Yes, Even Fonts can be Feminist

by Sarah C. Epstein

Feeling like you didn’t consent to having Helvetica glut your resume? Think that Cambria looks oppressingly bourgeois? Sense that Times New Roman is outdated, like patriarchal values? Still want to put some pizzazz on your page, but conclude that Comic Sans doesn’t represent your feminist agenda?

Female artists in the font and lettering industry are feeling similarly suffocated, and some are looking to tackle issues of gender discrimination and inequality in design.

Although in the U.S. more women than men attend art school, men still hold the largest amount of leadership roles within the design field, reports Format Magazine. Historically, men dominated typography, a trend the industry has yet to shake.

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While gender bias in any profession is cause for concern, its double for an industry that helps to reinforce gender-based prejudices; thanks to the technological boom, communication is shifting from verbal to visual, and the signifiers we use to engage with one are taking on subliminal meaning, with the power to shape gender stereotypes. Take, for instance, the fashion industry, which subtly assigns gender to typefaces: “the typographic style for prints aimed at girls are often decorative scripts, while the boys’ prints are set in neutral and bold sans-serif,” a spokesperson for the design studio, Queertype T-shirts, told Format.

queertype08 14309“Queertype” T-shirt by

Now, women artists are looking to change the visual landscape, unraveling gender prejudices and increasing female representation in a male-dominated industry. In 2015, Swedish artist Kimberly Ihre created Typequality, a publicly accessible website where users can download and buy over 170 fonts by women designers.

Similarly, the website Alphabettes showcases fonts made by women, and the women behind them. 

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And recently, some clever ladies designed an entirely feminist letter set, and made it available for free download here. As they describe it, each letter is “created from symbols that represent gender equality. They each stand for a different issue, such as the wage gap, campus assault laws, and breastfeeding.” It’s since been used for many feminist protest signs (tagged #feministletters on Insta). So next time you’re looking to march for women’s rights, consider using a woman-created font to scrawl your anti-facist slogans. 

smash b3785Instagram image by @yayitsyai

top photo from feminist letters

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