Artist Ambivalently Yours Tackles Everyday Sexism in Her Drawings

June 5th 2016

Anonymous artist Ambivalently Yours captures the essence of the phrase “the personal is political” in her pink-hued drawings, illustrating how women experience sexism in their daily lives.

Ambivalently Yours drawingambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com - tumblr.com

With almost 30,000 followers on Instagram, AY’s self-described “feminist rants” are clearly hitting a nerve with young women. Aware of the online sexual harassment that women face, the artist was originally motivated to present her work anonymously due to fear and self-preservation, but over time, AY found that the lack of specificity in her online persona allowed her followers to better relate to her.

In an interview with ATTN:, AY said:

“With this, Ambivalently Yours becomes less of a reflection of my personal self and more of a representation of the ideas behind the work. With anonymity I am exploring ideas of connection through ambiguity and ambivalence.”

In 2012, the illustrator was studying feminist art and working in the fashion industry. That seeming contradiction was the origin of her online persona as Ambivalently Yours:

"At work, I was the feminist killjoy every time I raised a concern about the sexist undertones in our campaigns, and in art school I was the fashion girl who many assumed was duped by the patriarchy just because I liked cute clothes and girly colours..."

"I eventually decided to embrace my contradictions and Ambivalently Yours became my way of unapologetically exploring my feminist questions from this in-between place."

Before Instagram, AY shared her thoughts and experiences through her drawings on Tumblr, where people started sharing their own stories with her. Since starting her Tumblr, AY said she has since responded (slowly but surely) to hundreds of messages with drawings and has more than 1,000 messages still pending in her inbox.

When asked why her drawings have garnered such a following, she responded:

"I think that a lot of people can relate to the feelings of ambivalence that I express online, because no matter how strong our convictions are, nothing is black or white..."

Like many women who feel like “bad feminists,” AY expressed her own struggle to navigate feminist ideals in her own life:

“I embrace all things feminine and pink in my work, because even though they are often dismissed as frivolous and weak, I strongly believe that people should not have to act in a masculine manner in order to be taken seriously."

"Nonetheless, I am also aware that my affection for all things feminine and soft is influenced by the fact that from a young age, I was taught that as a woman I am supposed to love these things. While I feel that I am subverting the meaning of femininity in my work, I am also aware that this manipulation doesn’t make the content any less problematic. In other words, I’m ambivalent about even my fiercest convictions.”

For Ambivalently Yours, however, feminism offers a unique space to explore that ambiguous place:

"Most of the time you have to pick a side, and define yourself as one thing, but at its best, feminism is a movement that allows us to spend more time with the questions instead of settling for incomplete answers."

In her work, you’ll find recurring themes of valuing emotion, female solidarity and friendship, all of which seem simpler than they are:

“I think these themes are compelling because while they seem like simple ideas (that women should support each other and that it is okay to express emotions), they are actually very hard to master. I have often felt competitive with other women, I have spent most of my life belittling my emotions, and no matter how much I have learned from my feminist work, changing my instinctive reactions is not easy. We are taught that there aren’t many opportunities in the world for women, and we are encouraged to fight amongst ourselves instead of trying to change a system that doesn’t value us.”

Ambivalently Yours drawingambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com - tumblr.com

“We are also taught that public displays of emotions are a sign of weakness. The expression 'crying like a little girl' is great example of how being emotional while being a woman is not something that is valued in our society. These are things we have been taught since birth, and that are weaved into all of the media we consume, so changing the way we feel about these things is difficult. By drawing about these issues, I am reminding myself not to give in to these harmful ideas.”

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