Nfld. & Labrador

'Patriarchy got me drove': Shirt driving membership blitz for Status of Women Council

St. John's Status of Women Council attracted 100 new members in 24 hours with their new membership campaign.

100 new members within 24 hours of launching campaign

Karla Hayward models one of the members-only t-shirts from the St. John's Status of Women Council. (Karla Hayward)

The St. John's Status of Women Council's (SJSOWC) membership drive has been a smashing success and it's thanks to an effort to "smash the patriarchy."

The Council launched the drive for new members on Tuesday and gathered 100 new members within 24 hours.

"I didn't even know that membership was an option," said Jaime Brazil, a long-time supporter of the council. "And then they started the membership drive and I saw the cool t-shirts."

Karla Hayward models one of the popular new shirts from the St. John's Status of Women Council. (Karla Hayward)

As part of the membership drive, the council is selling two styles of t-shirts.

One says "Patriarchy got me drove," while the other says, "Eat, sleep, smash the patriarchy."

Members only

But if you want a shirt, you've got to be a member. 

"The phrase, 'Patriarchy got me drove,' made me laugh all night," said Christine Hennebury, who signed up right after she saw the t-shirt on Facebook.

Christine Hennebury knows you can do it. (Christine Hennebury)

But the new members say it wasn't all because of the saucy shirts.

"I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember," said Hennebury. "To me it's the same as breathing."

"While I'm not of the temperament that can take that on in a big way, I'm much more about the small battle.

"I thought that this might be a way for me to participate in a small way and also give support to those who are able to take on the bigger battle and also to perhaps have a conduit to volunteering and assisting in a more concrete way."

Perfect time to recruit

According to Karla Hayward, the centre's co-chair, the SJSOWC is the oldest member-owned centre in Canada. It's always had members, but this is the first big membership drive.
Karla Hayward is co-chair of the St. John's Status of Women Council. (David Howells)

Hayward says a slew of new programs and initiatives like FemFest, their annual feminist conference and festival, and Right Here, Right Now, their twice-weekly drop-in counselling for women, have boosted the centre's public profile.

People were asking how they could help, so they figured it was the perfect time to recruit.

"We knew there would be a positive response," said Hayward.

But 100 new members in 24 hours definitely exceeded their expectations.

"That was really rewarding and very, very exciting for us," she said.

Align with the organization, align with their values

So what is membership all about?

"It's about agreeing that your personal values align with the values and the mission of the SJSOWC," said Hayward. "There's actually a little box in the membership form that you have to say the things that we're about, you're about."

Along with the shirts, the SJSOWC has released a number of ads highlighting issues they advocate for. (Karla Hayward)

Anyone interested in what those things might be can check out a series of ads released on their social media channels.

One highlights the wage gap — Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest wage gap in the country, with men making 28 per cent more than women, on average. Two others are about women in leadership and the cost of childcare.

A smashing success

M5 Marketing put the campaign together — Hayward is the company's senior director of interactive strategy. As far as marketing campaigns go, she says this one is a success.

"One of the things that stands out for me is the excitement of people who are becoming members," she said. "The comments they're leaving on social media, they're tagging their friends and saying, 'Yes, finally, we can be part of this.'"

The shirts are $20 and membership is $20 or $5 for students, seniors and people who are unemployed. Anyone of any gender can become a member.

"This is very much a community," said Hayward.


About the Author

Sarah Smellie is a journalist in St. John's.