The Future is Female, a short history of a saying.
“The future is female” is a phrase that was used by Clinton supporters during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run for the US presidency. However, the roots of the phrase go back some way to 1975 and come out of a very different source.
In 1972, NYC first women’s bookstore, Labyris, opened. The founders wanted the space to be “a hub not just for literature by women, but activism for them.” The bookstore was more than a women’s bookstore and was criticised for being elite and exclusive mainly because of its association with lesbian separatism, “a school of feminist thought that promotes complete isolation of lesbians from men and hetrosexuals”.
The bookstores slogan, printed on merchandise to fund their efforts, became “the future is female.”
In 1975, photographer Liza Cowan captured this image of her then girlfriend, Alix Dobkin, wearing the slogan on a t-shirt.
Fast forward to 2015 when graphic designer, Rachel Berks discovered the image on her Instagram feed and revived the slogan on t-shirts and sold them through her studio Otherwild. She later collaborated with Cowan and used the original photo to promote the reincarnated slogan.
The slogan gained interest from celebrities, model and actress Cara Delevingne and her girlfriend musician Annie Clark (a.k.a St Vincent) help thrust the design into the spotlight.
When interviewed in 2015 by i-D magazine Cowan said the following. “In some ways the message ‘The Future Is Female’ is, if not lost, then certainly understood differently than it was in the 1970s. Feminism has changed, the world has changed. It is difficult for many younger women to imagine the power, the excitement and urgent need for women to come together to change the world. This may change. I do like that people think it is a cool image. It IS a cool image.