“This Oppresses Women” Stickers Go Viral

By Jenny Brown

 Photo: Katya Powder/Instagram

The feminist groups National Women’s Liberation and Redstockings have been getting lots of press—as far away as India—for vintage stickers they’re distributing that keep appearing on sexist ads in New York.  Photos of altered ads are popping up all over the internet with the hashtag #thisoppresseswomen.

“Women are sick of being bombarded with advertisements that depict women only as sexual objects," Erin Mahoney of National Women's Liberation told The Huffington Post. "That use our bodies to sell products. That embolden men to disrespect us. That tell us we are not worthy unless we conform to unrealistic, sexist, racist, and unhealthy beauty standards.”


Why We Sticker, This Oppresses Women

Written by Nino, Outreach Chair of National Women’s Liberation – NY Chapter

sticker photo2As little girls, we exchanged stickers with our friends and tattooed them onto notebooks, desks, and walls; as women, we use them to push back against male supremacy. “This Oppresses Women” stickers, first printed in 1969 and now revived from the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archive, provoke conversations on how women are misrepresented in advertisements and other media. This dialogue is important in continuing a women’s liberation movement that encourages the participation of everyday people. We believe that it is us everyday people who make positive social change—not the courts, media, or celebrities. The freedom women have now was won by movements of women organizing and fighting for change.


NWL Guest Editorial: 'Rape culture' label ignores root cause

The following guest editorial by the Gainesville chapter of NWL appeared in the October 29, 2013 print edition of The Alligator:

In recent years, stories on rape have become increasingly formulaic. We’re given the same statistics with absolutely no analysis of the cause of rape or real solutions.

Recently, articles focusing on rape published by the Alligator contained the phrase “rape culture” in the title, which was repeatedly referenced and blamed without ever being defined. “Rape culture” is a culture that normalizes and allows rape in its society. Joking about rape, making excuses for rapists and street harassers, and scrutinizing a woman’s dress and behavior instead of the behavior of rapists and street harassers is rape culture. These conditions certainly exist and are a form of sexism, but lumping them together as “rape culture” ignores the cause of the problem. Men who rape women are the cause of the problem — not jokes or poor excuses.

In its series of articles on rape, the Alligator suggested UF require incoming freshmen to take a workshop on consent because lack of consent determines rape. But the problem is not defining consent once and for all, as if some men do not know the difference between yes, no and unconscious. The problem is men who are rapists do not hear or respect a woman when she gives any answer they do not want to hear. The problem is these men know how very unlikely it is that they will ever be accused of rape, let alone prosecuted and charged.

National Women’s Liberation believes that the frequency and threat of rape and the notion rape victims are to blame is not the result of a rape culture, but actually the direct result of male supremacy. “Male supremacy” is the inherent authority and legitimacy men enjoy simply by being male. It is what is at play when men are not afraid of committing a crime because the victim can easily be discredited not with evidence, but by dress or past behavior. It is what is at play when the victim’s past is more important than the crime committed. It is at play when men don’t think anyone will believe the victim and will without a doubt take his side.

This male supremacy is built directly into our political, economic and cultural institutions, and until we look at the bigger picture and dig out the root cause, rape and rape culture will always exist.

While no one can presume to know how to stop rape once and for all, we do know that progressive change begins with a strong women’s rights group who can organize, fight and demand for UF to recognize rape as a real issue on campus and to provide effective awareness and prevention strategies that respects all women. No more waiting and no more lip service. This can change, as long as we demand change together.

10.27.15 - Letter to MTA and Outfront Media


To Outfront Media, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City:

Your decisions on how female bodies are used to sell products to MTA passengers are glaringly contradictory, and oppressive to women. And now with the news about the THINX ad campaign, you cannot hide the hypocrisy.  Your reactions to THINX’s new ads demonstrate the flagrant double-standard you use when determining which ads are “appropriate” in the New York City subway.

We understand that the THINX campaign is still under review. However, statements made by an Outfront representative in an email to THINX (documented in this Mic article) included the following: Outfront “believes that the proposed ads ‘seem to have a bit too much skin,’ adding that the egg and grapefruit imagery, ‘regardless of context, seems inappropriate.’” Earlier, an Outfront representative “was concerned that children would see the word ‘period’ in the ads and ask their parents what it meant.”

Why do notoriously sexist ads for Protein World and Doctors Plastic Surgery (among many, many others) pass your test for “appropriate” media to be seen by your millions of daily riders, while THINX ads for leak-proof menstruation underwear do not?


Consciousness-Raising Position Papers

“Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon,” in Feminist Revolution, 1975, 1978.  Written by: Kathie Sarachild. Available from theRedstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action

Consciousness-Raising Organizing packet. A sampling of action and organizing materials available from the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action.