IN THE HEADING "COMMUNICATIONS" WE TELL ABOUT GIRLS, who came up with a common cause and achieved success in it. And at the same time we expose the myth that women are not capable of friendly feelings, but can only compete aggressively. This time we talked with Ksenia Anikeeva, Polina Zaripova and Yuri Kropachev, who together opened the Samka online store with a daring logo and a selection of feminist merch.
Idea and title
Ksyusha: It all started when Polina went to Berlin and saw some cool funny thermal patches there. She started sending photos to our chat with her friends so that we could choose patches for ourselves, and I thought and said: "Pauline, buy more, it will come in handy!" I have never seen anything like it in Russia. Later we thought that if we have a need to wear this, then other people probably have it. We decided to create a store where we will collect feminist jokes from all over the world. I talked about this with Yura, my old friend, very in time - he had a lot of ideas on the topic, and he also joined the project.
Yura: The first thing we came up with was the name. It seems to me that nothing will go anywhere until there is a motivating name. We like that it is so poignant, a little conflicted - and it is in the Russian language. It can be difficult for our foreign artists to explain what the trick is.
Ksyusha: The word "female" in Russian-language search engines is occupied by pornography and various strange projects related to escorts, sex work and more, there is even an online casino. But that didn't stop us. It would be cool to bring back healthy neutrality to this word. Of course, we have already heard criticism of the name and expect more - but we were ready for this.
Yura: When I asked my friends to like the store page on Facebook, one friend wrote to me: "What are these females, your girlfriends?"
Pauline: We launched surprisingly quickly - in just two months. We make decisions all together. During this time, we studied many foreign online stores and managed to go to Berlin again, where we began to purposefully look for things suitable for us, met with artists, went shopping and print markets.
Ksyusha: It seems to me that it is very important to walk with your feet, see what people look like, what they wear, and go to small shops. We found out that there are surprisingly few cool things with feminist symbols - not only in Russia, but also in Europe, in the world in general. Perhaps, in Berlin, there is already a slightly different wave: no one doubts that a woman is a human being, they have already (and for a long time!) Switched to the fight against capitalism. And we are still on another stage: we expect that capitalism will liberate at least a few women, and then it will be possible to fight it.
Search for aesthetics and start
Ksyusha: A very important stage of work is the selection of artists and the search for suitable industries. It should not be just a merch, but beautiful cool things that you want to wear - more an accessory than just a T-shirt with a logo, something not disposable.
Aesthetics are important because visually appealing things help fulfill our primary purpose. We want more people to wear items that represent their position and simply increase female visibility. It doesn't have to be a slogan, it can just be a drawing without any appeals. We select artists whose illustrations show that their worldview intersects with ours. We are looking all over the world - and in Russia too.
Yura: For example, Nina Stadnik - everything she paints is about women. By the way, we made a sticker pack with her. We also look at who illustrates articles on women's rights, so we found Sonya Korshenboim - she draws for Meduza and Dear Friend. She has a very interesting outlook on things: what we cannot even say in words, Sonya is able to express visually.She does not need to be given a detailed technical assignment, we immediately understood that Sonya would draw as it should. Coming soon Sony's print shopping bags; part of the proceeds from their sale will go to finance a toll-free hotline for women in situations of domestic violence. This line was created together by several funds, including Anna. The phone number will be printed directly on the bag.
Pauline: The launch of the store was associated with a bunch of new tasks for us, but in the end everything was successful. Immediately after the start, we were faced with very different reactions from acquaintances and strangers: we try not to read comments on social networks, but it is difficult to refrain from this. Especially on personal pages where, for example, former colleagues from technical or state-owned companies write. After conversations with commentators, you begin to understand what a tremendous and valuable work activists and bloggers do to spread the word about feminism to the general public.
There has been no criticism from the feminist community yet, but we are, in principle, ready for it - we know that the community is heterogeneous and has many different views, ideas and directions. We deliberately did not make our products universally neutral, no pink inscriptions "Girl Power" - it seems to us that this phrase has already lost its meaning. We are not afraid to be cocky: I believe that you cannot talk about terrible things, injustice and be nice at the same time. Anger and resentment are normal.
Yura: We received the first order half an hour after the opening - of course, it was our girlfriend. Now we already have bestsellers - patches with the words "Masturbation never breaks your heart" and "Kinky sex".
Feminism and lifestyle
Pauline: When Ksyusha and I worked together in the theater industry, we often discussed our problems in professional and personal life. Most often it turned out that they were somehow connected with the feminist agenda and the problems of women in general. For example, at one of our past jobs there was a manager who called all the employees, from the courier to the director, "kitties." I came from a meeting with important partners and said, "Well, I rubbed with these kitties, they say …" We protested, slammed doors. As a result, he stopped using such words - at least in our presence. For me it was of fundamental importance - why should I endure that they do not respect me, do not respect women in general? It's just disgusting.
At some point, I realized that feminism is some kind of big truth that can be applied to all my experience, from childhood to life in a big city today. For me, there is not a single thing that feminist optics does not highlight.
Yura: And I always thought that I was an intelligent kid and understood everything about equality. But when I started working on "The Female" and to study the topic in more detail, I realized that very often the jokes that we joke in the company are not at all harmless. I used to be sure that when we laugh "about girls", all the participants in the conversation understand that this is irony. But it turned out that this was not entirely true - and it was a revelation for me. Since then, I have been trying to treat my words more carefully, and I am sure that all men should at least at a basic level begin to understand feminist theory. Or at least just follow the words, understand how they sound and what they mean to women. In general, it would be great if feminism became the norm.
Ksyusha: There are male pro-feminists in our environment, but this is still not the norm - it rather pleasantly surprises. One of our most important and interesting tasks is to create a pro-feminist merch for men.
Pauline: It seems to me that the younger generation - those who are now twenty - are much freer in this sense. We, thirty-year-olds, are still pressed by the idea that it is "time to give birth" or "if I dress like this, no one will marry." We are happy to voice the idea that this path is far from the only one that you can live for yourself and enjoy yourself without feeling shame, but only joy. This is what the "Female" is doing.
Plans and hopes
Ksyusha: First of all, "The Female", of course, is a story for the soul. This is not just some idea that I like: I am personally interested in popularizing feminism, as it makes my life better. We are all ready to invest in this time, money and effort. Of course, I would like the store to generate income for at least the three of us - now this is our main job. Everything will definitely not be limited to merchandise, we have a lot of ideas, let's see which ones will survive to the substantive implementation. We want to do educational and cultural projects, our professional knowledge lies in these areas. We know how to organize festivals and theatrical events, and now we are developing a festival project about women and we really believe in it. We also plan special research and collect material - it's incredibly interesting.
Bloggers and popularizers of feminism, such as Tatyana Nikonova, Bella Rapoport, Zalina Marshenkulova, generally provided Polina and me with invaluable help in rethinking many things. We exchanged their texts and opinions a lot and we still do it. I really want to invite them to do joint projects one day - it would be more happiness and honor.
Pauline: Recently, my friend and colleague Natasha Kirillova and I tried to figure out how women are represented in modern drama. We threw a cry on Facebook so that colleagues and friends from the theatrical environment could advise us on plays with interesting female characters, find something ourselves, and eventually read about forty works. Of course, this cannot be called a large-scale study, but we made some conclusions. In the texts, we almost did not find heroines whose fate would reflect the reality of modern women. If you believe these texts, then a woman is permanently in a painful choice between family and career, suffers a lot and senselessly psychologically and physically, and always and under any circumstances is looking for love. You will say that this is the case in life. But none of us wants to go to the theater and watch it - we want to be inspired and look for solutions.
Ksyusha: Only two out of forty texts contain stories in which the heroine transforms, makes a choice and takes some steps, and does not become a victim of other people or circumstances. This greatly distinguishes the heroine from the usual hero, who rather seeks to transform the circumstances around him, and not adapt himself to them. I would like to see vital heroines on stage. So that young girls and adult spectators want to be like them.