The other day I was thinking about how feminism has become an everyday topic. I mean, it has existed for a long time, but it didn’t have the strength and force it has today. Just take a look at any social media and you’ll find some reference. At first, I thought how great it is that every day so many women feel connected to a movement and ideological concept in favor of equality, something we desperately need. However, it also came into my mind all the negativity surrounding the term. Naturally, since it has become an important and relevant subject for our society, there are those who try to diminish it by labeling it as extremist and sometimes irrational. How many jokes or memes have you seen with the word feminazi and the like around the Internet? Whenever you find something that deals with feminism in a positive and appealing way, there isn’t anything better you can do but to share it with the world. Let me introduce you to digital artist and illustrator Hexelot.
With vivid and colorful strokes, she presents strong female characters that express what many of us have been thinking for a while: the struggles women face every day, from sexual harassment and patriarchal oppressing systems, to relationships that have failed because of sexist behaviors. You might think we’ve seen this so many times before, and you’re probably right, but the thing here is to ask ourselves why. If you’ve seen women protesting through art it’s because there must be something really wrong with our society, and that’s what Hexelot portrays in her illustrations.
Something I really liked about her work is that, unlike other feminist illustrations that depict strong women, she also gives them a human essence. Some of them are crying and feel devastated. Others laugh and enjoy being together with other women and working hand in hand. She bestows on them a sense of reality that makes them relatable. We are strong and we will fight for a fair treatment. But we’re also human beings with emotions which we’ll channel into our cause.
The essence of Hexelot’s work is to channel emotions. In an interview she gave to Common Girl Collective, she explains that her Instagram profile has become a diary where she pours all the feelings inside her. It’s her own way to express her opinion and give people who feel identified with her illustrations a possibility of facing struggles they don't normally face. So, as she says, it’s a way to “drain the hate.”
Her illustrations debunk myths and attitudes about women we’re basically born with. She understands women empowerment not as an individual task, but as a collective exercise where only by working together and supporting each other we’ll be able to face and defeat inequality as well as oppression. It’s being happy for other’s success rather than seeing each other as rivals, an attitude that’s embedded into our minds since we grow up.
Famous for her illustrations containing lines from popular songs played by women, Hexelot’s work makes us think about how we are facing these social issues, not just feminism. She explains that what really drove her to treat this subject in her work was seeing how other women are bravely fighting against patriarchal societies. While many of us only watch and emit judgments or statements, she deals with our lazy attitudes when it comes to defending a movement we believe in. Many people, myself included, at times think that just by sharing something on the internet our job is done. That attitude has lead us to this very moment of social injustice. I’m not only talking about gender inequality. It’s also a matter of race and other minorities fighting for their rights.
Illustrations like Hexelot’s, as well as those from other artists, are very important to raise awareness and let people understand what these issues are like from within. Just mumbling feminist quotes won’t make any difference, since many people won’t understand the notions behind these movements. That’s why I think that as long as we keep understanding feminism only as a female movement, we won’t be able to change things. Showing everyday situations women struggle with and making them as relatable as Hexelot's art is a great way to help people understand and face reality.
If you want to see more of this artist’s work, take a look at her Instagram page: @hexelot