What should we write on our signs?
January 15, 2017 10:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm attending the women's march in LA with my four year old daughter and a number of other family members. The problem I'm having is that there is so much WTF and everything is infuriating at this point I don't have the mental energy left to condense it all into something short and pithy. I think I'm stumped because I'm naturally an optimist but I can't find that part of me right now. Any advice? What will your signs say?
posted by ohyouknow to Society & Culture (50 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Ida B. Wells, Civil Rights activist, feminist, all around badass. This e-journal about notable black women leaders contains a brief bio, well worth reading.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:10 PM on January 15, 2017 [10 favorites]

I feel you. I don't disagree with the Ida B Wells quote, but it's not exactly pithy. Here's a (13 year old) pictorial example of effective signs which may help you, and some good advice on their construction.

My sign will be something along the lines of "We're Better Than This," "Not In My Name," or perhaps "Demand Human Decency."
posted by mumkin at 12:34 AM on January 16, 2017 [15 favorites]

posted by cocoagirl at 4:35 AM on January 16, 2017

My mom made one to protest one of his post-election rallies that said


*by 2.8 million votes
posted by coppermoss at 4:43 AM on January 16, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm currently torn between "NO" or "Not my president." I'll be in Boston.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:44 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

My sign just says SOLIDARITY.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:57 AM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

The march I'm attending advised us, "We are discouraging any reference to the president-elect as this march is focused on Women's Rights and the future of keeping those rights." I'm onboard with that. Hating a person is easy to dismiss, issues that matter will live on!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:59 AM on January 16, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yours: I march for our future.

Kiddo: I am the future.
posted by sparklemotion at 5:07 AM on January 16, 2017 [15 favorites]

Mine is going to say "Women's Rights are Human Rights."
posted by basalganglia at 5:33 AM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I also like the slogan "This is what a feminist looks like," particularly if the bearer challenges *traditional* notions of feminism. (I first saw it written on a post-it note under a Madonna and Child painting.) Perhaps if your four-year-old wants to hold a sign too?
posted by basalganglia at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2017

Oooh, I might go with soren_lorensen's SOLIDARITY, maybe with "Liberty and justice for ALL" on the other side.
posted by daisyace at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

A general tip, because it makes me sad when clever people first get into sign-holding and don't know it: thin black Sharpie is completely invisible at a distance on most possible posterboard colors. Unless you expect to stand very still while people take your photo so they can zoom on the still image to read later, go bold. Really bold. And probably even pithier than you're currently thinking, unless it's a very large sign. It'll look silly sitting on your dining room table (or floor) but then you'll take it outside into the sunlight and you'll understand why politicians' signs are as simple as they are.
posted by teremala at 6:00 AM on January 16, 2017 [7 favorites]

I think mine is going to say:

on the front and

on the back
posted by drlith at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

It would probably behoove many of us in this point in history to invest in a set of big alphabet stencils.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:05 AM on January 16, 2017 [16 favorites]

WaPo (and probably other papers, now that the Kickstarter is at like 900K) will be running these Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena's posters as full-page ads on Friday, for handy mounting on foamcore/posterboard. I am going to have a busy week, so I will likely do that on one side and #RESIST on the other.

(Though it is very, very tempting to make a "just ascend already" sign.)
posted by Lyn Never at 6:37 AM on January 16, 2017 [12 favorites]

Mine will be "Immigrant Women, We Get The Job Done!"

Though I really do love the "We the Resilient... have been here before" poster in Lyn Never's link.
posted by inevitability at 7:05 AM on January 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm a Planned Parenthood march marshal here in Chicago--the sponsoring organizations will all be distributing signs, so you can just grab one that strikes you from them (if it's easier).

The ones I made myself say "Trust Women"
posted by crush-onastick at 7:21 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like the advice above to keep it short and focused on women rather than a certain orange individual. I did a google image search for women's march signs and got the following:

Women's Rights
Stand With Women
Protect Women's Health
Women are People
posted by bunderful at 7:41 AM on January 16, 2017

I like that protests always seem to have a mix of short, pithy, bold signs and some lengthier, clever, and/or more artistic ones. I'm no protest expert, but signs are for those protesting as much as for observers, and the clever ones often put a smile on my face. Protesting can be exhausting physically; your feet and back ache, your arms get tired from holding your sign up, it may be cold, your throat starts to hurt from chanting. Those signs that maybe aren't the perfect at-a-glance phrase can still make me laugh and give me a little more energy to keep going.

(I also recommend adhering your sign to sticks so you don't have to hold your arms over your head, but be sure to check if sticks are allowed - some cities may not allow them for safety reasons.)
posted by misskaz at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

If your march doesn't allow sticks, dig out a roll of wrapping paper for the tube - if you're lucky it's one of those hardcore ones rather than the flimsier paper towel style tube.

(Note: right now Dark Sky says it's going to rain in LA Weds-Sun, because of course it will.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are all great, thank you.

This morning, after reading this article, I was thinking I might go with something like "I WANT A REAL PRESIDENT" although given the organizers' statements about trying not to focus on The Dumpster fire....

I also really love WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS
posted by ohyouknow at 8:19 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

My personal philosophy of effective protesting is that it's best for signs and chants to communicate clear and actionable demands. For this reason I'm not a huge fan of "not my president"; after Friday it simply won't be factually correct, and it isn't an explicit demand.

When we protested here in the San Diego area over the police murder of Alfred Olango, I thought the most effective demand / slogan of the protest was "release the video", which had to do with the fact that the police had possession of a surveillance video of the incident. They did in fact release the video (sort of), after a couple of days of protesters hammering on that demand.

My sign will say "IMPEACH TRUMP". If you agree with the advice to focus on women's rights, which I can respect, I might suggest "SAVE PLANNED PARENTHOOD". (The best one I came up with, and would have used when I was 18 but not anymore, is "Show me the DEATH CERTIFICATE".)
posted by The Minotaur at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was reading a Guardian article the other day which linked to a site with a selection of posters designed for this Saturday's various events. Of the slogans, my favorite is "HEAR OUR VOICE".
posted by The Minotaur at 8:29 AM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think HEAR OUR VOICE is awesome.

If you prefer your "I want a real president", I would edit it to "We need a real president," because that sounds stronger and more collective to me. However, it's your sign and your message.
posted by puddledork at 8:56 AM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: We are making our signs today. I'll make a small sign for my daughter that just says FEMINISTS ARE AWESOME

For myself I feel so strongly about it that I'm leaning toward IMPEACHMENT NOW
posted by ohyouknow at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

There was a sign making workshop at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle yesterday - we got to use their letterpresses! Here's a photo album from the event that also includes a wall of slogans that they posted for inspiration.
posted by majorsteel at 10:16 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was thinking of making one for my friend's toddler that says "SHOW ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE."
posted by deludingmyself at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Just thought of this: MIDTERMS ARE COMING
posted by Lyn Never at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

I know you are in LA, not DC, but for those reading this list who are marching in DC, your signs cannot have wooden sign posts. From the Women's March on Washington FAQ:

Q: Can we bring flags and banners?
A: Flags are allowed, but not on a pole. Posters and signs are allowed, but not with the use of wooden sign posts. Instead, we encourage people to use cardboard sign posts.
posted by apartment dweller at 12:17 PM on January 16, 2017

How about:


NO TO IGNORANCE (one side)
NO TO HATE (other side)
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

GTFO (one side)
IMPEACH (other)
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:01 PM on January 16, 2017

I like what you had originally posted:


Big, easy to read, and pretty spot on.
posted by Vaike at 1:28 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I went to a meeting a few days ago where they suggested "I am a Nasty Woman"
I like "Proud Nasty Woman"
posted by gt2 at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

The B-side of my sign now says DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, fwiw.

also I have a hand cramp
posted by deludingmyself at 1:54 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

This might be less-than-pithy, but it is spot-on and funny to boot:

Keep your (tiny) hands off our bodies!
Literally AND Figuratively!
posted by Halo in reverse at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mine will say "WE WILL NOT BE SILENT." The O in "not" is the Venus symbol. And believe me, I know your dilemma. I had to really give it a LOT of thought.
posted by raisingsand at 2:52 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hah, I was just going to post this myself yesterday but got distracted.

Here are some of my partially baked ideas:

I was sick, and you cared for me. -- Jesus
High-risk death pools! -- Congress

Don't let Putin play his trump card.


Regulations save lives

In my America we take care of our neighbors (too long?)

My current favorite:

Stop stealing our children's future
posted by puffyn at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

My b-side is the very not creative ALL WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. With specificity w/r/t what I mean by "all" because fuck all this dumb noise I've been reading where conservatives have just read the march statement of purpose and are utterly (and utterly disingenuously) flummoxed by the notion of intersectionality.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Though if anyone wants a freebie, I was tempted by "Remember remember the 8th of November, Republican treason and plot." B- side: "I see no reason why Republican treason should ever be forgot."
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ok, I made a new sign, for my friend or for a new friend:
Left side, vertical column of dates: 2018 2020 2022 2024 2028
Reverse will probably say "Stand with women."
posted by deludingmyself at 3:05 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this will go over well but "Barefoot and Pregnant" with the circle with the slash though it to represent "not".

A lot of the abortion and birth control policies and trying to push women back into a traditional role where they're very dependent on a husband. It's hard to leave someone who's abusive and controlling if you're pregnant or have a bunch of children.

I'm old enough to remember my mom and neighbor talking about a catholic woman going secretly on the pill because her husband wouldn't permit and she already had four kids.

I remember a friend in high school whose step dad would beat him, his brother and mom (never his two young kids) until he got brave enough to knock him out with a lamp and slept under a bridge that night. Step dad had a job where he was friends with police. They told my friend he probably started it. The upside was after chewing me out for telling him to hit back and being worried about being kicked out, his stepdad pretended nothing had happened.

To me, this it one of the points that is not being discussed enough. If you want a traditional marriage where the guy is the head of the household, that's fine and your choice but the end game of these policies is to take away the choice for women in the U.S. and put them back into that submissive and dependent role.
posted by stray thoughts at 3:53 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: You've just inspired me! (Yes I slacked today.)

I'm thinking side A:

Side b:
posted by ohyouknow at 7:04 PM on January 16, 2017

Response by poster: And for the little, liking: SHOW ME DEMOCRACY
posted by ohyouknow at 7:05 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

In Australia, I'm thinking of making a big Vegemite-jar-like yellow diamond with red border with 'VAGINA-MIGHT' (But what about non-vagina-having women - is this a shitty idea? I'm pondering) in Vegemite font.
posted by honey-barbara at 12:50 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


posted by Socky McSockface at 2:56 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: How about, I LOVE MY BLUE BUBBLE
posted by ohyouknow at 8:22 AM on January 17, 2017

"Let's Fix This"
posted by 256 at 12:54 PM on January 17, 2017

Response by poster: My much younger sister found this excellent website filled with great protest art and I thought I'd share wth everyone because there are some fantastic choices if you're able to print one out at a Kinkos.
posted by ohyouknow at 11:11 PM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Late to the game but I just made mine (2 signs, double sided, for a flippable sandwich board)

- Make America great for my daughter too
- Equal rights for all
- Family planning is a family value
- 5 decades, 9 presidents, same protest signs
posted by telepanda at 7:40 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Something that resonates with my Gen Z kiddo is "Swim Down Together!" with a picture of Nemo.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:12 AM on January 20, 2017

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