Tattoo by @egmixx

What it’s like to be a female graffiti writer on 8M? Some of talk the progress we’ve seen and reveal the ground we still have to make up.


International Women’s Day is celebrated by a huge contingent of collectives the world over, and on this important day in the calendar we wanted to use this platform to share the experiences and hopes of women in the graffiti community. We hit up several writers known to followers of this blog to hear what they had to say. The answers we got were even more diverse than we expected.

Pran – Amsterdam, Holland

 

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Pran– Where I live right now, International Womens’ Day is celebrated in quite a different way compared to where I’m from, I guess for cultural reasons. There are different opportunities and it’s a different environment. I don’t see as the same struggle here as where I was raised. I do still see many disadvantages but they’re not as stark.

What does it mean to you personally?

I think personally, it’s interesting to have a day that you can actually stop and think about so many things regarding women rights and history in the context of such a patriarchal structure we live in.

It’s important to remember and reflect on how much we are not represented in so many areas, facing so much judgment and expectation whatever we do.

On the other hand, the day is just a detail – things should be seen and changed on a daily basis. There is still much more that must be done to achieve equality of rights and representation in my point of view.

“I’m personally grateful for the ones who matter to me and have inspired me since the beginning, always lifting me up, and understanding what graffiti means to me.”

What problems have you had in graffiti because of your gender?

Well, I’ve experienced quite a lot of uncomfortable situations throughout my graffiti career. I’ve been treated like a groupie just for the fact I was present on certain missions, especially if nobody knew who I was or what I wrote, my path or my story. I would simply be ignored or put on the side, with no interaction whatsoever.
Also, if I had a relationship with someone who was from the same scene, most likely I would have to hear comments or be disrespected in a way that guys would try to underrate my work.
There were even cases of people avoiding verbal communication on missions. Not even if was the case of having to escape, just simply ignoring the fact I was there. It’s funny that it even happened in rich countries, which shows it’s a worldwide issue for real.
The thing is that I come from quite an aggressive place, where the competition is high to put your name up there. So there’s always someone trying to look down on your career, and if you are a woman, things can get more harsh and you’re more unappreciated.
You have to be tough and stand out for yourself, believe in your potential and value what you do. Despite the haters, you should keep developing and take it as a positive trigger to make you grow.
I’m personally grateful for the ones who matter to me and have inspired me since the beginning, always lifting me up, and understanding what graffiti means to me.
But the closed minded people have definitely also showed me that we shouldn’t lower our heads or giving up. The fact they are ignorant, and their mentality is too outdated to keep track of anything that’s out of their comfort zone. It’s kinda sad.

What positive changes have you noticed since you started painting?

Since I’ve been painting, I’ve experienced improvements in the scene. I feel that us women are more connected and respectful of each other. We realize that we are together in this, rather than actually competing. There is so much space for everyone to express their work, that competition shouldn’t matter.
When I started, I was quite left out by the girls graff community in my hometown. I was new in the game, and this ‘girls support girl’ thing was quite hypocritical at the time, so I didn’t have any type of support back then.
I feel now things are different and that makes me happy. Obviously there is so much to improve but at least this part is better.
I know a lot of people are still stuck in the past, finding it hard to deal with that insertion or balance increased female empowerment with their capability to deliver good quality work. But on the other hand I feel and I’ve experienced a new generation of males who appreciate and respect my work and don’t patronize me for my gender. I guess it’s a matter of common sense in a way. Which many people still don’t get.

Zurik – Sabadell, Spain

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Zurik– In Sabadell, there will be various cultural activities, workshops, theater, poetry and exhibitions as well as a march organized by the city’s feminist committee that will begin at 18:30h in Plaça d’Espanya in Sabadell.

What does it mean to you personally?

It’s a date that marks a commemoration and a reminder of how our society has developed and the different roles we’ve adopted over the years. It’s a date to reflect and review what we expect in terms of equality. 

As a woman, I carry out these types of reflections very often, but the date marks a time when these reflections are echoed much more, through presencial actions or social networks.

“…but the fact that in recent years I no longer feel So close that machismo does not mean that it does not continue to be carried out, since I have met several young girls who even today have gone through experiences similar to those I had almost 10 years ago.”

What problems have you had in graffiti because of your gender?

When I was young, between 19 and 25, I always felt a lot of pressure on a personal level to fit into a standard of what it meant to be professional or not in graffiti or if I was good enough to belong, as if it were an elite group. This was obviously linked to what it meant to fit the mold of what was expected of a girl who painted.
What bothered me the most about that time was that I was defined according to my personal choices and my relationships. Now I’m comfortable y with what I want and with who I am, but from time to time I remember the comments about my sex life, about my way of dressing, about whether I was pretty or not, about my friends and other things that are nobody’s business but mine.

What positive changes have you noticed since you started painting?

There is more open talk about the role of women in graffiti and there are more and more proposals from girls when making letters. For my part, I think that time, the trajectory / experience and age have gradually distanced me from environments and people that still bias and underestimate the women who write lyrics, but the fact that in recent years I no longer feel So close that machismo does not mean that it does not continue to be carried out, since I have met several young girls who even today have gone through experiences similar to those I had almost 10 years ago.

Ladie One- Los Angeles, USA

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Ladie One– I guess you can say there’s different hip-hop events highlighting womens’s month, from graffiti to music or breakdancing. Not specific to the day, but definitely the month. Other than that, I think people just post about it on social media but there’s nothing to celebrate the actual day, at least to my knowledge.

What does it mean to you, personally? 

Personally, I was raised strictly hip-hop, so I never saw nor liked the gender separation in anything, period. I do think it’s nice we get a whole day to highlight us as females being successful in what we do but being a minority in society and this culture makes me cringe when we’re celebrated on a specific day. 

Not to sound negative in any kind of way, but to me we should celebrate both men and women on multiple occasions not separately but together, as a whole community and entity.

What problems have you experienced in graffiti because of your sex?

To be honest I’ve never really experienced many problems being a female, I believe I’ve carried myself seriously and respectfully as a female writer, so I feel like that same type of energy has always been reciprocated. If I ever was approached in a provocative way, they’d find out real quick I’m not the one to come at like that so that was that. Haha

What positive changes have you noticed since you’ve been painting?

I’ve been painting for 19 years, and I think women have definitely elevated their craft over the last two decades and feeling the positive embrace from the community entirely.
Regardless of gender, if you’re persistent and hardworking it’ll always show and if you’re putting in work people will always respect that. I can definitely feel the love and support in the underground scene and also the industry now more than ever.

Antisa One – Los Angeles, Chile

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Antisa One– Well, with COVID-19, everything is very uncertain, but marches are held to commemorate the women who have fought for our rights and who have died fighting so that we can have the rights that we now have, and to once again demand equality in society, among other things. Commemorative activities are carried out among girls.

What does it mean to you personally?

I think it’s an occasion that makes me very proud, seeing everything that is happening, where people learn what is really being commemorated. It’s more than just giving flowers like they used to do in the past.
I’m proud of the courage of women of the previous generations who were brave enough to speak up and demand their rights in a time when sexism was very strong (much more so than now).
It makes me proud to the core and motivates me that there will always be women who will not silence their opinions and will fight for what we believe is fair; to see the new generations as important participants in the transformation, very far from the sexist ideals our parents taught us.
There is more talk about this, but unfortunately society continues without changing many things in terms of laws, salaries, etc.

“It makes me proud to the core and motivates me that there will always be women who will not silence their opinions and will fight for what we believe is fair; to see the new generations as important participants in the transformation, very far from the sexist ideals our parents taught us.”

What problems have you had in graffiti because of your gender?

In graffiti when I started there were not many women who painted, there has always been a high percentage of men.
I don’t know if it’s because when I started I lived in the south of Chile in Los Angeles, then in Concepción, not in the capital Santiago, but ever since I started we were all friends, so there was always with a lot of respect and we painted as equals.
Then I moved to another city to study in Concepción. I met the boys who painted a lot in that city, we talked about painting and we coordinated and painted, that’s it, they always treated equally, without any dynamic other than enjoying painting.
When the internet arrived and graffiti blew up, I started meeting other people from different cities and countries. It’s weird, I don’t know how to explain it, but in my personal experience, I haven’t felt discriminated against by my peers, actuallyI always I’ve always been treated with respect.

What positive changes have you noticed since you started painting?

A significant increase in women on the street painting or getting more involved in different areas, there’s also been an attempt to unify more. Girls dare more to go out and represent in different areas. In graffiti you see many girls on the street, getting together in crews or groups with greater coordination.

Asya – Madrid, Spain

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Asya– A demonstration is usually organized, and some people go on strike if they can. I think that feminism isn’t a homogenous group, so each woman experiences, demonstrates or celebrates it in a different way, which is very personal and equally respectable.

What does it mean to you personally?

For me it’s a day to exchange with the rest of my friends, also for reflection. In my opinion there’s still much to be done and polished in the face of sexism and inequality. I’m still conflicted with the fact that this date is used to make money.

“For me it’s a day to exchange with the rest of my friends, also for reflection. In my opinion there’s still much to be done and polished in the face of sexism and inequality. I’m still conflicted with the fact that this date is used to make money.”

What problems have you had in graffiti because of your gender?

I think that unfortunately, a woman painting in the street is going to have many more problems than a man would have. Just because they see you, anyone believes they have the right to insult you or even attack you. As you are doing something illegal they feel justified. This has happened to me more than once.

What positive changes have you noticed since you started painting?

I see that there are more and more women painting, so there is a more sororal atmosphere. The younger generations of girls contribute a much more renewed and normalized vision about women in graffiti, they have examples to follow and more peers to support them, to learn from and to share in a more special way than you could do with a group of guys.

Sofly – London, UK

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Sofly– I’ve painted murals in the last two years where ppl have come and celebrated women by interacting with the piece and filming taking photos in front of the wall.
This year I’m working as I’ve got a business graffiti workshop booking and they’re going to be painting the words “break the bias.” I wanted to do another public graffiti event but I couldn’t get a commercial sponsor.

What does it mean to you, personally?

I feel like it’s a bit fake tbh as all these brands suddenly decide to pretend they care about women, but as a woman any opportunity to feel good about ourselves is welcome.

What problems have you experienced in graffiti because of your sex?

Sexism, harassment, jealousy, snakes and just feeling totally on my own!

What positive changes have you noticed since you’ve been painting?

I mean there’s a lot more women doing graff then when I started and I feel like every woman I speak to loves that I do graffiti, so there’s that.

Minas – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Minas– In my city, some people join movements for arts or charitable activities that are made up of women. But there is also action on international women’s day in support of gender equality, which also raises the issue of violence against women.

What does it mean to you, personally?

For me it’s good, because the women who are members of a community can get to know each other through events that are held every year. There we can share ideas, experience and anything else.

“Where I live, there is no significant difference in how I’m treated even though I’m a woman.”

What problems have you experienced in graffiti because of your sex?

Where I live, there is no significant difference in how I’m treated even though I’m a woman. In my home city, there many art schools and many female artists too who take part in the arts.

What positive changes have you noticed since you’ve been painting?

Improved connection to other people, and the possibility to have new experiences. Painting is a fun hobby to express yourself.

Dizy- Berlin, Germany

How is International Women’s Day celebrated where you live?

Dizy– I have lived and experienced two cultures:
Firstly, if I speak about India, the very old culture of India celebrates women as goddesses, which is the feminine quality in nature which brings beauty, tenderness, the truly aesthetic value in life. Even nature itself here is worshiped as Mother Nature.
And in Germany, it’s the big deal of the day. In Berlin, it’s even a holiday, when women celebrate their achievements in all aspects of life, standing strong for the message of gender equality to promote a better society where there is no gender bias.

What does it mean to you, personally?

I feel a woman doesn’t need a single day to celebrate her “womanhood.” But if I have to comment on this then I think we women – are still behind in this fast-moving world. This day should be celebrated to remind all those women out there working so hard for their passion, for their dreams, not only for themselves but for others to come out and live the life they have always dreamt of. Embrace what you have got, go out and celebrate your sacrifices because if it were not for women, the world would not have been this beautiful place.

What problems have you experienced in graffiti because of your sex?

Because of my sex, I couldn’t paint most of the time as it’s not safe for me to paint alone in some places. When I started graffiti I had to struggle a lot as I had so much passion for graffiti but I couldn’t paint mostly because I couldn’t look for a cool spot or go out at night. My guy friends didn’t even take me seriously and wouldn’t take me along. I had to go with my parents or someone who could be with me while was painting for the safety.
Several times I had to even cry out of frustration for being a girl 🙁
Sometimes even the so-called open-minded guys can’t be cool with their fellow female graffiti artists. It’s very difficult for them to accept, adapt and take it seriously.

What positive changes have you noticed since you’ve been painting?

Being a woman I have an advantage in the scene as I get more attention. Positive changes I noticed are like get recognized, get respect and support from fellow male artists.

We’re celebrating #mtnwomensmonth throughout March. Search for the best in female graffiti and street art using the hashtag or tag your own productions to join the campaign.

Check out the content that we came up with last year, like an interview with Little Miss Understood and a feature on Few and Far Women.

Listen to an all-female Spotify playlist curated by Spanish artist Asya:

Lakwena

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