The logo and women
Jess McCabe // 6 January 2011
How do you design a logo for a women’s or feminist organisation? If this visual essay at Art Fag City is anything to go by, it’s quite difficult to come up with something original. (Via Feministing)
Swirly representations of women’s dancing figures loom large in the logos of organisations in the women’s sector, as well as women’s support groups, health and beauty firms.
Not only is this repetitive and a little dull, the use of an image of a headless, faceless woman or women can be seen as problematic, as it plays into the ‘woman as symbol not person’ trope, and defining women in terms of our bodies (or rather an idea about what our bodies ‘should’ look like).
As Coutney at Feministing says:
Of course it’s natural to think of women’s bodies, particularly for organizations that are health-related, but must every one end up as some squiggle-of-dancing-feminine-curves? I also understand that a lot of people take issue with our logo, which, indeed, is a woman’s body. But in our case, I think the concept is pretty damn original-reclaiming an image that has been so patently misogynistic by arming her with a definitive point of view.
Our own logo will evolve ever-so-slightly when our redesign goes live, but we’re sticking with the text-only solution. Lots of other UK groups have gone down the text-only or text-mostly route, such as Ladyfest Ten (you might remember that logo was the product of a competition) and UK Feminista.
One organisation here in the UK which does have a logo without a ‘womanly curve’ in sight is the Feminist Library in Elephant & Castle, which went for a reading dragon (I suppose you could argue the dragon’s tail is curvey?!). Kalayaan shows a bird flying away from her cage. Rosa sports an abstract representation of a rose.
The Women’s Resource Centre also avoided this problem, opting for a circular arrangement of the letter W.
Meanwhile, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation has a logo based on its acronym, but I like their use of a variety of rather abstract paintings of women’s faces on their website banner, which talks to a diversity of representations of women.