Gender equality seen through the prism of press drawing

Launched on the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day, the exhibition “Cartooning for women” brings a new look at gender equality with humour and derision.

It’s a public health event. By presenting in open access press drawings on issues related to gender equality, the exhibition «Cartooning for women», held in Angers until 31 March, renews in a striking way our view on these issues. With humour and derision, these drawings, which complement with laughter or a smile the publication of the results of the 2022 Observatory of Equality between Women and Men in Culture and Communication (see box), rejoice the eye and sharpen the mind by condensing without shadow the faults of a society – ours – largely unequal.

Conceived by the association Cartooning for peace with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the RAJA – Danièle Marcovici Foundation, under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the inauguration of the exhibition «Cartooning for women» includes several dimensions. A European dimension, on the sidelines of the informal meeting of European ministers of culture held in Angers on 7 and 8 March as part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. A dimension linked to the launch of the Equality Forum organized from 8 to 10 March in Angers, as part of the France-Portugal season. Interview with Cartooning for Peace president Kak

What will be discovered in Angers as part of the exhibition «Cartooning for women»?

One of Cartooning for Peace’s missions is to promote press drawing and its cartoonists, particularly in the context of exhibitions and major cultural and institutional events. The exhibition «Cartooning for Women» presented in Angers is based on the book En avant toutes, co-published two years ago by Gallimard and prefaced by Laure Adler. Through the press drawing, the book highlights gender equality and has given rise to a series of press drawings on this theme and more broadly on women’s rights and violence against women. The exhibition will be presented in two different places of the city, on the gates of the plant garden and at the Pincé museum.

This is reminiscent of the action of the collective of photographers Dysturb whose photos are displayed in the public space.

It’s a bit of the same thing. We’re always excited when our exhibits can be seen in the public space. The hourly range is greater but there is more. When it is a closed place, the public present makes the step to come, he is sensitive to the subject and knows what he will think about. This is of course fundamental, but when we are in the public space, as was the case in July when we organized the exhibition Cartooning for Africa under the canopy of the Forum des Halles in Paris, we have the chance to reach a wider audience. But we know very well that on such fundamental subjects, it is by small successive and repetitive touches, because we are immersed in the subject that we can make our inner moult. This is particularly true on the issue of gender relations.

The #MeToo movement was a tipping point when it came to women’s rights. Did you observe a before and after #MeToo in the press drawing?

Cartoonists in general, and members of Cartooning for Peace in particular, immediately share this ideological corpus around human rights and gender equality. But it is obvious that after a movement of this type, which causes an acceleration of the awareness of the general public, the draftsmen of the press have redoubled their zeal.

The designers were also put more prominently. An example: a year ago, as part of Plantu’s succession to the newspaper Le Monde, We thought about how we were going to put into practice the agreement we made with the evening newspaper that cartoonists from the Cartooning for Peace collective would succeed each other on the front page. They wanted one-third of the proposals to come from women. We would have anyway, but it speaks for itself. Why would only one-third be able to respond to me? In fact, that’s already a significant proportion. The world of press drawing, although welcoming, is indeed still very masculine. We must be 5% women in the profession. We are 15% among our members.

You have chosen the designers Adene and Cristina as ambassadors of the exhibition.

On a topic like this, we wanted to have ambassadors. We have therefore set up a Franco-Portuguese tandem, because the event is being organised within the framework of the French Presidency of the European Union, the France-Portugal season coordinated by the French Institute and the month of equality of the city of Angers. Portugal has an immense tradition of press drawing and has many high-level cartoonists, including Cristina. His graphic style is very design and aesthetic. His drawings are reproduced in many magazines around the world. Moreover, she is francophone. Adene is French but also bi-cultural: she lives in Madrid and knows Portugal very well.

What will be the “Cartooning for women” online campaign?

We organize online campaigns as soon as we feel the need to highlight a topic more intensely during a given period. We are launching a call for drawings to all of our members who also have the opportunity to propose new drawings to us. On the other hand, we now have a stock of some 25,000 drawings in our cartoon library. We choose those who fit in this theme and correspond best to our purpose. Then we post the drawings online under a common hashtag, #cartooningforwomen, and ask our members to do the same. This creates a collective emulation around these drawings that are seen around the world.

Pedagogy on the issue of human rights and freedom of expression in general is another aspect of your work. How do you proceed?

We do hundreds of workshops every year in France and other countries for primary, middle and high school students mainly. We also work in penitentiaries. During their visit to Angers, Adene and Cristina will host two workshops-meetings within the framework of the partnership that unites us to the Departmental Council of Maine-et-Loire. They will also meet the students of the École supérieure d'art et de design, L'Atelier.

The vitality of press drawing is undoubtedly the sign that freedom of expression is alive and well in a society...

Press drawing is indeed one of the most vivid forms of freedom of expression. Plantu calls for press draftsmen, barometers of democracy. The cartoonist is a journalist, and he derides, mocks the powerful, makes people think differently, and offers a cure for fear. By promoting press design, we are also putting forward, in regimes where freedom of expression applies, this ability not only to allow expression but also to promote artists journalists who will give a singular and often critical look on current affairs.

Source: Ministère de la Culture