Feminist Messaging Project explores framing and messaging strategies that aim to promote large-scale social change by preventing gender-based violence, promoting healthy relationships and sexuality, and generally undermining the patriarchy.
Sexual violence, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, dating violence, street harassment, human trafficking, and a multitude of other forms of gender-based violence are all symptoms of the deeply rooted power imbalance known as patriarchy. Patriarchy enables sexism, which intersects with other forms of oppression, like racism, homophobia, and gender-policing. If we’re truly interested in addressing the roots of the problems caused by patriarchy, we need to start talking about feminist issues in a wide public forum, using effective messaging strategies.
I started this project because while working on HollabackPHILLY‘s (now Feminist Public Works) April 2013 PSA campaign on street harassment, I discovered that there wasn’t any research out there on the best ways to frame street harassment for a mass audience. This came as no surprise, since the modern anti street harassment movement is less than 10 years old. What did come as a surprise, once I started researching further, is the lack of clear research-based guidance on how to craft messages on gender-based violence in general, in a way that contributes to prevention by promoting shifts in the way people think about these issues.
This blog originally focused on PSA campaigns, but it has since expanded to encompass feminist messaging strategies in a variety of formats. Messaging done well is powerful. Ads, for example, sell us much more than products – they are designed to create needs where none previously existed and to reinforce ideas of what is beautiful and important in our lives. Political parties are very familiar with the power of messaging in advertising. They have big, well-funded think tanks working to determine which messages will best sway public opinion on taxes, crime, welfare, and education. Feminist messaging deserves the same attention. It’s time for to move beyond periodic awareness campaigns and make sure that powerful, intersectional feminist messages are getting out there on a regular basis.
A few more words about “awareness”, since the majority of feminist messages we see take the form of PSA campaigns with an awareness focus. Awareness is very important, because you can’t solve a problem until you can talk about it. On the other hand, making people aware that a problem exists is not the same as changing the attitudes that allow it to persist. This blog explores current strategies and new research, as well as the communications and logistical challenges involved in getting feminist messages into the mainstream.
Anna Kegler currently serves as Deputy Director for Feminist Public Works. She enjoys exploring messaging and communications strategies focused on gender-based violence. Anna spearheaded Feminist Public Works’ 2013 and 2014 anti-street harassment PSA ad campaigns in Philadelphia’s public transit system. The ads went viral online, with over 350,000 Facebook impressions and almost 100,000 reblogs on Tumblr in 2013, and received significant media coverage, including WHYY, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia City Paper, Women’s Media Center, Stop Street Harassment, Bitch Media, Upworthy, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and were a finalist in the 2013 Avon Communication Awards. The expanded 2014 campaign also received significant local and national press coverage, propelled by BuzzFeed coverage on the day it launched. Anna earned an M.S. in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2011, and a B.A. in Latin American Studies/Portuguese-Brazilian Studies from Smith College in May 2005. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and has a working knowledge of French. Anna currently works as a Content Marketer at RJMetrics, where she helps companies make smarter decisions with their data.