Feminist typefaces are almost non-existent. Unreasonable is meant to be a humble contribution to the feminist work in typography. I have handcrafted everything here—from the letterforms to the screen-printed and sewn tote bags.
Unreasonable is my first font. It supports English and French. It is quirky and imperfect. But it exists. The 123 glyphs are hand drawn and the typeface is entirely functional—ideal for display settings. The anatomy is characterized with a low stroke width contrast. It is powerfully grounded with sharp slab serifs. Crossbars are ambitiously pointed towards the future. It celebrates diversity with asymmetrical structures and pronounced curves.
The Perfumed Garden, a sexual guide or Arab Kamasutra written by Nefzawi in the 15th century, defines a respectable woman as someone who “speaks and laughs rarely, and never without a reason. She never leaves the house, even to see neighbors of her acquaintance. She has no women friends, gives her confidence to nobody, and her husband is her sole reliance. […] If her husband shows his intention of performing the conjugal rite, she is agreeable to his desires and occasionally even provokes them.” Today, the mindset is still the same in Arab countries. I wanted to design a typeface that says the complete opposite to empower Arab women. I wanted to put women the foreground and celebrate their power. That is how Unreasonable was born.
Globally, women rights are a constant fight in the world. If some countries are more advanced than others as they fought hard to spark change. none has actually reached gender equality. With Unreasonable, I wanted to every woman in the world to know the power she has in an effort to shift the feminist narrative to an intersectional one. In its anatomy, I have also integrated a subtle detail on menstruations, as a continuation to a previous work I started to shed light on this taboo. According to WaterAid, on any given day, more than 800 million women between 15 and 49 have their period, and yet are still a heavy every day burden.
Tampons and pads are not considered necessities. They are taxed as if they were luxury products resulting in 6 out of 10 women who cannot afford them and use toilet paper, newspaper or sponges instead. In addition, 70 percent of women think periods are dirty and there are more than 5000 expressions to imply menstruations to not use this word. But the most dehumanizing fact is that 1.25 billion women do not have access to toilets during their periods. As a result, Unreasonable’s counter is an expressive period slanted to 12.5 degrees.
Koch (2012) believed that a typeface should be thought of as a visual stimulus that potentially arouses audiences’ emotions. In her study of visual literacy, six weights of Helvetica were selected and paired with twelve emotions, both positive and negative, to investigate how people experienced emotion from typography. The sample has forty-two participants. The light weight of Ultra-Light was associated with desire, the heavy weight of Bold presented fear; the narrow/condensed character width of Condensed Bold represented joy, and the wide/extended character width in Bold Extended interrupted fear and sadness. Joy is what I wish every single woman in this planet could feel while experiencing my typeface. Following the logic of this study, I gave Unreasonable a condensed bold weight. It is not intended for any other weight.
If you are interested in using this typeface for a feminist project, please contact me. I will give it to you for free.
This project has been developed during an independent study with Pr. Elrod Jarred in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Thank you for your guidance, kindness, and the opportunity to make Unreasonable happen.
Nefzawi, Sheikh. 1410-1434. The Perfumed Garden. Translated by Sir Richard Francis Burton. 1886. London: Kama Shastra Society.
Koch, Beth E. 2012. “Emotions in Typographic Design: An Empirical Examination.” Visible Language 46 (3): 206–227.