We began filming “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” in February 2016. At the time we looked for a word to describe the people working for gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability within the cannabis industry. While we saw cute nicknames with lots of alliteration, like “Women of Weed” or “Ganja Girls”, we did not feel those words fully encapsulated the three core values, so we created Puffragette®.
What’s in a Name?
When we started, we defined a Puffragette® as “a woman (or man) who is working for gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability in the cannabis industry”.
We always included the queer and trans community under that definition and we featured both as Puffragettes® in the film. In fact, of the 40 womxn in the documentary, 25% of our cast self-identify as part of the queer and trans community.
The disclosure of someone’s biological sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation was never a topic in the film. We do not identify these markers within the film because calling attention to it would exclude them. For example, if we did not call out all the straight, cis-gendered women, we should not call out the queer or trans people in the film. Instead, we created space for them to self-identify on the film’s ancillary platforms, such as the website and social media, as they felt comfortable.
Today we recognize that these actions do not speak louder than words.
Words have power. The human rights of the queer and trans community are under attack. We can no longer remain silent in the face of harassment, violence, and discrimination. Consequently, we’ve expanded the Puffragette® definition to specifically include the queer and trans community.
This re-definition brings up other interesting questions…
Are we changing the film’s subtitle to “Womxn of Weed”?
If ‘womxn’ had better search engine optimization, that would be our subtitle. Unfortunately, independent films are still slaves to SEO and streaming algorithms for audience attention. In order to maximize the number of viewers, we have opted to keep the subtitle “Women of Weed” for now. Nevertheless, we’ve always striven to be inclusive.
At the end of the day, cannabis rights and LGBTQ+ rights are both human rights issues and neither should be under attack.
Suffragettes are now called Suffragists, so are you updating Puffragette, too?
This is another interesting question that comes down to SEO, algorithms and branding, but it adds the complexity of trademarks.
“Suffragette” is a diminutive and feminized term for female suffragists striving for voting rights. When we created the word Puffragette®, we added Pot + Suffragette to create “Puffragette” and we designed a corresponding logo. We thought the word and the logo were catchy enough to trademark, so we did.
The Puffragette® mark (i.e. logo) is a combination the woman symbol with 7 cannabis leaves. It is widely accepted and it is easily identifiable. When you see someone with a Puffragette® pin, T-shirt or temporary tattoo, you instantly know they support women in cannabis. Getting that trademarked took some finessing, but we succeeded in registering it.
The word has different challenges. Some people pronounce it “puff-ra-ghet-ti” like spaghetti; others get it on the first try. Other way, it becomes a conversation piece about the definition and the blend of “pot” and “suffragette”.
We could update the website, poster, T-shirts, and trademark name to “Puffragists”, but how many people would intuit the meaning and the pronunciation if they saw that word on a poster? If it doesn’t fix the problem, is it worth the expense to change everything?
To date, we’ve decided no, but we reserve the right to change our minds.
Are other plants included in the Puffragette® Movement?
Absolutely. Pot, Plants, and Psychedelics all start with a “P”, so we feel comfortable updating the Puffragette® definition to include visionary womxn of plant medicine and psychedelics.