Feminism has a lot to teach us about creativity
Feminism’s success is down to complicated, contradictory, courageous women. McCann Global CSO takes his creative cues from fighters for female freedom
10 March 2023
Recently on my flight home from Sao Paulo, I read Helen Lewis’s book – Difficult Women; A History of Feminism in 11 fights. It’s one of the most illuminating and energising collection of essays – all backed by historical research, interviews and anecdotes that explore the political, cultural and social context around 11 fights, and struggles that are key moments in the history of modern feminism, tracing the progress we have made in making society more equitable over the last century.
I learned a lot from this book. And I couldn’t stop thinking how much feminism can teach us about creativity.
While feminism is often associated with advancing women’s rights it is much more than that. Feminism promotes and advocates for a worldview that recognises the value and agency of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression. In this sense, feminism can teach us a lot about creativity, and creating the conditions for creativity by cultivating a more inclusive and innovative culture.
One of the key lessons of feminism is the importance of diversity and inclusion. Feminism challenges the idea that there is a single, universal experience that applies to all people. Instead, it recognizes that individuals have different perspectives, experiences, and identities that shape how they see and interact with the world. This recognition of diversity is essential for creativity, as it allows us to generate a wider range of ideas and perspectives. We know that when we bring together people with different backgrounds and viewpoints, we are more likely to find more interesting and more captivating solutions to complex problems.
Feminism also teaches us the value of challenging dominant narratives and power structures. Feminist activists have long criticised the ways in which heteronormative, patriarchal norms and values shape our culture and limit the opportunities of marginalised groups. This critical perspective can also be applied to the world of creativity. We can’t be creative unless we challenge dominant narratives and power structures by questioning assumptions and exploring alternative perspectives. It’s the only way we can create new work in newer ways and in newer forms to reflect a more diverse and inclusive range of experiences.
Another important lesson of feminism is the importance of collaboration and collective action. Feminist activists have often worked together to achieve their goals, recognising that they are stronger when they support each other. In the same way, creativity can benefit from collaboration and collective action. When we work together, we can pool our skills, knowledge, and resources to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration also allows us to learn from each other, share ideas, and build on each other's strengths.
Finally, feminism teaches us the importance of resilience and persistence in the face of adversity. Feminist activists have faced many challenges over the years, from backlash and criticism to threats and violence. Despite these challenges, they have persisted in their struggle for gender equality. Similarly, creativity often requires persistence and resilience, as we encounter obstacles, setbacks, and failures along the way. By staying committed to our vision and persevering through challenges, we can not only bring our creative ideas to life but also make a meaningful impact on the world.
Feminism has a lot to teach us about creativity.
Harjot Singh is the global chief strategy officer at McCann Worldgroup.