Purple fist in women's symbol on white background.
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The feminist fist inside a biological female symbol was first featured on a pinback button at the 1969 Miss America Protests. This protest was organized by the group New York Radical Women to bring attention to how beauty competitions are damaging to women and create unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards. The symbol gained popularity and quickly became a trademark image for the women’s liberation movement. While the original design featured the fist and biological female symbol in red on a white background, the button has gone on to be produced in many color variations.
The fist symbol has a long history and has been used by oppressed groups as a sign of resistance. While its origins are somewhat unclear, early iterations are found in 1917 propaganda cartoons by the Industrial Workers of the World and during the Spanish Civil War, the fist was an anti-fascist salute used as a greeting by Republican forces fighting against Franco’s Nationalists. Arguably the most famous use of the fist symbol was for the black power movement. The Black Panther Party was known for using the fist to salute each other at meetings, conventions, and rallies. At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, upon receiving their medals, raised gloved fists during the national anthem to show resistance and solidarity with those suffering from oppression, creating one of the most iconic photographs of the century.
Kelly, J. (2012, April 17). Breivik: What's behind clenched-fist salutes? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17739105.
No More Miss America! (1968-1969). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.jofreeman.com/photos/MissAm1969.html.
Russell, C. (2017, April 20). The Fist as a Symbol of Black Power. Retrieved from http://blackpower.web.unc.edu/2017/04/the-fist-as-a-symbol-of-black-pow….