Sometimes all your toys can’t fit into the one toy box.
That is the lesson my colleagues taught me through our group discussions last week. After attempting to articulate my problem statement out loud, it became increasingly apparent that I was still struggling to articulate the problem I intend to solve to myself. The structure of this subject has pushed me to generate numerous lines of inquiry into the gender equality debate- some which have come to a sort of insightful fruition, and others not. As a type A personality, this way of working does not agree with me. I like things that can be tucked into a tiny box, which can sit alongside other boxes on my mental bookshelf, ready to be referenced when required. What my colleagues hinted to me through course of our chat was that all of my ideas about Feminism and gender equality could not fit into one little box without the lid continually falling off…that the complexity of a social issue cannot be packaged how I’d like, despite my best efforts.
Consequently I have redefined my problem statement so that it focuses in on just one line of inquiry. My design solution will address the ambiguity surrounding the intentions/objectives and goals of current ‘New Wave’ Feminism. The emergence of social media, and the recent roll out of Feminist sentiment across mainstream media sources, has resulted in much wider public engagement with Feminist issues. People, particularly youth are using social media to express their personal interpretations of Feminism and how it influences their personal lives. Until our discussion I had viewed this trend as problematic- thinking that the individualistic nature of modern day Feminism contributed to the sense of disunity within the issue that some seem to feel discouraged by. However in reflection on my feedback, I now think that maybe this diversity of opinions and fluidity of interpretations might be what defines ‘New Wave Feminism’ from the kind of clear cut gender equality advocated by the Suffragettes and Second wave feminists. I now intend on developing a design solution that reflects and embraces the characteristics of current Feminism rather than try to replicate the definitive, unchanging objectives advocated by the feminists of the past.
Project title: A non-definitive, not binding, forever changing, modern day Feminist manifesto.
Practice type: Generative system and data visualisation
The issue: As defined above. The objectives of modern day (current) or ‘New Wave’ Feminism are not as clearly defined as those pushed for by the Suffragettes and Second Wave Feminists. In light of social media, the 24 hour news cycle and spread of Feminist sentiment amongst the wider population, the objectives of today’s Feminism are highly individualised, continually changing and fluid. Through my proposed design, I hope to encourage young people to embrace these characteristics as something unique to our time, and as a positive alternative to the exclusive, un-changing definitive objectives of the Feminism of the past. I hope to encourage people to mould their own understanding of Feminism, rather than search for one definitive, ruling opinion as I have for much of semester (it is very difficult if not impossible to do).
The possible change: By enabling people to view other people’s perspectives and the commonalities and differences between them, the design could allow it’s users to better situate their own opinions within the issue. The design will possibly create a sense of community and inclusion which seems to be increasingly valued amongst the Feminist community at large as discussed in the following Washington Post article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/feminism/betty-friedan-to-beyonce-todays-generation-embraces-feminism-on-its-own-terms/2016/01/27/ab480e74-8e19-11e5-ae1f-af46b7df8483_story.html)
The design action to support change:
I plan on creating an online platform which gives live updates as to perceived goals of Feminism today. The platform (possible website, app format) will display a list of 5 goals of today’s Feminism, derived from Twitter entries using the hashtag #todaysfeminism. Participants are asked to define the goals of the Feminist movement today. The platform will then generate a list, based on the most common words used. The list will update every 10 minutes in order to show that the goals of Feminism in the modern world are continually changing and developing to reflect what is going on in the world. The goal lists will be time logged so that a user can go back and look at how the list has changed over time (days, week, months, hours). There will also be a capability to search the user’s own list against the database to find similar responses. The design is therefore a generative system but will be displayed as an interactive data visualisation similar to SelfieCity (http://selfiecity.net). This example is great as it is able to communicate the bigger picture and info about selfie culture, whilst still allowing the user to access individual contributions to the project. My design is similar in that is shows the general consensus on the goals of Feminism whilst also allowing the user to browser individual entries.
Clement, S. McDonald, S. Sheinin, D. Thompson K, 2016, Betty Friedan to Beyonce: Today’s generation embraces feminism on its own terms, location unknown, Viewed 25th September 2016, < https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/feminism/betty-friedan-to-beyonce-todays-generation-embraces-feminism-on-its-own-terms/2016/01/27/ab480e74-8e19-11e5-ae1f-af46b7df8483_story.html>
Manovich, Dr. L. Stefaner, M. 2014, SelfieCity, DigitalThoughtFacility, Location unknown, Viewed 22nd August 2016, < http://selfiecity.net>