Why I’ll Miss My Neighborhood – Renegade Feminist Street Signs Edition

I just moved to Brooklyn (Fort Greene stand up!) and I’m definitely loving my new neighborhood. However, as a last tribute to my old neighborhood, I thought I’d share this feminist gem, snapped in the east village. I know there’s been some lively discussion on this site in the past about the merits/morality of altering public property in the name of feminism, and I think that needs to be an ongoing discussion because I don’t know that it was ever quite resolved. But for the record I tend to think that “renegade feminist” acts like this one usually do more good than harm. I don’t know about you, but I can always use a little something to make me look twice at that objectifying image or heavily touched up ad and remind myself not to be fooled by the BS, or to ever take it at face value. So for that jolt of a reminder, I appreciate the person who put up this sign. The verdict is still out on whether or not these kinds of street sign tactics are viable for long term effectiveness.
What do you think-Was the ad problematic in the first place? (I say yes.) Are you moved to put a sign up every time you see a bothersome/un-feminist/offensive image? Would it make a difference if we all did this all the time? Should it matter whether or not this is technically “legal”?

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • electrictoaster

    Ah, that is so neat. You’d never see stuff like this in my little retirement town (but you will see a lot of “so-and-so is a fag”, etc. Classy.) I think these are helpful. If you and I need a little note to stop and think about this kind of sexism, which we see so often that we’re desensitized to it, then probably most proto-feminist* people do, too, and it seems like there’s a lot of them.
    * I know that’s not really how the word is used but I couldn’t find a better one. What’s a good word for people who “aren’t a feminist but”?

  • Athenia

    Loves it!
    I really hate that advertisement. Talk about female sexuality = passivity, broken/weak = sexy.
    In other news, I actually saw the first episode of The Vampire Diaries last night and it is SO BLAH. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, where oh where is Buffy when you need her???

  • englishteacher

    I haven’t read The Vampire Diaries, but I did catch the pilot last night. And really, I didn’t see the lead female character actually being portrayed like the sex symbol she is on the poster. She was dealing with the loss of her parents, her brother’s drug addiction, and a break up from her boyfriend. At no point did I see her be “seductive” or that sexual at all, to be honest.
    I think I could forgive the ad if it were an accurate depiction of the series or its characters – and maybe throughout the season, it will be – but from the pilot, it seems that they tried to sell sex for a show that doesn’t necessarily revolve around it.

  • alixana

    Yeah, that ad doesn’t line up with what that first episode was all about at ALL. And even in the books, where Elena had much more of a personality and an edge than CW-Elena-with-brown-hair-acting-suspiciously-Bella-like, she wasn’t exactly all sexed up.

  • Alessa

    (sorry, thought I should mention it, because that is flat out too cool).

  • Lori

    Haha that’s awesome! I just moved here- you’ll have to put me onto all the feminist hotspots :-)

  • Zoe

    As long as it’s not a permanent “destruction of property”, you know, spray painting or breaking off parts of things, I feel it is acceptable.
    And it definitely makes a difference. Every time I’ve seen a renegade sign that challenged my thinking, I was glad for it. Often, people know things are bad but just don’t think about it often enough. Things like this are a good reminder.

  • micki_d

    interesting discussion!
    last fall or sometime last school year there were all these obnoxious little flyers all over campus for a “gradnite” party with just a woman in stereotypical-sexy-schoolgirl-outfit but the image didn’t capture her head. some of my friends posted some post-its on it and i thought it was just great.
    here’s a link, i hope it shows up: http://s16.photobucket.com/albums/b11/go_pete_go/headless/

  • dormouse

    I agree. I think this sort of “vandalism” is harmless, but most eye catching and thought provoking. The white paper really jumps out at you and there’s an intelligently worded message.

  • Bebekah

    The link asks me to log in to your account rather than showing the picture so it may be a privacy setting thing.

  • Lance

    This post makes me happy. I’m moving to Brooklyn soon and looking forward to feminist graffiti. I currently reside in Manhattan, and everything in my current neighborhood (Herald Square) is quite sterile.

  • A male

    Even if not legal, I also fully support this manner of protest. It is not destructive or damaging to property like graffiti or vandalism would be.

  • bitsy

    Buffy is in those funny books we call comics but, sadly, she’s hasn’t been the strongest female role model ever since she came back from the dead that second time. You’ll have to look for a vampire slayin’, powerful of mind, body, and spirit woman elsewhere.

  • mzza

    anyone interested in billboard alteration and illegal outdoor advertising should check out this org. they do amazing work reclaiming public space and there are LOTS of positive examples and helpful tips.
    some are negation, some alteration, and this summer a city-wide attempt to erase illegally posted ads and educate the public about this use of our space.

  • Lori

    This looks really interesting- thanks so much for posting mzza.

  • JupiterAmmon

    we should all do things like this!
    recently I saw a whole bunch of cosmopolitan mags at a public relaxation area of my college and I just picked them up and threw them out.

  • micki_d

    Thanks for letting me know, I think I fixed it (hopefully)

  • Comrade Kevin

    I suppose it depends on your definition of Civil Disobedience. A fellow Friend from Portland, Oregon, (who is unfortunately recently deceased) got arrested and was charged with a misdemeanor when she and her partner wrote the number of Iraq War dead in red paint on the side of an Army recruiting office.
    It’s difficult to know what kind of backlash actions like this are going to produce. What I will say is that, for me, personally, I would avoid doing such things like this unless it was so offensive that not doing anything would be more damaging. Too much of this behavior, in my opinion, is overkill.

  • Boodle

    I love this kind of radical action. Actually, I don’t even care if it involves destruction of property or true vandalism. These kinds of ads are in and of themselves harmful to women (and to men, I might add.) I think we’re in a war here–and while I don’t advocate violence against human beings I don’t give a shit about property.

  • A male

    So on what grounds can you take offense, if and when your opponents take the same approach against you, your message and your property? What makes your message and your property more worthy of protection than theirs? Can people take a “don’t give a shit about property” view of a Planned Parenthood clinic, if they also sincerely believe “not doing anything would be more damaging?”

  • A male

    Ah, now that can be recognized by many as art, regardless of legality. I can appreciate certain graffiti. If certain alterations were made without my consent even to my home or car, I’d proudly leave it as is.
    That’s different from someone leaving a message of hate against me, my people, my own message, or my work. If someone painted a message on my hospital wall because AFAIK, we do NOT offer abortion on demand as they wish, I’d justifiably take offense and want those responsible punished, the same as if someone vandalized a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

  • Wonderwall

    My small rebellion has so far been at the grocery store where I’ve developed the habit of turning all the magazines with diet/beauty bull crap on the front and turning them around and upside down (because more the time the back is just as bad if not worse).
    I hate seeing those while I wait to check out.

  • everybodyever

    Fort Greene is excellent for feminist street signs! It’s got my favorite, the YOU GO GIRL graffiti over the BQE.