In this collaborative mapping exercise, my class mate and I began by elaborating on our week 3 map, choosing to focus on developing the stakeholders within the feminist movement specifically related to the media. The outcomes of this expansion on the media’s role and relation to feminism included:
- The identification of social media campaigns such as #HeforShe, #freethenipple, UN Women’s ‘the Autocomplete Truth’ campaign, and the Lonely Girls Project which focuses on female body empowerment and positivity.
- The exploration of podcasts and blogs which are specifically geared towards enabling the feminist discussion and giving voice to women and their opinions. Through identifying podcasts and blogs such as “Mamamia”, “What Would A Feminist Do?”, “Chat 10 Looks 3”, and “Lenny Letter”, we were also able to identify prominent individual stakeholders within the feminist discussion such as Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Mia Freedman, Jessica Valenti and Lena Dunham.
- The identification of book publications and feminist authors. My class mate and I were able to elaborate on books and published manifestos, identifying prominent writers and publications which concern themselves with gender equality and feminist discussion. Such books included Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist”, Rebecca Sparrow’s books specifically geared towards adolescent girls, Tara Moss’ “A 21st Century Handbook for Women and Girls” and Jessica Bennett’s “Feminist Fight Club”.
- The acknowledgement of more minor forms of media, such as cartoons and newsletters. We identified feminist and socially critical cartoonists such as Liana Finck, Gemma Correll and Frances Cannon.
Being able to expand on this map in collaboration with my class mate meant that we were able to identify a much greater range of media stakeholders within our issue. An example of this collaboration was the awareness of feminist podcasts that my class mate had. As a result, she was able to contribute many names of feminist podcasts and podcasters to our map. Most of my issue research has been in the form of blog posts and written content, which meant, through putting our heads together, we were able to expand and elaborate on our map much more than we would have been able to individually.
Following this, my class mate and I put together a polemics list, identifying controversies within feminism and exploring the possible emotions and motives that are involved within these controversies. We identified issues to do with maternity leave and employment discrimination, as well as the issues that surround the reluctance that many have to identify with feminism and as a feminist. Through this collaborative exercise, we were able to reveal the polarising nature of the term “feminist”. We explored the possibility of politicians and celebrities using their rejection or acceptance of feminism as a strategic move, avoiding criticism, avoiding controversy, or appealing to wider audiences. Ultimately, public figures identifying as feminist or non-feminist is a controversial move; an unfortunate truth.
In our next map, we decided to delve further into the polemic issue of this reluctance to identify as feminist. Through mapping out the emotions that are involved in this issue, my class mate and I were able to illustrate two clear sides of the controversy, that being “empowerment” and “ignorance”. We discovered that often the reluctance to identify with feminism comes from discomfort, ignorance, misunderstanding, or a fear of offending, while those who embrace feminism generally do so out of passion, empowerment and courage, forging a sense of community and personal identity through the movement. We also explored the idea that often the ignorance and confusion that is tied up with the reluctance to identify as feminist is due to a lack of experience, or a lack of context within the feminism movement. We considered that in mainstream media feminism is often misinterpreted, and as a result of feminism gaining popularity within certain areas of the media in recent years, the feminist message has an increased potential for misunderstanding.
Following on from this, we formed a larger group of six in order to further explore a specific polemic. The polemic chosen ended up being the issue of rape culture, which one of the other pairs had chosen to elaborate on through their previous maps. This exercise gave us an opportunity to widen our scope of interest within the issue of gender equality even further, and bringing five other voices to the issue meant a varied discussion and reflection on how we each experience the issue of gender inequality.
The task of co-creating these controversy maps was especially informative this week, as working with a partner really allowed for deeper exploration and deeper discussion into the issues we explored. I definitely feel like connections and relationships between key stakeholders were able to be identified and explored through this collaboration in a way which I would not have been able to achieve on my own. Because the issue of gender equality is such a broad one, we each had our own interests, knowledge, and previously gathered research within the issue which we were able to bring to the table. What particularly stood out to me from these mapping exercises was the relationship between the emotions of “empowerment” and “ignorance”, which my class mate and I identified and explored in one of our maps. Through my own previous research, I was introduced to the concept of “choice feminism”, which explores the notion of how our everyday choices as women (and men) have the potential to either empower us or contribute to the cycle of inequality, and I feel that the role that “empowerment” and “ignorance” plays in how people react to feminism really ties into these concepts, and is definitely the direction that I want to continue researching. How feminism is interpreted is so broad, and often misconstrued as a result of many factors; possible actions in creating change could include campaigns that educate, inform, inspire and empower all.
Madeleine Lumley Prince