurd inscription "feminism kills" on a feminicidal collage "our blood on your walls"
Patriarchy, from passion to hate...
As the weekly magazine named "1" writes, "Until recently there was talk of 'crime of passion': a man killed his wife, he loved her too much. (...) Then there was talk of "battered women" in the 1970s (...). Since then, feminist associations have been using the term "feminicide" to mark the intolerable nature of these crimes. This expression qualifies "the murder of women by men, because they are women". The idea is to underline the misogyny of the act and its hatred, in the same way as one would underline racist crimes, for example. Witch hunts, marital murders, dowry crimes are considered feminicides. We have to wait until 2015 for the word to enter the dictionary!
According to Ivan Jablonka, a professor of contemporary history specializing in violence against women, "feminicide is the bloody failure of patriarchy" which relegates women to maternal or subordinate responsibilities, and this only because of their biological system (uterus, breast) that allows them to give birth. As for the man, he grants himself the rest of the powers in the other external spheres (social, professional, political, economic...) Women are, men do. Patriarchy is therefore a set of symbolic violence, in general, and leading to physical violence, as in the case of feminicide.
In France, many people would think that we are far from the worst, that our society is not strictly speaking patriarchal, that women are free. This is not entirely true. And that is the problem. Feminicide is unacceptable and despicable, regardless of the cultural and social context. Patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our subconscious that it makes us believe that certain behaviours are natural, when they are purely constructed.
The writer Virginie Despentes also provides an interesting additional reading on the subject of patriarchy, recalling in "King-Kong Theory" that while women have always been victims of male violence, men too have always been the "cannon fodder" for the powerful, and that today this violence is still perpetuated through capitalism. In her view, patriarchy could only be achieved through the fight against capitalism. In a less virulent way, historian Silvia Federici, in her book "Caliban and the Witch", tells us how, in her opinion, capitalism organized itself to make slavery and the annihilation of women a necessity for the accumulation of wealth. We already knew this, but yes, "everything is political".
To delve deeper into these notions, and to understand how our societies have come to this point, we invite you to read the supplement at the end of the article.
Big words and big remedies
According to the count of the Collectif de Recensement des Féminicides Conjugaux en France, at the time of writing this article, 150 women in France have perished at the hands of a man they knew (companion, ex, relative...). On average, in the country of human rights, a woman dies at the hands of her companion every 48 hours.
It is in this all too murderous or enslaving context that Marguerite Stern, an ex-Femen, decides to take action: "we no longer want to count our dead" she says. On August 30, 2019, she gathers women via her instagram account to paste messages in the streets of Paris: the "feminicidal collages". She wants to obtain concrete measures and funds from the government. Forty women answered the call. The movement has multiplied today.
The idea is to name and pay homage to the women who died at the hands of their companions by describing the facts as they are: sordid, but very real. Going out at night among women to reappropriate the public space, mostly held by men, "makes you proud, makes you strong" as one activist explains. The movement gets organized and spreads on Instagram on the accounts @collages_feminicides_(name of the city) that everyone can join in order to participate in a militant night-time collage.
The graphic identity of the collages
The technique is simple: use white sheets and cover them with black letters using a large brush. Placarded at night by militant, concerned, empathetic or simply curious women, the texts and the technique are the same all over the territory.
An extremely simple, coherent and sober visual system, but above all, within everyone's reach, and with almost zero resources. No need for a printer, stickers or flyers to convey it. The rules to be followed do not take away the spontaneity of the gesture, and the display is recognizable everywhere despite the random nature of the handwriting. The D system inherent to this type of action imposes its style.
This is a magnificent example of a graphic charter where the letter size is standardized in A4 size and the font is a monospace. The pages are glued in a well aligned way according to the imposed grid. The main color will be 100% black and the background must be white. It is exactly as in any organization, a minimum of common rules must be respected, otherwise the impact of the collective action will be immediately diluted.
Marguerite nous donne d'ailleurs un guide de "charte graphique" complet en story sur son compte instagram :