Last weekend not only marked the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, but also 100 days since The Resistance was ushered in with the Women’s March—the largest single-day protest in the history of the United States, with 500,000 in Washington, D.C., and 5 million worldwide. According to a recent poll, women are doing a vast majority of the activism against the current administration and its policies. Emily’s List—a progressive group that recruits women to run for political office—has heard from more than 11,000 women in all 50 states who want to run, compared to just 900 last year. The resistance is female.
The divisive primaries and election of Trump hasn’t just motivated people to protest, become more active, and run for office; it’s also caused an explosion in resistance-themed street art. This infusion of subversive work in New York City is a relief from the over-saturation of commissioned murals, and cliched pieces that rely too much on celebrity iconography to gain attention.
One of the most prolific street campaigns to rise since Trump’s inauguration is “Resistance Is Female,” a grassroots feminist collective that is taking over ads all over New York City. While a few of the artists involved have backgrounds in street art, many others—including an 11 year old girl named Kiana—do not.
I reached out to some of these artists to ask why they decided to get involved, and why they believe it’s important to keep the message of resistance in the public space.
“This project itself is about our own power as a collective. Both literally as an Art Collective and as our own collective gender. We are often ignored and in many cases, our needs, our work and our words, undermined or dismissed. This project is a way for us to remind everyone that what we have to say matters and what we do is important and valid. We are a multi-dimensional group of women, who all have different experiences and much to contribute to the social dialogue as well as the art world.
My own poster is composed of a decorative pattern I designed with breasts as a motif. It’s supposed to be playful and suggestive and I have also noticed that the men I show it to almost immediately recognizes the anatomy. Then of course, I wanted a bright pink to stand out against the black background, with a font that almost looks like lipstick. To me, feminism can be feminine.” –Gigi Chen
“Resistance is Female is my voice to all young girls to be themselves and stand up for their rights. Art is my way to scream saying we are there, and no one can tell us what to do.” – Maha Alasaker
“I hope many women around the world feel empowered about this message…To all the little kids, especially girls, you shouldn’t feel bad that you’re a woman. You’re just like men except just a little bit different. You should be able to accomplish more than what a man can do, and you can do what they can do, no matter what they say.” – Kiana, 11 years old
“I grew up in an extreme ultra-orthodox Jewish community where men controlled almost every aspect of my life. At 17, I managed to escape to avoid an arranged marriage, and since then have been making art about my experience. My work is not only for my own healing, but I also hope to inspire others to pursue their independent life. I’m extremely frustrated that many years after finding personal freedom, I find myself still fighting the same issues of men trying to control women, especially by the current administration. My commitment to this project comes from a deeper place of fighting for freedom and hope.” – Sara Erenthal
“I was raised by a strong woman. My social consciousness was awakened and strengthened by teachers and mentors who were women. As a queer person, feminism has helped me understand and fight back against homophobia. So I was thrilled to be part of the Resistance Is Female project. For me, The Resistance is a prolonged and multi-pronged movement: direct action, protests, pressuring elected officials, registering voters, and creating art that keeps the message public.” –Dusty Rebel aka Daniel Albanese
“To me the visceral yet highly nuanced representation of the “yoni mudra” seemed most intriguing and refreshing in capturing what “resistance is female” means to me. I am inclined to focus on the energy represented by this symbol as opposed to its physiological connotation. It holds an understated power-from a visual standpoint (we tend to associate resistance with the hand), from it’s deep rooted symbolism with feminism, and from it’s yogic genesis instilling calmness and strength. As a humanist/equalist, I have grandiose notions that it will become symbolic with resistance through peace and positivity regardless of sex and gender” – Shalini Prasad
“This project is important to me because it turns the public space into an inclusive art space which seeks cooperation, equality, and mutual resistance.” –Jack Adam
“So, it’s no big stretch for me to be involved with Resistance Is Female. Instigating with the hopes of further discussion on the streets is my wheelhouse. As much as I’d like to veer away from identity politics, I feel the attacks on women’s rights are at the highest I have seen in my life & women & men alike need an extra nudge to resist the onslaught. When I got the call to join in I had no choice. It is my revolutionary duty. Not to mention I love fucking with advertising! Hahaha. Anyhow, I’m very happy to have joined up with others that are resisting oppression.” – MYTH
“I got involved with Resistance is Female because I wanted to create visual signposts that encourage everyday people to keep fighting and persevere. A small pocket of artists aren’t going to move the needle on their own, but we can use our skills and voices to amplify the message and inspire others to keep taking actions to move the needle en masse” – Abe Lincoln Jr.
My honor and privilege to be among the artists involved in the @resistanceisfemale project taking over ad space (photo credit). And tip my hat to the organizers getting it done, keeping the resistance visible. #rif #nyc #notmypresident #resist #adtakeover #jillyballistic #jillyb #female #war #resistanceisfemale #14thstreet
“Visibility is the first step in bringing awareness to the cause of a movement. Women’s rights, from health care to employment, housing, to identity and beyond, are personal issues not only for me but the people in my life. Replacing an ad for some consumer good with awareness, a reminder we need to protect how far we have come and to continue this progress, was an obvious choice. It’s an honor to have a piece included in RiF and be among such artists.” – Jilly Ballistic