PM Press has published Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils. I was first drawn to the book because one of its stencils was that of the lesbian radical MARIE EQUI, and my biography of Equi was published September 2015 by Oregon State University Press. But then I found Equi was among 29 other profiles of fiercely courageous, bold women from the past and present who risked their lives and well-being for social, political, and economic justice. With a spare two-page narrative for each, the life stories of these women become compelling testaments to centuries of struggle. This book is a valuable guide and a needed primer on the often overlooked role of women in challenging and changing society. The bold, evocative stencils -- stunning images in themselves that can be used to trace and cut out for further use -- capture a meaning and spirit of the subject.
The introduction to this volume asserts the reason why the Queen of the Neighbourhood Collective, based in New Zealand, assembled and compiled this work. They wanted to counter the preponderance of male iconography -- for example, of Che Guevara and Bob Marley -- as symbols of rebellion with images of "iconic, universally recognizable women." Why shouldn't people appreciate at a glance the bold profiles of workers' rights activist Lucy Parsons, Underground Railway leader Harriet Tubman, lesbian anarchist and poet Lucia Sanchez Saornil, Tibetan freedom fighter Ani Pachen, Native American activist Anna Mae Aquash, and American transgender advocate Sylvia Rivera?
One drawback of this important contribution are occasional inaccuracies in the biographical sketches. I have not researched them all -- and many of these stories were new to me -- but for Marie Equi there exist a few. She served 10 months in prison (not a year and a half) after her conviction for sedition. She was not known for being a trouble-maker in prison; instead she was released early for her good behavior. She did not join antiwar protests of the 1940s. These are unfortunate errors, but they do not detract from the narrative power of Equi's profile.
Many thanks to the Queen of the Neighbourhood Collective and to PM Press for bringing these radical women and images to the public.
Author Historian Activist