Cristina E. Garcia
March 9, 2014
Western Feminism Meets Islamic Feminism
As I started designing my infographic, Islamic Awareness Week was quickly approaching. It’s a week dedicated to dispelling misconceptions about Islam to the average person. However, Islam is not the only thing many Americans misunderstand. Too often, I find that people do not know what feminism is all about. But when they ask me to define what feminism is, it’s hard for me to come up with a simple and clear answer. I decided to accumulate my own research and the work of a few others to design an infographic that would answer both of these things at once through the comparison of “Western feminism” and “Islamic feminism.”
Rather than highlight differences, my infographic aims to emphasize similarities between “Western,” or the generic textbook feminism, and Islamic feminism, feminism grounded in Muslims’ religious texts. I used “Western feminism” because the most basic definition of feminism could be broken down into more specific doctrines like liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, ecofeminism and radical feminism. Although they are all important types of feminism, they have their own unique approach and would require more time to construct -- time I didn’t have.
During my first iteration, I tried various designs to find the most effective way to deliver qualitative information in a way that was memorable, yet not too cute, and factual, yet not too text heavy. The majority of my testers were stuck between an artsy flowery infographic where the information was integrated into the art and a simpler infographic where the information was separated and coupled with icons; this revealed two things: their hunger for the humanization of information and a need for the cleanliness in design. While they liked to look at the flower infographic, many people found using the clean cut infographic was easier. Almost all of the testers disregarded the design that was mostly text with geometric shapes in the background because it was too text-heavy; instead they gravitated to designs where women were depicted.
Seeing their interest in the depictions of feminists, I was faced with the question: do I include the human form? Traditionally in Islam it’s not good to depict living forms on paper. In my search for the answer, I bumped into a website called ProductiveMuslim.com that has infographics of little Muslim stick people without faces. I realized their solution was to use an incomplete human form, which is why I decided to use the outlines of “Rosie the Riveter” and a woman wearing hijab to represent “Western feminism” and “Islamic feminism.” I took the idea one step further by utilizing the body language of the cartoons. Rosie is flexing her muscles and the woman wearing hijab has her hands on her hips, both conveying dominant, sassy and playful attitudes. I wanted the cartoons to go against the “feminazi” and “oppressed muslim woman” picture people often get in their minds.
After playing around in class on Photoshop, I realized that the easiest way for me to get the pictures I had in mind was to draw it and paste it onto InDesign afterwards. The two women, their peach background, the lightbulb, dollar, and fire were all drawn on ArtRage Studio. Afterwards I pasted the picture as a .jpeg on InDesign. This had its limitations because I could not move the three icons drawn down the middle because everything was on one .jpeg. Something I would do differently next time would be to draw each picture separately.
I was able to utilize the PARC (proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast) on various levels. First, in the drawing I put each woman in a peach box and the icons in the middle in a white box. This worked to enclose the different elements, but I had to find a way to bring it all together. So I tried using a wave in the background to tie both sides of the infographic together, but this was too in the way, so I decided to use transparent white boxes behind the text to show they corresponded to each other. At first I tried putting the information on the right aligned right and the information on the left aligned-left, but I decided against it when one of the testers complained it looked messy. During the rapid-feedback segment, I had the testers tell me where they wanted the elements aligned. After four people, I was able to come up with my current design. I showed the design to each until they were satisfied with the finished product.
I repeated the original colors, peach, pink, and yellow, throughout the design to create a calm, bright and inviting infographic. Finally, the biggest point of contrast is in the different fonts of Western and Islamic. I felt it worked to show the “traditional” depiction of those words and would invite the reader to explore the infographic and learn something new.